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admin | May 11, 2020
Here Comes the Droughtlander! Everything You Need to Know About Outlander Heading into the Season 5 Finale

When Diana Gabaldon sat down to write Outlander three decades ago, she let her imagination run free, ultimately creating an epic story that encompasses time travel, the passionate love story between Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall, and well-researched historic events from the 18th century. Her efforts have paid off with a series of best-selling novels. There are eight books in the franchise—a ninth is in the works— with the first five novels (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn and The Fiery Cross) having been turned into one of Starz’s most successful series to date, with season six already in the works.

“Almost anybody can write a good love story, in which people meet and fall in love and get married or run off together,” Gabaldon says, adding, “It’s much harder and thus more interesting to find out what it takes to be married for 50 years. I had never seen anybody do that, so that’s what I decided I’d like to do.”

The Starz series that follows the heroic journey of Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is such a success that the term “Droughtlander” has been coined for the period of time in between seasons. And we will be heading there shortly. The season five finale airs May 10, and according to Heughan, it’s going to be “big.”

“It’s a very strong finale, quite stylized and quite unsettling,” he shares. “I think people are going to be pretty shocked as well. If you’ve read the books, you know what happens, but the way we’ve shot it is exciting.”

In preparation for the upcoming Droughtlander, we spoke to Gabaldon, Heughan, Balfe and current Outlander showrunner Matthew B. Roberts to get their insights and fun facts as they look back on all five seasons. Spoiler alert for those who have not yet seen all of the seasons.

Season 1: The Jaime & Claire Show

Season one is Outlander’s origin story, with Claire Randall accidentally time-traveling through the Scottish standing stones from 1945 back to 1743 and meeting and marrying Jamie Fraser, the Highlander who turns out to be the great love of her life. Additionally, Claire chooses to stay in the 18th century, gets tried as a witch, Jamie gives himself up to be tortured and raped by Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies, who also plays Claire’s 20th-century husband, Frank) to protect Claire, and they escape to France, with Claire expecting their first child.

There’s a lot of action in season one, but for executive producer Matthew B. Roberts, it’s the emotional moments that make the season, especially after Jamie rescues Claire from burning at the stake, and she breaks down and reveals to him that she is a time traveler.

“He says, ‘I’ll take you to go home to Frank,’” Roberts says. And Jamie does take her to the stones, but Claire turns back. “That’s the moment when Claire really decides, ‘No, I need to be with the man that I love, that my soul belongs with.’ For me, that’s the climax moment in the season. After that, it’s just the Jamie and Claire show.”

Season 2: Battles & Bairns

In Season two, based on Dragonfly in Amber, Jamie and Claire try to change history and prevent the Jacobite rising of 1745 (Claire knows the Scots are fated to lose) by heading off Prince Charles in Paris. Jamie’s nemesis Black Jack Randall turns up at Versailles, which eventually leads to a duel; Claire and Jamie’s daughter, Faith, is stillborn; their efforts to stop the rising fall short; and fighting begins in Scotland. At season’s end, Jamie sends Claire, who is again pregnant, back through the stones to the 1940s, to return to Frank, who will presumably take care of her and the child.

For Gabaldon, her favorite season two episode is “Prestonpans,” in which the Jacobite army undertakes its first battle against the English. It was one of their few victories.

“I like battles,” says the best-selling author. “I find the battles deeply fascinating, both for their effect politically but more for the effects on the people who fight them. This captured the emotions of people on the verge of battle,” she observes of the episode. “The men are grimly determined to do what they’ve got to do, but at the same time, they know they may die, and they’re totally willing to a point, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to complain about it.”

Interestingly enough, both Balfe and Heughan opted for the season finale as their favorite, in which Jamie escorts Claire back to the stones to send her back to the future—and this time, she must go through. She is pregnant again, and Jamie wants his bairn to be safely born. He also is expecting to die in the Battle of Culloden. To Heughan it was an important scene, because it frames the entire story and Jamie and Claire’s love for each other.

Balfe recalls, “We filmed in Kinloch Rannoch, where we put the standing stones. It’s such an incredible location. That day that we arrived on set, there was this Disney-like dusting of snow everywhere. It was just one of those times where it felt like everything came together in a really beautiful way.”

Roberts adds that the couple’s decision to remain together after losing Faith showed how strong their bond was, because research shows that many couples don’t survive the loss of a child. So when Jamie tells Claire he needs her to go so that the child that she is carrying will have a chance, even if it means giving her up to another man, it is a sacrifice he’s willing to make.

“Claire has to make the same ultimate sacrifice,” Roberts says. “Because if Claire wasn’t pregnant, there’s no doubt in my mind she would have stayed and fought with them. They would have either lived or died on the battlefield. But she was pregnant, so she had to sacrifice just as much as Jamie, and it shows how strong is their ultimate bond.”

Season 3: Reunited & It Feels So Good

Season three begins with the actual Battle of Culloden, which Jamie survives, but he is eventually sent to Ardsmuir Prison, where Lord John Grey (David Berry) is the new governor. Afterward, Jamie is sent to Helwater, where he sires an illegitimate son named Willie that he will never be able to claim. Meanwhile, in the 20th century, Claire, along with grown daughter Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and historian Roger MacKenzie (Richard Rankin), is trying to track Jamie’s path in the 18th century, having discovered that he survived Culloden. When they think they’ve figured this out, Claire decides to again travel through the stones and, in the season’s romantic climax, there is the big moment when Claire returns through the stones and is reunited with Jamie at his print shop. Not long afterward, Jamie’s nephew, Young Ian (John Bell), is kidnapped, and the couple is off on another adventure to rescue him.

The moment in the print shop, where Jamie sees Claire for the first time, is fraught for Gabaldon, who explains that the couple has to reestablish their relationship on the foundation of their old love, but also with the acceptance that they are both slightly different people than they were the last time they saw each other.

“How are they going to negotiate this? You could say that it is a second courtship to some extent, except that they snap back into it fairly quickly, because they have to, owing to the press of events,” she points out.

The reunion doesn’t take place until episode six, to illustrate what life was like for the two of them separated. While Jamie was literally in a prison, Claire, too, was in a prison of sorts in her unhappy marriage to Frank, one she felt she couldn’t walk out on because of the mores of the time in which she was living.

“The goal was to get Jamie and Claire back to the happiness of being together,” adds Roberts. “Then that immediately gets thrown on its head, where they can’t just be together and live a happy life because Young Ian gets kidnapped. They feel like they’re responsible for it, and then they have to go and rescue him. Ultimately, at the end of the season, we wanted to show that no matter what happens, not even a hurricane could keep these two apart.”

It is the aforementioned scenes of her unhappy marriage to Frank that Balfe finds memorable. Claire is dealing with life in the 1950s and ’60s, where she enrolls in medical school and unsuccessfully tries to make a go of her marriage until, finally, his death sets her free.

“It was this really rich version of a very complicated and complex marriage and two people who have nursed a lot of pain and a lot of resentment, so it was really great stuff to play,” she says.

Heughan, too, finds the first five or six episodes before Claire’s return to be remarkable for him as an actor, because Jamie is a different man in each of those episodes, which span the time period from the end of the Battle of Culloden to Jamie living in hiding to his time in Ardsmuir Prison and then being a servant at Helwater.

“He’s in a catatonic state,” Heughan says. “He’s barely himself. He’s living in the shadows and living in memory of Claire. For an actor, it really was a great opportunity to play different versions of himself. Jamie doesn’t want to be himself, and so he keeps changing his name. He doesn’t want to live without Claire.”

Season 4: Hello, New World

Season four is all about making a home in the New World. After rescuing Ian at the end of season three (he’d been taken to the island of Jamaica), Jamie and Claire washed ashore in the American colonies after a hurricane and are starting life from scratch, but not before visiting Jamie’s aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) at her plantation, River Run. This is the season where Jamie meets his daughter, Brianna, for the first time. Brianna can also time-travel, and she comes through the stones to find her parents. Governor Tryon (Tim Downie) grants Jamie the land that becomes Fraser’s Ridge; the villainous Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) enters their lives, stealing their valuables and raping Brianna; Lord John visits with Willie (Oliver Finnegan); and Roger, who follows Brianna through the stones across time, is traded to the Mohawk people.

While Jamie is pleased to be reunited with his aunt Jocasta, the visit to River Run is not without its attendant problems, especially for Claire, who is appalled to discover the plantation utilizes slaves.

“We very rarely veer outside of Claire and Jamie’s journey, but when we do, I think it can be really interesting to highlight other people’s plight,” Balfe says. “And that one was quite interesting to be able to see.”

As a result of Claire’s aversion to slavery, Jamie and Claire are forced to make their own way in the New World, so they accept Governor Tryon’s offer of land, and the story becomes about defining what home is.

“Your home is where the heart is and the heart is family,” Roberts says. “For Jamie and Claire, it’s having their family around them, and creating that and what lengths they were willing to go to, to have a place on earth that they could call their own with their family.”

With Brianna’s entry into his life, and the visit from Willie, Jamie’s instinct toward fatherhood is fulfilled, according to Gabaldon. At the same time, she points out that a meeting between a grown child and a parent is going to be tricky, especially with Brianna having been so close to Frank.

“Frank was the only father she knew for all of her life, and he was a good father,” Gabaldon says. “She loves him. She feels disloyal for being interested in Jamie, but on the other hand, Frank’s dead. So, there’s a lot of family conflict, as well as establishment of family going on here.”

And as touching as the Jamie/Brianna meeting was for Heughan, the standout story for him in season four involved the scenes in the Mohawk village.

“America really, for us, has a different feel,” says Heughan. “The Native Americans that we had come over [First Nations performers from Canada were featured in the roles] and bring their culture with them and share that, it was interesting to see the similarities with the Native Americans and the Scottish culture, but also the differences.”

Season 5: “It’s Going to Be Big”

And that brings us to season five, the theme of which is how far will Jamie go to protect his home? He is between a rock and a hard place when he is ordered by Governor Tryon to hunt down Murtagh Fitzgibbons (Duncan Lacroix), who is his godfather but also the leader of the Regulators, an anti-Crown militia, and either arrest him or kill him. Jamie does neither, but when the fighting begins between the Redcoats and the Regulators, Murtagh loses his life saving Jamie’s.

“Jamie’s godfather was such a powerful storyline,” Heughan say. “Losing Murtagh is really sad. He’s such a great foil, but also to lose Duncan [as an actor on the show], who’s been with us since day one, was pretty tragic. Jamie’s lost his last real contract with Scotland. Murtagh really represented that old way of life, the old Scots, and for Jamie, now, there’s a new change.”

Balfe adds, “Murtagh was the original Highlander that Claire met. Duncan and I have gotten to share some really great moments onscreen, and it was really sad to see him go. I think Sam did really beautiful work in that episode, as did Duncan and everybody. It was a really poignant moment.”

Season 6: 2021 Can’t Come Soon Enough

Season six was in the works when production was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s based, in part, on Gabaldon’s A Breath of Snow and Ashes and will air later in 2021 than originally scheduled. Luckily for fans, both Heughan and Balfe have indicated that they would like to stay with Outlander until the end of the series. “If people are still watching the show, if the writing is so good, if we are still being challenged, then why not?” Balfe says. “It’s an amazing job and I don’t understand why we wouldn’t.” [Source]

TAGS: InterviewsOutlander

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