Outlander will be back with the second half of its first season on Starz on April 4 and the show’s loyal fans (as well as fans of the book series by Diana Gabaldon) packed the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on Thursday despite the street closures for President Obama’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. E! Online’s Kristen Dos Santos hosted the night, playing the “Scottish” drinking game “N’er Have I E’er” with the cast. For the record, the guests, which included Gabaldon, Executive Producer and writer Ronald D. Moore, Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser), Caitriona Balfe (Claire Fraser), and Tobias Menzies (Frank, Black Jack) claimed Balfe could drink them under the table. The crowd was shown the upcoming episode, “The Reckoning” — which is definitely not for a younger crowd! For those of you who missed it, here are 10 (somewhat spoiler-y) highlights.
Book readers know that there are some seriously dark and difficult scenes ahead. Without giving spoilers, Moore told us how he approaches things like this. He said “I approach them in the same way I approach the sex scenes. Why are we showing you this? What is the purpose of it? To find the truth within that scene, I’m going to take you on this harrowing journey and show you this dark thing and it’s going to be horrifying. At what point is what I am showing you going to distract you from the story? Once you’re distracted emotionally from the character’s story. The point where I check out is the point where I stop.”
“I think he had redeeming qualities,” Menzies said of Black Jack. “He’s charming. I think he’s honest. You may not like what he has to say, but it’s the truth. He’s a man of parts. I imagine he’s a great cook! I think that’s what’s interesting about him. He’s not just a brute.” Moore talked about the differences between Frank in the show and the book. “Once we open up Frank a little more in the series and we cut to Frank’s point of view in episode eight of the first season, that kind of changes your flavor of Frank; that changes who you think of as Frank, so you’re obligated to continue down that line. That being said… we still want to stay in the lane, we still want to maintain what the fundamental story is, even as we go forward into subsequent seasons. That’s still the mandate.”
It’s hard to talk about what book fans know is coming, but the confrontation between Black Jack and Jamie will definitely take show fans by surprise. “I think the finale, and this is a weird word to use, is a satisfying ending,” Moore said. “It’s an ending worthy of the story… It’ll take you the places that you weren’t expecting to go, and that’s what the great stories go.”
Gabaldon has talked about the upcoming discipline scene between Jamie and Claire, saying it has to do with the mores of the time, but even watchers who hate it will likely be satisfied by the outcome. Gabaldon told us about switching “time voices” when she writes. “It’s not difficult for me [to switch] at all. It’s difficult for Claire on occasion! [laughs] I was a research professor and I wrote historical fiction for my practice book. I know how to use the library! It’s not difficult at all to slip into the eighteenth century time frame.”
She told us that the wool-working scene where Claire joins the local ladies using urine to soften wool was different in the original script. “That was, in the script, originally a scene where she was walking through jovial cobblestone houses and she gets invited into some house where they’re playing bridge and drinking tea. I said no! I told them what it would be like. It was really a hard scrabble life in the eighteenth century. Women worked dawn to dark. But I can see that you want her to be embraced for a time by this feminine society and to get a break from these men that she’s been dealing with. So they changed it.”
We learned this after an audience member asked the question. He added, “that really isn’t how we approached it, in all honesty. ‘Let’s just make this true; let’s just make it authentic.'” He said they decided “not to do TV sex, which is bogus.” He laughed, saying, “Ironically, when you do something truthful, it becomes the female point of view.” When asked if the female director got paid the same as a man, he emphatically said, “Yes!”
Most of the panel had to drink when the host asked about skinny dipping during the “N’er Have I E’er” game, but two of them had an upcoming scene as an excuse. The chemistry between Heughan and Balfe was very clear during the panel and having seen the next episode, that’s a good thing. Their “makeup sex” is pretty intense!
Fans have long been asking about this and Gabaldon didn’t expand. She said that she’s still writing the books and the characters are still trying to figure that out. Google a few fan theories if you dare. It’s a clickhole.
He did say, however, that these are different mediums, so there are going to be differences. He compared it to a show he loves, Game of Thrones. “I’ve never read those books; I watch the series and I like the series. I don’t know anything about the books, but I have to accept that television series on its own terms as it’s presented to me week after week,” he said. “So our show has to serve both masters — to give the fans the joy of watching this come to life and also deliver a story to people who have no idea where the books are going and aren’t missing any things that we’ve changed. So you’re serving both those audiences as you move forward.”
She made a very off-color joke about a scene on the way that had some audience members gasping. No spoilers, but when you see it, you’ll understand why it upset some people. She followed that up with a compliment about how the actors handled it. “I’ve never seen two people do such courageous things on screen before.”