Claire Randall Fraser knows the future and she’s trying to change it. When OUTLANDER returns for its second season this weekend, Claire and her husband Jamie have traveled to France to stop the Battle of Culloden before it ever begins and to ensure the future of the Scottish Highlanders. Claire seems to believe that the solution to their problem lies in Paris with the exiled Prince Charles Stuart (the leader of the Jacobites) and so she and Jamie will integrate themselves into French society to try and change the fate of Scotland. But any good time travel story or film will tell you that fate will always find a way to come to pass.
We recently spoke to OUTLANDER star Caitriona Balfe about Claire and Jamie’s new life in France in season 2 and why their plans have such a devastating impact on the couple.
The Distance Between Them. Jamie is still going “through the trauma at the end of season 1 [and] here [Claire and Jamie] are and it’s a very, very fragile recovery that they seem to have made. There seems to be this hope at a new beginning and there’s a new plan in place and it seems like they’re going to get somewhere with all of this. But, we realize that Jamie is still experiencing PTSD. They’re not communicating. There’s a massive distance between them. And what should be the most joyous time in Claire’s life [because she's pregnant] is a very lonely and almost isolated time. In trying to help Jamie and in trying to give him this mission to hold on to, she’s self-sacrificing in a lot of ways. Because he’s never home and, when he is home, he’s busy thinking about this other thing. And it’s very rare glimpses that we get that the pregnancy is the one thing that actually bonds them every so often.”
New Faces. While the couple spend a great deal of time separated, Claire eventually makes herself some new friends. “One is Louise De Rohan and that’s played wonderfully by Claire Sermonne, who is hilarious and absolutely fantastic in this role. But probably her most important friend that she makes, I would say, is Master Raymond. I always sort of view him as a counterpart to Geillis Duncan, [because] there’s something about this man. He’s quite unusual and when Claire and he meet, it’s almost like there’s a recognition of a like-minded soul, or something like that between them. He’s a mysterious man, we don’t quite know what his whole story is. But he’s the one that gives her this gift of L’Hôpital Des Anges and a place for her to go and feel purposeful again. And there she meets another new friend, Mother Hildegarde. So after a while she does start to make some friends and to find her place. But I think in the beginning there is a lot of uncertainty and loneliness there.”
French Society. Are Claire and Jamie spending a great deal apart because that’s the best way to accomplish their goal or because French society separates men and women? Caitriona said that “even though they’ve moved into the upper echelons of Parisian society, and on the surface it seems that women have as much autonomy as men in a way, all of the politicking, all of the business deals and all of those things are very much done by men. And women are expected to be theses objects, [to] sit prettily and drink tea and gossip in drawing rooms. This is the difficulty with which Claire finds herself, because she’s frustrated. She doesn’t have an outlet and together they make these plans but it’s Jamie that has the power to go out and implement them. And so in the beginning Claire’s at a loose end. She’s sort of managing this big house and she’s bored. And she’s frustrated and it isn’t until Master Raymond tells her about L’Hôpital Des Anges and she goes there that she gets to feel useful and vital and have a purpose again.”
The Impact of Their Lies. Claire and Jamie will find themselves spending a great deal of their time lying to their new acquaintances and, as a result, they’ll find themselves changing in some subtle ways. “[The lying] takes its toll on both of them and, as a consequence of that, their relationship as well. I think there used to being very honorable and honest people and we’ve seen that mostly in season 1 — kind of being the best of themselves that they can be. And now in this season there’s a lot of duplicity, there’s a lot of manipulating, there’s a lot of double-dealing. They’re making friends and then double-crossing them. And it’s not the nicest thing to watch of these two characters and I think that in allowing that shadow-side of themselves to have a presence, it seeps in to their psyche and into their souls and it definitely has an affect on them.”
Returning to Scotland. The gorgeous sets and beautiful dresses of Paris will take us through the first half of the season, but eventually the action will return to Scotland. How successful will Claire and Jamie be during their time in France? Caitriona had a rather ominous warning to share with us: “I think as the lines of fate draw closer, the pressure keeps building on this couple and we will see them get more and more desperate, but as a team they try and do everything within their power to fight.”