'Outlander' Stages a "Bittersweet" Family Reunion

Outlander S04E06 Still - Publicity - H 2018
Mark Mainz/Starz

[Warning: this story contains major spoilers from Sunday's Outlander, "Blood of My Blood."]

This week's Outlander featured a real homecoming for a Fraser child. No, not Brianna (Sophie Skelton), who wasn't seen at all in the episode after she went through the stones and back in time to meet up with her parents. It was Jamie's (Sam Heughan) other child that he was forced to live without, his son Willie, who showed up at Fraser's Ridge with Lord John Grey (David Berry). 

The episode, "Blood of My Blood," was full of heartache for Jamie as he was forced to continue to keep his connection to Willie a secret, even after John contracted measles and Jamie kept Willie away in the woods for a week while Claire (Caitriona Balfe) worked to heal John at the cabin. During their adventure outdoors, Jamie saved Willie's life after he crossed into Cherokee lands, and the two finally got their chance to bond. Meanwhile, back at Fraser's Ridge, Claire and John finally speak honestly about John's feelings for Jamie and the offer Jamie made to John back at Helwater. 

The relatively quiet episode featured major emotional developments for both Claire and Jamie, and Balfe and Heughan were glad to see their characters move forward in such a big way in this episode.

"For Jamie, it's really bittersweet," Heughan tells The Hollywood Reporter of the character's time with his son. "He has always wanted to be a father, and Willie was very dear to him. He had a really great influence on him at Helwater, but now for Willie to be there in his life and he can't even tell him that he's his father, it's pretty tough for him."

He pauses, then adds, "Thankfully, by the end of the episode, Willie has that realization of who his father is or could be. It's beautiful. It's nice for Jamie to finally interact with his son but also [with] John Grey. He's an important ally and friend."

While Claire's interactions with John have always been prickly, finally having an open conversation about their shared love for Jamie means the two former frenemies can become something more like friends.

"As the season goes on, John Grey will play a bigger role as well," Balfe tells THR. "For Claire, those scenes where John Grey is ill and she's tending to him, they were really beautiful scenes and very emotional. It was heartbreaking to see this man live with this unrequited love and the heartbreak that that has caused him. And when he tells Claire about this offer that Jamie made, I don't think there is any part of Claire that is threatened by that."

"He told you that?!" Heughan asks in mock outrage.

"Yeah, sorry," Balfe responds with a laugh. "But I think more than anything, it was also another heartbreaking thing for Claire because she understands that for Jamie to have made that offer, it was just a testament to how much he loves Willie and how difficult it was for him to leave."

With Jamie reeling from his time bonding with the son he never got to raise and Claire's reckoning with John's feelings and revelations about his time with Jamie, it wouldn't be too far off to assume the couple would have some rough waters ahead. But it's actually the impending reunion with Brianna that is going to affect Jamie and Claire the most as a couple. 

"Jamie and Claire have always been close, but I think actually the one that really tests them is Brianna," Heughan says. "It certainly is difficult for Jamie to get close to Brianna, and he wants to be her father, but he's a little too late to the game there. He can't get over the fact that Frank [Tobias Menzies] has had such a big influence on her life. He's desperately wanting to be involved in her life and help influence her. Certainly Claire and Jamie struggle to see eye-to-eye on all these bases. But for him, it's great for his daughter to finally be there."

While fans may have expected to see Brianna turn up in the past sooner, Skelton promises that Bree and Jamie's first meeting will be well worth the wait whenever it does happen.

"I think it will be one that makes you quite teary, very warm," she says. "It comes at a very sad time in terms of the arc of what Brianna's going to go through, and the audience is still going to be feeling that through Bree. But there's a lot of emotions going on in that scene. I think it will hopefully do justice for the books readers and to everyone else. I do think it will be a tearjerker."

Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.