The Starz series Outlander is currently in its third season, and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is struggling to navigate life without Jamie (Sam Heughan) and instead with her first husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies). As the years pass, Jamie and Claire attempt to make a life apart from one another while each are haunted by the memory of their lost love, and resentment builds in Frank over the fact that he will never fully have his wife’s heart.
During this interview with Collider, showrunner Ron D. Moore and executive producer Maril Davis talked about why Season 3 is such a strong season, what they’re most excited about fans getting to see, being at such a transitional point in the story, the shift in the relationship between Claire and Jamie, the dynamic between Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger (Richard Rankin), what Season 4 will look like, whether they might split up or combine some of the books for future seasons, and what they’re most proud of with this series. (Book spoilers about the location of the story after this season follow).
Collider: Fans had to wait a long time for Outlander to return. Why is this season worth that wait?
RON D. MOORE: I think it’s a very strong season. We’re very proud of the way it turned out. All of the episodes hold together really well. I think it’s a really good, engaging story. The adaptation process was pretty good. It was a much easier adaptation than the second season, for a variety of reasons.
What are you most excited about fans getting to see in Season 3?
MOORE: There’s a lot of big elements.
MARIL DAVIS: There’s the print shop, turtle soup, and so many good scenes. Seeing Claire and Jamie on their own separate journeys, while hard because they’re still separated, to me is so interesting. It’s so interesting to see and chart their character development and see what has happened to them, over those 20 years. This book broke down a lot easier than the second book, and there were almost too many stories to tell, in some ways.
What have been the biggest challenges, specific to this season?
MOORE: Most of it was logistics and production. It covers a lot of ground, a lot of time periods, a lot of time passages, and a lot of big shifts of location and scenery. We have the whole adventure on the ships, and then Jamaica and the Caribbean, and ship chases and storms. And then, there’s the normal time travel stuff, and Boston and Scotland. From a production standpoint, it was a very complex season. That was probably the biggest challenge, overall.
DAVIS: In the first five episodes, there were so many hair changes for 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s Boston, and Jamie has a different look. For every episode, there were multiple looks. From a production perspective, that’s incredibly challenging because you also don’t film things in a complete linear fashion. And certainly, the reset to South Africa was tough. It’s not just going down to Prague for a week, or England for a few days. That is a long journey.
When you started doing this show, did you realize just how big and all-encompassing it would be? Did you have a good sense of just how epic this would be?
MOORE: I think we knew it was a big challenge, but even then, it’s proved to be a much bigger challenge than we thought, from the outset.
DAVIS: It takes a village.
MOORE: That’s a big reason of why it takes us so long to shoot the show, and why it took us awhile between seasons to get there.
You’ve described Season 3 as a transitional season. Why is that a good description for this season?
MOORE: If you know the book series and you know where the story is going, you really do look at this season as a pivot point. It takes it pretty much out of Scotland and transplants the major storylines to North Carolina and the colonies. There’s always a foot in Scotland that’s still a part of the show, after this point, but it will shift the focus of the storyline into the American colonies, from this point forward. It chronicles a literal pivot point in how the story is moving.
How will that affect things for Claire and Jamie, and what are the biggest challenges in that shift?
MOORE: It’s a reset for the show. The series is continually evolving and changing. It’s always been, “Well, the next episode is nothing like this one. The next season is nothing like this one.” You’re constantly looking ahead to the horizon. It will change the show in fundamental ways that we’re not even cognizant of yet. Now, instead of talking about the Jacobite Rebellion, the history of Scotland, the clans and how all of that worked, we’re gonna be dealing with the colonies in America, but not the classic ones you’re used to seeing on film, which are Boston, Philadelphia, and all of that. We’re in the Carolinas, which is a lesser known story in pop culture. It’s really out on the frontier and it’s going to take us in a very different direction. Costuming, location and everything will change.
DAVIS: We call Outlander a traveling show because every season is a complete reset. Starting with Season 4, it will be the first time we’re actually in the same place, from then on. That will be unusual for us ‘cause we’re not really used to that. In Scotland, we’ve been so lucky because, if a location falls out or we can’t build a set in time, you can go find a castle. We won’t really have that luxury in the colonies. We can’t just be like, “Oh, we’ll just go down the road.” Everything takes a little more extra thought.