‘Outlander’: Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin Open Up On Series’ Most Heartbreaking Goodbye Yet

Posted by admin on July 23rd, 2023

SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers from “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Season 7, Episode 2 of “Outlander,” now streaming on Starz.

While an epic explosion at Frasier’s Ridge would seem like the most shocking event thus far this season on “Outlander,” the Starz series managed to also pack in a shocking reveal, a bittersweet birth and the series’ most heartbreaking goodbye yet.

Moments into “The Happiest Place on Earth,” the mystery of who actually killed Malva (Jessica Reynolds) is finally solved. Despite Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) having taken the blame for his daughter’s murder to save Claire (Caitriona Balfe) from the noose, it was actually his son Allan (Alexander Vlahos) who did it. Claire tries to stop Allan, overcome with grief, from taking his own life but Ian (John Bell) appears and shoots him with an arrow — stating that Allan’s actions killed an unborn child and for that, he cannot live.

On a somewhat happier note, Frasier’s Ridge welcomes its newest resident, Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger’s (Richard Rankin) daughter Amanda. But it isn’t long before Claire notices the child has a potentially fatal heart issue. With this discovery comes the realization that Bri, Roger and their children must travel back to the future where modern medicine can save Amanda — and also potentially never see Claire and Jamie again.

As the MacKenzie family time-travel to the 1980s, Claire and Jamie (Sam Heughan) try to settle into their new normal. It isn’t long before trouble strikes. Fellow time traveler Wendigo Donner breaks into Claire’s surgery room to steal gemstones so he can go back home. As he and his crew rabidly search for more, they knock ether all over the floor. With an unfortunate strike of the match, Claire and Jamie’s life at Frasier’s Ridge goes up in flames.

Variety spoke with Balfe, Heughan, Skelton and Rankin about their families possibly parting ways forever, and what fans can expect for both couples this season.

This week’s episode, “The Happiest Place On Earth,” features a devastating parting of ways. These two families, the Frasiers and the MacKenzies, are going to be broken apart by hundreds of years, and just after Brianna has given birth to her daughter, Amanda. How does this rank in terms of sad goodbyes on the series, which are, unfortunately, a common occurrence?

CAITRIONA BALFE: I think that the joy and the absolute thrill of Brianna having a new kid, and everyone being able to be present there for that new life coming into the family — that was such a high. And then for the fear and the worry to come in when they realize that there’s actually something wrong with Mandy, and the implications of that and what that means. There really was only one solution, and that was for them to go back to save her. But it’s a death. It’s like they know that this is the final goodbye, or they think it’s the final goodbye.

Saying goodbye in that way, I think this is where we start to see Jamie and Claire be so vulnerable. They are left, and they are the only things, really, that they have — it’s just the two of them together. That goodbye was really sad. And it just meant that we weren’t working with Richard and Sophie for ages.

Right. The show could go in so many places, but as of right now, your characters are separated, and who knows if they’ll reunite.

RICHARD RANKIN: It was such a long process getting to that point — for our characters, for ourselves, for the show — to have everyone united, and be a solid, united front. Then to have to turn around and say goodbye, and finally go back to the future. I think [Roger and Brianna] had very much accepted the 18th century as their home. When they got spit out at the stones [in Season 6], they were like “We belong here. Our family is here. Our life is here. We can truly be happy here. There’s a place for us here.”

So to go through that whole character journey and experience all that, and come to that resolution and then have to go back anyway, it was difficult.

SOPHIE SKELTON: The goodbye scene was really difficult, but I think the hardest scene was actually just the scene where they find out about Mandy. I mean, that was absolutely heartbreaking. For them to leave — I mean, Brianna’s losing her support system. To hear that your child might be on death’s door is hard enough. And then to have to leave the people who you feel are actually going to help you through that is horrifying.

But Brianna and Roger as a couple are stronger than they’ve ever been. So I think they feel a sense of strength in each other by leaving. The goodbye scene was hard to film, but there’s also an urgency to Roger and Brianna. They’ve gone into survival mode now. They need to protect their child. They know they have to go back. It’s not even a question. So saying goodbye is one thing, and it really is goodbye forever as far as they’re concerned. But there’s also an urgency at play. So it’s quite interesting to input that into the characters, into the scene. You know, really wanting to take your time over saying goodbye to the people that you’ll never see again, but also knowing that you just need to get back as soon as possible.

And in terms of filming, you all have been separated and who knows when you may be on set together again.

RANKIN: Saying goodbye to [Balfe and Heughan] and knowing that yeah, there could very well be a huge chunk of time [before filming again] — because at that point, we weren’t really even sure if Season 8 was gonna go. That could have potentially been the goodbye at that point.

BALFE: It means even our time outside of work, where we would have all hung out a lot more — when we have time off, they’re at work; and they have time off, we’re at work. So it was a long time where we just didn’t get to hang out and didn’t really see each other. It was like ships passing in the night after spending so many years of being so close. That was really tough.

How will the loss of Bri and Roger as well as the loss of their home impact Jamie and Claire’s relationship?

SAM HEUGHAN: They’ve lost their home, Fraiser’s Ridge. They’ve lost their family. And now really all they have left is each other, and also I guess this new nation that is forming and they want to do right by that for the next generation. But without each other, they’re nothing. I think Jamie especially, as he says it a few times on the show, he’s very aware of the loss of Claire. He knows that he can’t survive without her. So this separation makes them stronger but also there’s a lot more to lose.

BALFE: Touching on something you just said — Brianna and Roger and Jem and Mandy, they may not be with them, but it’s this idea of how can they help that country that they are living in, and that they are a part of be the best. That’s what really gives them so much strength going into all of these battles and really propels them forward to try and do as much as they can to make sure that history does turn out the way that Claire knows that it will.

How will Bri fare without her mother by her side, especially now that she is a new mother herself?

SKELTON: I think Brianna’s always been a very standalone human. She had a tough upbringing. I think she felt very alone in her upbringing and very ostracized from her mother. I think that she used to resent her mom for that. Brianna didn’t really see her mom. I think one thing that is great about Brianna and Claire is the line of communication that was opened. Brianna now is equipped with the knowledge of what it is to be a working mom, and how to navigate that. I think she has enough of Claire ingrained in her from birth just in her genes, but also through the nurturing and the conversations that they’ve had that. Claire is so instilled in her now that she’s the voice in her head too. I think between Brianna’s own resilience anyway, and the hindsight of having seen how Claire managed family life and work, Brianna’s well equipped to power through it. She’s got her family around her, her children and her husband. She’s loaded with the stuff that she needs to navigate that. And she’s a force to be reckoned with.

What can you tease about what’s to come this season? And how S7 compares to past seasons on “Outlander” overall?

HEUGHAN: It’s epic. It’s a huge season. The biggest, apart from Season 1. The scale of it is probably the biggest we’ve done. We had a sort of teaser, a showreel put together on the last day of shooting. I was kind of just blown away by the variety we have in it, from America to Scotland to different timelines, different periods of time, different narratives, huge battles.

Then at the core of it is a relationship, a romance that’s enduring despite all of that. I think it’s gonna be a huge season. I haven’t seen it all myself, but I’m really excited for the fans to come on this journey again with us. [Source]

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