Claire and Jamie travel to France when the new season of “Outlander” begins, but their spy mission won’t be easy, warn Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.
I spoke with the hit show’s stars at San Diego Comic-Con last summer just as they were filming the Paris episodes of Season 2, which has its premiere at 10/9c April 9 on Starz. They talked more about the new season in January at the TV Critics Association winter tour in Pasadena, Calif.
After arriving in Paris in the Season 2 premiere, the Frasers meet up with Jamie’s cousin, Jared Fraser (Robert Cavanah), a successful wine merchant. Jared hires Jamie to take care of the business and introduces the couple to prominent Jacobites. The Jacobites plan to restore Prince Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) to the thrown in England, a plan Claire and Jamie want to derail. The Jacobite rebellion, history shows, resulted in the Battle of Culloden, where the Scots were defeated so resoundingly that it effectively ended the clan way of life in Scotland.
If Jamie and Claire can trip up Bonnie Prince Charles and the rebellion, they can save the Scotland that Jamie loves.
Heughan teased that Jamie becomes an excellent spy, saying, “Season 2 has been about discovering a side of the character that I didn’t know was there, that he’s playing someone else. He’s being quite deceptive. He’s learning to be deceitful, and he does it very well.”
While they travel to Paris for the purpose of stopping the Jacobites, but really Claire another mission, Balfe said. Claire believes that keeping Jamie’s mind occupied with the spy mission will help him heal the emotional wounds of being tortured and assaulted by Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies).
“You don’t go through a traumatic event like [Jamie did] and just bounce back very easily,” Balfe said. “She’s dealing with her own pregnancy, but she’s really dealing with how to support someone going through a trauma like that? How do you help him get over it? How to help him get past it?”
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) arrive in France in Season 2 of “Outlander.” (Starz)
Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) accompanies Claire and Jamie to Paris. (Starz)
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) attempts to save someone on the Paris docks. (Starz)
Le Comte St Germain (Stanley Webber) seems to always get what he wants. (Starz)
Claire Randall Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) smiles on her arrival in Paris. (Starz)
Le Comte St Germain (Stanley Webber) quickly becomes an enemy to Claire and Jamie. (Starz)
Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) must be waiting for his wife, Claire, to return to him. (Starz)
Jamie might be good at spying, but as the accompanying sneak peek clips show, he isn’t happy that he has to work against his own people to save them—nor that he must lie to his cousin and to Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix), who has accompanied them to Paris.
“I don’t think he’s relishing it at all,” Heughan said, although he does enjoy being a wine merchant in his cousin’s place. “He’s a good businessman. He’s quite charming and he’s a very personable person.”
While budding wine merchant Jamie woos the Paris business eliteand the Jacobites, Claire is left struggling with where she fits in to the mission and to Paris. The modern woman isn’t at all happy hanging out with the ladies who lunch, Balfe said.
“In a lot of ways Claire has less freedom in Paris than she did in Scotland,” she said. “The role of women in that Parisien society is almost more restrictive. They like to go to tea a lot and they like to sit around and gossip and Claire is ready to pull her hair out because that’s not where she feels most comfortable.”
Paris won’t be all flowers and perfume for the parents-to-be, Balfe teased, but their love remains strong.
“In a way she sort of sacrificed herself a little bit because she’s been very much dealing with her pregnancy on her own,” she said. “So they’re going through a very complicated time in their relationship. It’s not an easy time for them but it’s beautiful to watch how they figure out a way to sort of support each other.”
And yes, the Jamie we know from early in Season 1 will return, Heughan assures.
“Jamie’s definitely still affected by the trauma, he said. “I think time is a great healer, but ultimately, he puts his whole body and soul into this mission about changing history, and then there is a great revelation that kind of cures him or brings him out of himself. I can’t really tell you what that is, but it certainly brings back the old Jamie.”