On Twitter this morning, Terry Dresbach showed fans a bit of what it takes to wrangle the tens of thousands of costume pieces Outlander has used in the past two seasons. All of the information and photos in this post are from Twitter. With a system that has been used by large costume rental houses, museums, and other facilities that house extensive collections, she put an RFID scan system in place to identify and track the pieces and their details, who has used them, and where they’re stored.
She said that as they start Season 3, about 30,000 pieces have had a bar code attached and been entered into the system, taking about 6 months. Going forward, all pieces will be entered into the system as they’re made (for Season 3, so far, though, only about 10 costumes have been created). The system was set up retroactively, however, because when the show started, the costume department only had a small space and a staff of about 8. Her staff now numbers about 70 people.
Terry says that she believes Outlander is the only show using a bar code system – she says there may be others, but she doesn’t know of any. But the huge number of individual pieces, many of which will likely be reused, made an organization system a necessity. The costume department now takes up about 20,000 square feet, including offices, workroom, storage, ageing and dyeing, fitting, fabric storage, drying (costumes get wet from filming outdoors) and more. Terry says the only comparison she can make is “to running the military. Dressing, feeding, transporting…” She said “it takes a year, and a village. This is not the local theater group.”
Costumes for extras are fit weeks before those people work, so that if shooting is done out of the Cumbernauld studios, everything is already organized before travel. Terry estimates that they have used hundreds of thousands of buttons, and have about 40,000 pieces (shoes, cuffs, jackets, etc), and outfit at least 5,000 extras per season. They make up to 6 copies of lead costumes!
The slideshow below gives you all of the basics, and some fantastic photos inside the costume storage area:
Would you like to have the chance to meet Terry – and Grant O’Rourke – in person?
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Game of Thrones (23), Outlander (2): behind the 2016 Emmy nomination imbalance
He said it himself, so it must be true. “Outlander was robbed.” Not my words – but comments made by George R.R. Martin, Game of Throneswriter/creator on the outcomes of the July 14 2016 Emmy nominations. There have been a lot of post-Emmy articles reporting snubbing and outrage appearing online in the last few days. Outlander doesn’t seem to rank, but Game of Thrones advocates are incredulous on account of only receiving six acting nominations – Sansa Stark/Sophie Turner missed out and is now being referred to as “the Leonardo Dicaprio of the Emmys.” Welcome To Our World.
Old news now, but Outlander received just two Emmy nominations for Production Design and Costume Design. However, it missed out completely in the Drama, Acting, Writing and Directing categories. Whilst it was well assumed that the incredible work of Terry Dresbach and John Gary Steele would be recognised, I can’t help thinking that this is the least condescending way to say that while we don’t rate your concept, perspective, vision, narrative, writing, acting, direction and execution, you did a worthy job of interior design and dressmaking.
You do feel for the actors particularly. Caitriona Balfe’s extraordinary “Faith” episode, Tobias Menzies in that complex dual role and Sam Heughan holding the line whilst transforming from trauma victim to powerful leader. Also a vast list of exceptional supporting and guest actors including Duncan Lacroix, Stanley Weber, Simon Cowell and Andrew Gower remained unnoticed.
At least we can throw out the myth that the Television Academy does not recognise genre shows in the Drama category that are accompanied by a fandom. If that was accurate, the Game of Thrones nomination tally would be closer to three, as opposed to twenty-three. So how do we get to the bottom of the bias against Outlander?
Let’s start with this. I recently noted this comment:
So much for democracy and free speech. Not only was Betty bullied and abused for her recommendation, but she was tracked down and intimidated to the point of withdrawing her vote. If “Betty” was a “Bill” or “Ben” or “Bob”, do you think the vitriol would have been the same? Despite this being a “mock” vote where people could submit personal predictions for the Emmys, the messaging can be replicated a thousand times over and speaks to a broader backlash against women vocalising that is reminiscent of the 1970s and 80s (and back beyond).
To me, there is one very clear distinction between Game of Thrones andOutlander and it is all to do with point-of-view. Kelsey McKinney recently wrote a very reasoned, well researched article on how the representation of women on Game of Thrones comes through the perspective of male writers, backed up by some telling statistics. The female roles are written by men, and so speak and act through an unwavering masculine point-of-view which has full control over the character arcs.
The article also pointed out that women’s contribution to GoT tends to be that of production support as opposed to the creative thinking/directional roles. This has trended differently across seasons, but take note of the ground-breaking commentary that ensued:
Outlander is almost the opposite. The base perspective is unequivocally female but is always open to shift and is exclusive of no-one. The writing, directing and production roles seem to be balanced and shared between men and women. Outlander has a very humanistic interpretation of the past and vision for the future that is informed by a real history. And I think, ironically, it is the positivity of Outlander – perpetuated by a significant number of women – that has so many Television Academy members disengaging from it. Is it because other productions are so bleak in their outlook that despair has almost become part of the selection criteria?
Rewind to 1859. George Eliot was an English novelist in the Victorian era. Except George was actually Mary Ann Evans. She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure her works would be taken seriously. Female authors were published under their own names during Eliot’s life, but she wanted to escape the stereotype of women only writing lighthearted romances. Sound familiar? I’ve always thought that with the advent of online commentary that enables anonymity, it would be an interesting social experiment for women to assume male identities online in order to be taken seriously. If Outlandersupporters vocalised via a male pseudonym, would it make a difference? Sadly, yes.
And how do we interpret the recent emergence of male voices speaking up in support of Outlander? We’ve started to hear George R. R. Martin, John Doyle and notable other men publicly comment on the quality and authenticity of the Outlander production. A welcome relief to be honest, because one male voice seems to equate to one thousand female voices and it is exhausting. Thank God there are some people around to provide balance and authority because I for one feel destined to assume stereotype, take a valium and a go for a good lie-down.
The #BlackLivesMatter campaign captured a great photo (courtesy Afro News) from the protest in London last week:
I feel much the same. Frankly, I would rather be spending my time writing on other projects but I also find it hard to turn my back on the politics of this issue because the poor behaviour is symptomatic of an industry with a terrible gender bias, severe lack of accountability and no appetite to invoke basic protocols and guidelines.
It is not about trophies, or individuals, or production companies – it is about challenging the well documented blinkered thinking of Hollywood and taking on the cowardly online assassin that is the modern day aggressor against women speaking up and registering their thoughts. Don’t tolerate it. Never let anyone mess with your vote, regardless of what it is for.
All this prejudice because Outlander is simply a story told from a female point-of-view.
Outlander’s premiere episode, “Sassenach,” is one of my favorite episodes containing a few of my all time favorite scenes, Claire meeting Jamie for the first time, Claire fixing Jamie’s “scratches,” and Jamie threatening to throw Claire over his shoulder. Any scene with Jamie and Claire could be called a favorite.
However, there is one scene in this episode that has become the subject of countless discussions. This is the scene where Frank meets presumably “Ghost” Jamie. When this episode first premiered show-only fans couldn’t fully appreciate the significance of the mysterious highlander, whom we have come to call Ghost Jamie. By the Season 2 finale it is safe to believe that most of those fans would recognize the figure as Jamie Fraser. Book readers would have immediately recognized him, but neither group has reached agreement on the nature of Jamie in the scene.
Show only fans and many book fans claim that the figure is indeed the ghost of Jamie Fraser. However, there are some book fans, myself included, who believe that the figure is an astral projection of Jamie. In a few places in later books we learn that Jamie has either visions or dreams in which he travels to the past or the future. He even recounts to Claire a dream he has of seeing her in the future in a place that sounds eerily similar to the scene where Jamie watches her in the window. It is for this reason, and others, that some believe Jamie has the ability to astrally project himself into other places and times.
Regardless of the nature of Jamie’s form, he has come to see Claire on the eve of her first trip through the stones. Since we are still reeling from the Season 2 finale where Claire leaves him to return to 1968, this scene has renewed meaning. In the finale, Jamie promises Claire that even if he has to endure two hundred years of purgatory that he would find her, and we see that Jamie kept this promise. He found her.
Hopefully, one day Diana Gabaldon will settle this issue once and for all. -D
This one was easy for me. My favourite scene in Sassenach is the opening scene.
I had NO idea Outlander even existed when it started (I know….was I living under a rock? How did I even go through life?).
My eldest son and my father both nagged me endlessly to watch “this show Outlander”, they just KNEW I would love it. Finally, I buckled and started watching right before the hellatus break between 1a and 1b.
This was the moment that I knew I was hooked. The black screen, the slow reveal, the beautiful landscape…..then the voice over.
[for the sake of cohesion, I’m not writing this scene by scene as I normally do]
“Children accept the world as it is presented to them”. Reverend Wakefield’s words couldn’t be more true. Brianna only knows Frank as her father. As she describes him to Roger I can’t help but think, Huh?? But that’s Bree’s reality. However, for someone who seems to love her dad, she’s asking an awful lot of questions regarding who he was and what he was like. Because she knows there’s a back story to her parents’ marriage. And for some reason, she only wants to learn of it after Frank is gone. Because of his temper? Because sometimes after death we idolize someone and don’t want to face the fact that they weren’t as perfect as we’d like to remember? I love the references she makes about her mum “living in another world”, “she’s insane”. It lead me to think that Claire has never been 100% present in Bree’s world. That a part of her, for the past 20 years, has been somewhat cut off at times, when she may have allowed herself to turn inward and return to Jamie in her mind. She may never have spoken of him, like she promised Frank, but Frank couldn’t control her thoughts.
Bree is sensitive, argumentative, ready to battle her mother at every turn. That could be grief talking. Or young adulthood. Because Bree is at a point in her life where she notices relationships, and how they work. What she may want in one, or doesn’t want. And because she knows there’s an “incident” in her parents’ marriage, the curiosity is killing her. She’s desperately trying to make sense of it. And we witness for ourselves how she tries to talk to her mother about it, but Claire shuts it down.
I love how she is with Roger. It’s the 60s, and she’s forward and blatantly teasing/flirting/interested in Roger and giving him lots to think about.
Older Claire. The voice tone is different, measured, controlled. This Claire doesn’t put her foot in her mouth. This Claire thinks before she speaks. I love the conversation between her and Roger in front of the fire. He’s asking how you say goodbye, thinking she’s talking about Frank, when in fact, we all know she’s talking about Jamie.
At first, I found the transitions between the 1960s and the 1700s very jarring. I didn’t like it. It was too harsh. But after a while I realized that it very much mirrored Claire. Her present life is having to face the harshness of her past life. And she doesn’t mourn her recently passed husband, but her long dead husband. Which is why the trip to Lallybroch broke our hearts. When she is faced with her happiest memories and she sits on those stairs and pictures Jamie, her Highlander, Laird of Lallybroch, he isn’t looking as she last saw him, but as he is in her mind. Strong. Tall. Handsome. God, one might even say, Majestic. She feels him on her lips and closes her eyes in remembrance of all she wanted. And had to live without. And we see the crack. The very small fissure in a very tough exterior that is Dr. Claire Randall. And then, she visibly pulls herself back together again. That’s how she’s done it. That’s how she’s lived for 20 years and managed half a life.
And when Claire is on Culloden Moor and the woman asks if she’s a Fraser, Claire says, “Yes. I am.” and gives a small smile. Because now she can finally claim her true identity. She can freely call herself Claire Fraser. And she can finally speak to Jamie and of Jamie at the same time. Through Brianna. Brianna IS Jamie to her, in looks and manners. She could always share everything with Jamie, and he would listen. And she does, again. And only when she’s come back to him to tell him that he was right, and Brianna is alive, can she say goodbye. Their story wasn’t finished until she could tell him he had a daughter. And now both soldiers, she and Jamie, can rest easy.
When she’s back in Inverness leaning against the car, it echos the very first time she’s in Scotland. Dreaming of vases and settling down. That Claire, on that trip, was cute and bouncy and happy. This Claire is serious and melancholy and guarded. Which war did more damage? History may say it was WWII but not for Claire. Culloden changed her forever.
Did anyone else catch the parallels in Brianna and Claire’s confrontation? Because in this moment, Bree is Frank. And Claire is repeating the same speech she gave Frank when she returned, speaking of another man that she loved deeply. But Bree is also Jamie, because she wants honesty, where Frank really didn’t want the story at all. Brianna states that Claire isn’t perfect, just as Frank declares that she is not the Virgin Mary, and they both accuse her of being fucked by someone else. And once again, Claire reiterates it was all so much more. In the face of their anger, she will not diminish who and what Jamie is to her. Claire tells Bree that she didn’t want to fall in love, that she fought it, yet it was the most powerful thing she’d ever felt in her life.
Also, when Bree talks about “every other bored housewife” did anyone else think she was referring to Frank’s affairs? Because I sure did.
And when we flip back to Culloden we see a very desperate Claire. A reactionary Claire. The direct opposite of the Claire we’ve just seen in the 60s. And it’s a different Jamie. Flashback to Jamie back in Paris telling Murtagh he would never stoop to regicide, but now, NOW he’s looking at Claire considering her plan. We see how Culloden has changed and shaped Jamie as well. Jamie is cold and tired and really, really gaunt. (Well done, Mr. Heughan. I believe you are as weak as you say you are.) And he is 100% done with Bonnie Prince Wackadoodle thinking he’s Jesus Christ. This is why Jamie can entertain Claire’s plan. Because the Prince is quite clearly, out of his mind. It’s changed him enough that he’ll commit murder. And he does. To protect Claire. To protect Scotland. It’s just not the murder he expected to commit. But in order to move forward in this desperate attempt, one more obstacle has to be overcome. And in the midst of battling Dougal the look on his face says, “don’t make me do this, Uncle”. And when Claire joins in, the sheer horror on both their faces gave me chills.
When it’s time to leave the camp, we finally see the depth of Claire’s love for the first time. She begs Jamie to run away with her. She begs him to let her stay and die with him. Jamie accepts his fate, but Claire will not. Until they speak of the child. And in the middle of this turmoil we have Jamie’s small smile, and Claire’s in return as they share this beautiful secret. And as Jamie once told her that she was his home, she tells him that now. And she tries to argue, but you see Claire give way to obedience. Remember (as I’ve mentioned before) when Claire promised Jamie before he punished her, that she would do what he said, even if she didn’t agree with it? (Ep. 109) Claire proves yet again that she loves and respects Jamie. Jamie never demanded her obedience. It was Claire’s to give freely.
The Stones. My God, the Stones. The reversal of roles. When Jamie stops Claire from going through the first time because he isn’t ready, she does so now. And again, Jamie gives Claire choices. He lets her decide how to tell Frank. In some small way he probably expects Frank to believe it, because he believed it. He doesn’t doubt Claire. He trusts her implicitly. Claire knows Frank is different. But how can Jamie conceive of someone who doesn’t literally worship Claire like he does? Claire begs and it’s heartbreaking. Claire Beauchamp hasn’t begged once. Not once. Except now. And as Jamie lists his crimes you can tell in his voice he regrets none of it. Because it’s been for Claire. And as he tells her he will stand before God, and punctuates his sentence with kisses, you can hear in his voice all the love he feels for her, and you can hear his desire for her rising. When he takes her to the ground it echoes the moment in the glade when he says, “Does it ever stop? The wanting you?” Because for Jamie it never stops. Never. And he’ll have his wife before she goes. And as the cannons distract him, he nods at Claire but this time she doesn’t nod back. She doesn’t. And won’t. Because in this they are not Team Fraser. Instead of repeating the vow “Blood of my Blood” as she did on her wedding day, Claire initiates it. And they stare and memorize each other’s faces as Jamie walks Claire back to the stones. Her “I love yous” are so much more passionate than the first one she said at Lallybroch, so long ago. And Jamie is so moved by it. And the fact that he keeps nodding and she won’t respond is breaking my heart. Claire will not lie. She will not give him any indication that this is okay with her, because it’s not. Honesty pledged is honesty honoured. Jamie’s voice breaking on her name, it’s too much. I can’t even see through my tears to type this stupid sentence…
Finally, when Brianna accepts her mother’s word, and echoes Jamie’s words of “I believe you. I don’t understand it, but I believe you” Claire cannot contain herself. Bree’s acceptance plays beautifully across her face. Then, when she asks for honesty, it’s more than Claire could hope for. Jamie’s daughter, indeed. And as gotham-ruaidh so eloquently reminded me, the sun breaks over Craig Na Dun in the form of Jamie Fraser. “…and the sun came out, in the person of James.”– Outlander, “A Marriage Takes Place”
Richard Rankin does an amazing job of showing us how Roger is hit by the lightening bolt that is Brianna Randall.
Gonna go all shouty caps here and say THE TRANSITION FROM BRIANNA SLEEPING TO JAMIE GAVE ME CHILLS. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.
I like Geillis in this episode. I like seeing her past. And I like how it won’t clog up Voyager and take time away from the scene we will be waiting for. And I LOVE, “Why are you here?” And did anyone else catch the hesitation in Geillis after Roger introduces himself??? Ah, time travel. How do you work?
Murtagh’s bow to Fergus. Perfection. Fergus’ nod to Jamie. And Jamie’s nod back. Frasers. Family. And Murtagh, Godfather until the end. His promise to Ellen, to watch over Jamie. Even if it means dying together.
I’m gonna say it again. Dragonfly in Amber is a beast of a book to get through. And the writers did an amazing job of cutting it down into manageable pieces and making it coherent. However, I’m excited for the new writers next season and what they may bring to the table.
But I want to end by saying that the cast was stellar this year. Extraordinary. Sam Heughan’s acting is nuanced but the way he uses his voice as a tool is outstanding. He delivers lines like no other.
But Caitriona Balfe stole every damn scene she was in this year. Every. Scene. She was beyond amazing. I love her Claire so much more than book Claire. We really are lucky to have them.
From the upscale halls of Parisian royalty to the blood stained battlefield on Culloden Moor, Outlanderbrings fans on a life-altering journey with season two. The monumental season two finale, “Dragonfly in Amber” effortlessly weaves together the 1745 and 1968 storylines, introduces two, fan favorite book characters and leaves fans with an emotional pit in their stomachs.
When season two of Outlander began, fans learned that Claire (Caitriona Balfe) had been sent back through the stones to 1948 leaving Jamie (Sam Heughan) behind. Not only had Claire returned to Frank (Tobias Menzies), but she was also pregnant with Jamie’s child. Now after twelve, emotionally charged episodes, fans return to the future storyline, this time in 1968. Writers Toni Graphia and Matthew B. Roberts do a beautiful job at bringing Diana Gabaldon’s book to life as they effortlessly intertwine the 1745 Battle of Culloden with Claire’s 1968 storyline. With the 1745 storyline feeling claustrophobic and rushed, the 1968 storyline breathes and lets the weight of Claire’s decisions fully sink in. More than any other episode the repercussions of time travel are at the forefront. Outlander is about time traveling and dealing with those consequences and the season two finale gets back to that basic theme.
After an entire season of waiting, fans were finally introduced to Roger Wakefield MacKenzie and Brianna Randall Fraser in an epic 90-minute finale. Following so much secrecy surrounding Brianna and Roger’s introduction into Outlander, Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin were formally ushered into theOutlander family. Rankin brings his A-game and brings Roger to life with as much heart and charisma as his character has on the page. One of his first outstanding scenes in finale comes between him and Balfe. After Claire and Brianna arrive in Inverness after the passing of Roger’s adoptive father, Reverend Wakefield, Claire begins to relive the mistakes of the past. One night when she can’t sleep, Roger and Claire have a heart to heart about saying goodbye to those you love. It’s a small scene in the grand scheme of the episode, however it introduces Rankin as a formidable scene partner for Balfe. Rankin’s ability to be the calming voice amongst a sea of chaos in this episode of Outlander proves he’s the right man to bring Roger to life.
When it was first announced that Outlander would come to life on TV, the first thing fans did was dream cast their favorite characters. Of course, Jamie and Claire were at the top of the list, but next came their daughter, Brianna. The actress stepping into the role had to embody characteristics from Heughan and Balfe and be able to bring this eloquently crafted character to life. Seeing British actress Sophie Skelton bring the role to life in the finale is something truly special to witness. From the moment she walks the halls of Roger’s house, Brianna Randall Fraser has leapt off the page in the most perfect way. Skelton has several key moments in the season two finale. Between her chemistry with Rankin to going toe-to-toe with Balfe, Skelton proves herself in this episode.
With more storylines going on than ever before, each actor on Outlander steps up their game and delivers truly remarkable performances. First off, Caitriona Balfe leads the cast with such fierceness and heart that it’s hard to separate Balfe from her character. Only leaving the screen a few times in the finale, Balfe gives her second best performance this season. Between Claire’s life in 1745 to her new world in 1968, Balfe effortlessly separates the two versions of Claire, while still maintaining a common thread: a constant love for Jamie. Balfe has several Emmy award worthy moments in the finale and for some of them she doesn’t even have a scene partner.
With Roger showing Brianna around Scotland, Claire decides to visit a very special place: Lallybroch. In one of the most emotional moments, Claire pulls into the abandoned estate and it’s hard not to shed a tear for the place that housed so much life and promise in the 18th century. As Claire exits her car, voice overs from past episodes come flooding back reminding her of everyone and everything she left behind. With no dialogue uttered, Balfe delivers a remarkable performance. With a beautiful score byBear McCreary, coupled with a silent, sobbing Balfe, Outlander proves it can thrive in the quiet moments as much as the big ones. What really brings this scene home is when Claire is seated on the steps of Lallybroch and envisions a strapping Jamie standing in the entrance. As Heughan voiceovers a beautiful poem, Balfe weeps. Any fan will surely remember this scene and it’s all thanks to an utterly speechless performance by Balfe.
The next cry-inducing moment for Claire comes in 1968 when she visits the Clan Fraser memorial on Culloden Moor. Again, a scene that only consists of the beautiful Scottish scenery and a perfectly executed monologue by Balfe. “Here I am,” Claire utters to Jamie’s grave. Claire says she isn’t going to cry, but I never promised anything. In a heartfelt moment, Claire tells Jamie all about Brianna. How she is named after his father, how she was raised and every detail she can possibly remember. This small moment is where Balfe truly shines and proves she can own a scene even when her scene partner is a rock.
Although the actual Battle of Culloden doesn’t take place in this episode, tensions are high as the Clans prepare to march into battle. Tensions seem to be the highest between Claire and Jamie as the duo decide whether or not to kill Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Andrew Gower) before the battle commences. Of course, nothing can go as planned for the duo as Dougal (Graham McTavish) overhears their entire plan. In one of the most intense scenes in the episode, Jamie and Dougal fight in closed quarters. Heughan and McTavish bring a monumental book scene to life as Dougal’s world comes crashing down in front of him. With one last struggle, Jamie turns Dougal’s knife on him. A great addition to the TV show from the books, Claire assists Jamie as the great Dougal MacKenzie takes his last breath. Between seasons one and two, McTavish brought Dougal to life with equal parts intensity and heart. Dougal’s death and McTavish’s absence will loom large on Outlander going forward.
Before I discuss the gut-wrenching final Jamie and Claire scenes, let’s go back to 1968 for a second. After exploring Scotland with Roger, Brianna begins to piece together her parents past. When she discovers the news article about Claire’s disappearance and realizes Frank couldn’t possibly be her real father, Brianna confronts her mother. Skelton does a great job and combining characteristics of both Jamie and Claire to create Brianna. She has Jamie’s heart and Claire’s scientific mind. So, when Claire begins spewing some “nonsense” about time travel and her real father dying during the Battle of Culloden, Brianna doesn’t believe her at all. This is a scene book fans have been waiting for and both Skelton and Balfe did it justice. It was a rare sight to see Claire step back and be a lesser presence in a scene with another character. If anyone was going to loom larger in a scene, it would be her daughter. Skelton and Balfe do an incredible job at establishing their mother/daughter bond from the beginning. It will be wonderful to see Balfe and Skelton grow that bond going into future seasons.
Outlander may thrive on time travel, war and perilous historical situation, but at its core it’s a story about love. No matter where you place Jamie and Claire, their love story will come bubbling to the surface. Jamie makes the harrowing decision to send Clan Fraser back home to minimize casualties. Before the battle begins, Jamie first must get Claire to safety and then he will come back and die in the battle alongside Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix). With this decision, Outlander delivers a gut-wrenching farewell that should earn the two stars Emmy nominations.
There are two major parts to the Jamie and Claire farewell. Both scenes fans have been dreading since season two began. The first part comes when Jamie tells Claire he has decided to send her back through the stones at Craigh Na Dun. If this scene was a test before the final goodbye, I failed miserably. From the moment the camera pans and you see Claire’s face as she realizes Jamie’s plan, I was a goner. On top of Jamie telling his plan to Claire, he also reveals that he knows Claire is pregnant. In order to save Claire, their child, and to keep his legacy alive long after the sun sets on the Battle of Culloden, Jamie must say goodbye to his love. Heughan and Balfe nail this scene. Heughan brings Jamie’s conflicting emotions to life while Balfe perfectly encapsulates Claire’s grief. The duo continue to amaze audiences and critics alike and it has been an honor and pleasure to watch them work.
Like I said, there are really two major parts to this goodbye. The second part probably qualifies as the scene that fans used the most tissues on all TV season. I should’ve bought stock in Kleenex before this scene because an entire box of tissue met its demise. Claire and Jamie ride to Craig Na Dun and it’s there that Heughan and Balfe deliver one of their best scenes this season. From Balfe’s gut wrenching pleading to Heughan’s stoic moments, Outlander shines the brightest during this scene of total defeat. Balfe and Heughan exceed every expectation and bring this pivotal scene from Dragonfly in Amber to life.
“Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well.” Heughan delivers this iconic line from the novel perfectly. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, Heughan is the breakout star of Outlander. He has grown so much as an actor during the first two seasons. Heughan, alongside Balfe, have brought two iconic fictional characters to life with grace, heart and tenacity. This final goodbye between Jamie and Claire showcases Heughan and Balfe at their strongest. With one final kiss, Jamie steadies Claire and walks her towards the stones. A beautiful moment perfectly executed by every department onOutlander. From the synchronized choreography executed by Heughan and Balfe to the incredible location to the writing, Outlander proves it’s a heavy hitter. With one final tear down Jamie and Claire’s cheeks, Claire passes through the stones leaving fans and Jamie utterly heartbroken.
Back to 1968, Roger, Brianna and Claire come across Gillian Edwards (Lotte Verbeek), Geillis Duncan before she travelled back in time through the stones. In the last five minutes of the episode, Claire, Roger and Brianna rush to the stones to stop Geillis from going back in time and ultimately dying. In an unforgettable moment, Roger, Brianna and Claire witness Geillis travel through the stones and in that exact moment a number of things happen. One, Brianna now believes Claire’s journey into the past. Second, if fans pay close attention they can hear Roger and Brianna mention the buzzing near the stones. Only time travelers can hear the buzzing near Craigh Na Dun, which means Roger and Brianna can travel back in time. An important plot point book fans will know a lot about.
Now that Brianna believes Claire about Jamie living in the past, she asks Roger to reveal some pertinent information. In a heart warming moment, Roger tells Claire that five Fraser’s made it out of Culloden and were taken to be executed. One Fraser escaped and survived: James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. With tears in her eyes and her daughter by her side, Claire looks to the stones and decides she needs to go back and find Jamie. A beautiful full-circle moment perfectly executed by Balfe, Skelton, Rankin and the entire crew of Outlander. With this final moment, Outlander season two comes to a heart-breaking, but hopeful conclusion. From high-society Paris to the Battle of Culloden to 1968 Inverness, Outlander accomplished a lot this season and gave fans a hell of a ride.
Looking ahead, for fans that aren’t prepared to go into “Droughtlander” pick up Gabaldon’s third novelVoyager. Start preparing for a season of learning more about Brianna and Roger as well as Claire’s tireless efforts to reunite with Jamie. Until then, this reviewer (and sassenach) raises a glass of whisky to a heart pounding, Emmy-Award worthy season two of Outlander.
Outlander returns with season three next year on Starz
Introducing Sam Heughan – Barbour’s First Global Brand Ambassador
WE’RE PROUD TO ANNOUNCE OUR VERY FIRST GLOBAL BRAND AMBASSADOR AS SCOTTISH ACTOR SAM HEUGHAN. SAM IS A PERFECT FIT WITH HIS LOVE OF THE OUTDOORS, AND A LINK TO OUR FOUNDER JOHN BARBOUR.
July 13th 2016
From the borders of Scotland and with a passion for the countryside, actor Sam Heughan is the ideal choice for our first Global Brand Ambassador.
Sam grew up in Galloway, a short distance from the farm where founder John Barbour lived, before moving across the border to set up the first Barbour store in South Shields, in the North East of England in 1894.
Currently the lead actor in the hit international TV series Outlander which is filmed on location in Scotland, Sam will collaborate with us on photoshoots and appearances.
Working with our design team Sam will also develop his own signature capsule collection incorporating our renowned exclusive tartans, which are based on the Ayrshire District Tartan from where the Barbour family originated in the 13th century.
“Being Scottish, I grew up with the brand and have always been a big fan – being born in the same rural area as John Barbour, in the south of Scotland.”
“I have a great passion for the company and their employees that feels more like I’ve been welcomed into their extended family. I very much look forward to designing my own capsule collection based on this ethos and to representing the brand in the UK, the US and internationally.”
Alongside his work on hit period drama series Outlander, Sam has received numerous fan generated accolades including the BBC America Anglophenia Man of the Year in 2014 and Entertainment Weekly’s EW-wy Best Actor – Drama in 2015.
Outlander, the sexy time-travel drama with a major cult following, debuts its season two finale tomorrow on Starz, and millions of people are clearing their schedules to find out what lies ahead for Claire and Jamie.
While the chemistry between actors Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan is certainly one of the main draws of the show, the Scottish Highlands — where the majority of Outlander takes place — is a pretty dynamic character in itself.
To celebrate the end of another incredible season, and because Outlander features so many breathtaking locations—from real life castles (more on that, here), to impeccably detailed sets — we asked the cast and crew to pick their favorite filming spots. Read on.
Sam Heughan, Jamie Fraser
“I don’t really want to share my favorite place, as I’d love to keep it for myself … though our title sequence kind of gives it away, with ‘Over the sea to Skye!’ The Isle of Skye (though no longer actually an isle) is my favorite location in Scotland. The Quiraing, The Old Man of Storr, the beaches, fairy pools, Cuillin mountain range, and even the changeable weather. It’s a magical place with much to explore and a great place to rest and recharge the body.”
Maril Davis – Executive Producer (1)
“We shoot the standing stones up at Kinloch Rannoch and I have a soft spot for this magical place. It truly lives up to the ‘four seasons in one day’ phenomenon that’s common in Scotland. While shooting up there for season two, we experienced bright blue skies, snow, rain, and gale force winds — all in the span of one hour!”
Maril Davis – Executive Producer (2)
“Number two would have to be Falkland; it’s a delightful town that stands in as 1940’s Inverness in our story. It’s a quintessential, picturesque Scottish town and everyone in town has been so welcoming to the crew. Campbell’s Coffee house also makes a mean toastie on a cold Scottish morning!”
Stephen Walters – Angus Mhor
“Aviemore. It’s a town and tourist resort, situated within the Cairngorms National Park in the Highlands of Scotland.”
Toni Graphia – Executive Producer & Writer
“My favorite location was Glasgow Cathedral, where we shot scenes for ‘Faith.’ I admired it every time we drove past it in season one, and was thrilled when we finally were able to have it as a location. Gary Steele did a beautiful job of turning the church into our Hôpital des Anges, and you can really feel the ghosts in that building, which was built in the 12th dentury. Glasgow is a stunning city and the people there were so kind to us. I felt a real magic in those streets.”
Rosie Day – Mary Hawkins
“Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries was simply amazing. The landscape was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, especially early in the morning with clouds rolling in off the mountains and the frost-bitten grass. The market town is adorable and the locals are so friendly.”
Andrew Gower – Prince Charles Stuart
“My favorite place in Scotland is Sterling Castle!”
Terry Dresbach – Costume Designer
“My favorite set is Jamie and Claire’s apartment. It is the most brilliant set I have ever seen; so beautiful, and so real that I wonder how many viewers think it is [a real] location. The sets Gary Steele designed for Paris are absolutely incredible. It is hard for me to choose which one is my favorite! The apartment, the apothecary, the brothel…”
Nicki McCallum – Supervising Art Director
“Culross Palace and gardens; the rooms creak with history, and the garden is the most beautiful and calming place to walk through.”
Domick Hill – Stunt Coordinator
“Being the Stunt Coordinator, my favorite location was a large tent in a very wet field, near Torbrex Farm, which is a few miles from the studio. The reason being that it’s where we filmed the majority of the Battle of Prestonpans — not very glamorous, but we had a lot of fun in that smoke filled, muddy marquee!”
Danny Sumsion – Construction Manager
“I think the standing stones location at Kinloch Rannoch has been my favorite location for season one, as I’ve been lucky enough to be the only person there on occasion, having arrived first for a recce or to set up. It is a really special place, with 360-degree views, to see transformed when we’ve installed the stones. And then, as always, the circus arrives! For season two, I think it was actually Wilton House near Salisbury. It was the first big house that we filmed in that had a really different look and feel to what we had been working in previously and the grounds and the bridge where amazing.”
Stuart Bryce – Assistant Set Decorator
“For season two, it has to be Dysart Harbour, which we used for Le Havre. It was the biggest exterior we had done to date at the time, and it was great to get the ships in and show them in context. I just love the ships.“
Stuart Bryce – Assistant Set Decorator
“For season one, my favorite location was Blackness Castle. It’s doesn’t matter what the weather is like; it’s always ice cold inside. It makes you wonder how grim it must have been to be incarcerated there. Also it’s near Corvi’s, one of the finest fish and chip shops in Scotland.”
Gina Cromwell – Set Decorator
“In real life, the gardens are recreations of a 17th-century garden. Located behind Culross Palace, [the gardens] were laid out to show the range of plants that were grown for culinary, medicinal and ornamental use. Also featured were Scot’s Dumpy chickens, which wander freely.”
As the second season of Outlander officially concludes Saturday night, many fans have recently binged on, discussed, and reexamined the past twelve episodes that have occupied our social media feeds for the past five months. “Come for the action, stay for the conversation” I wrote in a February 29 article responding to the Entertainment Weekly cover that generated heated debates from both fans and detractors as to its appropriateness and message. I admit that my first reaction to the two leads, Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, embracing on a bed with only the fabrics of one kilt and one sheet between them (plus the inclusion of “bodice-ripping” in the cover lines) was “Oh, geez,” because I knew it would only fuel the misconception of the show as some Harlequin revue of heaving bosoms and muddy kilts and PASSION. As I noticed all the details referencing prior events and characters’ motivations (physical vs. mental scars, sexual intimacy influencing spirituality), I realized that was the kicker: the image both acknowledged and countered that cover line.
Over the last thirteen episodes (yes, I’ve screened the finale but won’t reveal spoilers), the brilliance of Outlander has been its continuous ability to place those assumptions under the microscope and flip them over, reshape them, or recontextualize them. “Brilliance” as a descriptor is in danger of being reduced to the worth of a participation medal for any show that requires a thinking hat, but what makes this show so worthy is that it challenges the assumptions of not only its detractors, but also for its most ardent fans. The intricate and painstaking process of adapting Diana Gabaldon’s epic story of Jamie and Claire for the medium of television means change is inevitable within the confines of time, space, budget, context, and other variables. This is what makes the show an interpretation of the novels, not a word-for-word mirror image of each chapter, and it carefully balances the wants of the book fans with the needs of the strictly show fans. Each facet of its production, from dialogue to costumes to cinematography, demands the engagement of the audience (and often repeated viewings) to discern the meaning behind the images: issues of power and control, masculinity and femininity, and the manipulation of genre and stereotype.
To put it plainly: it is one of the smartest and most proactive shows on television, embracing love and passion and intrigue and refusing to apologize. Will Outlander ever break free of its “kilty pleasure” stereotype in the press? It’s getting close. I don’t think anyone could watch “Wentworth Prison,” or “To Ransom a Man’s Soul,” or “Faith,” or “Prestonpans,” just to name a few, and still reduce the show’s appeal to only one gender or viewers who like only one genre. Yes, the romance of the two leads is at the forefront of their ongoing story, and rightfully should be celebrated as part of a healthy adult relationship. Jamie and Claire’s friendship and later marriage unfolds and matures within a violent and chaotic world, where their decisions are tempered by forces beyond their control as well as factors they try their hardest to influence.
Much has been written and rightly so about costume designer Terry Dresbach’s magnificent creations that have adorned the characters both in Scotland and France, from a salon in the 1740s to a country house in the 1940s and 1960s. Following Dresbach online is participating in a master class about what costumes bring to and reflect about the story and what they reveal about the characters. Claire’s Highland wardrobe was primarily a matter of function and defense against the elements (i.e. the layers upon layers of wool) while her Parisian dresses reflected her very pointed political and social strategy. As she and Jamie establish themselves in Paris to try to thwart the Jacobite rebellion, their carefully structured public personas were shown through their appearance and style. As Jamie needed to perfect the image of the successful businessman to the French elite as well as his Scottish heritage to Prince Charles Stuart, Claire utilized her newfound wealth and privilege to design a wardrobe that reflected her most unique situation: as a woman of the future, she brings a 1940s sensibility to mid-18th century haute couture with equal parts refinement and titillation.
Throughout the Paris episodes, each creation was an examination of womanhood under the spotlight: confronting societal expectations with a silent protest in each cut of skirt or peek of décolletage. Like a sartorial chess game, Claire had to predict what situation she would be in, and what lines of etiquette she could tiptoe across, and who she had to impress. Of course, as a woman of the 1940s transplanted to the 1740s, as she becomes acclimated to Paris society, her style becomes brilliantly meta, such as when she wore a gown that resembled the famous Bar Suit of the late 1940s by Christian Dior, which was itself inspired by 18th century designs. She is a woman of her own time asserting her identity within the societal structures of the 1740s.
As Outlander blends elements of science fiction, military history, and action-adventure, when considering the aspects of romance and love it is crucial to examine how the male characters are portrayed. There are several types of love depicted on the show: romantic love, filial love, love of country, love of self. While we are predisposed to focus on the women and their displays of love, the Outlander writers place as much if not more emphasis on how their male counterparts deal with matters of the heart (or lack thereof).
James Fraser is certainly the dashing, attractive partner of Claire, but the paths they take towards loving each other are very different. Jamie knows romance on a more personal level than Claire, as his parents, Brian and Ellen, ran off and eloped. Claire was orphaned at a very young age and raised by her uncle; as she lead quite a nomadic existence until adulthood, she has a deep, internal craving for home. For Jamie, his family home of Lallybroch is his stability and sense of self, and his years away from it – first as a soldier and later an outlaw – have made the farm his idyllic dream in most of Season One. When he tells Claire in “The Reckoning” that he fashioned her wedding ring from the key to Lallybroch, as she is his home now, you can see that emptiness in both of them has been filled.
The spiritual connection between the two continues to develop in and out of the bedroom, as Jamie’s respect for Claire as a healer and Claire’s witness of his increasing skill as a leader of men make them ideal partners, best friends, lovers, and soulmates. Jamie recognizes that love is all-encompassing and requires sacrifice and devotion, and he demonstrates this not only for his wife but for his home and family and clan. This is what makes Sam Heughan’s performance so heartbreaking after Wentworth: even the demonstration of love has been tainted. After his assault by Jack Randall, he cannot physically connect with his wife, causing him to literally and figuratively withdraw from her for the first few episodes. When Claire discovers the bite marks a prostitute left on his thighs in “La Dame Blanche,” and surmises that he can still muster the will for physical intimacy, just not with her, he confesses his ongoing torment. This is not something a romantic male lead is supposed to experience, let alone admit to, but Outlander presents his suffering honestly and openly, and it is Claire who comes to him later that night, assuming the roles of protector and nurturer and lover, instigating their physical reunion.
Once the episodes return to Scotland, we see the Frasers continue to work together in a shared cause to save their friends and Highland culture altogether. Jamie rides with his wife by his side, consults her in all matters, and recognizes her independent and tenacious character. The weight of prescience about Culloden weighs on the couple, and one of the most tender scenes shared between them is when Jamie is leaving for Prestonpans. He says no words to his wife, but their passionate kiss and his deep bow to her is testament enough to the emotion between them.
Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) is one of the most romantic characters in the last two seasons, and not because of his brief romance with the chambermaid in Paris. Jamie’s godfather carries the burden of unrequited love for Ellen Fraser and a steadfast devotion to her son. He is grave and intense and gruff in a Gary Cooper sort of way, his dark eyes attesting to the hard life he has lived and his social awkwardness in Paris revealing his introversion and isolation from home. Murtagh is a romantic in the unswerving attention he pays to his loved ones, which come to include Claire, and his appreciation for love itself. When he argues with Claire in “The Search,” or wraps Jamie in his kilt and carries him out of Wentworth, or later argues with him against suicide in the Abbey, or becomes Fergus’s unwitting big brother back in Scotland, or offers to wed Mary Hawkins to save her from possible abuse by Jack Randall, his gallantry is unaffected by pretension or expectation. He has not been lucky in love, but he will not let that stop him from devoting his life to helping others, and recognizing love in turn.
On the other hand, Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) merely thinks he is a romantic. He is in love with passion and desire and glory. Most devoutly, he is in love with himself, and his attentiveness to his beloved in terms of appearance and bearing is tenderly wrought. He is in love with dramatic gestures, and frivolous women, and the faux-liberality that comes with strong wine and dimly lit brothel parlors. Unfortunately, his rose-colored glasses extend to grander schemes, where a combination of ego and entitlement layered over a foundation of daddy issues threatens the very lives of the people he hopes to regain sovereignty over. He sees the romance of war, the style of military regalia, the songs and tributes and crowns of laurels. He cannot be bothered with the elements, the mud, the broken of body and sick of heart. That would ruin the spectacle he has created in his mind, the everlasting glory of his predestination that renders the reality around him a necessary sacrifice. He is a foolish dreamer that has created a nightmare that all come to see except himself.
Frank Randall is a polarizing character, depending on how actively you feel he participates in the hand he is dealt. Without spoiling the books for the “show fans,” the television portrayal of Claire’s hapless first husband is fantastically done because he is not relegated to the dimwitted cuckold nor some beastly tyrant who drove his wife into the arms of another. He loves Claire, and she loved him, though not at the intensity of her connection with Jamie. He loves her enough to want to rekindle their passion at Inverness in the first episode of Season One, and he loves her enough to want to start over with her unborn child in the first episode of Season Two. Frank believes in new beginnings, and when Claire physically and spiritually can not return his love, he channels it into a devotion to Brianna who he takes as his own child.
Finally, how could Jack Randall have any part in a discussion of love? Praise must be heaped on Tobias Menzies for not only portraying Frank with heart and hope, but exposing the pathology of Jack in a meticulous, brutal way. A year ago, I debated whether or not Jack could experience love in a review of the last two episodes of Season One. In “The Garrison Commander,” he interrogates Claire as a possible spy and tries to get her to confess by assuming the persona of a man in need of redemption. Just when he moves her to tears with his profession of remorse, he physically beats her and assures her that he is in total command of the evil with which he surrounds himself. Later, moments before raping Jamie in Wentworth Prison, Jack challenges Jamie’s determination to remain numb to the assault by saying, “You think I cannot control the darkness I inhabit?” He wants his victims to know and believe in his complete power over them, and over the evil that causes one human to commit such cruelty to another.
I thought Jack might have some degree of anhedonia as a result of his wartime experiences combined with a diseased psyche, especially given his displays of physical and verbal rage. He cannot experience love with anyone but his brother Alex, so he desecrates the flesh out of self-hate. Even worse, he has mastered how to pantomime acts of love as witnessed in his final assault of Jamie, when he figures out how to break him by emulating Claire and displaying a grotesque tenderness. Not satisfied merely to destroy a man physically, he requires the active participation of the victim in his own violation: if Jack can not unite with another in love, to achieve that physical and spiritual connection that comes with true intimacy, then they will unite in fear and anguish.
As the books were written by Diana Gabaldon, and the show has several female producers and writers (Maril Davis, Toni Graphia, Anne Kenney), and a female costume designer (Terry Dresbach), the female gaze and perspective is finely tuned and acutely felt throughout the episodes. The challenges and risks of being a woman both in Scotland and France in the 1740s, including issues of reproductive health and social stability, are examined from Claire’s modern perspective. Something as natural as pregnancy and childbirth could bring a slow, painful death, while a victim of rape could face social suicide if the assault were made public. As Claire navigates the different worlds she and Jamie live in, she has the ability to discern the parameters from which she must conduct herself, and with whom, and to what extent. She has come to a time where women are considered property and marriage a business transaction, and she utilizes the preconceptions of the men she encounters to her advantage in order to survive. The objectification of the male gaze is not limited to the 1740s, either: as Jen Yamato points out in her condemnation of recent profiles of female celebrities by male writers, a woman’s worth is still relegated to a Likert scale of how threatening, physically attractive, and useful she is deemed to be. Regardless of the environment in which she lives, Claire has to gingerly tread the social minefield where her intelligence, independence, and foresight could elicit begrudging respect as easily as distrust or even danger. Like Jamie, however, Claire possesses a natural grace and dignity alongside her resourcefulness that establishes trust, both from the other characters and the audience. We believe in Jamie and Claire, in their actions and decisions, and in the endurance of their love for each other. Throughout the show, Claire’s roles as healer, lover, mother, friend, and leader continue to evolve as she confronts each new challenge with a resiliency and fortitude, bolstered by the man who she allowed into her heart and soul.
The 13th episode of Outlander, “Dragonfly in Amber,” marked the second season finale the Starz series. (Tear!) We asked Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore to look back at the challenges of adapting Diana Gabaldon’s second book, Dragonfly in Amber, to the small screen — and what we can expect in season 3.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How long did you know you wanted to use the Chamber Brothers’ Time Has Come Today for the finale? RONALD D. MOORE: Quite a while. I think it was actually in the script. I think [writers] Matt Roberts and Toni Graphia came up with that as their end title song. Everyone just sort of loved it from the beginning.
And the title card featuring the scene from The Avengers!
That started with Matt. I think we were talking about doing something with an old television and a clip. At first he said, you know, it should be Star Trek. I giggled and thought that’d be funny, and then immediately I thought it has to be one with Scotty, one where he is wearing his kilt. Then I looked up when Star Trek was actually on the air in the U.K. and it turns out it wasn’t on in 1968. We still wanted to start with a clip that puts us in that time period. What would have been shown there that was iconic and American audiences would get? I think it was Marina Campbell, who’s our assistant, came up withThe Avengers.
Let’s go back to the start of the season, when you began the action in the ’40s rather than the ’60s, when the book actually starts. Was this a way to give Tobias Menzies more screen time?
No. It’s just that starting in 1968 was too big of a leap for the TV audience, because the last time we saw Claire and Jamie, they’re sailing off to France. I just thought fading into 1968, when Claire not only returned to the 20th century, but also has a grown daughter was too much. It was big enough to say that she returned to the 20th century. So you saw her return. You still had the shock value of that. Then we could hold off the 1968 stuff until the end of the season.
The political machinations got pretty dense in France. What was it like for the writers, trying to keep the story clear for the viewers?
It was very tricky. In the book, the section in Paris is even more episodic. The Comte St. Germain’s story is over here and there’s the relationship with Master Raymond over there and then the Duke of Sandringham. We kept trying to find ways to unite the storylines. For instance, the big dinner party where everything goes askew … the book doesn’t have either Prince Charlie or the Duke there, and the dinner party is unrelated to that plot. We knew we wanted to play the dinner party because it was such a key moment in the book. But then we tried to work a way so that it also fed into the Jacobite plot. Those were our struggles — finding ways to unite various plot threads to go through events much, much faster.
What did Diana Gabaldon think about how things were addressed in France?
She said, “I think you’ve guys have done a nice job. This is tricky material.” She was very supportive.
Did you decide early on to show more of Prestonpans and less of the Battle of Culloden?
Yeah, but that also follows the book because the book doesn’t take you into the Battle of Culloden. That was an easy decision to make. The book did detail a lot of Prestonpans. It also dealt with the Battle of Falkirk, which we decided not to do because we just said, let’s do one big battle. Prestonpans seemed like the best one to do for a variety of reasons.
I understand you shot Prestonpans in a tent with lots of smoke.
It was historically accurate, because it was a surprise attack in the wee hours of the morning. A lot of their numbers were cloaked in fog. That helped to panic the British, because they had no idea how many they were dealing with and where they were coming from. There was a certain disorientation on their part when the Highlanders just came screaming out of the fog.
Were you happy to take the action out of Paris?
I think everyone wanted to get back to Scotland, because it felt like Scotland was home to the show. Season 1 was a love letter to Scotland. There was a sense that when we were in Paris it wasn’t really Outlander, even though it was with our principal characters.
One last question about those France scenes — did French dildos really exist and look like that?
They did actually exist. And I think they looked like that. I think dildos have been with us since the Egyptians.
After finding your Jamie and Claire, was it a walk in the park to track down an actress who could play Brianna?
No. It was difficult. They’re very tricky roles to cast, especially when you’re casting the adult child of two of our leads. So, you want to see both characters in her immediately, which is a big challenge in terms of who that actress is going be. She also has to literally play the daughter of Claire in the episode. She has to have a certain chemistry with Roger. And even though she’s in the episode a lot, she’s not as big in the next season. The roles of Roger and Brianna grow over the course of the books. At first you’re just seeing the two of them for briefer periods of time. All those things added up to a very complex casting process.
Brianna is raised in Boston, but you went ahead and cast Sophie Skelton, who is from the U.K. Did you consider casting an American?
We did talk about that. We looked at Americans. I think there were some Canadians in the mix. It was a fairly wide net.
Brianna is supposed to have a Boston accent, but Sophie ended up not using one. Why?
Boston accents are tricky. It’s easy for them to become a caricature pretty easily. We’ve got so many accents going on in the show. It just didn’t feel like we needed to go there, as well.
Was it important to find a sexy man to play Roger?
He just needed to be charming and funny, and you had to instantly like him and feel like he was a good match for Brianna. Richard Rankin had that in spades. Everyone just immediately likes him when they meet him.
Are you starting production on season 3 any sooner this year?
We’re ramping up now. We are working on scripts and stories. We will probably be on an accelerated overall production schedule now that we have two season pickups. So we can start actively planning season 4 as opposed to waiting for a pickup. Season 3 is a traveling show. It starts in Scotland, but then it’s a sea voyage. There are pirates. It’s in Jamaica. It’s in the New World. And book 4 is in the New World and suddenly in North Carolina. So having the ability to make long range plans about where we are shooting certain elements and where we want to dedicate resources is enormously helpful in planning the show.
Can you say where season 3 will be shot?
Our home base will always be Scotland. We’re looking at various options for where to shoot the ships and where to find tropical beaches and jungles to play the Caribbean section of the story. Hopefully, we’ll find a place that has both things at once so we’ll only have to make one big trip for the company.
Does a Waterworld-like Outlander season excite you?
It will be great. They’re challenging shoots. Anything having to do with the water is very challenging for any production. But my production company is called Tall Ship. This to me is going be a lot of fun. There are big logistical and technical difficulties involved.
How much longer are we fans going to be able to enjoy Tobias?
Unfortunately, his role will come to an end relatively soon. It’s not over yet. We’ll still see him in season 3. But other than occasional flashbacks to Frank or Jack, their story pretty much ends in book 3.
Of all those killed off this season, which one would you have wanted to keep alive?
That’s a hard one to say. I think we all will probably miss the Duke of Sandringham quite a bit. He’s a great character. I lament his loss.
Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen the “Outlander” Season 2 finale, Episode 13, titled “Dragonfly in Amber.” Refresh your memory of where we left off with our previous “Outlander” recap.
After a season spent barreling towards the Battle of Culloden, it felt like something of a relief to be spared the gory details of that fateful fight, with the Season 2 finale of “Outlander” spending most of its time focused on what really mattered — Claire and Jamie’s relationship, both in its vibrant immediacy on the morning of the battle, and through melancholy memories that played out across Claire’s face 20 years later as she revisited Scotland. Claire took a monumental journey in the extended episode, moving from grief and repression to a rekindled sense of hope as she realized that Jamie hadn’t died at Culloden, meaning there was still a chance for her to reunite with him, even two decades (and two centuries) after leaving him.
The episode skipped back and forth between the 18th century and Claire’s “present” in 1968, allowing us to meet Claire and Jamie’s daughter, Brianna (Sophie Skelton), and Reverend Wakefield’s dashing adopted son, Roger (Richard Rankin) — as well as catching up with Claire’s Season 1 friend Geillis Duncan — aka Gillian Edgars — before she traveled back through the Standing Stones and met Claire for the first time back in the 1700s.
The finale provided yet another showcase for Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan’s nuanced performances; Heughan exuded both strength and vulnerability as Jamie was forced to say farewell to his wife — and that was after the ordeal of killing his uncle, Dougal, when the war chief discovered them plotting to kill Bonny Prince Charlie in a last-ditch effort to avert Culloden.
“You just see how desperate they’ve become that they would even consider something as horrific as this, but as Claire says, it’s take the life of one to save the lives of thousands,” Balfe says of their scheme. “It’s a really heartbreaking moment for Jamie because no matter what Dougal has done, he’s his uncle, he raised him for a lot of his life and trained him, and there was a very complicated love there, but there was some kind of love there.”
Heughan agrees, telling Variety in our video recap above, “We decided that Claire should be involved in that and that isn’t in the books. I think it makes them both complicit in the murder of Dougal, it makes them both guilty. So they’re united in their desperation of trying to save everyone and everything, and in doing that they’ve had to kill Jamie’s uncle, which doesn’t sit well with him.”
At that point, Heughan admits, “it’s about trying to save Claire — she doesn’t quite know that until they get closer to the Stones.” Their farewell scene was monumental both for the characters and the actors, he says. “We were both very aware that this is the last time they’re together, so there is a pressure, but you also don’t want to pressurize yourself as an actor, otherwise you begin to tense up – we just wanted to see what happened, and out of it came this wonderful almost choreography, this moment where it’s almost like a dance, where Jamie’s guiding Claire with her back towards the stones so she’s staring at him… it seemed to work because we couldn’t work out how to get to Claire to the stones, because she doesn’t want to go.”
The farewell at Craigh na Dun was one of the series’ most heartbreaking and evocative yet, made all the more desperate because they know Claire is pregnant again. Balfe admits that there was some debate about how Claire and Jamie’s final moment of intimacy should play out during filming.
“In the book it’s very different, because they stay overnight in a cottage and we were condensing the time and because we’d filmed things in Season 1 where there was no cottage, we couldn’t do that, so then there was a whole thing about ‘where do they have their last moments together? They have sex and where is that gonna be?’ There was a lot of talk about up against a tree and I was like ‘no, not gonna happen that way! That’s so not romantic, it can’t be up against a tree, that’s not right,’” she laughs, recalling the moment. “I was so adamant about it, and they were like ‘well, it’s gonna be cold and wet, are you gonna wanna be on the ground?’ I was like ‘I don’t care, I’ll be on the ground, it can’t be against a tree.’ It just seemed so wrong and so not beautiful.”
Despite the need to save their baby, Balfe says, she felt that “Claire would fight towards the end and she wouldn’t want to leave, so how do we get Jamie to take her to the stones and yet how do we get Claire to go, because I just felt like she just wouldn’t want to. I know she has to go to save her child, but she just wouldn’t want to, and somehow we came up with this beautiful almost like a dance, where they’re locked together and they’ve got their heads together and they’re looking in each other’s eyes and he sort of dances her to the Stone and she’s just crying and telling him that she loves him and it’s so beautiful. When we were filming it, I feel like everyone got so swept up in the moment. It’s so sad. These characters are so much a part of us at this point, it was just heartbreaking – how do you let go, how do you say goodbye to someone? It was just awful. I think some of the crew were all misty-eyed, it was great.”
In addition to those emotional scenes in the past, Balfe also deftly managed to portray a wholly new version of Claire in the future — one with 20 years and countless life experiences behind her — while still maintaining her character’s integrity, fire and resolve.
“I went ahead and I read all of the information from [book three in Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series] ‘Voyager,’ that showed Claire in Boston, because I wanted to really get a sense of what her life had been like in that interim 20 years,” Balfe says of tackling the later iteration of her character. “I really wanted to more concentrate on ‘what does 20 years of, in some ways, a compromised existence, how does that weigh on a person?’ Claire is a survivor, we know that about her – we know that she’s a fighter, but having lived in a marriage of convenience in many ways with Frank for 20 years, that has to have had an effect on her shine in a way, on her vitality. And yet, at the same point she’s become a surgeon so I wanted her to have a bit of gravity and she carries herself very well and it was really interesting to play with all of that.”
Balfe says she looked to the work of some of her favorite actresses to inspire her performance, including Charlotte Rampling, Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep. “I watched films they did in their late twenties and then I went and watched some things that they’d done in their fifties and obviously people physically age, but how do you carry yourself?” Balfe says. “It’s always very slight, there’s a maturity but it’s more in how they carry themselves.”
Despite the tension between Claire and her headstrong daughter – who is reluctant, to say the least, to believe that her real father was a Scottish warrior from the 18th Century, Balfe notes that “a big part of Claire now is that she’s a mother, and that relationship with Brianna was very important. At this point when we meet them, they are somewhat strained, there’s distance between them, but myself and Sophie when we were talking about the relationship, [we felt that] it can’t be that this has how it’s always been. Even with Claire’s relationship with Frank, it couldn’t have been miserable for 20 years, otherwise she wouldn’t have stayed in it. So there have to have been moments where things were working, and I think always in the back of Claire’s mind, she’s never really loved him again in that way, but there have to have been good times and they co-parented and there’s joy in seeing your daughter grow up and all of these things, but it has been more compromised, so there was all of that was so interesting to play.”
We’re spared the brutality of Culloden and what happens to Jamie after Claire says goodbye to him at the Standing Stones, but Heughan promises that all will be revealed in Season 3.
As Jamie lets Claire go, Heughan says, “he knows he’s going to die, but at least she is going to be safe, and his unborn child, who will be Bree. We won’t actually see what happens to Jamie after she’s gone through the Stones until the next season – for me that’s a really big question and something that will be really interesting to look at – who is Jamie without Claire, why is he still surviving or what has he got to live for when he’s lost the woman that he loves? She will eventually return, but they’re both older, so who is the man he’s become age-wise, physically? I think that’s the joy of the show, it’s never the same thing, it’s constantly moving, so next season should be quite an adventure.”