Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan discuss why Saturday's episode is a major turning point in Claire and Jamie's relationship ... and not in a good way.
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Saturday's episode of Outlander, "Untimely Resurrection."]
The honeymoon period couldn't last forever for Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) on Outlander.
Despite sharing an extremely passionate romance all throughout season one, the newlyweds' move to France has taken quite the toll on their marriage. From Jamie's frustrations over having to pretend to be someone he's not, to Claire's loneliness as Jamie pulled back from their relationship after his traumatic rape, to the stress their mission of sabotaging the Jacobite rebellion has put on them, Jamie finally reached a breaking point in Saturday's episode.
All their season two marital troubles came to a head in the final moments, when Claire made Jamie promise not to kill Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) for one year, to give him time to marry Mary Hawkins (Rosie Day) and produce a child, thereby securing Frank Randall's (Menzies) future. Jamie had been gung-ho about dueling Black Jack ever since they came face-to-face unexpectedly at Versailles earlier in the episode, excited to finally have the chance to get his revenge on the sadistic soldier. But Claire's compassion for her first husband won out, and although it physically pained Jamie to do so, he agreed to her one-year plea. And it was clear from the pure, unadulterated rage on Jamie's face as he agreed that their relationship would never be the same after that game-changing moment.
The episode also saw Claire meddling in the lives of young loves Mary and Alex Randall (Laurence Dobiesz), aka Black Jack's younger brother, since the two were falling for each other. Claire, knowing that Mary needed to get together with Black Jack and not Alex to make sure that Frank was born in the future, convinced Alex to break things off with Mary. Claire also lodged false accusations against Black Jack, blaming him for Mary's rape and Claire's attack, to get him temporarily thrown in the Bastille to delay his duel with Jamie.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Balfe and Heughan about the tense, loaded episode to find out where things go from here.
We have never seen Jamie more furious than he was with Claire in the final moments of the hour. How is this going to affect their relationship moving forward?
Caitriona Balfe: It's definitely really damaged their trust in each other. Their bond is so strong that it hasn't broken it completely, but this is probably one of the darkest moments in their relationship. I can completely understand it from Jamie's point of view. It's a horrific thing to ask but I also feel like, for Claire, she's fighting for the survival of someone she loves and holds dear to her heart. She would do the same for Jamie and more, and does. I understand it, but it's definitely a tough thing that she's asked of him.
Sam Heughan: It's the turning point for the whole season. It's a huge ask of Jamie. Of course, you can understand why she would ask that of him. It's about the history of Frank and the worry that he might not even exist possibly, they don't know. That's what season two is all about, the repercussions of our history and how that affects everything. Every action they take has another reaction. Jamie agrees to it unwillingly and it really tests their relationship and has quite a detrimental effect.
How will the knowledge that he can't kill Black Jack for a full year affect Jamie's conflict with him?
Heughan: Let's just hope that they don't meet. (Laughs.) But I think you'll probably find that they do. You'll have to watch. But it really is the most pivotal point. Randall arriving back in Jamie and Claire's world is the point where everything begins to fall apart and it builds right up until the end of the season, the climax, back in Scotland. It all has an effect. It destroys their lives, basically. It destroys their relationship.
How did it feel knowing you'd be bringing Jamie and Claire's relationship to such a dark place after the romance and hope of season one?
Balfe: Pretty great, actually. (Laughs.) That sounds wrong, but as an actor, it was exciting to take their relationship to a new place.
Heughan: It was important for us to go somewhere else with it. Season one was the young love, the newlyweds and the honeymoon period. Season two is the more grown-up marriage. It's more complex, more complicated, and there's a lot of trauma that happens, a lot of conflict and challenges that they face in their marriage. But ultimately by the end of the season, it will make them a lot stronger because they'll go through it together. However, in a way, it's more complicated and on a bigger scale as well. Season one was about them as individuals and getting together and learning about each other. Season two is about their relationship, their marriage in relation to everyone around them and to the people they're trying to save, a race and a whole way of life. And also their unborn child as well, which is another huge part of their life and everything is going to change.
Going back to Frank and his ancestry, Claire started to meddle in both Alex and Black Jack's lives because she thinks Mary needs to be with Black Jack to ensure Frank's survival...
Balfe: Yeah, that was really a horrible scene. (Laughs.) Like, really Claire? Ugh. We're not seeing the best of Claire a lot this season. There's this blindness that she has with the mission where she is blindly going at any cost to try and keep certain things the same and change other things in history. It's not necessarily the actions of the intelligent Claire that we have come to know as an audience. But because these are such emotional decisions, she's not thinking very clearly. She tries to meddle and it's a very cruel thing she does to Alex. But I think she redeems herself in the end.
On the other hand, Claire just put Black Jack behind bars for something he didn't even do. How is that going to escalate Black Jack's hatred towards her?
Balfe: At this point, Claire and Black Jack, that relationship, she obviously hates him for what he's done, but his business or dealings with Jamie … the conflict is really between Jamie and Black Jack. Obviously Claire has her feelings about Black Jack and we'll see much later down the line that coming into play again. But I think that he has done the worst that he can do. At this point, they know the beast that they're dealing with and in a way, there can be no more surprises.
What storyline are you most excited for fans to get to see play out after this episode?
Heughan: All of it. (Laughs.) It just from that point, it has huge consequences on everything. On their relationship, on history. But without giving it away, Claire and the child are a very important story going forward. I'll be interested to watch that onscreen. Caitriona does an amazing job. It all turns on its head in a bit. It really begins to get pretty f--ked up.
Do you find it difficult to talk about storylines knowing that half of the audience knows what's coming since they read the books but half are completely new to the story and don't want to be spoiled?
Balfe: Absolutely, yes. It's so difficult.
Heughan: Yeah, it's really tough when we have to talk around spoilers. I would love to be able to just speak freely, but I don't want to ruin it. There gets to be a point near the end of the season where we can finally talk about things we've had to hold in for so long and it's such a relief. In a short time we'll get to talk about episodes six and seven which are the real turning points for everything. But it's also exciting to know that people have so much to come. It's going to completely surprise a lot of people where we're going.
Outlander airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.
*Check local listings for show times. Starz apps making episodes available at 12am ET.