Even by the highly stressful standards of Outlander, the season 4 finale really put fans through the wringer. Jamie decides to trade himself to the Mohawk people to save Roger—and just as you’re beginning to process that, Young Ian jumps in and takes his place instead! Poor Brianna went into labor and gave birth before either of her parents could make it home. Oh, and Jamie has been tasked with assassinating Murtagh next season. Cool, cool, cool.
Below, Catriona Balfe breaks down the key moments from “Man of Worth,” hints at what’s to come in season 5, and explains whether Jamie and Claire have been having less sex of late.
Where does the season leave Claire emotionally?
I think her primary focus throughout the season is so much about her being a mother to Brianna in a very different way, because of what Brianna has gone though and also being a grandmother now. I think it’s definitely been a transition, this season, going from the search for Jamie and “Will this relationship work?” to them finding each other.
Now it’s like okay, we built this life, and what does it look like? With Brianna coming in, it becomes very different, because now Claire’s become the matriarch of this extended family unit. When she says to Brianna, “I want to take you away from here,” I think she needs to have her family around her, in a place where they create the society that they want. She can see how heartbroken Brianna is, and everything about River Run for Claire is just so tainted and it’s hard for her to relax there at all. I think she just wants to protect her daughter, get her home, and create a safe space for her.
When Jamie is going to trade himself for Roger, Claire accepts it fairly quickly. Why?
I think it’s telling that one of the next lines is when after Ian offers himself up, Jamie says “Escape at your first chance.” Given that we had so little time to use in that moment, where I had to go with it was, this is a temporary thing. He’s going to get out of here as quickly as he can. I think she felt that this is Jamie’s politically savvy decision to get Roger for this instant, but he’s not going to stay.
Fans were wondering if Jamie and Claire would make it back before Brianna gave birth. How did you feel about the fact that they weren’t there?
I think they had a lot of stories to try and tie up in the finale. There’s a lot in that book, and obviously when you’re trying to tell it all in 13 episodes it’s quite difficult. Just personally, getting to play those scenes with Sophie would have been so cool, but I think it also speaks to Brianna’s independence, and allows for some healing between Jocasta and Claire. Also, it’s so great when Jamie and Claire come back at the end, and I think once they see a healthy baby, it doesn’t matter. It’s the moment you first meet the child that’s more important.
What was it like playing opposite Sophie now that Bree and Claire’s relationship has changed so much?
It was great, because towards the end of the period in the ’60s, this was a mother and daughter really at odds with each other. Their relationship was so fractured, and there were so many secrets, Claire wasn’t being honest. So then in season 3 when Claire is finally honest with Brianna and they start repairing and healing that relationship, it allows for what’s happened this season. Sophie’s just blossomed this season because she’s been given so much more to do, and it’s been wonderful to see her flourish in all of that. At the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3, it was still sort of this mother–child relationship in many ways, and Brianna was very much in pain and acting out in response to some of the things she found out, and justifiably so. Now they’re on an even keel and they’re meeting as equals.
It feels like Jamie and Claire had fewer sex scenes this season. Why do you think that is?
Well, even in season one, there were only three or four episodes where we had sex scenes—it was just that we had one episode that was all sex scenes! People are like, “They never have sex any more,” and I’m like, “Yeah they do!” But the show has opened up—there’s a couple of episodes that Sam and I weren’t even in this season. You’re telling a story of a family and a relationship, and the passion is still there. It’s not the same as when you first meet somebody, but it doesn’t mean the passion’s diminished. It just means that it’s changed.
I think some people have misconstrued the fact that we talk about a mature relationship, like, “Are you trying to say mature people don’t have sex?” That’s not what we’re trying to say at all, and actually, as we’ve shown, they do. Their relationship is about that, but it’s about all these other things. It’s about their family and their children and this larger unit that they’ve created. Also…they’re living in a one-bedroom house with their nephew for a lot of it! There are logistical issues as well! I think all of that has to come into play. They might traumatize poor Young Ian.
How is Young Ian’s decision to trade himself for Roger going to impact next season?
I think it’ll have the biggest impact between Roger and Jamie. There’s a lot of resentment still there, and obviously Jamie is in some ways thinking about the impact that having to save Roger has had on his nephew, so that’ll be an interesting dynamic. John Bell is so wonderful and you can’t help but see the absolute glee that he has when he got to do those scenes with the Mohawk and the gauntlet. I think one of the cool things is it will allow us to explore Native American culture, and the relationship that Claire and Jamie and Young Ian have with them, in a deeper way.
What can you say about season 5?
I think one of the main focuses is going to be this impending, looming Revolutionary War—obviously Murtagh and Jamie are being tasked on opposing sides, and that’s going to have a huge impact on the family. The war is going to put Claire and Jamie is a very precarious position, so how are they going to deal with that, and how is that going to impact their family? We’ve got a lot of interesting stuff coming up.