In the first half of Outlander's freshman season, 1940s-era Claire (Caitriona Balfe) mysteriously transported through time to 1740s Scotland. And although she may have eventually accepted her fate — and love — with new husband Jamie (Sam Heughan), once the series returns on Saturday (9/8c, Starz), the strength of their relationship will be tested.
"[At the end of the first half of the season] they got married which was this magical, amazing night of discovery. Then they had a brief honeymoon period that landed them in trouble so [in the premiere], this is the first moment where the two characters actually had other emotions at play," executive producer Ronald D. Moore tells TVGuide.com. "But that conflict between 20th century and 18th century doesn't define them. In the first episode they're able to transcend that. It'll still surface now and again... but if anything, the relationship because of this episode becomes deeper and richer because of it."
For those who read the books, it's no secret that said conflict includes a hard-to-watch spanking scene (eventually followed by great makeup sex!) where Jamie punishes Claire for walking off and ending up in the hands of sadistic Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). Although he rescues her immediately, and before Randall can inflict too much pain on our heroine, he'll later return in the series in what will be the darkest arc of Season 1. As Menzies told us while on set for the filming of it, "If the stuff in episode 6 was tough, this is a whole level up."
Filming the horrific scenes to come between Jamie and Randall were a challenge, but Heughan adds, "It's pretty brave stuff we're going to be showing. Like any of the more graphic scenes in the show we're careful that they're not gratuitous and that they're there for a reason. Those two episodes took a couple of weeks to shoot and were pretty intensive and draining, but ... the great thing is that it comes at the end of the season because we've already learned so much about Jamie, so it's really telling."
For Moore, it was a delicate balance to stay true to the shocking events that will transpire for Jamie, while also making it enjoyable to watch. "First and foremost you talk to the cast about the intention of the scene and what you're trying to achieve ... and then ultimately it's a judgment call," he says. "I'm in the editing bay and there's a point where I don't want to look at it anymore and there's a point where I feel like I'm cheated and I didn't see enough. You use your internal guidepost because I can't open it up for a vote, it's not a democracy, someone has to decide where [the line] is. I decide and hope people agree with me."
It's not this horrific event, however, that gives Claire the most pause, Balfe says. "Obviously, the brutality she experiences at the hands of Black Jack Randall is terrible and affects her quite a lot, but one of her toughest things is coming to grips with what she wants in life. When they have a peaceful moment is when Claire struggles the most because she finally has to make decisions within herself about who she is as a woman and what she wants. This idea of going to [Jamie's home in] Lallybroch and becoming Lady Lallybroch is not necessarily something that sits with her so comfortably immediately. Had Claire stayed in the '40s and become the professor's wife she would've struggled enormously, and it's almost like this situation is repeating itself. When the universe starts telling yourself again and again you have to listen and see what lessons are there to be learned. For Claire, this idea of, 'What does it mean to be a wife? Does she want to be a mother? What is home to her?' is all quite interesting because Claire thrives when she's living on life's edge and when things get a little quiet its then that she needs to start looking inside."