“Outlander” is a series that’s constantly on the move. The Starz series, based on books by Diana Gabaldon, spent Season 1 hopping around Scotland, and never staying in one place for long. That changes in Season 2, however, as Jamie and Claire Fraser (Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe) are headed to Paris, basically tackling every stressful life change at once: they’re picking up their life, they’re having a baby, Jamie is starting a new career as a merchant, and they’ll be trying to alter history by stopping the Jacobite rebellion.
At Comic-Con International in San Diego, “Outlander’s” Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore joined Heughan and Balfe to discuss what’s ahead for Jamie and Claire. In broad strokes, the landscape is changing in more ways than the obvious shift in location. Moore said, “[Season 2] will look very different. It’ll feel like a completely different show, because it kind of is. We literally had no sets, no costumes, no props from Season 1 that we could use, so we had to design a whole new series. Suddenly, they’re in silks and they’re moving onto the French Court. You’re dealing with Paris society, which is nothing like Scottish societies. The visuals are very different, the color palette is very different. The nature of what they’re doing is different. The relationship now is a married couple. Season 1 was about the courtship, now they’re together. She’s going to have a baby. All the elements are evolved and have moved forward so it’s a different show this year.”
The second season is based on the second book of the “Outlander” series, “Dragonfly in Amber.” It’s a thicker tome, and more complex than the first in some ways. Moore said, “The complexity of it is mostly, not so much the point of view, but it’s just that it’s much more political. There are a lot of new characters. Suddenly you’re dealing with conspiracies and lying and double-dealing and who can you trust. The politics of the Jacobite Uprising are not something that most of us in this country really understand or remember or were taught so we have to tell the audience some of this history along the way. And it’s difficult because the book is very complex and very dense and rich. It’s trying to do a lot of different things and translating that into one hour scripts is a challenge. It took a lot of work to try to figure out, ‘What are the components we keep, what do we change, and if we discarded something is there a way we can still get to that place maybe at a different point in the story?’ We’re still in the middle of it. We’re still working through scripts and still refining them, trying to figure out what’s the best way to adapt this.”
Though Moore declined to talk about which scenes from the book will be included in Season 2 in order to avoid spoilers, he did hint that the notable moments will be there. Heughan, however, shared which scenes from the book he’s most looking forward to seeing. “I love the chapters on Prestonpans,” he said. “I think it’s so well described by Diana. It all happens at night time and there’s little ambushes and the fires. I think it’s such a historical thing for Scotland, and it’s not been done for a long time on film so we’re very lucky to be reproducing that. And the court of King Louis XV is going to be very glamorous. We went to set the first day and I saw the set and I was like ‘Wow, this is Versailles? It’s beautiful.’ And they’re like, ‘No, that’s just your apartment.’ I was like, ‘What, this is my apartment? It’s like a palace.’ So, I can’t wait to see the court of King Louis XV.”
Balfe commented on her favorite scenes from the upcoming season as well. “I just read Episode 7 last week, with just some really beautiful, beautiful stuff. There were some fantastic scenes that Ron wrote in Episode 1 that I think are just going to be so heartbreaking for the audience. They’re really beautiful, and it was really fantastic material to work on. The season is very different visually, but at the core is still Jamie and Claire. There are struggles that they’re going through in their relationship, and there’s a lot of overhang from last season. Things aren’t easy. They’re trying to do something that’s so difficult, I mean to change the course of history and go to a country where it’s not their comfort zone. It’s a very trying time for them and then Claire also is pregnant and dealing with her pregnancy so it’s a very exciting — there’s a lot going on.”
The final episodes of Season 1 saw Jamie go through hell at the hands of Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). He was physically and sexually abused at Wentworth Prison, and Heughan said Jamie is carrying those scars with him. “He is affected by it physically and mentally, and we’re certainly playing that out in Season 2. However, they’re [Claire and Jamie] not dwelling on it, they’re there for a reason. They’ve gone to Paris to change history. It affects Jamie’s psychology and also affects his relationship with Claire and their marriage, and it’s something they need to get over. Without giving away too much, he does find some sort of resolution, but it’s interesting what that stems from. It’s been a really interesting journey to play. He’s quite fragile at the start of Season 2, I think. He gets on with it, as he always does, but under the surface there are still issues to be dealt with.”
As Heughan mentioned, what happened to Jamie affects Claire and their relationship. Claire not only worked with the Highlanders to save Jamie from Wentworth, she fought for his mental recovery, something Balfe said will continue. “Claire, I think, has to assume the role of being his healer emotionally and finding a way to guide him out of the effects of Wentworth and yet she’s pregnant as well. So, that’s a huge thing for her. There’s a lot going on because she has to put aside her own emotional fear and her own emotional insecurities in order to help Jamie get over what he’s gone through. She tries to really instill in him that they have this mission and that’s what they need to be doing right now. And it gives him a purpose and it gives him a drive, and I think that you’ll see her in her private moments maybe having to deal with the pregnancy and her uncertainty, but publicly she has to put on a brave face for Jamie.”
She’s also keeping busy by finding an outlet for her nursing skills. Balfe said, “I think when she first gets to Paris, in a strange way she has less freedom than she did in Scotland in the 18th century. The female society in Paris is much more about sitting in tea rooms and gossiping. The women are supposed to look very pretty and not do a lot and. of course. that does not sit well with Claire. She does manage to find an outlet for her healing and an outlet for herself and her passion and you’ll see that with the introduction of Mother Hildegarde. Once Claire finds that outlet I think she feels a lot more herself and she has a purpose.”
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