Starz celebrated the Season 6 premiere of Outlander on Thursday with series stars Caitríona Balfe and her small-screen love Sam Heughan in Los Angeles and London, respectively. Which is par for the course for the two— well, for their characters Claire and Jamie who are often separated by time and space.
Balfe teased where viewers will find Claire in Season 6—based on Diana Gabaldon’s sixth novel from her Outlander series A Breath of Snow and Ashes— during a virtual panel ahead of the show’s March 6 premiere.
“When we first see Claire this season, she’s really—on the surface—trying to put forward this very brave face,” she shared. “Obviously the events of the end of last season were so horrific that it’s not something that anybody gets over. But for Claire, she’s always been this sort of rock for other people, someone who finds it very difficult to ask for help. So when we see her, she’s trying to tell everyone that she’s ok but we see that’s not the case. She’s unraveling and she’s not really willing to admit that to herself.”
She added, “We see that Claire starts to lean on some things she’s been using medically to give herself a little bit of a reprieve from the pain that she’s experiencing.”
Executive producer Matthew B. Roberts also appeared live from L.A. with Balfe, and Heughan was joined by Sophie Skelton, Richard Rankin, Maril Davis, and Diana Gabaldon for the Q&A across the pond.
“The premiere is very important. It sets the tone for the entire season,” said Roberts. “It’s the first chapter in the book and you want to start that with a bang. Like Diana usually does, we move forward and try to pace the story out.”
He added, “It’s very important to introduce new characters which we do every season as Diana creates new characters… In episode 1, we went backward by going to another book where the Christies are introduced and we need to fill that fans in that don’t know them. So we give them a little bit of a backstory on the Christies, the new villains in town.”
Speaking of the Christies, patriarch Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) reunites with Jamie in Fraser’s Landing, North Carolina seeking refuge for his family in the premiere episode. Jamie and Tom do not have an amicable past but the Frasiers welcome them with open arms, begrudgingly. And while all that is going on, he and Claire are also drifting apart.
“[Jamie] is being pulled in every direction,” Heughan said. “I think he’s always tried to find the right line between what to do with history—we know they’ve tried to change history in the past—and we just want to be on the right side. And while he’s dealing with that, he’s also trying to give Claire her space. He’s aware of what she’s going through and he knows she’ll speak to him. I think what really gets between these two in their relationship—normally they talk about everything—is that for the first time, Claire doesn’t have those tools and she doesn’t consult with Jamie. I think that’s where they lose each other a little bit.”
He continued, “His eye is taken off the ball and he’s also dealing with Tom Christie. In the flashback [in the Season 6 premiere], it really sets up this relationship. There’s something unsaid between Tom and Jamie, this war and this powerplay that they’re constantly battling each other.”