The wedding that kicks off Outlander‘s fifth season premiere on Sunday (Starz, 8/7c — though it’s streaming now via the network’s app) is a bonny time of family togetherness, gorgeous Scottish locales and excitement over the start of a new chapter for Clan Fraser.
And ye’d best enjoy it now, series star Sam Heughan advises, because life is about to get hectic for Jamie, Claire & Co.
He recalls shooting the nuptials of Claire and Jamie’s daughter Brianna to Roger, which was the subject of much consternation at the end of Season 4. The event was filmed in 2019 over the course of a week or so, during one of the loveliest times of year in Scotland.
“It’s all outside, and it was the first thing we shot. It was a beautiful end of Scottish summer. It was stunning, and a really nice way to start,” Heughan says during a visit to TVLine’s offices. “I think the fans, hopefully, will really enjoy just spending time with the family before — you know, it’s Outlander — things go south.”
He’s referring to the deal Jamie made last season with England’s Governor Tryon, which put the Scot deeply in the Crown’s debt. Though the conflict of interest was something that Claire and Jamie discussed in Season 4, they ultimately decided that they would deal with the problem when the American Revolution was more of a near thing. But, as viewers witnessed in the season finale, the timetable has been sped up: Tryon is actively hunting for members of the Regulators opposition group, led by Jamie’s godfather, Murtaugh.
There’s a poignant moment in the premiere where both men realize what they have to do, and how their senses of duty divide them during this riotous time in the colonies. Jamie is “between a rock and a hard place, because he’s normally a man of his word and honor,” Heughan observes, adding that some of the season’s cut scenes dealt with Jamie’s efforts to reconcile his actions with what he knows is right.
“Jamie still is struggling with this divided loyalty, with having to be on the side of the Redcoats, the British, who he’s fought against, and his whole culture’s been eradicated by them,” he adds. “Yeah, it doesn’t sit well with him at all.”
What does sit well with the laird of Fraser’s Ridge: the role of leader, provider and protector for his ever-growing flock of family and friends — not that he ever consciously chased it. “He never wanted to be the leader. He just naturally is,” Heughan says. “I think he’s become a lot like Colum, his uncle, back from Season 1. He’s grown from Culloden, where he was this natural leader and just could see what needed to be done.” As the season progresses, Himself will see those leadership tendencies heightened as he looks after all of the men, women, children and animals (including, yes, a cat named Adso, who will be familiar to readers of the Diana Gabaldon books on which the TV series is based) living on his land.
Jamie’s sprawling family may be a joy for him and Claire, but Heughan says the presence of characters like Brianna and Roger’s son, Jemmy, and Marsali and Fergus’ kid, Germain, made for some long work days during the wedding shoot.
“I think the hardest part, really, to be honest, in this season is the kids we’ve had,” he says, smiling, albeit a bit wearily. “We have so many children on set, and it’s hard. So that was the most challenging.” The payoff, he adds, was worth it. The season’s opening hour “really sets up the rest of the season,” he says. “It’s really laying the foundations.”