What to Expect from Season Two, New Characters, New Country, and How Jamie & Claire are Adjusting to Life in the French Court
During San Diego Comic Con’s busiest day, Saturday July 11th, TV After Dark sat down with the cast, Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, and creatives, author Diana Gabaldon and executive producer Ron D. Moore, of Starz’s Outlander to find out more about filming Season Two of the hit series and what to expect from this all new chapter in Jamie and Claire’s adventures through the 18th century. The show recently ended their first season on Starz with Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) recovering from a brutal rape and torture from Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) with the help of his wife Claire (Caitriona Balfe) before they set sail to France in attempts to escape Black Jack’s clutches and start a new life outside Scotland. Though the final episodes were grueling to get through emotionally, the season ended on an upbeat note with the announcement of Claire’s pregnancy and Jamie exclaiming he is “very happy indeed.”
To find out what exactly we learned from our chats, listen to the audio below (though it may be hard to hear some of the questions), or check out our summary of the most important things we found out from the stars and what’s in store for our favorite time-travelling couple in season two and how they are dealing with the the aftermath of season one. First, we hashed out some Season 2 details (or tried) with executive producer, Ronald D. Moore.
TV After Dark: You mentioned the second book is more difficult to adapt, because of the various points of view. Are you going to be implementing that in more voiceover or maybe more scenes you’re doing from Roger’s point of view, because we have his narration in the book?
Ron D. Moore: I don’t think we’re gonna do– we won’t change voiceover like we did in episode nine where we had Jamie’s voice over. That was kind of a one-off concept show that we wanted to do, so we’ll still have Claire’s voiceover but we’ve opened the show up to include Jamie’s point of view and other characters, so the second season will kind of broaden out from Claire every scene, always told from hers. The complexity of it is mostly not so much the point of view, but it’s just that it’s much more political, there’s a lot of new characters, suddenly you’re dealing with conspiracies and lying and double-dealing and who can you trust, you know, the politics of the Jacobite uprising that you have to explain to people what that was all about, which is not something most of us in this country really even understand or remember or were taught, so we have to kind of tell the audience some of this history along the way, and it’s just a difficult– it’s a difficult megillah, because the book is very complex, it’s very dense and rich. It’s trying to do a lot of different things, and translating that into one-hour scripts is a challenge and it took a lot of work to try and figure out what are components we keep, what do we change, and if we’ve discarded something, is there a way we can still get to that place maybe at a different point in the story. So, you know, it’s just a– we’re still in the middle of it, we’re still working through scripts, still refining them, trying to figure out the best way to adapt the source.
Not only is the second book vastly different from the first, but Moore continued on to explain that the second season is, essentially, “a different show this year.” While Jamie and Claire remain the heart of the show, the executive producer goes on to say, “the nature of what they’re doing is different, the relationship now is a married couple. Season one was kind of about their courtship, now they’re together, she’s gonna have a baby, all the elements have sort of evolved and moved forward.” It will still be Jamie and Claire, just in fancier clothes, surrounded by famous historical characters of the French court of that time, which will demonstrate how different Parisian court is from Scottish court, and what that will mean for the look of the show.
“It’ll look very different, you know, it’ll feel like a completely show, cause it kinda is. We literally had no sets, no costumes, no props from season one that we could use, so we sort of had to design a whole new series.”
Moore: It's hard to comment on that, because some of that is, sort of, we want to still be able to surprise the book readers at how we're going to deliver those things. I like the fact that there were things we gave the book readers in season one that were different from the book but still gave them the same thing in a different way, and I like having the book readers still have an element of surprise and discover as they go through it, so I can't answer your question.
TVAD: Are there going to be subtitles for the French, because Claire understands it, unlike the Gaelic?
Moore: Yes, yes. Yeah, we’re gonna take that conceit, cause I wanted to have them speak the language and the only way it’ll work is to subtitle it. She understands it and so does Jamie, so the audience should, too.
When we spoke with the author, Diana Gabaldon, who penned the book series the show is based on, and she explained how involved she is in the production of the show, saying,
“They do consult me. I’m very pleased that they do. They show me the outlines, they show me the scripts themselves at various stages, you know, scripts are written and rewritten and rewritten, so I see the stages. And they show me the daily footage that they take and they show me the rough cuts of the episodes as they come together, so they do invite my comments, which I make sparingly and diplomatically, because I want them to keep showing me things. But, I will say that about 9 times out of 10 if I say something to them, they’ll do something about it, and the 10th time they’ll explain to me ‘well we just can’t do that,’ you know because of lack of time or it’s too expensive or they’re just, you know, we can’t fit it in this way. But, we get along very well together, which is a big surprise and very very welcome.”
TVAD: Is there any chance you’d like to write one of the episodes?
Diana Gabaldon: I think I might in the course of time. I never have written a script and I always like to do things I haven’t done before, so it would be an interesting challenge.
TVAD: In season two or..?
Gabaldon: Well, I don’t know, I mean they’re pretty well advanced into season two, but might see what happens.
TVAD: I know a lot of people are wanting that for certain scenes.
Gabaldon: Really? Oh, well, they probably wouldn’t let me write any of those scenes, you know, because they’d be afraid I’d want to do it exactly from the book and they might not have that in mind, so we’ll have to see.
We later found out at the Outlander panel, Gabaldon was unaware she was allowed to divulge that she is indeed writing a script for one of the episodes in the second season of Outlander, but didn’t specify which one she’s writing. Let the speculations begin!
TVAD: Are there any changes that you’re hoping to see in season two, storytelling wise?
Gabaldon: Well, no, not really. I told the story the best way I could, but when it is adapted into a visual medium, there’s some things that you can do in a visual medium you can’t do in text and vice versa. The story has to be simplified, naturally, but there are certain points of it that will be much more striking because of that visual adaptation. So, there’s things I’m looking forward to seeing as images just because they’ll be so beautiful and because the actors are so good. It’s just fascinating.
Though the cast and crew are moving past the gruesome final episodes of season one, it was interesting to hear from lead actor, Sam Heughan, on the audience’s reaction to his character’s infamous rape and torture.
TVAD: Have you heard from other victims of sexual assault as a result [of Jamie’s rape], because that happened to Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey, people coming to her and sharing their experiences, have you had anything like that happen?
Sam Heughan: I think on social media we did, yeah, I saw some stuff on various websites, Facebook, and actually Twitter as well. I think if anyone that suffered any kind of trauma could get something out of it or could feel that they could speak up or find help or to address any problems, then we’ve done a great thing. But the story wasn’t just about Jamie Fraser and the event that happened to him, it was, for me, it was definitely very interesting about the psychology of where he’s at, how that’s affected his relationship with Claire. Now they’re gonna be parents as well, it’s certainly, uh, yeah, there’s all these elements being played out and it’s kind of sad in a way the innocence of season one has almost been lost, but it’s there to be found again as well.
Heughan speaks further to this point and how those scenes will go on to affect his character and the story in season two:
“Jamie wears all these scars on his body, which are marks of things that have happened to him and it’s just very interesting in the physicality of things thinking we’re going to have to carry this thing through forever, for how long we film this, so that’s interesting, but also the psychology of things and I think we’re all excited to see where this goes. We’ve now almost finished 5 episodes and we’re getting to this really interesting stuff, the psychology and the more emotional stuff, and then when they get to the end of the season when the battles, where, not giving away too much, but some characters…you lose some characters, it really does become very emotional and I think it’s just gonna build towards the end of the season.”
Readers of the Outlander book shave their favorite moments and characters from the second book, so we asked Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe what they are most looking forward to in Season Two. Do their faves match up with yours?
TVAD: Are there certain new characters or new actors to the cast that you’re most excited to work with or that you’ve started working with so far?
Heughan: Yeah, I mean, all the French cast are terrific, but we’ve also got some characters who haven’t been cast yet or are coming up that I’m excited about. Lord Lovat in particular I think is a great character. I think if you read the scenes in the book, there’s some great head-to-heads between him and Jamie and Claire as well. God, I would love to see some famous Scottish actors in those roles, but also the events, Culloden and Prestonpans, they’re big, big battles, and hopefully we go to the scale that it deserves. I know that people will be surprised by the first half of the season, which is so luxurious and beautiful and pretty, and I think the second half is going to be muddy and bloody.
Balfe: Aw, I mean, we have such a fantastic…always it seems we have these fantastic guest actors that come in. We have Frances de la Tour, who plays Mother Hildegarde, who’s amazing, Dominique Pinon, who, I dunno if you guys know him from previous stuff like Delicatessen and Amelie, I mean he’s incredible. Stanley Weber, who plays St. Germain, he’s fantastic as well. It’s great, you know, Sam and I sort of are so used to like, you know we’re sort of the two left, so you see each other every day, so it’s like exciting when you have some new talent come in, and they’re amazing, they’re really fantastic.
TVAD: Are there any favorite scenes that you read in Dragonfly in Amber (the second book) that you’re looking forward to seeing on screen or acting out?
Heughan: I’ve already said it, but I love the chapters of Prestonpans I think are so well described by Diana and it all happens at night time and there’s the ambushes and the fires and I think it’s just such a historical thing, as well, for Scotland. It’s not been done for a long time on film, so we’re very lucky to be reproducing that on film. But, yeah, the court of King Louis XV is gonna 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 were like ‘No, that’s just your apartment.’ I was like ‘Whaaat? This is my apartment? This is like a palace!’ So, I can’t wait to see the court of King Louis XV.
Balfe: Yeah, well, I just read episode 7 last week, which is some really beautiful, beautiful stuff. There were some fantastic scenes that Ron wrote in episode one, 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. It’s really, you know, this season is, it’s very different visually, but at the core it’s still Jamie and Claire, and I think that the 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, change the course of history, go to a country where they are, you know, it’s not their comfort zone, but they’re going into the court of Louis XV and trying to do all this political intrigue. It’s a very trying time for them and then Claire is also pregnant and dealing with her pregnancy, so it’s a very exciting but very…there’s a lot going on.
TVAD: Have you done any screen tests with Brianna and Roger yet?
TVAD: What are you looking forward to for Claire as she evolves throughout this season, because she’s now in another new world in France?
Balfe: I think so much of last season, Claire was, it was almost reactionary. There was a situation happening all the time and she really was just surviving from one moment to the next. In this season, Claire really takes her own destiny more into her own hands and you see much more time for reflection, much more time to kind of consider what she’s doing in the world and how she’s going to affect change in her future, and what kind of future she wants. It’s a much more considered Claire that’s happening.
Adding to this point, in response to the question of whether Claire is moving on from Frank now that she is pregnant with Jamie’s child, Balfe explains her character’s relationships with each husband and how they differ:
“Oh, I think she already has [moved on from Frank]. I would say that Frank represents a time in her life that she still holds very dear. I don’t think that she’s in any confusion over who holds the place in her heart. I feel like Jamie is definitely her soulmate, but Frank was her first love, and he was a good man to her, so definitely the fact that she’s having a child with Jamie, she’s so thrilled by it. I mean, this is something she thought she would never be able to do and now that she’s able to have a child with the man she’s madly in love with, it’s just incredible. But, it brings up a lot of insecurities for her. Her parents died when she was five, so she never really had that mother figure in her own life, and I think that she has a lot of insecurity about well, what kind of mother will she be, will she be able to be a good mother, and all of that sort of comes up. Frank is dear to her but in a different way.”
In addition to adjusting emotionally to their circumstances, Claire is also faced with the societal changes now that the Frasers are forced to navigate Parisian court, but the life of high society in Paris doesn’t excite her quite as much as it might
“The female society there is much more about sitting in tearooms and gossiping and the women are supposed to look very pretty and not do a lot, and of course that does not sit well with Claire. So, she does manage to find an outlet for her healing and an outlet for herself and for 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.”
Q: How is it working with Bouton?
Balfe: So sweet. His name is Scamp and he is adorable and, unfortunately our dog trainer sort of keeps him well away from me, cause otherwise I’d never do any work and I’d just play with him all the time.
For those of you who don’t know, Bouton is Mother Hildegarde’s extremely intelligent and well-trained dog who has the uncanny ability to aid her in diagnosing patients at L’Hôpital des Anges, where Claire begins to volunteer her time in Paris.
What are you most excited about for Outlander’s season two? Have any of you given in and started reading the books as we wait for the show to return at an undetermined date in Spring 2016, or are you simply re-watching those 16 episodes and watching SamCait videos until you forget what day it is? We’ll be doing a mixture of all three! Is is 2016 yet?