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We’re four months and a few days into the latest #Droughtlander, as fans have to exist somewhere between Seasons 4 and 5 of Starz’s Outlander, the hit drama based on author Diana Gabaldon’s books. The series has been back in production around Scotland for the last two months, so appearances by the cast have been few and far between.
However, with Emmy nomination season in high gear in Los Angeles, Starz recently flew out their core Outlander cast of Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser), Caitriona Balfe (Claire Fraser), Richard Rankin (Roger Wakefield MacKenzie), and Sophie Skelton (Brianna Randall Fraser) to reflect on the fourth season with Television Academy voters, and some lucky fans, at the network’s Emmy Showcase in Century City.
After a hiatus filled with two film projects — Bloodshot with Vin Diesel and SAS: Red Notice with Andy Serkis — Heughan tells SYFY WIRE that he settled right back into his Fraser kilt, picking up Jamie's story from the Season 4 cliffhanger.
“As we saw at the end of Season 4, he made a deal with the Redcoats and it’s the wrong side,” the actor says of Jamie’s predicament starting Season 5. “But, I think [otherwise], the characters feel settled. Fraser’s Ridge has flourished and they’ve really established their roots. You see how Jamie has built this incredible main house, and his family, and extended family, are living around him now. He’s become — without meaning to — the honorary clan chief. It’s a lot of responsibility, not only for his family, but his tenants, and everyone who lives in the area. With that comes responsibility, and that’s where he’s got himself into a problem.”
Part of that family community is Jamie’s daughter, Brianna, and the father of his grandchild, Roger, who are now part of the Fraser homestead. Existing together under one roof, Skelton admits to SYFY WIRE, is such a different way to start a season. “It’s been so nice for us all to be together,” the actress enthuses about working alongside Heughan, Balfe, and Rankin at the same time.
In Gabaldon’s fifth book, The Fiery Cross (the story basis for Season 5), the Fraser clan spends a good part of the opening narrative participating in a traditional Scottish Gathering in their new home of colonial North Carolina. About how faithfully the show is sticking to those events, Rankin would only tell us: “It’s all very early stages in terms of the adaptation. I know they’re compressing a lot of stuff but keeping the essence of it quite similar. Adaptations are always going to be tricky, especially with book five. There’s quite a lot of it in the first part. There’s too much to transfer over to television anyway; half the season would be gone with just the Gathering alone. But they are doing a great job with it.”
However their version of the Gathering plays out in the series, Skelton says it does allow Bree and Roger to get reacquainted again after their long separation in Season 4. She assesses, “Last season, they grew a lot as characters and as people, now this season they are parents, which is a completely different dynamic again. So we’re getting a great introduction to working with babies every day,” she laughs.
“The babies that play Jemmy,” Rankin adds, laughing, “They have vocal cords and a pair of lungs on them.”During Outlander's main panel chat, executive producer Maril Davis, Toni Graphia, and production designer Jon Gary Steele joined the actors to reflect on the overall success of the series, the highlights of Season 4, and what's to come in Season 5.
Of the new season's theme, executive producer Maril Davis teases, "If Season 4 was about home, then Season 5 is about what you do to protect that home and your family."
Be on the look out for Outlander Season 4 video recaps with Sam, Caitriona, Sophie, and Richard, as we wait for a debut date for the upcoming Season 5.