The Call Of Home
The Timedefying lovers of Outlander are back... and building a new life. Tara benneTT Tells us whaT season four holds for Jamie and claire
IIn just three seasons of the tV adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books, the star-crossed story of jamie (sam heughan) and Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) has time-hopped the pair from 1948 to 1744, had the lovers separated for 20 years in their respective origin times, and then reunited them again in 1766. that’s a lot of time travelling for a series without a tarDIs or Quantum Leap accelerator. and in this show, the timey-wimey happens via standing stones that work their magic in ways that the characters still don’t fully understand. But the twisty tale will get more complicated in season four, when jamie and Claire’s grown daughter, Brianna randall, and her suitor, roger Wakefield (richard rankin), become big-time players in the paradox party of it all.
While it all sounds super complicated, executive producer and director Matthew B roberts assures fans, and curious potential viewers, that the new season will actually be the most rooted of them all. “We always start with the Claire and jamie story, so when you look at the first three seasons, they spend more time apart than they do together, and then they spent a lot of time trying to figure out ways to get back to each other.”
the new season, based on Gabaldon’s fourth book Drums Of Autumn, finds the Frasers in 1767 colonial north Carolina looking to settle down and build their own homestead together. “When we started breaking book four, you realise jamie and Claire are together,” roberts explains. “they’re literally just together the whole time and they’re not separated by time, by space, by adventure. so, this season is about what do you call a home? Is a home a piece of property? Is a home your house? Is a home just the people you have around you, and is that ultimately what really defines a home, the ones you love? that’s what we’re questioning and answering over season four.”
that exploration is a real change of pace for the couple, and for the writers’ room. roberts says when it came to figuring out the season’s arc, “the one thing that we had to start looking at is what affects both of the characters at the same time, and can they have different takes on the same thing because Claire and jamie don’t have the conflict that a lot of couples do in literature and in television, of, ‘Will they stay together, or won’t they stay together?’ that’s something no one will buy, so we don’t even pretend to go down that road,” he chuckles. “so, we have to [ask], what can affect them together, and how can they, as a team, overcome the obstacles in the season?”
some of that conflict will come from new characters, like jamie’s aunt jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and the new nemesis of the Frasers, stephen Bonnet (ed speleers). “they both bring so much new blood and new talent to the show,” roberts enthuses. “they definitely spice things up for the cast as they get to play off new characters and there’s new dynamics. Like there’s a whole new level of intrigue with Bonnet as he’s really different than the Black jack randall (tobias Menzies) villain. With Black jack, you didn’t want to be in the same room with him very long, but with Bonnet he’s a little more charming and you get lured in by him and you walk away going, ‘Why did I like that guy? I was duped into liking that guy,’ and then you feel bad. With Black jack, I don’t think you ever felt bad. You just knew he was bad.” Meanwhile, jocasta’s plantation of river run will welcome jamie and Claire for a bit, but it will also force the couple to come to terms with real moral issues of the time, like slavery. roberts says jocasta is a wealthy woman and a strong scot who speaks her mind and will have her own way of doing things. “she’s a Mackenzie so you’re both wary of her, but you also find yourself, in a weird way, very endeared to her,” he teases. “she may have her own agendas and she may want things to happen in a certain way, but she’s also a caring person and she cares about you, especially if you have Mackenzie blood in you.”
roberts adds that they were thrilled to land Doyle Kennedy as jocasta after her successful run on Orphan Black. “she read the character and then really wanted to play it,” he says. “My first meeting with Maria, she had a lot of great ideas. We really sparked to her ideas, and then we told her what we felt about the character,
it all comes down to love and how much they’re willing to sacrifice for their love
and she sparked to that. and once you get her in costume, she looks completely different. she embodies jocasta and she’s just amazing. Looking back, I don’t know if there’s another choice for jocasta. she’s jocasta to me now.”
there will also be stories around the native americans living in the region, the history of scottish settlers in north Carolina, and the evolution of existing characters, like jamie’s nephew Ian Murray (john Bell) and Lord john Grey (David Berry). But the biggest narrative to play out this season will be the expansion of Brianna and roger’s story, which will start in 1971 and then take an epic journey through the season. roberts explains, “We introduced them in season three a little bit, and we knew that they were going to grow in season four. they actually take on that new love [story] that we had with jamie and Claire in seasons one and two. that’s the nice thing that mirrors the jamie and Claire relationship. Will this couple stay together? how does this couple stay together? how does this couple get back together because they are separated?” infinity stOnes
as it turns out, roger and Brianna will discover some historical documents that cause them both grave concern about jamie and Claire in the past, which means those standing stones could be warming up for a return engagement. “We do lean into [time travel] in season four,” roberts confirms. “as a show, we will never show the journey through the stones, just the journey to the stones. But for me, it’s always important to show the decision to go. how that weighs on the character, and the choices that they’re making. What they’re giving up, and what they’re hoping to find. and with the folks travelling through this season, it all comes down to love and how much they’re willing to sacrifice for their love of someone else. I think that’s the theme of the time travelling.”
What that will eventually lead to is another iconic book moment that readers are bristling with excitement to see played out. roberts says he can assure fans it’s a moment worth waiting for, with all of the emotional release one would expect. “We set the tempo early [in the writer’s room] with, ‘Let’s get to that meeting because that moment is what it’s really about when we talk about the season being about home.’ so, if you want all your loved ones around you, then that’s the moment. then off of that, you have to fight to keep it together. that’s really what happens in the season. It’s the lead-up to getting your family collectively together, and then to watch that explode in your face, and to find a way of getting it back together,” he smiles. “I’m really excited for the fans to see that, and then I’ll be heartbroken when they see it fall apart almost immediately.”
With a wicked smile of a showrunner who knows good drama, he adds, “You can’t let them enjoy too much enjoyment for too long because you’ve got to rip it away from them.”
Outlander is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
The star-crossed lovers are finally together again. Family outings were so tense.
Brianna Randall and her beau Roger are back. It was so romantic here, if you ignored the horse manure.