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SYFY WIRE Outlander

'Outlander’s' Sam & Caitriona tease Season 6 villains, trauma aftermath at London premiere

The Outlander cast reunites tonight in London for a big in-person premiere featuring Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe via satellite from Los Angeles.

By Tara Bennett
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Droughtlander inches ever closer to its ending, as tonight in London the Outlander cast members Sam Heughan, Sophie Skelton, Richard Rankin, and executive producer Maril Davis and author Diana Gabaldon (with Caitriona Balfe and showrunner Matthew. B Roberts via satellite from Los Angeles) celebrated the kick off of Season 6.

Fans in the theater and some who won tickets virtually in the U.S. got to watch the Season 6 premiere episode, "Echoes" and then be treated to a Q&A from the cast that teased some of what's to come. Roberts said the premiere episodes are so important to this show because they set the whole tone of the season to come. 

"Like the first chapter of the book, it has to start with a bang," he enthused. For Season 6, the writers of the series primarily used Gabaldon's Outlander novel, A Breath of Snow and Ashes as the foundation for the narrative. "We're introducing new characters as we do every season because Diana does this in her books. But we actually go back to another book to introduce the Christies who are the new villains in town."

The Christie clan includes patriarch, Thomas Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) who has a history with Jamie going back to their time at Ardsmuir prison, and his grown children, Allan (Alexander Vlahos) and Malva (Jessica Reynolds). They arrive in the Ridge with some new attitudes and old baggage to address. 

Diana Gabaldon is an ongoing consultant, and sometimes writer for the series, and she said that when she watched the first dailies with actor Mark Lewis Jones in the role of Thomas, she immediately looked to see if he was on Twitter and then slipped into his DM's to tell him: "You got that man, cold!"

Some of the conversation revolved around the plot specifics of "Echoes" which we'll hold back, but Balfe said that Claire will still be dealing with the aftermath of her brutal assault at the hands of the Browns at the end of Season 5. "When we first see Claire this season, on the surface she's putting on a brave face," the actress teased. "But it was horrific and not something anyone gets over. She's always been a rock for other people and so it's difficult for her to ask for help. She's unraveling and not admitting that to herself."

Heughan, whose Jamie Fraser also was the victim of assault in prison back in Season 1, said his character is trying to be there for her but also give his wife space. "For the first time, Claire doesn’t have the [emotional] tools and she doesn’t consult with him," he teased of an impending rift. "And his eye is off the ball with Tom Christie. A flashback sets up their relationship, and their's is a war they are constantly battling with each other."

Having been on the show together from Episode 1 which was shot eight years ago, and now six seasons into their journey, Heughan enthused that as actors and through their characters, they have been able to create real memories and share them together. "It just enriches the characters," he said. 

Balfe added that this deep into the series, Season 6 afforded her the opportunity to see a different side to Claire. "To be able to unpick your character eight years in, doesn’t happen often," she said. "And the two of us evolving together as characters and actors, is an amazing thing." 

As for what fans should expect of Outlander Season 6 on March 6th when the show is back on Starz, Maril Davis said it's like a "rollercoaster" even with the shorter season run of eight episodes. "We truncated it and it’s maybe better for it because it just never stops."

Outlander premieres on Starz March 6, 2022.