Outlander Season five, Starz’s popular time-travel series, is finally here, premiering on February 16, 2020.
Caitriona Balfe returns as Claire Randall, a 20th century nurse. She was transported to the 18th century. There she met and fell in love with Scottish Highlander warrior Jamie Fraser, portrayed by Sam Heughan.
Now married and living in America, Claire and Jamie Fraser, and their daughter Brianna, along with her husband Roger and son Jemmy, must navigate the perils they face in this new world.
Caitriona and Sam came to the TV Critics Association tour last month. Here they talked about their new season and the dangers that lie ahead for their characters.
Your show always reminds me that things were very difficult in the simpler times. It makes me think I’m glad it’s now and not then. Do you feel the same way?
Caitriona Balfe: Oh God, every day we are very grateful that we live in this time. Just walking around in those costumes alone and absorbing all the mud and everything in your hemlines. I think you become very aware, very quickly how difficult it must have been.
Are you happy with Claire’s journey this season?
Caitriona: It’s been great this season. I feel like Claire has been really able to invest time again in her role as a surgeon and really expand as a healer in this community. And because she has so much knowledge from the 20th century, she feels that she could really help the people around her. Obviously, that comes with a lot of risks. We see that she takes these big chances in exploring surgery that she would have done in the (1900s).
Sam Heughan: She’s always tried to bring her prior knowledge of the future into the past, usually to our detriment. There’s always been some problem. But that prior knowledge of the way things are done in the future is something that she’s trying to impart on the people in the 1700s. And I think this season she actually, for a short time, has some success.
Sam, talk about Jamie being in a redcoat uniform, what that means to him. I’m pretty sure you tweeted that you fought for that.
Sam: I did. I thought it was a strong visual, that Jamie would go against everything that he’s fought for and what he stands for. His relationship to the British and to what the uniform represents has been pretty bad, at best, from the beginning of the season to his father’s death to Black Jack Randall.
The redcoats really suppressed the Scots. It’s a storyline that is not so much in the book, but the writers did a great job in really digging into it. And we see Jamie have to go against everything he stands for, for the greater good, for the good of the people he’s trying to protect.
Has Jamie and Claire gotten everything they’ve ever wanted now?
Sam: In a way he kind of has. He’s got his extended family, he’s built a home that he loves, and he has the woman that he loves and his family, his children, his great-grandchildren. So for him, things on the surface definitely look pretty good.
But we all know the history in Outlander is always the thing that this couple is fighting against and this season is no exception.
Caitriona: I think for Claire, in some ways it’s similar to what Sam has said. They’ve created this homestead, this community. Not only does she have Jamie, but she has Brianna here, the one thing that she had to give up in order to go back to Jamie. So it feels that her life is very full.
She also has her surgery. So in some ways she gets to still be a doctor. She gets to fulfill that sort of professional side of herself, as well as the maternal and the lover/wife. It feels like all sides of her are very much attended to this season.
Obviously there are a lot of external forces that cause issues, and as the season goes on things get quite rough for them. But I think very much in the beginning, yeah, it’s a very settled and happy time.
Fighting for family
Sam: They’re fighting for family, you know? They’re always fighting to protect those they love. And I think that’s ultimately their end goal.
Caitriona: Yeah, I think it’s one of the unique challenges about this show and job and it’s a really fun and interesting one. It’s that thing of playing somebody who’s from another time but in another time. It’s that duality of being modern but having to fit in and assimilate and know what is acceptable or what isn’t. But it’s great. It’s another layer that gets added onto our character work that makes it. I think, that much more rewarding and gratifying.