Outlander season 6 is very close! We’re looking forward to the end of this long Droughtlander and to get us even more excited, Fangirlish sat down with Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan to talk about Jamie and Claire’s journey in season 6 and all the adventures that lie ahead of them. Some of their answers, however, included spoilers so we’re giving you this interview in two parts, so you can have a full fan experience — without any spoilers. Ready to travel back to Fraser’s Ridge?
Here we go!
Season 5 was all about family and we got to see Jamie and Claire build their family on the Ridge and fight for their place in it. In every season they fight for their family and themselves, one way or another, but now with their family on the Ridge and everything calm, what can we expect from this season?
For Caitriona Balfe it’s clear that “what they really want is some peace. They realize that there’s this looming war ahead, that they are trying to straddle these two alliances or these two loyalties. They know what the eventuality is going to be, who’s going to be the final winner, but they’re not sure of the steps that that’s going to take and I think the events that happen, not only do they get pulled into a sort of having to decide much sooner than they probably would have wanted to about which side they’re going to declare their loyalty to, but their actual home sort of turns against them. The people in their community turn against them. So they definitely don’t achieve their goal. They get anything but peace this season.”
Sam Heughan quite agrees with his partner and points out that “everything around them is just forcing them to make a decision. They’ve tried to stay out of harm’s way. They’ve tried to not be on the losing side when it comes to the war. And from the Christies to Jamie being forced to become an Indian Agent, it’s out of their control now. Like before, they’ve always tried to control time, I guess, or change fate or whatever, but it’s not happening and they’re being forced to show their hand.”
They couldn’t describe it better. Jamie and Claire have always fought to live in peace with their family but they’re in a difficult position because they’re both important figures in what is happening. Jamie is a leader and Claire is a recognized healer, and since they both know the future they can’t help but take that into account as they make their decisions — which puts them in the eye of the hurricane. And we wouldn’t have it any other way because without these conflicts, Outlander wouldn’t be Outlander and we wouldn’t love it as much.
You all know that the end of season 5 wasn’t our favorite but the truth is that, like it or not, it’s a turning point in this story that, without a doubt, changes Jamie and Claire’s relationship. It doesn’t mean that it changes for the worse, just that their relationship is different now than it was before Claire’s kidnapping happened…and she, they will never be the same again. But what exactly is that difference? Will we continue to feel what only Jamie and Claire can make us feel or will what happened cause a schism between them?
For Caitriona Balfe “when any one person is going through trauma, there’s a side of them that they’re trying to protect and they’re holding back from sharing with somebody else. And we see this with Claire and Jamie. She ends up having a secret. Her secret is that she’s struggling and that she’s leaning on something other than her family and her relationship to get through it. And that’s a very common thing with trauma that people end up hiding in a certain way or hiding a part of themselves. Any secrets between a couple can just drive us a slight wedge between them.”
Sam Heughan reveals that “Jamie is aware, obviously, that something is going on or he certainly suspects, but also wants to give her time and space. He knows that she will come to him or talk to him about it if and when the time is right. But I think also he’s distracted by a lot of the other external forces. So, yeah, I guess they lose their connection outside of each other briefly. But to get through any of these kinds of traumas, they need each other and that is the same in this case.”
We are not going to lie to you, this has us between anxious and desperate! We can’t wait to see how this all plays out on screen because we’re sure we’re in for some VERY intense scenes between Sam and Caitriona and those are the best — who doesn’t remember that epic river fight in season 1? — but, at the same time, we’re worried about our them.
That said, we’re glad that Outlander will address how Claire’s trauma affects her relationship with Jamie. Change is part of life and much more when there is trauma involved. Change isn’t necessarily bad, but it can be raw, and real. And Outlander is always realistic, especially in the hardest things.
Another hallmark of Outlander is time travel. Jamie and Claire know what will happen in the future — more or less — and that affects their decisions and, to stay together, they even tried to change history on one occasion — we all remember Culloden. So we can say that past and future are intertwined here and they’re inadvertently messing with the timeline, changing or twisting it. Knowing the future is a great burden for Jamie and Claire… but also for Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.
As Sam told us, “they’ve always had prior knowledge, haven’t they?” Oh, yeah, that’s right. But…“it’s frustrating for them sometimes because they don’t know the full story, whether it’s the outcome of a battle or whose side, which side the Native Americans fight on so the smaller details are always frustrating for the characters, but also, the impending doom, the impending knowledge that the big house is going to burn down, is always playing on their minds. We’ve seen it many seasons, that they always have this knowledge of what’s about to happen and then they’re trying to fight or find a way around it and it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen. In this season the impending doom is really close. The war is about to start.”
Caitriona, for her part, added a lot of interesting things by commenting that “what they’ve discovered and they learned this with the events of season two and Culloden is that they can never actually change the grand events of history. They can’t pervert that, but what they can do is they can change their position within it. So I think this is what they’re really struggling with at this point is how do they make sure that where they have aligned themselves is safe for them? They know if they kind of declare their loyalty to the Crown at a certain point that’s going to put them in harm’s way because the Crown loses. So at what point do they change tactics? How much can they play each side without having to make this huge declaration? And it’s a really tough place for them to be in. And I think Jamie struggles the most with that. He shares the burden, the larger burden of that. And if only their daughter had stayed as a history major. She probably would have been more useful, but she flunked out after one year.”
And we like this view of things that they both have. Knowing what’s going to happen is a burden because whether you like it or not, you can’t stop it, you can’t change it. It’s frustrating at times when Jamie and Claire are bonding with these people whose destiny they know and they can’t warn them about or do anything to change it. They learned that when they tried to change history at Culloden and everything turned out the way it was supposed to.
But they’re there, at that moment, making decisions, living the story that a few centuries later will be written in a book and that has to mean something, it has to be useful for something, right? So they learned somewhere along the way not to aspire to change any big event but to change the little things, the little details, hoping that it will make a difference. After all, it’s the little things that make up the world, right?
Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan have been bringing Jamie and Claire to life for 6 years. These characters are part of them and over the years they have inevitably left their mark on Jamie and Claire, their gestures or reactions. After so much time reality and fiction get a bit muddled, of course.
“We have been playing them for so long. I guess as the story has progressed, then I don’t know when the finish will be of it. But certainly, I’m starting to realize that without it it will be quite a shock. I think we’ve been in it for so many years, it just feels like this is what we do. So then when you get a glimpse when like, for instance, Caitriona [Balfe] goes off and does another job or I do as well, you start to see the world outside of Outlander. And I guess it’s interesting to look back at it and realize what we’ve got and how lucky we are, how incredible the show is and how good the cost and the crew are. It’s been an amazing journey. And I just guess when we don’t have it anymore, then it is going to be quite a shock to the system,” Sam Heughan confess.
Caitriona Balfe tells us about her own experience, which is collateral to Sam’s. “Sam [Heughan] and I were cast because we have something within us that mirrors or speaks to these characters. I think if there is any overlap, that’s probably just whatever that’s naturally within us. I think the beauty of doing something that is a period piece and has these sort of sci-fi elements, there’s not so much of that you can bring into your normal life unless you decide to run down the road with big Sword one day, which could happen, probably happens,” she jokes. “But I think we’ve grown and we’ve matured as these characters have. And maybe it won’t be until we get to look back that we see the extent of what that’s given us. And I think hindsight will be much more illuminating than sort of when we’re still in it.”
Talking to them you can feel that love that they both have for Jamie and Claire, for everything the characters can still teach them after all these years. And this is the moment when our eyes fill with tears because we can’t imagine a different Jamie and Claire.
Going deeper into this, after so many years, it’s difficult for an artist to continue exploiting his/her character or for him/her to continue teaching them new things, but the experience for Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan is different. “I feel very grateful from last season. I feel like I was really surprised by Claire last season. I feel like I got to explore her in a completely different way than she’s ever been explored before and I don’t think that is something that you always get being on a long-running show to be challenged and to be surprised by your character sort of every season,” Caitriona shares.
“I agree. I think, especially Jamie, he’s been so many characters in a certain way. He’s had so many different lives, but this one he’s a lot more political this season and being pulled in different directions. The fact that he and Claire both sort of lose track of each other is something that unsettles him. There’re so many exterior forces pulling at his responsibilities and, yeah, it’s every season, every episode there was a challenge. So this season isn’t any exception to that,” Sam adds.
We can’t wait to know what challenges they will both face! Even though the season finale of season 5 wasn’t our favorite episode, we understand what Caitriona said because, as an actress, it was a challenge to step into Claire’s shoes at that point. The character was silent in so many different ways… but Caitriona managed to give her a voice in the silence. And not everyone can achieve something like that.
As for Jamie, Sam mentions a very accurate thing: he has to be many things at once. A father, a husband, a laird, a protector, a man of the Crown, a rebel. There’re too many faces for one man and it’s difficult to balance them all, especially when the drums of war are heard near Fraser’s Ridge.
Focusing on Jamie faithfulness to the Crown, in the last season we saw Jamie dressed in a Red Coat, a position that he ended up resigning, leaving Jamie in a not entirely pleasant place heading into season 6. “Well, Jamie, is allied himself with the Crown and he knows that they’re the losing side. He really doesn’t want to be involved and knows at some point when he will have to switch sides. Major McDonald, almost in a way to control Jamie, gives him the job of being an Indian Agent to work on behalf of the Crown, to go between himself and the Native Americans there. And I think Jamie initially doesn’t want to do it, he rejects it out of hand but then is forced into it. It’s this sort of relentless fate that they know is about to happen. So he really does need to switch sides and it’s just about choosing the right moment to do that. But, yeah, it’s stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Sam Heughan teases.
The time has come for Jamie to dance between two glasses of water and fight on both sides, he is faithful to the Crown for the time being but keeping an eye on the rebels. It won’t be easy for a man as honest and loyal as Jamie to find himself in this situation.
Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe are Jamie and Claire and they speak so fondly of the show and its characters that we’re truly grateful that they’re the ones playing two of our all-time favorite characters.
This interview was one that I had been wanting to do for a long time and they didn’t disappoint me, just as they never disappoint me every time they put themselves in the shoes of Claire and Jamie because they understand the characters exceptionally well.
When the camera turns on it’s not Sam and Caitriona anymore, it’s Jamie and Claire and we see that spark that caught us from the beginning. Hopefully, Outlander lasts many more years, to enjoy Jamie and Claire and the rest of the Fraser family but, above all, to enjoy them.
Here ends the first part of our interview with Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. After the premiere, you can enjoy the second part with some spoilery secrets they shared with us. Stay tuned!