Outlander may often be characterized as an epic adventure series spanning centuries, but at the heart of the narrative is something quite simple: the love story of two people thrown together in an effort to survive.
"Here's this couple that does fall in love through a set of circumstances, but they remain devoted to one another," executive producer Ronald D. Moore tells TVGuide.com. "It becomes a story of a one-on-one relationship that lasts a very long time, which is unusual and interesting to play in a television series where it's usually about who's sleeping with who and will they or wont they. This is just about these two people who have this fundamental commitment to each other."
On the Starz series, based on the prolific book series of the same name, our heroine Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) has magically fallen into the past from 1945 to 1743. With her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) left behind in the 20th century, Claire is then startled to see someone who looks like Frank who turns out to be one his evil ancestor and Red Coat officer Black Jack Randall (also played by Menzies). She falls in with a band of Scotsmen belonging to the MacKenzie clan, which is when Claire meets the virginal Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) who — a few episodes later — she must marry in order to be kept safe from the English who have ordered her return. While Claire still hopes to reverse the magic that transported her through time so she can reunite with Frank, she can't help but be drawn to Jamie. And, as viewers watched, what began as intriguing, albeit platonic, connection to each other quickly morphed on their wedding night into a relationship that transcended their physical attraction to one another.
For Balfe, the fact that Jamie and Claire challenge each other — uncommon for a time when women weren't so apt to stand up to men — is what makes their relationship so strong. "For his time he's quite an evolved person, but he still is in the mindset of an 18th-century man," Balfe says. "She doesn't allow him to live under those ideas just because. She challenges him to think for himself and find his own morality and system of beliefs. That's what makes it such a great love story — they don't let each other rest on their laurels."
Heughan agrees. "When [Jamie] meets Claire she's this creature from another time, almost alien-like, and she has these ideals and this way of seeing things," he says. "She teaches him about ... how people should be treated and he teaches her as well. They're both very adaptable, versatile people and work well together as a team."
On Saturday's midseason finale, Claire begins to adapt to her new marriage, unaware that in the future, Frank has begun a desperate search for his missing wife, complicated by the fact that he's shown a missing sign with both Jamie's and Claire's pictures. And when Claire is presented with a fate-changing opportunity, she must reconcile that while she's now both Claire Randall and Claire Fraser, she must only choose one destiny.
However Claire and Jamie's love story ends — the show is picked up through Season 2, but there are currently eight books in the series — Moore says one thing is clear about their beginning: "Fans of the book will tell you Jamie fell in love with Claire the moment he met her."
Watch our interview with Balfe, Heughan and Moore!
The Outlander midseason finale airs on Saturday at 9/8c on Starz and will return for the second half of the season on April 4.