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Could April 9 just hurry up and get here already? Perusing scantily clad Sam Heughan GIFs and repeat viewings of Outlander Season 1 can only feed the need for Frasers for so long.
But given that we have not found any supernatural stones laying around waiting to propel us into next month when the rescuing, bodice ripping, and freedom fighting are set to return to Saturdays on Starz, we (as well as all our fellow famished fans) will have to tide ourselves over with rounding up everything we know so far about the second installment of the show based on Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling book series.
If you want to go into Season 2 completely blind, this is where we part ways. Seriously, click elsewhere right now. You have been warned!
Season 2 will consist of 13 episodes based on the second of Gabaldon’s eight-book series, Dragonfly in Amber. But producer Ronald D. Moore has already warned book purists that some liberties have been taken with the source material and changes will be made to better serve the limitations and benefits of TV adaptation and budgets. “Just because we got nominated for a Golden Globe doesn’t mean I have access to an unlimited budget now. Things will still have to be cut or modified,” Moore joked in an interview with Yahoo TV at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour.
Most of what we can glean about Season 2 is in the realm of casting. Gabaldon’s novels are so chock full of memorable characters, historical figures, bit players, titans of industry (especially the wine industry in the case of Season 2), and future leaders of the free world (or not if history is doomed to repeat itself) that there is simply not enough film stock to include them all.
Most recently — and some feel importantly — #Breewatch came to an end when Sophie Skelton (Casualty — Forsaking All Others) booked the part of Brianna, the strong-willed fire-haired daughter of Claire and Jamie who is raised by Frank after the sassenach returns to the present. Richard Rankin (American Odyssey, The Crimson Field) will take on the adult version of Roger, Reverend Wakefield’s adopted son who audiences met as a youngster in Season 1. He is now a professor at Oxford.
Also in Claire’s corner is Master Raymond (Dominique Pinon), an apothecary/healer with lots of intel on political and occult matters, and Fergus, a precocious French pickpocket raised in a brothel played by Romann Berrux. During the show’s TCA Outlander panel, Heughan described Fergus as “their surrogate son. It’s really nice to see Jaime and Claire play father and mother. It brings another dynamic to whole relationship.”
Although surely talented enough, Tobias Menzies will not take on a third Randall relative. He will leave the duties of bringing his gentle, kind brother Alexander Randall, the secretary for the Duke of Sandringham, to Laurence Dobiesz.
Other folks who made the cut when transitioning from page to screen include: Prince Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower), French King Louis XV (Lionel Lingelser), Louise de Rohan (Claire Sermonne), Le Comte St. Germain (Stanley Weber), Lord Grey (Oscar Kennedy), and Mary Hawkins (Rosie Day). Based on Twitter exchanges and some now deleted costume photos, Gaia Weiss (Vikings) is rumored to be trading 13th century Scandinavia for 18th century French dinner parties, although no official announcements have been made regarding who she might be playing.
The show will pick up right where Season 1 left off — with Claire, Jamie, and Murtaugh sailing for France after Claire saved Jamie from the sadistic hands (and other body parts) of Black Jack. Claire divulged that a baby ginger was on the way and in the teaser trailer a baby bump is evident (at least in some shots). Moore explained in the panel, “It’s hard to get into anything specific without really getting into spoiler territory, but Claire’s pregnancy is a threat. It’s there from the first episode [when] they arrive in Paris and we continue it throughout the story, how it affects their relationship and her role in the plot to disrupt the rebellion.”
The pair hope Jamie cousin’s Jared, also a wine dealer, will help them gain entry into the lavish world of French society. They will try to infiltrate the rebellion to stop the bloody battle of Culloden, which historically seals the deal on the end of the Highland culture. All of that political maneuvering and the lying to people they love, however justified, will have an impact on their relationship. “The danger in Paris and Versailles is less physical; more hidden,” Heughan said in the panel. “There’s a lot more politics at work and backstabbing and poison. It’s a different kind of world.“
Despite a majority of the plot unfolding in France, no footage was filmed in that country. Interiors were still mostly shot on the Outlander sound stages in Scotland. Several weeks were spent utilizing gardens, building exteriors, and streets in Prague as a substitute for 1700s Paris as well. Moore has said this decision was made mostly for reasons of budget and weather.
With a change of scenery comes a change of clothing as well. Costume designer Terry Dresbach, according to Caitriona Balfe in a January interview with Yahoo TV, has gotten to “go wild with color and prints and silks. Our Scotland clothes, for the most part, were practical and subdued. But in France, everyone in Court is dressing to impress. The look of the show is extremely different thanks to the sumptuous colors, rich fabrics and feel.” The women are still corseted within a waist inch of their lives, but the florals featured in the character portraits released last week and early trailers are a nice change of pace from plaid.
They have confirmed that they will return to Scotland and Claire will return to the future before the season is through. Claire will be reunited with first husband Frank although the how, when, and where (and exactly how closely the timeline will follow that of the book) is still unclear. But don’t expect the homecoming to go down as smoothly as a fine Scotch. “She’s definitely not the same woman that left [and] there’s many layers of why that relationship is difficult when she goes back,” Balfe hinted during the TCA panel. “When Claire first encounters Black Jack, she can’t fail but to see Frank in him and believe that somewhere there is that connection. When she goes back, there is also that reverse thing where every time she looks at Frank, she can’t help but see Black Jack.”
The show’s creators and producers, who have always worked in close conjunction with author Gabaldon, have taken their relationship to the next level by asking her to write episode 11. She told Yahoo TV in a January interview, “I never expected to be asked, but I was delighted to be asked. It was very different than writing a novel, but I had so much fun learning how, writing an episode, and being on set to see it filmed. I would do it again in a heartbeat if they need me to in Season 3.”
In a Q&A appearance last spring at a Los Angeles Barnes & Noble, Gabaldon mentioned that the scene she most wanted to see on screen from the second book had already made the cut. It is a scene that takes place after Claire and Louise experiment with waxing and Jamie is horrified upon hearing about it. She worked the audience into a fervor by teasing, “You really want to hear Sam Heughan say honeypot in a Scottish accent.”
And on that note, maybe it’s time to return to those aforementioned GIFs.
Outlander Season 2 premieres Saturday, April 9 at 9 p.m. on Starz.