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By Laura Prodom

As the Battle of Culloden looms ever closer, this week’s “Outlander” sees Claire and Jamie’s lives spinning even further out of their control — first ambushed and besieged by the Redcoats, they then find themselves forced to separate to protect their men, which leads Claire to an unexpected confrontation with the duplicitous Duke of Sandringham, who is revealed to be the architect of Claire’s attack and Mary’s brutal rape in the streets of Paris. Not only does the episode feature the welcome return of Jamie’s mute friend Hugh Munro, it also allows Mary and Murtagh to exact their revenge on the men responsible for that heinous crime, offering some semblance of closure for what transpired in France.

Beyond featuring the death of a major character and pulling off several epic action scenes, the episode has special significance to stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, since it was written by “Outlander” author Diana Gabaldon — who was also on set during filming.

“It’s so funny, because each writer has such a distinctive voice when they write — even if they took away the title page, you’d be able to hear ‘that’s an Ira script, that’s a Matt script,’” Balfe says. “And with this, it just felt like reading the source material again; it was so distinctively Diana that it was such a beautiful read and had such great action and pace to it. Claire’s so feisty; it’s the very distinctive Claire from the book, and it was really exciting to be able to do.”

Some time has passed since the Scots’ victory at Prestonpans, and we see that “Jamie’s been constantly battling with all the other commanders; there’s a lot of in-fighting — too many people with too many opinions, too much tradition,” Heughan notes in Variety‘s video recap above. “Jamie knows that if they fight like they have done for hundreds of years using the Highland charge, that won’t be effective against a modern army, so Jamie’s trying to modernize this army to at least give them a chance. Jamie definitely feels like he has a lot of weight on his shoulders now and ultimately, he begins to concern himself with the things he can protect — his men and the people that are close to him.”

That makes him reluctant to allow Claire to hand herself over to the Redcoats in order to secure safe passage for the rest of their troops — but our heroine is determined to do her part to ensure their freedom.

“I loved that Diana wrote that. Claire feels as much a part of this clan as any of them, and she does share that responsibility with Jamie,” Balfe says. “It’s a great line: ‘Am I not Lady Broch Tuarach? Are these not my men too?’ Because we’re back in Scotland, you can’t help but think back to last season and different times of when she felt so left out and it took such a long time for them to accept her and for her to accept them. It’s so great that now you see the unity of them all. She isone of them; she’s now a true Scot in many ways, and yet you see her use her Englishness to be able to protect them more – it’s the one card that she keeps having.”

It’s a fraught situation — one of many they’ll face before Culloden, Balfe previews. “They’re very desperate at this point, they don’t have a lot of options left. Claire and Jamie both know what’s looming, and I think that once you’re aware of that and you have that hanging over your head, it makes you act in very desperate ways, because you’re just reaching for anything, you’re trying to do anything that will help you survive.”

Heughan agrees, “It becomes quite frantic and quite desperate, but actually Jamie goes the other way, he doesn’t become desperate, he becomes very in control, very logical … before he might’ve been very passionate and very out of control, but now he’s a grown man and a grown leader of men.”

After his rape and torture at the hands of Black Jack last season, Heughan purposefully wanted to show that Jamie was a changed man, and that his sense of self-worth was affected by the lies and manipulation required of him in Paris as he tried to earn the trust of Bonny Prince Charlie. “I was very aware and nervous about the first half, about playing him as not the Jamie that we know and love and not as sparkly, not being quite present,” he admits. “I was slightly concerned that maybe the viewers wouldn’t get that or they’d be switched off by it, but I think it’s important to see that that has affected his relationship with Claire and that their relationship isn’t working, it’s a long process to get back to each other, which takes almost the whole season.” Now that he’s back in Scotland and has the lives of his men in his hands, however, “hopefully by the end of the season he’s in control of his destiny,” Heughan says.

Balfe recalls reading a fan comment that asked, “if they know what’s going to happen, why do they keep fighting,” to which she responds, “They don’t have any other option; otherwise you just lay down and die. They have to fight to the end and I think it’s so indicative of their spirit, the fact that they’re just relentless, they’ll keep fighting and keep trying right ’til the end.”

The death of Sandringham may not affect the outcome of Culloden, but it’s a personal victory that is sorely needed before they face their fates on the infamous moor. Balfe offers some insight into what’s going through Claire’s mind when she discovers Sandringham’s involvement in the Paris attack: “Sheer rage, it’s seething rage. More for Mary Hawkins than for Claire. It’s just that disgust. It’s always been this very slippery relationship between them anyway, and I think time and time again Claire, against her better instincts, has had to make alliances with him or somehow be involved with him, but I think she’s always known that this man is more devious than he appears, and to find out that he orchestrated that attack, and for his own goddaughter, it disgusts her. But I loved that Mary Hawkins finally gets justice and she gets it by her own hand, and Rosie Day did such an incredible job.”

The cast was reluctant to say goodbye to Simon Callow, who has endowed the Duke with such sly wit and perfidiousness, he’s fast become one of the most memorable characters on the show.

“It was very funny because poor Mary, every time she would come into the room, Simon would just turn round and be like ‘Just go to bed!’ and it became the catchphrase for the rest of the season among all the actors,” Balfe recalls with a laugh. “We’d just say ‘oh, just go to bed!’ And the prosthetic head, it was so wonderful and lifelike and I have a wonderful photo I can’t wait to tweet out once this episode has aired, of Simon holding it by its face.”

The only downside of Sandringham’s eventful death scene was that there wasn’t enough time to include every brutal moment that was written, including a powerful performance by Duncan Lacroix as Murtagh.

“Before going into battle, the warriors would announce their fathers and forefathers and conjure up the spirits of their past fathers,” Heughan says. “When shooting it, Duncan Lacroix did this beautiful speech in Gaelic – unfortunately it didn’t quite make it into the cut, but it was a really special moment.”

“Duncan is fantastic in that,” Balfe agrees. “It was really dramatic and I think Duncan probably terrified Simon because he was in the zone all day and off listening to music and would just come in…”

The bloody decapitation (and Mary and Claire’s priceless reaction to it) certainly ended the episode with a bang, Balfe notes: “It was a very fitting sendoff to a very colorful character that we’ve had since very early on in Season 1.”

“Outlander” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz. What did you think of “Vengeance is Mine” and seeing Sandringham dead at Murtagh’s hand? Weigh in below.

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It’s true.  I am still obsessed with the knitwear on Outlander.  Not just the main pieces either.  Yes, I love Claire’s cowls, caplets, and shawls, but even the supporting players and extras had beautiful pieces.  (click on an image to enlarge)

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I am sure it isn’t just me.  There are a lot of websites out there for patterns, both free and paid.  There are people selling premade replicas, and even LionBrand Yarn has gotten in on the act.

I was a little nervous about it, but the amount of love it has generated, the fact that there are women who are knitting all of these scarves and cowls based on our show is so touching and so lovely and speaks so much about our fans and who they are and the relationship they have to the material. It’s really quite lovely, and I don’t think twice about it anymore.  – Terry Dresbach

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This has been more than a tumultuous season for Jamie and Claire on Outlander, and Saturday’s episode, promises to deliver another blow.

In the following sneak peek, which you’re seeing first on Mashable, Dougal gives Jamie a letter that informs the Jacobite leader that the prince wants them gone.

“Exile — that’s what it is. They want rid of us — of you,” Dougal says. “They want you and me gone and gone now.”

Jamie reacts about how you’d expect to the news — with fire in his eyes and determined to work this out with the prince. But even that plan hits a snag, as Dougal informs him the royal has left — and taken his horse.

So where does that leave them? We’ll have to find out Saturday when the new episode, titled “Vengeance is Mine,” airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.


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Outlander Secrets, Part 10: The Big, Big Problem With Jamie’s Kilt
In the latest installment of Outlander Secrets, costume designer Terry Dresbach talks the most controversial element of the Scotland wardrobe.

JUN 10, 2016
Much has been written about the head-turning, high-wattage costumes from Outlander’s Paris scenes this season: the saturated colors, the meticulous embroidery, the jaw-dropping accessories (er, nipple jewelry). At this point in the Starz hit’s second season, Outlander protagonists Claire and Jamie have returned to Scotland, ditching Paris’ jewel-tone silks for Scotland’s utilitarian gray wools—but the chatter about the show’s costumes hasn’t slowed a bit. How could it, with Emmy-winning costume designer Terry Dresbach at the helm? Here, we chat with Dresbach about Outlander’s wardrobe now that we’ve returned to the Highlands, and the mind-boggling challenges the Scottish wardrobe presents.

The catch-22 with tartans:

“You know, it’s really interesting because the tartans are a very, very difficult issue. Because unless you have subtitles going across the bottom of the screen that explain history, you’re really having to deal with audience misconceptions that go back for decades. There’s a lot of scholarly debate about tartans, and I try to ride the line very, very carefully. I won’t say which group I believe, because then I’ll get 9 million angry letters, but…





There’s certainly a school of thought that says that tartans are actually something that was invented by the Victorians as sort of a romanticism of Scotland, that the clan tartans—and all those crazy colors—really isn’t accurate to the 18th century. But we do have a romantic association with, ‘Oh, I’m clan MacKenzie’ or ‘I’m clan Fraser.’ And certainly our book fans have that, but the research doesn’t support it. So my job is to figure out: How do I handle with care people’s love of a piece of the story and be accurate? Because either way I’m getting angry letters.

I still get letters from people going, ‘Why isn’t he wearing the Fraser tartan that I bought when I went to visit Edinburgh and went to that gift shop?'”

How she handled it:

“What I did was I tried to put myself in the head of somebody in the 18th century. So if I’m a weaver or a dyer or a fabric maker and I’m living in a little smoky hovel with three generations and maybe cow and pig in the corner, and it’s pouring rain outside all the time, how much time am I spending with that giant pot over the fireplace [dyeing fabric] getting the exact correct shade of lavender? Probably not a lot. But then enters Prince Charlie wearing his insane red plaid:

But that’s an actual reproduction of a painting that he had commissioned that he actually was out on the battlefield wearing that brilliant red plaid. It’s just something, isn’t it? [But that makes sense for the Prince to wear that because] dyes were incredibly, incredibly expensive!

But it just seemed to me like, historically, fabrics are created from the environment people live in. So what we did was research all the plant life in the area of our story and basically came up with: What colors would we be able to produce living where they lived? And then as we filmed we went, ‘Okay, the people in this village like this pattern, and the people in that village like this one.’ But they’re all in the same general geographic vicinity, which is why you see the colors being so similar but the patterns different. Claire will be wearing a different plaid than Jamie’s wearing and it’s different than what Dougal MacKenzie’s wearing, but gosh they look awfully similar.

…But unfortunately, you can’t send that letter out to every fan before they watch the show that this is what we’re doing.”

This interview had been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Outlander ‘will continue for next decade’

THE Hollywood mogul behind the Scottish filmed historical science fiction series Outlander has revealed plans to turn it into a TV series for at least the next decade. Outlander, which is shot in Cumbernauld, Fife, Perthshire and South Queensferry, is based on Diana Gabaldan’s novels, is already returning to the small screen for a third season.