It’s a crisp June morning on Silverstroom Beach, a secluded bay located on the western cape of South Africa. The normally pristine stretch of soft white sand is littered with the debris left behind after a catastrophic shipwreck — barrels, rigging, and jagged chunks of wood.
There are two bodies on the beach, a man and a woman, both damp and dishevelled. She lies motionless as he crawls towards her, his movements desperate despite his obvious exhaustion, and sweeps the sand-matted hair from her face. For a moment, she doesn’t stir, then a wracking cough shakes her body, and relief blooms on his face.
They’re both weak, but they find their way into each other’s arms as if magnetized, momentarily oblivious to the three well-dressed strangers approaching them, carrying news that will change their lives. Their ship, which left Jamaica headed for Scotland, has been blown considerably off course, depositing them in the New World, in the colony of Georgia.
It’s the last scene of the Outlander Season 3 finale, a moment full of trepidation and possibility, as Claire and Jamie Fraser face an unknown future in America — but at this moment, stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan still have two weeks of filming ahead of them before the episode wraps, during which time they’ll shoot the bulk of the episode.
Article written by Laura Prudom
Image : Starz
Link to original: https://mashable.com/2017/12/14/outlander-season-3-finale-behind-the-scenes/?europe=true#3H_UxcY9qsOK
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
With eight books and three seasons out in the world so far, we eagerly devour Jamie and Claire’s love story and demand more, more, more, but rarely get a deep look at what a herculean task it is to bring their adventure to the small screen. So with the gripping finale behind us, let’s pull back the curtain on how the latest chapter of the Frasers' story came to life.
The journey really began in the spring of 2016, when the Outlander writers’ room gathered to begin “breaking” the season — a process in which the staff plots out the narrative for the coming year as a team, starting with the big, tentpole moments from Diana Gabaldon’s books (in this case, Voyager, the third novel in her ongoing Outlander series) which shape the overall arc, then figuring out what else needs to happen to get our characters from point A to point B each week.
Executive producers Matt Roberts and Toni Graphia once again partnered to write the finale, as they did in Season 2, with Roberts also making his directorial debut on the episode. While scripts are usually assigned to writers over the course of breaking the season, the duo always knew that episode 313 would be theirs.
“The finale is something you're talking about all season,” says Graphia. “Starting on day one and then all through the season, everything that happens has a ripple effect and affects the finale, so we'll take room notes literally all year long.”
Room notes keep track of all the episode ideas that the writers come up with throughout the season, and Graphia says that for the finale, “we broke our record… it was 277 pages of room notes.” For the sake of comparison, on a general episode, “you’d have maybe 25 pages,” she says.
When adapting a beloved book series, the writers at least have a framework to follow, rather than creating a season completely from scratch. But that approach also comes with its share of challenges — chiefly, choosing which fan-favorite moments will inevitably have to be left out, given the constraints of TV production.
“There's a lot of things that really play well in novel form. They work on the page, and they're exciting to read, and you really get into it — you feel the emotion because you put in all of your life experiences as you're reading it,” says Roberts. “But we don't have that luxury; we have to actually show it and we have to film it. And we only have a certain amount of money for the season, so we have to make creative choices.”
The outline of the finale (back when it was titled “Sea Change”) was written in mid-February, and it’s fascinating to see how the story evolved from there; this early version not only featured Geillis giving Young Ian back to Claire at Rose Hall without a fight, meaning that the cave ritual took place without him, but also contained another major set piece from Diana Gabaldon’s novel — an intense ocean chase between the Artemis and the Porpoise, which happened before both ships were overtaken by the storm.
“That's a very extensive shoot; it's extensive visual effects, so we had to make the choice: Do we want to see Captain Leonard on the Porpoise chasing Jamie? Or do we want to see Jamie and Claire fighting a hurricane?” Roberts says. “The choice for me is always easy, I want to see Jamie and Claire.”
The writers’ guiding principle, according to Roberts, is that “the one story we absolutely have to service is the love story” between Claire and Jamie — which is why, when characters or arcs from Gabaldon’s books are omitted, it’s generally because those plot points don’t have much of an impact on the Frasers’ relationship, or would be too costly or complicated to film. But the writing staff also tries to keep fans on their toes, especially if they’ve been immersed in Gabaldon’s world for years already.
“Readers know the books so well that they expect things, and we have to make this enjoyable to them along with the non-readers,” Roberts explains. “To give the book readers a surprise, you shuffle things around a little bit and you give them something they want, but just not the way they expected it.”
After the outline phase, the showrunner, network, studio, and other writers give notes on anything that they think needs changing, and the scribes incorporate those ideas when creating the first draft of the script.
Most scripts will go through several revisions to address further notes, plus a pass from the showrunner — who may make slight amendments or basically rewrite the whole script, at their discretion — before a production draft is locked. Even during filming, it’s common for scripts to change as scenes are being filmed, if the actors and director feel that something isn’t working on the day.
I received a “studio network draft” of the finale script in April, at which point the title had become “The New World,” mostly because Roberts didn't like "Sea Change," he admits later. By now, the major beats of the episode had solidified: Young Ian remained in Geillis’ clutches until Claire and Jamie rescued him in the cave, and the Porpoise wasn’t seen again after John Grey put Captain Leonard in his place and freed Jamie from his spurious arrest.
And because the writers knew that the season was building towards the same dramatic climax that ends Gabaldon’s book, the production was able to plan accordingly.
“This is one of those unusual episodes where we knew that we were going to do a storm, so we started working on that prior to the actual script,” Roberts reveals. “The idea for the storm and the chase preceded the script. Storyboards went into the script, rather than the other way around.”
My first day on set, while Balfe and Heughan are rolling around in the sand in the middle of the South African winter (it’s sunny, but there’s a distinctly Scottish nip in the air, and unlike the soggy stars, the crew are snugly wrapped in puffy jackets and hats), I duck into a cozy tent to catch up with executive producer Maril Davis, who flew in the day before and is just as jetlagged as I am.
“We’re already deep into Season 4,” she reveals, despite the fact that filming on the new season won’t begin until October. “It’s a year-round machine at this point. I think [the fans] do wonder why we’re not on sooner, it's just, I don’t think we could churn them out any faster.”
Outlander usually films episodes in blocks of two, consisting of 24 shooting days (12 per episode) and an equal number of prep days — and that’s not counting the post-production process of editing, visual effects, scoring, sound design, additional dialogue replacement, and color correction.
The finale is “particularly unusual,” Davis explains, because the episode is being filmed as a standalone rather than as part of a block, and the storm sequences and visual effects are so elaborate compared to a normal episode, post-production is expected to take three months.
“I think it surprises people that end of March, beginning of April was the first time we had a completed episode done,” Davis says of episode 301. “We started shooting that in August of last year.”
A couple of days after filming the finale’s last scene on the beach, Balfe is back at Cape Town Film Studios, Outlander’s home away from home for the past three months, where she’s spending the day facing off against Claire’s old nemesis, Geillis, played by Lotte Verbeek.
While the studio is being lashed by one of the worst storms on record just outside the door, in front of the cameras, Claire and Geillis are placidly drinking tea (or faking it, in Claire’s case) and subtly trying to pump each other for information in a riveting game of cat and mouse. The tea-drinking half of the scene won’t make it into the final cut because, as showrunner Ron Moore later tells me, “you realized at a certain point you didn't need it, and then it actually had a little more momentum to it without [that section],” but on the day, it all seems very cordial, with an undercurrent of arsenic.
“I think the Geillis-Claire relationship [has] just always been really interesting,” Balfe says in a break between camera setups. “It's nice to see these two women who have this very unique position struggle with what their bond is, because obviously they sit at very different ends of the spectrum — Geillis being a murdering, sort of machiavellian [character], and Claire, who just accidentally kills people.”
“The stakes are higher now,” Verbeek agrees. “It’s nice to see my friend again, but this time she’s messing with my cause, and nobody gets between my cause and me.”
Verbeek points out that while Geillis hasn’t changed much since Claire last saw her (must be all that virgin blood she’s bathing in), she did want to show the subtle ways that life has worn on her character: “We’re in the Caribbean now, and this is 20 years later, so not only have I aged visually but also my patience really is wearing thin. It’s been a long time in the Caribbean where it’s hot, and I think I kind of lose my inhibitions a little bit.”
Graphia admits that she’s always had a particular affinity for Geillis — she also wrote episode 11 of Season 1, “The Devil’s Mark,” which sees Claire and Geillis on trial for witchcraft — and says that she “considered this round two” for the resilient women.
In the book, Jamie and Claire go to Rose Hall together, but the writers decided that our heroine should face Geillis alone “because it really is her battle to fight,” Graphia says. “Geillis is her opponent and her avatar and we wanted a cliffhanger at the end of episode 12 leading into the finale, and so we went away from the book in the decision to have Jamie arrested at the end, so that he's held up and Claire does the initial confrontation.”
Geillis has been a pivotal character in Claire’s story since the series began, so it’s immensely satisfying to see her return now at such an unexpected moment. Composer Bear McCreary reveals that the music he initially used for her back in Season 1 ties all the way back to the first episode of the series — the “Stones Theme,” which was introduced in the Druid dance sequence that Claire and Frank witnessed at Craigh na Dun.
“Up until this point in the story, she's always been associated with mysticism, magic, time travel,” he says. “When I got here, suddenly, that story takes a very different turn. I realized I needed to do something different with that theme, that would make it distinct enough.”
McCreary says he turned to an instrument called a yaylı tambur — basically a five foot banjo — to “distort” the notes of the Stones Theme and create what he calls the “Bakra Theme,” which becomes Geillis’ signature sound in Season 3.
“I use that theme all throughout episodes 12 and 13, to heighten the tension, to create this sense of exoticism,” he explains. “There's dissonance in there that is creepy, but not quite horrific, because we like her.... It was a great opportunity to create tension through weirdness.”
Roberts describes the finale as “three separate vignettes” more than a typical episode with a three-act structure, hanging on the tentpoles of the Claire/Geillis showdown, the voodoo ceremony, and the new beginning.
“The voodoo ceremony is the perfect example of something that was in the book but what we did, trying to be a little different, is a little comparison to the dancers at Craigh na Dun and trying to do something reminiscent of that, even having Jamie and Claire looking on that ceremony like Frank and Claire did that first time in the [series premiere],” Davis reveals.
In the book, Claire comes face to face with a live crocodile before the ceremony which, as you can imagine, would’ve presented some logistical challenges while filming. Instead, the script has Claire and Jamie stumbling across the decapitated creature hanging from a tree, although the moment isn’t in the final cut.
Still, the experience of filming such a surreal and ritualistic scene isn’t lost on Heughan, considering where the show started.
“We were shooting the other night in the jungle and there's this crocodile being strung up and there's this voodoo ceremony and you're like, ‘we’ve really gone from the days in Castle Leoch and people drinking whisky to this brave new world,’” he chuckles.
Because there’s so much going on in the voodoo scene — from the ceremony itself to Claire and Jamie’s conversations with Mr. Willoughby, Margaret Campbell and her slimy brother Archibald — Roberts reveals a trick he used to help keep the continuity consistent: using a circle of tall grass (which stands in for sugarcane) to fudge the timeline.
“I knew in the script we were going to have a timing issue, because everything happens at the same time in the script, but it just can't on screen,” he notes. “I wanted to be able to point the camera somewhere and for Ron to be able to go, ‘Okay, I need to use this now,’ and not be tied into a background, since it all looks the same, that you can really go back and forth.
“I did play around a lot with that sequence,” Moore says of editing the scene. “How often to cut back to the dance; when you come to them; how long to stay with them; then trying to build the momentum because there's a murder that takes place towards the end. Then it felt like you needed to speed up the intercut a little bit to create that momentum.”
In an effort to “streamline” the season, Davis says, they also took particular liberties with Willoughby and the Campbells’ storylines, which, in the book, involved Margaret having fallen in love with a soldier who died at Culloden, Archibald being a serial killer (yes, really), and Mr. Willoughby having betrayed Jamie to the excisemen back in Edinburgh.
“Willoughby and Margaret get together, which I think is a nice thing,” she says. “And we have a happier ending to Willoughby’s story than we had before, and I feel like it wraps it up a little better.”
But the biggest challenge of the voodoo ceremony landed on McCreary’s plate.
“It's a 10 minute drum circle performance that is loud — it can be heard a mile away — but then once they get there, there's also this drama and revelation and discussion and conflict that happens right there, and the drums don't stop,” the composer laughs. “Ron showed that sequence to me and he was like, ‘What do you think?’ I thought, ‘Oh my god, how are we going to do this?’ But it became this really cool sequence.”
The solution, McCreary discovered, was to create two pieces of music — the drum circle performance itself, and a score that drifts in and out depending on the action and conversations taking place on screen, so that one doesn’t drown out the other.
“The drums subjectively get a little quieter and it's almost like when we get in tight with their conversation, the drums reach a point where they slow down a little bit, but it all exists in two simultaneous worlds,” he says.
Since its inception, Outlander has become known for its attention to period detail, from Jon Gary Steele's production design to Terry Dresbach's costuming, regardless of whether those precise touches will be visible on camera or not.
That’s especially true of the voodoo scene; while we never directly see the slaves’ transformation from their servants’ clothes to their ceremonial garb onscreen, Dresbach conceived an ingenious and realistic solution for how these otherwise repressed men and women might privately express themselves.
You’ll notice that when Claire encounters the slaves leaving Geillis’ property at the beginning of the episode, they’re wearing drab, neutral linens — but when Claire and Jamie discover the ceremony later, they’ve stripped off their heavy skirts to reveal more colorful layers beneath, and unwrapped their turbans to create more dramatic headwear.
“We've all seen the voodoo ceremony in a thousand bad movies over the years. Our basic premise on this show with everything we do is to find a practical, logical reason. ‘Where would you get that and how much trouble would you go to?’” Dresbach explains. “I used to always say about Scotland, ‘you're living in a little tiny house with four goats, a cow, and all your relatives. How much time could you spend getting the perfect shade of pink?’ You're now talking about slave culture. What are their resources and how elaborate and how complicated can their costumes be? They're cobbling together things from their environment, and so it's adding on bits rather than, ‘Let me go put on this incredible costume.’”
The concept of repurposing costumes permeates Season 3, and adds another layer of reality to the series — in the finale, Claire is still wearing a stripped-down version of the “Batsuit” that she made while preparing to return to the past, while Jamie’s suit is the same one he wore in France in Season 2.
“Once you became an adult, your clothing was expected to last your entire lifetime,” Dresbach says. “Jamie’s black linen suit, if you look carefully at it, you'll see places where the pocket is not the same, the buttons have been replaced, a cuff has been mended, because that's what people actually did. It's a different approach to our relationship with clothing.”
While the clothing is far less flashy in Season 3 than it was in Paris last year, that doesn’t lessen the costume department’s workload — each look has to have multiple versions, and each version has to be aged and weathered to match the character’s experiences.
Dresbach admits, “I’ve kind of lost count” of how many Batsuits were made, but she recalls warning her team that they’d need to fabricate at least 12 — and they went through around 30 of Claire’s blouses while the crew was filming in South Africa (at which point, her team was already working on Season 4 in Scotland).
“The challenge, of course, is not only to not have everybody get sick to death of seeing it, but for the viewer to believe and want to watch it that many times, it has to be really versatile. And a lot of the ways we do that is with the aging, and watching it break down, which follows what’s going on in the story,” she says. “You’re literally watching Claire disintegrate as she takes this insane journey, and by the end, she’s barely held together.”
That unraveling comes courtesy of Geillis, who is threatening to kill both Young Ian and Brianna in her quest to restore a Scot to the throne.
During my week on set, the paint is still drying in the cave, and filming won’t take place until after I’m gone, but anticipation is high.
When we speak, Verbeek tells me that she isn’t “quite there yet mentally” in terms of letting go of Geillis, but still offers her opinion on her character’s dramatic demise: “I think it’s a beautiful death because she dies in the middle of the highest pursuit of her cause, and you can wonder if she regrets anything or if she’d do it all again if she could, and I think she would. I think it’s a beautiful scene. It’s going to take three days to shoot, because it’s Cait and I on one side of the cave and then there’s Sam and Hercules, so that’s gonna take some logistics.”
The claustrophobic space presented some challenges during filming, Roberts tells me back in Los Angeles, when we meet at the show’s production office in November to discuss the finale’s post-production process with Moore.
“It was more difficult because there were just two places that I could shoot. There was a big pool of water in the middle of it that limited what [I could do],” Roberts recalls. “I did the whole fight, so I knew Ron could cut into that as much as possible or as little as possible, and then the other side we did the whole other interaction with [Claire and Geillis] and just tried to be able to go back and forth as much as possible.”
Showstopping visual effects like the storm are undoubtedly impressive, but it’s the subtle additions — the ones you’re not supposed to notice — that can prove extra tricky, and the cave scene contains several.
“I think getting Geillis' dead body right is one of those that... there are certain things that the eye just sees. It just knows when it's right and knows when it's wrong,” Roberts says.
“Blood coming out has been a real pain in the ass,” Moore agrees. “All through the show from the beginning, we'll have characters that are being killed or they're supposed to have blood spurting. The script only says, ‘Blood spurts out,’ and you try it on set and it always looks kind of fake, and they will fix it in post. You go through pass after pass after pass trying to make it look real. There's blood spurting out of Geillis' neck that I'm still not happy with, but at a certain point you have to just lock the show.”
But there’s an even less obtrusive effect that you might’ve missed in the Abandawe scene, Moore says: “Something I bet audiences are not even going to realize is that there are several shots where we added torches into the background because we wanted to change the lighting a little bit. We added stalactites on the walls to just give it a little more texture, but it's such a part of the background you just accept it as the set without even thinking about it.”
Another quirk of the cave scene is that it contains a flashback to episode 5, “Freedom and Whisky,” which Graphia wrote — in which Claire and her friend Joe Abernathy examine a set of mystery bones that were found in a Caribbean cave, dating back 200 years. For fans who haven’t read Voyager, the moment probably seemed completely random, but we later come to realize that in the future (which is also Claire’s past, ouch), our heroine will hold the skull of the woman she murdered — Geillis Duncan — and feel an inexplicable chill up her spine.
“We had to tell that director and that writer on set to tell everyone, ‘be careful when you're filming this, it's gotta be good,’” Graphia laughs. “They were like, ‘why? It's just a thing where they come in with the skull?’ And I'm like, ‘no, no, no, you don't understand, you'll see. That skull is very, very important.’ And people were like, ‘alright, whatever.’”
At first, once Geillis is defeated and Young Ian is saved, it seems like Claire and Jamie can finally look forward to smooth sailing (pun intended). They even manage to make love before everything capsizes.
Graphia reveals that while the shaving scene wasn’t actually in this particular section of Gabaldon’s book (it would’ve been a better fit for episode 11, which already contained Claire and Jamie’s turtle soup romp), the writers always try to relocate their favorite scenes — especially since “we promised more sex this season … we love writing romance, and we wanted to leave the season with that. So we rescued that scene from earlier and moved it here and I think the fans will enjoy it. There's nothing like sex, and death, and hurricanes. End the season with a bang.”
Filming the storm proved to be a gargantuan effort. Roberts explains that the scenes on the ship had to be shot in May — a month before the rest of the finale began lensing — because ironically, bad weather scenes require good weather conditions, for safety reasons.
The “storm unit” filmed for seven days, and utilized a storyboarding process in which the director and an artist pre-plan the takes they need to get on set — in addition to shots that will be created or supplemented through CGI — before attempting to film every beat that they’ve envisioned. Once the director has a patchwork of in-camera shots, they can be passed along to the visual effects team -- led by Richard Briscoe -- who can then get a head start on the VFX.
“I think one of the most fun [days] ... for me specifically, is pre-storm, the actors came out and thankfully it was warm when we did the storm, so it was 90 degrees,” Roberts recalls with a laugh. “We just turned on the water and the wind and they had to stand there for about five to ten minutes to properly soak them. We just drenched them.”
The storm scenes certainly stand out for Heughan, too.
“There wasn't much acting involved because literally, they've got a hose and just spray it in your face and you're screaming above the rain, but it's incredible,” he laughs. “It's real Star Trek acting, falling from side to side. I enjoyed it a little too much, bouncing off barrels and things. There was one day Matt was like, ‘we want you to fall into the corner over there, get washed over by the wave,’ and I just threw myself at these barrels because I thought they were all soft and, yeah, they weren't. It's good fun.”
But the most heartstopping moment of the episode comes when Claire is swept overboard — the finale opens with her being dragged beneath the waves by the rigging, and we later return to that shot just before Jamie saves her, sharing his air with her and bringing her to the surface.
The underwater scene is barely more than a couple of minutes on screen, but it required an incredible amount of preparation. While on set, I get a chance to watch the crew on the second unit — around 60 people in total — preparing to film with Balfe and Heughan’s stunt doubles in a gigantic outdoor tank (roughly equivalent to six Olympic swimming pools), with producer David Brown overseeing the process. The tank has two depths — it’s shallow around the edges, roughly 4 feet deep, with a deeper section in the center, around 20 feet. The water has to be heated so that it’s comfortable for the actors despite the winter weather — a process that has taken 24 hours and two tons of paraffin to accomplish.
With Claire being dragged down by ropes, Brown explains that the sails and rigging have to be attached to the bottom of the tank, with underwater cameramen (aka “the frog squad”) poised to capture the illusion. While the underwater filming is taking place, stunt performers on jet-skis will run over the surface of the tank to simulate the disturbance of the water in a storm, and a gigantic crane is poised to drop a section of the Artemis’ mast (once the stunt doubles are safely out of the water) so the cameramen can film it sinking. “We’ll probably spend the whole afternoon filming that one element, which will probably take five seconds to actually achieve,” Brown admits.
Back in Los Angeles a few months later, Roberts explains the process of filming Balfe “sinking,” which, it turns out, is achieved with one of the most basic camera tricks.
“A lot of the time when you see them sinking, they're stationary and the camera moves,” he says. “So when they rise up, what you'll see is the camera just comes down, and then they look like they're floating up.”
After undergoing scuba training, Balfe and Heughan used rebreathers during filming to feed them oxygen when needed, with a diver lurking within close reach just off camera.
The scene also required some subtle visual effects work, because, as Roberts points out, “the problem we have with unconscious people underwater is ... Caitriona breathes bubbles. I think we removed some bubbles. Things like that, you just can't get away with.”
While Graphia took the lead on writing the Geillis scenes, Roberts had a particular vision for conceptualizing the hurricane — including the moment that would inspire the episode’s final title, “The Eye of the Storm.” (The previous title, "The New World," was changed "because it was tweeted out by somebody who will remain nameless: Caitriona Balfe," Roberts dryly reveals.)
“He came up with the idea to do Jamie and Claire in the eye of the hurricane, which I think is the best part of the whole script,” Graphia says. “I just thought, ‘oh they get tossed around in the storm,’ and he called and pitched it to me like, ‘it's going to be so great because they come up from under the water and it's totally calm and the sun is shining and it's heavenly and you almost think, 'are they dead?' And then suddenly the camera pulls back and you can see the storm raging all around them and they are in the eye.”
“And there was something that crystallized about the whole script for me from that, because that's a metaphor for their whole relationship. They're in the eye of the hurricane,” she adds. “They've always got drama, and chaos, and war, and strife, but their relationship is what gives them that sort of bubble that they're in, of heaven. And it allows them to deal with all the crises in their life because they have that central beauty and calm together that makes them a team.”
The eye of the storm provided another hard-to-spot VFX moment, and Moore’s really hoping that you didn’t pick up on it.
“In the script, it was sunshine, because they're in the eye of the hurricane. And then as we got into post, we realized it didn't quite feel right that it was such a hard sun,” he says. “It felt more natural that there should still be some rain, it should be a little more overcast. The problem with that was there was no rain hitting the surface of the water. To put that into visual effects ... was going to be so much money and crazy 3-D modeling and not worth it. So we just added some rain over the top, and I was sweating about, ‘Everyone's going to see that there's no rain hitting that water.’”
Ultimately, Moore admits, he remembered a scene in The Hunt for Red October where the main character is being lowered from a helicopter onto a submarine in the middle of a storm, but the surface of the water is calm.
“When you throw this rain in front of the camera in post, and you pump up the wind sounds, and the soundtrack, you just want to believe it,” Moore says with a chuckle. “If you break it down and you really look at it, you go, ‘Wow, that is not a storm at all,’ but the audience just goes with you. They want to believe it's a storm. They're not looking for the flaws. We look for the flaws.”
Which brings us back to where we started — two starcrossed lovers who’ve been to hell and back, clinging to each other on the edge of the great unknown. Scotland will always be home for Jamie, but he’s still a wanted man there, with his print shop incinerated and his second wife eager for alimony.
“Obviously, America to Claire is something very different than it is to Jamie,” Balfe points out. “Their intention is to get back to Scotland [when they leave Jamaica], and at this point, maybe their intention is to still try and do that, but for Claire, America is really home, and that's been her home for 20 years. But this time, it's with the man that she loves and it's in a different time and it's at a different historical point.”
Balfe admits that living in America herself for 13 years helped inform her performance in those moments.
“I sort of have adopted it in some ways as my home too, and I think that I drew on that feeling, because for Claire, it has that kind of like, [relieved sigh] ‘Ah, America.’ Like, it's home. Like this could be a really good thing — there's a safety to it. It's a place she knows and she understands. She would know a lot about that time and history in the U.S. I think for her it's quite a hopeful moment. I'm not sure what Jamie thinks... [Maybe] he's like, ‘Oh, shit.’”
“I was quite emotional that day,” Heughan recalls. “Because he's been through so much and definitely he thinks he's lost her, and then she's alive … They believe that everyone's been shipwrecked, possibly lost, and [then] there actually are survivors. It's just relief for Jamie. And to be in America, I think it's something he's never really thought about. He had no intention of going there, but he's got her and I think that's all, at the moment, he can really rely on.”
Once again, McCreary’s score helps situate us between Claire and Jamie’s past and future — signaling the life they’re leaving behind while also reassuring us that the days ahead are hopeful, because they have each other. But the composer admits that he was initially torn over how to approach the transitional moment.
“That drone shot taking off over the beach ... the visuals are doing a lot to communicate that this is a new world. I was struggling musically to simultaneously give the season a conclusion that was satisfying and tee up ‘next season on Outlander, there's all this.’”
In the end, McCreary says, he chose to view the final scene and the closing credits as two distinct musical moments.
“The final shot, what the music is saying ... It's triumphant and epic, but it is a conclusion of this story that you've seen. It's playing themes that are associated with Jamie and Claire. It's very much rooted in the familiar,” he points out. “When we cut to the end credits, it's completely new sounds. It's fife and drum marching ensemble, just doing a Revolutionary War sound. In fact, we did some research, and it is an extremely popular song in the lead-up to the Revolutionary War.”
Once again, Claire and Jamie will find themselves in a land where rebellion is in the air, and public sentiment is beginning to turn against the British. But their primary concern, as with so many immigrants throughout history, is the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
“This season has been a great journey,” Heughan says. “It's been incredible from starting at the end of Season 2 with Culloden and going through Jamie's journey, losing Claire and rebuilding himself to regaining her to falling in love again ... The way it's set — the introduction of this world of America — it feels like we're just on the edge of yet another great adventure.”