To say that Outlander’s return to San Diego Comic Con reduced me to a puddle of emotions would be an understatement. After missing SDCC last year, Outlander roared back to San Diego with one of the most highly anticipated panels and booths for fans.
Before getting to the panel that sent Outlander fans into a frenzy, we have to discuss the Starz booth on the exhibition floor at SDCC. Have you ever wanted to step into the pages of one of your favorite novels? Because the Starz booth at SDCC gave me that wish. Set up like Jamie’s print shop, the booth literally transported fans into one of the most pivotal locations in Diana Gabaldon’s series.
One of the most popular booths at SDCC 2017, fans got a special treat. Upon entering the booth, fans were greeted by the iconic “A. Malcolm Printer and Bookseller” sign that can be seen in the season 3 trailer. From there it was pure magic as fans got to pick a t-shirt design and watch it get printed right there. “Outlander gives us all the feels” being a popular design. Fans also walked out with everything from Outlander tattoos, to a tote bag, to my person favorite SDCC gift: a leather Outlander flask.
Throughout the weekend, there was always a line and it even sparked conversations amongst attendees. A friend I was attending with even started the series after walking past the booth. Safe to say, this die-hard Outlander fan wishes she could live inside the print shop forever.
Now onto the panel. Moderated by Outlander super-fan and dance extraordinaire, Jenna Dewan Tatum, the start of the panel was met by thunderous applause from a nearly filled Ballroom 20. Sitting on the panel were cast members Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin. As well as, showrunner Ronald D. Moore, executive producer Maril Davis and author Diana Gabaldon.
From the start, this panel focused on the die-hard fans that sat in Ballroom 20 for several hours desperate for anything that will help them get through “Droughtlander.”
While not much was given away, the cast and creators did hint that this season will be just as big as previous. Ronald D. Moore says, “It’s [season 3] a pretty dynamic season that takes the characters on a journey.” When fans last left Jamie and Claire, they were separated by centuries as Claire went back through the stones to Frank and to raise Brianna. Without giving too much away, Heughan did reveal fans will have to wait a little while before the iconic “print shop scene” but it will indeed be worth it. Balfe and Heughan both spoke about the care they took with the scene and how they honor such a massive fan moment.
A major difference heading into season 3 of Outlander is a change in location. A majority of Voyager, the third novel in Gabaldon’s series, is set on a ship as Jamie and Claire travel to America. This involved production of Outlander moving to South Africa and utilizing the sets left behind by Black Sails. Maril Davis spoke about moving production saying, “we call ourselves a ‘traveling show.'” Gabaldon had the privilege to visit the set in South Africa.
Speaking of our fearless leader, Gabaldon did reveal that she did not pen an episode this season. When asked if she did, she got the biggest round of applause when she answered, “I didn’t write an episode this season. I wrote a book. I thought that was enough.”
While keeping a tight lip on details, Tobias Menzies did say that he loved unpacking Frank and Claire’s life in Boston. While not a lot of details about their home life are shared in the novels, we will see more of it in season 3. Balfe also revealed that it was interesting playing an older Claire and seeing how she lived with years of grief and how she moved forward.
The cast also revealed that season 3 begins with the Battle of Culloden and we will see the epic encounter of Jamie and Black Jack on the battle field.
This Outlander panel was also the first for Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton, who joined the cast at the end of season 2 as Roger Wakefield and Brianna Randall respectively.
Skelton revealed she first auditioned for the role of 2014 and did a lot of research before stepping into Brianna shoes. She read the novels, but also watched season one extensively. She wanted to get down Balfe and Heughan’s mannerisms in the show, so she could incorporate them into her own performance. Rankin also said he prepared for the role of Roger by reading Gabaldon’s series.
Although the cast couldn’t give too much away, that became half the fun. Dewan Tatum presented the cast with a hilarious game entitled “Truth or Dance.” Either answer the question truthfully or dance with her.
Up first, Balfe’s question involved which love interested she would rather kiss: Frank or Jamie. Calling the question, “three horrible options,” she got up and did an adorable dance.
Next up, Heughan was asked where and when his most recent date was. A question he cringed over before deciding to dance. Heughan of course checked if Channing Tatum was around. Balfe joking said, “Her husband is a lot bigger than you, Sam,”
Of course, Dewan Tatum revealed Tatum is just as big of a fan as she is. So, Heughan introduced a Scottish dance and jokingly proclaimed, “Just follow my lead Jenna.”
Rounding out the game, Skelton and Rankin all danced with Dewan Tatum.
The unforgettable Outlander panel concluded with arguably one of the biggest surprises at SDCC this year. The cast and creators announced that Ballroom 20 would get to see the first episode of season 3 entitled “The Battle Joined.”
While we can’t give away anything from the season premiere, we will say that fans will be excited when the episode premieres on September 10th on Starz. Let’s just say that this Sassenach is pretty sure she left a stain of her tears on the floor of Ballroom 20.