Outlander (TV series)
by Diana Gabaldon
|Developed by||Ronald D. Moore|
|Opening theme||"The Skye Boat Song" by Raya Yarbrough|
|Country of origin||
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||42 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||51–88 minutes|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television|
|First shown in||United States|
|Original release||August 9, 2014– present|
Outlander is a television drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon. Developed by Ronald D. Moore and produced by Sony Pictures Television and Left Bank Pictures for Starz, the show premiered on August 9, 2014. It stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, a married World War II nurse who in 1945 finds herself transported back to the Scotland of 1743, where she encounters the dashing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and becomes embroiled in the Jacobite risings.
The second season of 13 episodes, based on Dragonfly in Amber, premiered on April 9, 2016. On June 1, Starz renewed the series for a third and fourth season, which adapt the third and fourth Outlander novels, Voyager and Drums of Autumn. The 13-episode third season premiered on September 10, 2017, and concluded on December 10, 2017. The 13-episode fourth season will premiere in November 2018, and Starz has renewed the series for a fifth and sixth season.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||16||8||August 9, 2014||September 27, 2014|
|8||April 4, 2015||May 30, 2015|
|2||13||April 9, 2016||July 9, 2016|
|3||13||September 10, 2017||December 10, 2017|
Season 1 (2014–15)
In 1946, former World War II nurse Claire Randall and her husband Frank are visiting Inverness, Scotland, when she is carried back in time to the 18th century from the standing stones at Craigh na Dun. She falls in with a group of rebel Scottish Highlanders from Clan MacKenzie, who are being pursued by British redcoats led by Captain Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall, Frank's ancestor. She marries a Highlander, Jamie Fraser, out of necessity, but they quickly fall in love. The Clan suspect her of being a spy, and retain her as a healer, preventing her from attempting to return to her own time. Knowing that the Jacobite cause is doomed to fail, Claire tries to warn against pursuing a rebellion. Jamie is captured and tortured by the sadistic Randall, but rescued by Claire and his clansmen. Claire and Jamie set sail for France.
Season 2 (2016)
In Paris, Claire and Jamie try to thwart the Jacobites by subverting the funds that King Louis XV of France is likely to provide. Jamie becomes the confidante of Charles Stuart, but the Frasers fail to prevent the risings. Randall reappears in Paris, but Claire makes Jamie swear to keep him alive until Frank's ancestry is assured, which she achieves by convincing Randall to marry Mary Hawkins. Claire loses her baby, and she and Jamie return to Scotland. The Jacobites win the Battle of Prestonpans. Before the Battle of Culloden, Jamie convinces Claire, pregnant again, to return to the 20th century. Twenty years after Claire's return, Frank has died, and Claire takes her daughter Brianna to Scotland. Claire discovers that Jamie did not die at Culloden, and vows to return to him.
Season 3 (2017)
Jamie kills Randall at Culloden, but is gravely injured, and spared execution. At Ardsmuir prison, he befriends the governor Lord John Grey, who later paroles him to work at an English estate, where he fathers an illegitimate son, Willie. Jamie returns to Scotland and becomes a printer. Meanwhile, in 1948, Claire enrolls in medical school as she and Frank raise Jamie's daughter, Brianna, in Boston. Frank is killed in a car accident while Brianna is in college. With the help of Roger Wakefield during a trip to Scotland with Brianna, Claire learns some clues to Jamie's whereabouts after Culloden, and returns to the 18th century to find him. She discovers that Jamie has married a widowed Laoghaire, though Claire's presence nullifies the union. Jamie and Claire try to retrieve some hidden treasure so Jamie can placate Laoghaire with a settlement, but during the attempt his nephew Ian is captured by pirates and carried off to the Caribbean. Jamie and Claire follow, and manage to rescue him from Geillis, who had escaped burning at the stake. Claire and Jamie set sail for Scotland, but are shipwrecked in the colony of Georgia.
Cast and characters
- Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp Randall/Fraser
- Sam Heughan as James "Jamie" MacKenzie Fraser
- Tobias Menzies as Frank Randall / Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall (seasons 1–3)
- Gary Lewis as Colum MacKenzie (seasons 1–2)
- Graham McTavish as Dougal MacKenzie (seasons 1–2)
- Lotte Verbeek as Geillis Duncan a.k.a. Gillian Edgars (seasons 1–3)
- Bill Paterson as Edward "Ned" Gowan (seasons 1, 3)
- Laura Donnelly as Janet "Jenny" Fraser Murray
- Douglas Henshall as Taran MacQuarrie (season 1)
- Steven Cree as Ian Murray
- Duncan Lacroix as Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser
- Grant O'Rourke as Rupert MacKenzie (seasons 1–3)
- Stephen Walters as Angus Mhor (seasons 1–2)
- Simon Callow as Clarence Marylebone, Duke of Sandringham (seasons 1–2)
- Dominique Pinon as Master Raymond (season 2)
- Stanley Weber as Le Comte St. Germain (season 2)
- Nell Hudson as Laoghaire MacKenzie (recurring season 1, starring seasons 2–)
- Clive Russell as Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat (season 2)
- Richard Rankin as Roger Wakefield (season 2–)
- Sophie Skelton as Brianna "Bree" Randall (season 2–)
- Andrew Gower as Prince Charles Edward Stuart (seasons 2–3)
- Rosie Day as Mary Hawkins (season 2)
- Frances de la Tour as Mother Hildegarde (season 2)
- John Bell as Ian Fraser Murray (season 3–)
- David Berry as Lord John Grey (season 3–)
- Lauren Lyle as Marsali MacKimmie Fraser (season 3–)
- César Domboy as Claudel "Fergus" Fraser (season 3–)
- Richard Dillane as Captain Raines (season 3)
- Maria Doyle Kennedy as Jocasta (season 4)
- Ed Speleers as Stephen Bonnet (season 4)
- Colin McFarlane as Ulysses (season 4)
In July 2012, it was reported that Sony Pictures Television had secured the rights to Gabaldon's Outlander series, with Moore attached to develop the project and Jim Kohlberg (Story Mining and Supply Co) producing. Sony closed the deal with Starz in November 2012, and Moore hired a writing team in April 2013. That June, Starz picked up the Outlander project for a sixteen-episode order, and in August it was announced that John Dahl would be directing the first two episodes. Starz CEO Chris Albrecht later said that he had greenlighted several genre projects, including Outlander, to shift the network's series development toward "audiences that were being underserved" to "drive a real fervent fan base that then becomes the kind of advocacy group for the shows themselves". Calling it "a different kind of show than has ever been on, in my memory", Albrecht believed that Outlander's combination of fantasy, action, a strong central romance and a feminist focus would set it apart.
On August 15, 2014, after only the pilot episode had aired, the network renewed the series for a second season of at least 13 episodes, based on the second book in Gabaldon's series, Dragonfly in Amber. On June 1, 2016, Starz renewed the series for a third and fourth season, which adapt the third and fourth Outlander novels, Voyager and Drums of Autumn.
Moore said of the pilot: "There's a lot of things we did in the first thirty to forty minutes that aren't in the book or are compilations of things that happened in the book". He emphasised that he did not want to present the time-travel dimension in a traditional special effects-laden science fiction manner. Describing the adaptation of the first season as "straightforward", he explained: "it was always kind of clear what the basic structure was: Claire’s trying to get home, then she meets this guy, now she’s falling in love, now she has a conflict, will she go home. You lay it out in a very linear fashion". Regarding the darker tone of the season's second half, he said: "the show becomes more complicated and the emotional journey more wrenching".
Regarding the second season and the source novel Dragonfly in Amber, Moore said:
The book is a more complicated structure in terms of how Diana [Gabaldon] wrote it ... So it was not as easy an adaptation as the first season was ... Book 2 is just a more complex book. It’s laid out very differently, as a result it took more wrangling to try to figure out how to translate this particular story into our season. There were more complications, there were more characters ... It was a bigger task. The thing that gives me the most comfort is that Diana likes it a lot. She had said, 'Oh, I really liked the way you did it. it was a difficult plot, I know, but I think you really found the essence of it. You really found the through line that really defines what this part of the journey is.' ... It’s not going to be a literal adaptation because I don’t think that’s possible with the second book ... But I think it’s very much the same story, the major characters are all represented, the major scenes are all represented, and it still gets you to all the same places you want to go.
Gabaldon was employed as consultant to the TV production. When asked in June 2015 about the adaptation of the first season, she said: "I think they did condense it very effectively ... I ended up getting most of the things that I felt strongly about in there. There were only a few instances where the most important stuff in my opinion didn't get in". In March 2015, she said of the scripts for season two: "The Parisian stuff is very good, and in fact I'm deeply impressed by the outlines I've seen ... I think they've done a wonderful job of pulling out the most important plot elements and arranging them in a convincing way". Gabaldon wrote the screenplay for the 2016 season two episode "Vengeance is Mine".
According to Moore, the writing and pre-production for season four began while season three was still in active production.
On July 9, 2013, it was announced that Sam Heughan had been cast as Jamie Fraser, the male lead. Tobias Menzies was the second actor cast, on August 8, in dual roles as both Frank and Jonathan Randall, and on September 4 Graham McTavish and Gary Lewis were cast as the brothers MacKenzie. On September 11 it was announced that Irish actress Caitriona Balfe had been cast to play Claire Beauchamp Randall. The series later added Lotte Verbeek as Geillis Duncan and Laura Donnelly as Jamie's sister Jenny in October 2013.
In December 2013, Simon Callow was cast in the supporting role of Duke of Sandringham, and Entertainment Weekly reported in April 2014 that Steven Cree would portray Ian Murray. Bill Paterson was cast as lawyer Ned Gowan in June 2014. Author Gabaldon has a cameo as Iona MacTavish in the August 2014 episode "The Gathering". In August 2014 it was announced that Frazer Hines had been cast in the role of a prison warden in an episode to air in 2015. From 1966 to 1969, Hines had portrayed the Doctor Who character Jamie McCrimmon, who Gabaldon said had inspired the setting of the Outlander series and the character of Jamie Fraser. Hines plays Sir Fletcher Gordon, an English prison warden, in the May 2015 episode "Wentworth Prison".
In June 2015, the series cast Andrew Gower as the Jacobite pretender Prince Charles Edward Stuart; Robert Cavanah as Jamie’s Scottish cousin Jared, a wine merchant and Jacobite living in Paris; Margaux Châtelier as Annalise de Marillac, Jamie's French ex-lover; and Laurence Dobiesz as Alex Randall, Black Jack's younger–and gentler–brother. Other cast added for season 2 include Romann Berrux as the French pickpocket Fergus, Rosie Day as the baronet's daughter Mary Hawkins, Stanley Weber as Le Comte St. Germain, Dominique Pinon as healer Master Raymond, Marc Duret as French Minister of Finance Joseph Duverney, Frances de la Tour as Mother Hildegarde, and Audrey Brisson as Sister Angelique. In July 2015, Lionel Lingelser was cast as King Louis XV of France. Moore revealed June 2015 that Verbeek would be returning in the role of Geillis. Richard Rankin was cast as Roger Wakefield in December 2015, while Sophie Skelton was chosen to portray Brianna Randall, Claire and Jamie's daughter, in January 2016.
In August 2016, Starz announced that David Berry had been cast as Lord John William Grey for season three. In September, Wil Johnson was cast as Joe Abernathy, and John Bell as "Young Ian" Fraser Murray. In October, César Domboy was cast as an adult Fergus, and Lauren Lyle as Laoghaire's daughter Marsali MacKimmie. Hannah James and Tanya Reynolds were cast as sisters Geneva and Isobel Dunsany in November 2016.
In October 2017, two season four roles were announced. Maria Doyle Kennedy was cast as Jamie's Aunt Jocasta and Ed Speleers as Stephen Bonnet, an Irish pirate and smuggler. The casting of Colin McFarlane as Jocasta's slave butler Ulysses was announced in January 2018.
In July 2013, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne confirmed that the production would benefit from the Creative Sector Tax Relief programme implemented in the UK in 2012, which extends film tax reliefs to high-end television productions. The Scottish government also agreed to help pay for the conversion of a warehouse complex on the outskirts of Cumbernauld in North Lanarkshire into a film studio. Principal photography began on location in Scotland in September 2013. The Cumbernauld studios were used for on set filming, with location shoots taking place at Doune Castle, Stirling; mills in East Linton, East Lothian; Newtonmore in the Scottish Highlands; Rothiemurchus Forest, Aviemore; quarries near Bathgate, West Lothian and Aberfoyle, Stirling. Other locations include Loch Rannoch in the Highlands and Falkland and Culross in Fife.
Filming for season two began in April 2015, to air in spring 2016. The primary setting for the season is Paris, which Moore explained is being recreated using other locations. Some interiors were filmed on the show's Scotland soundstages, while Prague was used for the exterior street scenes and the Palace of Versailles. In addition some palaces in the south of England which have French rooms and architecture were used as Parisian interiors and part of Versailles. Moore noted that season two of Outlander "will look completely different than season one" with a "richer, more dynamic kind of visual palette". With the change of setting from Scotland to France, he said that "visually you’ve moved from the heavy woods and stone of season 1 into the finery of the Parisian apartments". He explained:
Everything about Paris is so completely different, especially the costumes ... It’s the most stylish city in the world during this time. A lot more money. A lot of finery. Scotland is featuring a lot of heavy wools and more organic colors. In Paris everyone wants to be a peacock. You’ve got a much wider palette of textiles and colors and styles than you did in Scotland. It’s a completely different world. And that kind of goes across the board for all the departments ... There were really no sets or pieces of sets that we could use for Paris that we’d used for Scotland ... There are carriages, there are servants with livery, there are props and furniture. It’s completely different. It’s a whole new show.
In August 2017, Moore said that for season four, locations in Scotland would double as 18th century America, and some of the mountains and rivers of North Carolina would be recreated using locations in Eastern Europe. Production for season four was completed in Scotland by July 5, 2018.
The music is composed by Bear McCreary. The title song is an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's poem Sing me a Song of a Lad that is Gone, set to the tune of the Scottish folk song "The Skye Boat Song". For the first half of season two, the second verse of the opening theme is sung in French to reflect the season's French setting.
Outlander premiered in the U.S. on August 9, 2014. Its first eight episodes aired through September, and the remaining eight episodes of season one resumed in April 2015. The first-season finale aired on May 30, 2015.
Outlander debuted in Australia on SoHo on August 14, 2014, and began airing in Canada on Showcase on August 24, 2014. The series also premiered on October 21, 2014, in Ireland. In the United Kingdom, it was acquired by Amazon Prime Instant Video, where it premiered on March 26, 2015. In April 2015, The Herald reported that emails leaked in the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack suggested that the broadcast delay in the UK may have been due to sensitivity about the September 2014 Scottish independence referendum.
The first season scored 73 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 34 reviews, which were "generally favorable", while the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 91% "certified fresh" critics rating with an average rating of 7.92/10 based on 49 reviews. The website consensus reads: "Outlander is a unique, satisfying adaptation of its source material, brought to life by lush scenery and potent chemistry between its leads".
The Huffington Post called the first episode "... A masterpiece of impressive depth ... It is amazing!" Entertainment Weekly gave the premiere an "A-" rating, writing that it was "sexy and smart and stirring". Matt Zoller Seitz of New York magazine also praised the series, calling it "defiantly its own thing: part romance-novel fantasy, part-time-travel story, and part wartime drama (set across two time periods)". Sonia Saraiya of The A.V. Club gave the first six episodes an A, writing that it "does for 1743 Scotland what Downton Abbey does for 1912 England", and adding that "Outlander succeeds admirably ... it refuses to sit comfortably in any genre."
British reception was more mixed. In the first UK review, Siobhan Synnot of The Scotsman said "There has not been such a proud display of tartanalia since the opening of the 2014 Commonwealth Games". Alastair McKay of The Evening Standard quoted Saraiya's comparison with Downton Abbey, adding "[The comparison] is entirely correct. It is magical-mystical heuchter-teuchter cobblers." Euan Ferguson of The Observer called it "gorgeous drivel" and Thomas Batten of The Guardian stated "If you love the scenery, shifting allegiances, and palace intrigue of [Game of Thrones] but find yourself wishing the pace were a little slower and that the sex scenes were filmed in a more pretentious manner with lots of slow pans and softer lighting, here’s your show." Graeme Virtue noted "the rather languid pace of the opening episodes" but praised the show's "rare acknowledgment of the female gaze" in its treatment of sex scenes. The Daily Telegraph also made the Game of Thrones comparison, while The Independent stated "...yes, it's a time-travelling, wish-fulfilment fantasy but it's done with such flair and attention to detail that it's impossible not to hop on board for the ride."
The second season has received critical acclaim. On Metacritic, the season has a score of 85 out of 100 based on 11 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". On Rotten Tomatoes, it reports a 97% "certified fresh" rating with an average rating of 8.28/10 based on 20 reviews. The website consensus reads: "Outlander returns for a second addictive season of mystery and sweeping romance as Claire and Jamie take on Paris." Based on five episodes for review, Marah Eakin of The A.V. Club gave it a perfect "A" grade and wrote, "It's not just well-written and lovely to look at. It's downright immersive. ... Outlander feels important–even moreso in its second season."
The third season has also received critical acclaim. On Metacritic, the season has a score of 87 out of 100 based on 6 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". Rotten Tomatoes reports a 95% "certified fresh" rating with 8.08/10 based on 15 reviews. The website consensus reads: "Outlander's epic love story returns with the same strong storytelling and an added layer of maturity." Based on six episodes for review, Liz Shannon Miller of IndieWire gave it an "A"-grade review and wrote, "This is a show that's grown and matured since its initial premiere in ways that defied our initial expectations."
|2014||Critics' Choice Television Awards||Most Exciting New Series||Outlander||Won|||
|2015||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Cable Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show||Won|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Actor on Television||Tobias Menzies||Nominated|||
|Best Actress on Television||Caitriona Balfe||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor on Television||Sam Heughan||Nominated|
|Best Television Presentation||Outlander||Nominated|
|Irish Film & Television Awards||Best Actress in a Lead Role Drama||Caitriona Balfe||Nominated|||
|Rising Star Award||Nominated|
|Emmy Awards||Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score)||Bear McCreary for "Sassenach"||Nominated|||
|2016||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor||Sam Heughan||Nominated|||
|Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actress||Caitriona Balfe||Won|
|Favorite Cable TV Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show||Outlander||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress – Television Series Drama||Caitriona Balfe||Nominated|||
|Best Television Series – Drama||Outlander||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Tobias Menzies||Nominated|
|Costume Designers Guild Awards||Outstanding Period Television Series||Terry Dresbach||Nominated|||
|Critics' Choice Awards||Most Bingeworthy Series||Outlander||Won|||
|Women's Image Network Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||Outlander for "The Garrison Commander"||Won|||
|Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Caitriona Balfe for "The Garrison Commander"||Won|
|Outstanding Show Written by a Woman||Anne Kenney for "The Wedding"||Nominated|
|Toni Graphia for "The Devil's Mark"||Won|
|Outstanding Show Directed by a Woman||Anna Foerster for "The Wedding"||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Actress on Television||Caitriona Balfe||Won|||
|Best Actor on Television||Sam Heughan||Nominated|
|Best Fantasy TV Series||Outlander||Won|
|Irish Film & Television Awards||Best Actress in a Lead Role Drama||Caitriona Balfe||Nominated|||
|Costume Society of America||Costume Design Award||Terry Dresbach||Won|||
|Emmy Awards||Outstanding Costumes for a Period/Fantasy Series, Limited Series or Movie||Terry Dresbach, Elle Wilson, Nadine Powell and Anna Lau for "Not in Scotland Anymore"||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period Program (One Hour or More)||Jon Gary Steele, Nicki McCallum and Gina Cromwell for "Not in Scotland Anymore" and "Faith"||Nominated|
|BAFTA Scotland Awards||Television drama||Production Team – Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining & Supply Co., Left Bank Pictures, Sony Pictures Television/Amazon Prime Instant Video||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in Television||Sam Heughan||Nominated|
|Best Actress in Television||Caitriona Balfe||Won|
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actor in a Drama Series||Sam Heughan||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Drama Series||Caitriona Balfe||Nominated|
|Most Bingeworthy Series||Outlander||Won|
|Scottish Gaelic Awards||International Award||Àdhamh Ó Broin||Won|||
|Hollywood Professional Association Awards||Outstanding Color Grading – Television||Steven Porter for "Faith"||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Sound – Television||Nello Torri, Alan Decker, Brian Milliken, Vince Balunas for "Prestonpans"||Won|
|2017||People's Choice Awards||Favorite TV Show||Outlander||Won|||
|Favorite Premium Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series||Outlander||Won|
|Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor||Sam Heughan||Won|
|Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actress||Caitriona Balfe||Won|
|Globes de Cristal Award||Best Foreign Television Series||Outlander||Nominated|||
|Satellite Awards||Best Ensemble: Television||Outlander||Won|||
|Best Genre Series||Outlander||Won|
|American Society of Cinematographers||Regular Series for Non-Commercial Television||Neville Kidd for "Prestonpans"||Nominated|||
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress – Television Series Drama||Caitriona Balfe||Nominated|||
|Oscar Wilde Awards||Caitriona Balfe||Won|||
|Women's Image Network Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||Outlander||Won|||
|Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Caitriona Balfe||Nominated|
|Outstanding Show Written by a Woman||Diana Gabaldon for "Vengeance Is Mine"||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||Outlander||Won|||
|Best Actor on a Television Series||Sam Heughan||Nominated|
|Best Actress on a Television Series||Caitriona Balfe||Nominated|
|Best Guest Performance on a Television Series||Dominique Pinon||Nominated|
|Irish Film & Television Awards||Best Actress in a Lead Role in Drama||Caitriona Balfe||Nominated|||
|Rockie Awards||Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Action||Outlander||Nominated|||
|2018||16th Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode||Richard Briscoe, Elicia Bessette, Aladino Debert, Filip Orrby, Doug Hardy for "Eye of the Storm"||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project||Jason Mortimer, Navin Pinto, Greg Teegarden, Steve Ong for "Eye of the Storm" – Stormy Seas||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||Outlander||Won|||
|Best Actor on Television||Sam Heughan||Nominated|
|Best Actress on Television||Caitriona Balfe||Nominated|
The first eight episodes averaged more than 5.1 million multiplatform viewers per episode. In July 2015, noting Outlander's strong ratings, its "vocal online fandom and a slew of think pieces tied to its feminist twists on the action genre", Josef Adalian of Vulture.com credited Outlander as one of the series responsible for Starz's increased success against competitors like Showtime.
|Season||Ep. 1||Ep. 2||Ep. 3||Ep. 4||Ep. 5||Ep. 6||Ep. 7||Ep. 8||Ep. 9||Ep. 10||Ep. 11||Ep. 12||Ep. 13||Ep. 14||Ep. 15||Ep. 16|
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- From "tartan" + suffix "alia"
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