This week’s round-up includes interviews with Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heugh, Rosie Day, Tobias Menzies, and Ronald D. Moore. Excerpts from the interviews can be viewed below and the articles can be read in their entirety by clicking on the links. As always, beware of spoilers for “The Hail Mary” and upcoming episodes.
The Hollywood Reporter: ‘Outlander’ Team Talks Black Jack’s “Chilling” Moment of Rage, Mary’s Loss and Claire’s Redemption
It was also a big moment for Claire when she got to help secure Mary’s future despite failing to prevent the father of her child from dying.
“She has a great love for Mary Hawkins and cares deeply about her,” Balfe says. “She feels a lot of guilt for trying to split her and Alex up. Her being there and trying to help them and realizing the actual truth of it all, it’s a big moment for her, redemptive and otherwise. Those scenes are great. Tobias did such an amazing job, and Rosie did such an amazing job, and Laurence was great. And when Alex dies and Black Jack starts wailing on him, oh my God, it was some crazy stuff.”
While filming, both Balfe and Day had no idea that Menzies was going to play that violent moment to such a high level.
“It was really intense,” Balfe says. “There was a question about whether or not Tobias would do that or if he would just leave or what his reaction would be, and he had a lot of conversations with the director about it. Rosie and I were just standing and waiting to see what would come out of it and when he did what he did, it was just chilling. In many ways, for Claire, she’s just stuck to the spot. She doesn’t even know how to react. Her first instinct is to protect Mary but she doesn’t know if he’s going to go after them next. But the fact that he just straightens his jacket and walks out, it’s so chilling. It was so amazing to watch Tobias film that. It turned out so well.”
Variety: ‘Outlander’ Recap with Sam Heughan
Variety: ‘Outlander’ Stars Break Down the Desperate Deals of ‘The Hail Mary’
“The inevitability of it is barreling down on them, it feels like a pressure cooker — no matter what they do, no matter what they try, fate is stronger than their will,” Balfe tells Variety. “Claire makes a very, very unusual alliance … It’s less about him, it’s more about Mary Hawkins and Alex, and the guilt she feels over having inserted herself into their relationship before and causing their split for a while. But the fact that she is in contact with Black Jack after everything he’s done and she has to make this alliance for information is so telling about how desperate they are. As an actor, every fiber of your being is screaming there’s no way she would stay in this room because she hates him so much for what he’s done, but Claire is pragmatic and I think she needs his help and she needs that information and she needs to also help Mary Hawkins and Alex. It’s a very tough situation that she’s put herself in, but it’s so indicative of how out of control everything is that even Jamie would allow it.”
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Jack feels it too; he’s willing to give up vital military information to Claire in exchange for her medical expertise, as we discover that his brother Alex is on death’s door, barely able to take a breath without choking on it.
“It’s a marriage of convenience, for sure, but they both, in different ways, need each other’s help,” Menzies agrees. “In that way, we see the depth of Jack’s feeling for his brother.”
Vulture: Outlander’s Tobias Menzies on Black Jack’s Brother and the Things You Do for Love
We might not have thought we’d get to see a tender side of Jack, just as we might not have thought we’d get to see a more violent side of Frank. But perhaps these men have a few things in common. Do you approach them differently?
Not massively. There are a few physicality things that are different with Jack. Frank is closer to my own physicality. It’s mainly instinctive, really. I suppose it’s gotten more instinctive the more I’ve done it, and I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now. But I never regarded Black Jack as someone who didn’t have tender feelings somewhere. My main thought was that I was keen for him to not be so confident. In the first season, we saw someone with an absolute self-belief, that arrogance, that belief that he’s indestructible. But since then, in different ways, and in much lesser ways, he’s still affected by what happened at Wentworth Prison at the end of season one. We only had a couple of chances to convey that, starting with Jamie and Claire in Versailles, and then with his brother. But these scenes speak to somebody who is a little more lost, a little bit away from his comfort zone, away from his natural territory and strength. And that felt like an interesting development, rather than have him be unaffected at all.
And just as we’ve started to see this tender side of Jack, his violence emerges again with Alex’s death. His reaction is odd, to say the least…
It’s perhaps the biggest change from the books, for him. And originally in the script, it was written that Jack wept. He was just full of emotion. But we’ve all seen the scene where a brother cries at the bedside of his loved one, and that didn’t seem quite keeping with the character of Jack. And we could see that he was emotional about his brother passing. So we decided to skip the crying, and have him physically attack the body of his brother. It had to be something odder, something weirder, something more violent. It’s a weird expression of his love: If you abandon me, I will destroy you. And it felt surprising. It’s the last thing you’d expect, but it’s also keeping with the character.
Vulture: The Story Behind Claire’s Big Discovery on Outlander
“Claire is the epitome of the butterfly effect,” explained co-executive producer Maril Davis. “Without realizing it, she is changing lives. Certainly what Mary does, and how her story ends up with Alex, would never have happened without Claire. Mary would never have taken those rebellious steps to go out on her own and pursue Alex, had Claire Fraser not been a huge part of her life.”
This marriage between these two characters happens in Diana Gabaldon’s book series, but for the television adaptation, the writers and producers tweaked the events leading up to it to show how Mary’s character could zoom from timid to empowered in 60 seconds. “We see her in Paris, she’s in love with Alex. We see her at Sandringham’s house, and she helps Claire. And then the next time we see her in the books, she’s shacked up with Alex,” said writer Anne Kenney. “How does that work? She’s having sex, she’s pregnant, and it was just, ‘Wow. What happened?'” So the team decided Mary should take a more active role in her own fate, starting by taking revenge on Danton, who engineered her rape, “so it wasn’t a jump from point A to point B.”
Not only did Mary become more active in the story, so did Claire, especially when she runs into Black Jack Randall and engineers a trade — she’ll help treat Mary’s lover, Black Jack’s brother, Alex, in exchange for military secrets. In the books, however, this is Jack’s idea, and he volunteers to betray his own battalion. “I didn’t quite believe that Jack Randall would do that,” showrunner Ron D. Moore said. “It had to be her idea.”
The Wall Street Journal: ‘Outlander’ Actress Rosie Day on Mary Hawkins’s Season-Long Transformation
What was your reaction when you found out that instead of Jamie – as in the book “Dragonfly in Amber” – Diana Gabaldon (who wrote episode 211, as well as authored the “Outlander” novels) had Mary kill her rapist, Albert Danton?
I loved it, because when we were filming [the Paris scenes] in Prague, we were talking about what was going to happen when Mary came back [for the Scotland episodes]. We had the swords on set that day, and everyone was playing with them. And I said to [co-executive producer] Matt [Roberts], “I want Mary to have a sword! I want her to kill someone! Like, girl power!” So when I read [the script] I was so excited, because I’ve done some killing before in some films and it’s actually really fun to do – as awful as that sounds – it’s quite fun to show.
Were you able to talk to Diana about that creative decision?
Yeah, I talked to all of them about it, and they just thought it would be really great for Mary to get her revenge after the brutal rape. I think it’s a real turning point when you see her kill him. That’s a moment when she almost grows up – it’s a catalyst for episode 12. We did one take where I stabbed [Danton], and then Claire immediately comes over to Mary and hugs her, but they said, “No, let’s not play it like that.” Let’s play it so I stab him and then I move away and I’m there on my own, like, not needing to be cuddled or looked after, which you’ve seen so much before. So it’s that moment where she’s standing on her own two feet.