Whew! After an emotional 90 minuted finale, we have our last round-up for season two, which includes interviews with Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Graham McTavish, and Ron Moore. As always, beware of spoilers for the current episode and events in upcoming seasons.
Deadline: ‘Outlander’ Season 2 Finale: EP Ronald D. Moore Talks Jamie’s Fate, Seasons 3 & 4, Emmys & Some ‘Game Of Thrones’
DEADLINE: Last season ended with the rape scene with Black Jack and with Jamie, about which there was a huge and shocked response from fans. This season finale had a different tone. Was that intentional?
MOORE: It was certainly intentional what we went for, but I don’t think we set out to set it apart from Season 1. It just had its own kind of organic feeling to it. It had a different rhythm and a different kind of overarching idea to what we were doing in the finale this year. Last year’s finale was a one-off, that was where that story ended. I don’t think the show or the book set out to try to top themselves each year or at the end of each book. That was the end of that story, and this one is the end of this story.
DEADLINE: Are you planning on taking a similar approach with the Voyager book and Season 3?
MOORE: Yeah, some things get moved around, but the third book is not nearly the same challenge as the second book is. Voyager is a little bit more of a straight-ahead narrative and the adaptation process has already proven easier in the writers room because the structure is a little bit more straightforward.
Even in the first season we resequenced things and moved certain elements around, so that’s just part of doing an adaptation, but it’s just not as big a hill to climb in the third season, so we’re all feeling pretty optimistic and pretty good about where the third season is taking us.
DEADLINE: Where are you guys in terms of production and the writers room on Season 3?
MOORE: The writers room is well underway, and we have scripts for the first two, three episodes. We’ve broken stories up to like Episode 8, 9 or 10, and we’re in that range right now in the writers room, which we don’t have formal outlines and all, but we’ve been actively breaking stories. So we have a pretty good sense of where the balance of the season is going. We’re in preproduction at the moment. We won’t start shooting again until late August, early September.
The Hollywood Reporter: ‘Outlander’ Boss Ron Moore Dissects Emotional Finale, Looks Ahead to Season 3
Since you altered the structure of the beginning of the season, how did that affect the way you told the story in the finale?
I had the finale planned out pretty much at the beginning of the season. When we were talking about the beginning of season two, I just felt that right away, starting in 1968 wasn’t going to work on TV. It was too big of a leap to go from Claire and Jamie on the ship sailing off to France to suddenly go to 1968, with 20 years passed and Claire is now in the 20th century, she’s a doctor, she has a grown daughter, Jamie’s dead, Frank’s dead. It’s like, whoa. Too much for the audience to take in one big swallow. So I decided to start more chronologically in the premiere with Claire returning to the 20th century, which in and of itself is a huge leap. That’s an enormous thing just by itself so let’s do that. And so when would we get to the 1968 story that book readers are expecting? That’s how we decided to get to 1968 at the end of the season, way back at the very beginning of the season. And then I felt it would be powerful to intercut that with the last moves of the 18th century story so while you’re watching Brianna realize who her real father is, and Claire is realizing that maybe Jamie didn’t die after all, we’re cross cutting that with the 18th century story when they arrive at Culloden Moor with Jamie’s goodbyes to Claire and all that.
Since half of the finale takes place with Brianna and Roger, were you nervous at all about how the audience will accept the actors that you chose for those roles?
Definitely. It was a big piece of casting and they’re important players going forward. It wasn’t just a guest star, they are new members of the family that you’re going to live with for quite some time. We wanted to be careful, but we found two great actors who had great chemistry together and with the other members of the cast. So once we cast them, we all breathed a sigh of relief.
How did having that extra 30 minutes affect how you told the story of the finale?
It made everything so much easier for us. There was a big chunk of story that had to be told and everyone recognized from the beginning that that was the case. Starz was actually the one who said from the beginning, “Look, if you need more time for the finale, just let us know. We don’t have a problem with that.” So we all agreed that 90 minutes was going to be set aside for the finale pretty early on. That gave us more freedom with the structure of the story. We didn’t have to cram everything into a neat, 60-minute box. The 1968 story alone is a lot for the audience to take in. There was so much to accomplish in that story so the extra space was necessary.
Vanity Fair: Outlander’s Season-Finale Surprise: How the Show Pulled Off Its Lavish Plot Twist
The Trouble of Casting Her [Brianna] Character
“Brianna’s not one of the leads, but she’s one of the major characters now in the series,” Moore said of the pressure to find the perfect Brianna. “We knew we were making a pretty big choice with her and with Roger, so that casting took quite a while. You’ve got an established show, and she has to fit into that tapestry. You had to believe that she was Claire’s daughter, and you had to believe that she was Jamie’s daughter, as well, and she has to sit with Roger.” The process, which ended with selecting 22-year-old newcomer Skelton, “was a very complicated casting.”
How Much Screen Time Will Brianna Get in Season Three?
“She’s not as huge a presence in the third book [Voyager, which the third season will be based on] as she will be in subsequent books,” Moore says. “You’ll get to see her and you’ll see Roger as well in season 3, but the primary story is very much Claire and Jamie.”
Getting History Right. . . Even for a Fictional Series
“We have historians who are there to be used as resources and who also provide commentary on individual episodes and scripts, and saying, “Well, this is not quite accurate,’ or, ‘This, even though Diana wrote it, this isn’t what historically happened,’” Moore explains. “You always want to know why you’re doing something [in the script]. We have medical researchers as well—there’s a huge support system of people that help keep all the elements straight.”
Variety: ‘Outlander’ Finale: Sam Heughan & Caitriona Balfe Talk Culloden Consequences, Season 3
At that point, Heughan admits, “it’s about trying to save Claire — she doesn’t quite know that until they get closer to the Stones.” Their farewell scene was monumental both for the characters and the actors, he says. “We were both very aware that this is the last time they’re together, so there is a pressure, but you also don’t want to pressurize yourself as an actor, otherwise you begin to tense up – we just wanted to see what happened, and out of it came this wonderful almost choreography, this moment where it’s almost like a dance, where Jamie’s guiding Claire with her back towards the stones so she’s staring at him… it seemed to work because we couldn’t work out how to get to Claire to the stones, because she doesn’t want to go.”
The farewell at Craigh na Dun was one of the series’ most heartbreaking and evocative yet, made all the more desperate because they know Claire is pregnant again. Balfe admits that there was some debate about how Claire and Jamie’s final moment of intimacy should play out during filming.
“In the book it’s very different, because they stay overnight in a cottage and we were condensing the time and because we’d filmed things in Season 1 where there was no cottage, we couldn’t do that, so then there was a whole thing about ‘where do they have their last moments together? They have sex and where is that gonna be?’ There was a lot of talk about up against a tree and I was like ‘no, not gonna happen that way! That’s so not romantic, it can’t be up against a tree, that’s not right,’” she laughs, recalling the moment. “I was so adamant about it, and they were like ‘well, it’s gonna be cold and wet, are you gonna wanna be on the ground?’ I was like ‘I don’t care, I’ll be on the ground, it can’t be against a tree.’ It just seemed so wrong and so not beautiful.”
Vulture: Outlander’s Graham McTavish on Dougal’s Relationship With Colum, Biting Someone’s Nose Off, and That Knife Fight
There’s a lot less talking involved when Dougal dies. How did you guys figure out how you were going to stage the fight?
The original idea was to just have the knife fight between Sam [Heughan] and myself, but in the filming of it, this vicious knife fight with the dirk, we came up with something more interesting. What we managed to persuade them on is this — I end up on my back, having been disabled by Claire. She’s bashing me over the head, I’ve got the knife, I’m pointing it at Jamie’s throat, I’m pushing it upwards, he’s in a bit of trouble, and then he turns the knife. But in order for it to be turned down into my body, basically, Claire has to join him. The two of them have to drive the knife into me. When we were in the room, with Caitriona [Balfe] standing there, we realized, Why is she doing nothing? Why is she just standing there, when I’ve tried to kill her, and I’m in the process of pretty much successfully about to murder her husband? And she’s not going to help? So we all pulled quite hard for this, because it’s an interesting complicity. It’s not just the two men fighting while the poor woman stands by, watching. She has to be involved. Given the fact that Claire’s done some pretty tough things up at that point, we didn’t think it was breaking any kind of convention to have her be involved in the death. And it’s very Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in that moment — not that Jamie and Claire are like them, but that very strong connection. They have a purpose, a goal, and they’re not going to let me get in the way of that.
But it’s very conflicted for all of them. ..
Absolutely. It’s the worst betrayal, the worst thing imagined. The thing I wanted to convey more than anything was Dougal’s utter disbelief. Even at the moment of his death, he’s looking at his nephew, and they have both conflict and love. Yes, he’s killing me, but he also loves me. And yes, I want to kill him, and I love him, too. It’s not a straightforward good guy–bad guy, where you’re rooting for one or the other. This is a terrible tragedy, and there is a reluctance. He doesn’t want to kill his nephew. He doesn’t even particularly want to kill Claire, although at this point, he sees her as a meddling witch, basically. But Dougal is ruled by his love of Scotland and his belief in Bonnie Prince Charlie, and anything that gets in the way of that, as far as he’s concerned, is an obstacle that needs to be removed. It’s not cold-blooded. We didn’t want screaming, you know what I mean? It’s calm and measured, a slow and vicious struggle, like that scene in Saving Private Ryan, where the guy gets killed by the German soldier. So the physical image of the two of them, bloody hands clasped around the hilt of a dirk, driving it into Jamie’s uncle, it’s powerful. I even took a photograph on my phone of it, with the two of them looking down at me! I wanted it to be the last thing Dougal sees, the two of them together, killing him.
The Wall Street Journal: ‘Outlander’ Showrunner Ronald D. Moore on ‘Star Trek,’ ‘The Avengers’ and That Supersize Finale
What was your reasoning behind not showing the 1960s scenes until the finale – even though they bookended the novel “Dragonfly in Amber”?
I thought opening the season with the 1960s was too big of a jump for the TV show. I liked it conceptually; I liked the idea of jumping ahead in the story and telling the audience everything that happened in Paris and Scotland was ultimately going to come to naught, and Claire was going to return to the 20th century. But what I just said is enough. To also go 20 years into that story, and Brianna as an adult, and Frank is dead, and [Claire’s] a surgeon. I was just like, it’s too much, to go from them sailing away to that as the next cut. It’s a big enough shock to the audience that she returns to the 20th century – let’s just start there and catch up to the Sixties in the end.
Did you have any favorite episodes or scenes from this season?
From the finale, I really liked the scene of Claire at the grave at Culloden Moor. It’s an amazing moment, it’s very emotional. It’s a bravura performance from Cait. I also like “Faith,” the episode where they lost the child and it had the star chamber. There’s just so much in that episode, it’s one of the standouts of the season.
Were you more of a fan of the Paris episodes or the Scotland ones?
I don’t know that I preferred one or the other. I really liked the challenge of doing the Paris episodes, because they were very difficult creatively, in terms of adapting the story line to the production. The Scotland episodes felt more like a homecoming; they felt like, “Oh, we’re back to doing ‘Outlander’ again,” so there was a certain warm-and-fuzzy feeling once we got into the Scotland section.