Love. Passion. Adventure. History. Time-Travel. Whippings. Yep, Outlander is back!
Bio sat down with series stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan to discuss what viewers can look forward to in the second half of Season 1, which returned with new episodes this past Saturday on Starz.
Based on Diana Gabaldon’s popular book series, Outlander tells the tale of a married 20th-century WWII nurse named Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), who mysteriously travels back in time to 18th-century Scotland. With her husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies, who also plays Claire’s 18th-century tormenter “Black Jack” Randall) living in 1945 England, Claire’s trapped in 1743 Scotland, where her life is constantly threatened and she’s forced to marry (hunky) warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) – and quickly becomes torn between two loves, making for one very complicated love triangle.
In its freshman season, Outlander has proven to be a success since it debuted last August, with its first eight episodes averaging 5.1 million viewers across platforms (that’s impressive for a premium cable channel). It’s a big sigh of relief for the creative team behind the series from executive producer Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), pressured to live up to the high expectations of fans of the books (the first book was written 25 years ago; Gabaldon’s currently writing the ninth book in the series).
The second half of the season gets decidedly darker after we rejoin reluctant newlyweds Jamie and Claire soon after where we left off – with Claire recaptured by the Redcoats and facing intense interrogation from “Black Jack” Randall, just as Jamie swoops in to rescue her. The first episode back features a switch from Claire’s voiceover to Jamie’s voiceover to reveal the kiltsman’s perspective this week as the story continues.
Read on for Bio’s interview with Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe for insight and more scoops on Outlander.
It looks like the honeymoon is short-lived for Jamie and Claire. Where is their relationship headed in this half of the season?
Sam Heughan: “Their biggest hurdle is that the whole season really tests their relationship. They’re constantly fighting to get back to where they were on their wedding night, and it’s a great tragedy of the show that this wonderful relationship has been tainted for good. And I don’t think we can ever get back there; they’re constantly tested by things that happen. Jamie’s having to grow up now, his history with his sister comes into play, his best friend, and his dead father, too – and they’re trying to find a way to reconnect, but by the very end of the season, Claire and Jamie are left in two very different places.”
Jamie’s going to find out soon about Claire’s time-traveling secret – how’s that going to go over?
Sam Heughan: “He knows she’s got a secret. When she finally does reveal it, he says he believes her … whether or not he can get his head around what it actually means, that takes a long time, but they have this bond, and they trust each other.”
What about those steamy sex scenes…
Sam Heughan: “We try to approach all the intimate scenes [in terms of] what is this doing to their relationship, how does this move them forward or backwards. They want this to be an adult show as well; the nudity … we want it to be for a reason.”
“Viewers have been surprised and challenged, and [in the coming episodes] … the punishment, the spanking, the torture, the violence … there are a lot of times they’re going to be shocked.”
A lot of the ladies find Jamie Fraser very crush-worthy; how has female fan reaction been for you, Sam, since the show debuted?
Sam Heughan: “I have yet to see the ladies swooning but if they are, that’s wonderful.”
Well, the Outlander fans, as well as author Diana Gabaldon, seem quite pleased with how the show has turned out so far. A big deal was made when the castings were announced.
Caitriona Balfe: “You can only show up and do your job, and your job is to portray your character as best you can, so you can’t look at the bigger picture, you have to take it one step at a time. Ron [Moore] has put together such an amazing team, this alchemy that we’ve built is just amazing, as are the fans.”
Looking ahead briefly to next season and Book 2, Jamie and Claire will age a bit for that storyline. Do you have any trepidation about aging on-screen?
Caitriona Balfe: “No … I mean, in real life, sure … [laughing] It’s one of those things, you want to be brave, and you want to show women as they should be, and all of this, excuse the term, but bullsh*t pressure society puts on us to stay eternally young. It’s impossible. I look at people like Frances McDormand or Jessica Lange or Helen Mirren and Judi Dench, these amazing women, and you want to be like, Yes, I want to be that brave and I want to look like that, and then you see yourself on-screen one day and you’re like, Dammit! Am I really…?
“It’s a constant battle women always go through, vanity is a very dangerous thing. I would hope that my dedication to my work and my character is stronger than my vanity.”
The much-buzzed about “Wedding Episode” was certainly a stand-out episode, most notably for the refreshingly honest depiction of the sex scenes, praised for having a more “female-centric” perspective.
Caitriona Balfe: “I don’t know that we set out to do something that was female-centric … we took writing that came from a woman, that was about a woman, and we wanted to make the best story about these two characters and honor their relationship.
“Those three sex scenes from “The Wedding Episode” told the evolution of their relationship in the space of that one night, and as we move forward, [the sex scenes] always service the story.
“And I hope it’s seen as, you know, sexy not smutty. We work really hard to make them as beautiful as possible. Nobody wants to be objectified, but I hope we’re not objectifying Sam either, at the expense of not objectifying me!”
New episodes of Outlander airs on Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.