When the Starz hit “Outlander” returns for its second season, its main characters will have new looks, a new mission and new attitudes, series stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan say.
Starz and Sony Pictures Television have announced the new season will debut at 9/8c April 9. The 13-episode season is based on Diana Gabaldon’s “Dragonfly in Amber,” the second of her eight best-selling “Outlander” novels. The series tells the story of Claire Randall (Balfe), who travels back in time from Scotland in the 1940s to the 1740s, where she meets and falls in love with Highlander Jamie Fraser (Heughan).
As the new season begins, Claire and Jamie travel to France on a mission to infiltrate a Jacobite rebellion led by Prince Charles Stuart. The doomed Highland uprising leads to the battle of Culloden, where the English defeat the Scots and all but destroy their way of life.
Related: 5 reasons Claire and Jamie are TV’s most romantic couple
With the help of Jamie’s cousin Jared, a Parisian wine merchant, Jamie and Claire gain access to the lavish world of the French aristocracy. As you see in the new teaser art shot by photographer Jason Bell, Claire and Jamie have traded the woolen dresses and kilts they wore in Scotland for silk ball gowns and fancy pants in Paris.
It’s a new look Heughan said initially made him a bit nervous.
“I was terrified I would be in lots of ruffles and all these things,” he said last summer at San Diego Comic-Con. He consulted with costume designer Terry Dresbach about what Jamie would wear. “She’s done a great job.”
Balfe agreed that Dresbach, who is married to executive producer Ronald D. Moore, has outdone herself with the costumes for Season 2.
“People are going to be stunned,” Balfe said at Comic-Con, adding that the lavish new looks altered the performances. “It changes how you carry yourself and it changes the way you interact with people. All of a sudden, instead of hanging out with these hairy Highlanders you’re at [the French] Court. … It’s been a very interesting change, but it’s great.”
Hobnobbing at French society parties may seem like a genteel and luxurious life, but Claire and Jamie are faced with all fashion of intrigues, both political and personal, that will test their relationship and resolve to save Scotland.
“It’s a different set of social rules. They have to figure out how do they navigate this new world and they assume very new roles as well,” Balfe said. “You always fear that when you go back doing a second season that maybe it’s going to be like rehashing the same old stuff or a Groundhog Day, and it’s not been like that at all. It’s just felt very new. So it’s cool.”
Scottish actor Robert Cavanah plays Jared. He’s among many additions to the cast this season. Sophie Skelton stars as Brianna, the daughter of Jamie and Claire. Richard Rankin plays the adult version of Roger Wakefield, the adopted son of Reverend Wakefield.
French actor Dominique Pinon stars as Master Raymond and British actress Frances de la Tour plays Mother Hildegarde, two people a pregnant and lonely Claire befriends in Paris.
“In a lot of ways Claire has less freedom in Paris than she did in Scotland. The role of women in that Parisian society is almost more restrictive,” Balfe said. “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.”
Claire also is dealing with the burden of knowing what will happen in Jamie’s future, as we learn in the trailer above. And there’s that pregnancy.
“Until she finds Mother Hildegarde and Master Raymond, she feels a little lost actually in France. She’s sort of dealing with this pregnancy and not really finding a place,” Balfe said. “It takes her a little moment to sort of a find her way.”
Jamie, too has a rough start to life in France because he’s still reeling from the ordeal he was put through by Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies).
“He certainly hasn’t got over it. He’s not dwelling on it but it does trouble him at times and I think it certainly affects their relationship,” Heughan said. “We do play it out. But they’re in France … for a mission and to change history. It sort of feels like in the daytime they put on their public face, go out and do their job and then at night the real sort of emotions are revealed.”
Learning that they are going to be parents is “a moment of hope,” Heughan said, that carries them through the tough times in Paris. Jamie won’t constantly be tortured by events of the past, but becomes quite the charming business man in Paris.
But don’t worry, all that success doesn’t mean Jamie will forget his heritage, Heughan said.
“We see him taking on this new persona, but he’s not lost his roots and the kilt is certainly still used,” he said. “He’s a very proud Scotsman and in the French Court it certainly goes down very well.”