7:00pm PT by Alicia Lutes
'Outlander' Boss, Star on Pregnancy Reveal, Claire's Strength
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Outlander's "By the Pricking of My Thumbs" episode.]
Starz's Outlander picked up from its eventful midseason return Saturday with another jam-packed hour in which the Duke of Sandringham was introduced and Geillis made a shocking revelation.
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) turned to the Duke of Sandringham (Simon Callow) to try and ensure her husband's freedom and ability to return to Lallybroch as rightful laird. Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) revealed she's pregnant — but not with her husband's baby after she poisoned him with cyanide. Instead, her baby daddy is the seemingly perma-fertile Dougal (Graham McTavish). With both their significant others out of the way, they'll finally be able to be together, right? Wrong! It's a trial they've left to suffer through: the accusation of witchcraft finally falling upon both Claire and Geillis' head.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with actress Verbeek and Outlander showrunner Ron Moore to break down the big reveal, deviations from the book and why maybe the 1740s was a better experience for Claire.
What was it like to play that reveal where she's performing the ritual Claire and Frank (Tobias Menzies) had previously seen in the 1940s?
Verbeek: It was very physical and revealing for her: both mentally and physically. (Laughs.) It's the first time that it wasn't so much about clues being drawn out like we've seen throughout the season; it's ultimately about Geillis going all out. It's a very exciting arc Geillis has: you know that there's a lot of mystery and there's probably going to be a lot of surprises and now we actually get to see more of her true nature — or at least the dismantling of the facade. It's a little bit grittier and darker and more intense, whereas the first half felt a little bit more romantic. It's definitely an exciting time.
What were your thoughts when you found out she was pregnant with Dougal's baby?
Verbeek: I didn't read the books ahead of time, but when I read the script it was a surprise. With this kind of character you know she's got something up her sleeve and that is fun. As much as I love to be surprised by what I read, I also like the surprise of it for the book fans. Because [they] already know what's going to happen, but still they're excited to see this just by the way that we're going to tell the story.
What do you think about the relationship between Dougal and Geillis?
Verbeek: Ultimately it's romantic because however you want to look at it I believe she truly, really, deeply is in love with Dougal. She really does love him and she sees an equal in him that she hasn't really known before. We see that her first marriage was really one of safety and convenience, whereas with Dougal, that's not convenient at all. In fact, it's not really helpful to be with a guy who is a drunk and who has a temper and shouldn't really be seen with Geillis. But she truly loves him; she sees the passion they both have. It's interesting because you never get to see them together on screen — they barely share screen time — so you don't see the effects of them being together. Well, until the big reveal that she's pregnant. Obviously that wasn't Immaculate Conception. It's truly romantic.
Too bad it looks like this trial might get in the way of that happily ever after.
Verbeek: It was wild — I've never done anything like it. It was just epic!
Why did Claire go out of her way to meet with the Duke of Sandringham?
Moore: We diverted from the book in that area. In the book version of the events, the Duke arrived and goes off with Jamie (Sam Heughan) on a hunting exhibition, meaning a lot of the action would take place off camera. We wanted to play him a little bit more forward in the show [because] he is set up as this interesting figure that plays both sides against the middle, and you question constantly what side he's on. So we thought, to deal with Jamie and the price on his head, let's bring that to the front, and put Claire in his world for a minute. Have her take charge of that because in the second season, the tables are going to get turned in some interesting ways.
You really see how authoritative she is in her own environment. It's interesting to bring that out in her — she's in her element when she's playing with the big boys.
Moore: She has a lot of strength and she's not apprehensive. The formative experience for this character was when she was an army field nurse during World War II and right off the bat that tells me a lot about who she is, and what she is able to deal with. I don't think she's naïve: I think she's seen power, and what men are capable of, and what she is capable of — and she's not afraid to use strength when she has to because she dealt with life and death. She saw a horrific war, person to person, and I think that changes people. She couldn't be the shy, retiring English Rose anymore. She's somebody else.
It's interesting to see her truest self come to fruition — 200 years in the past.
Moore: We all talked about that in the writers' room. If she had not gone through the stones, what would have happened to Claire in the 21st century? She would have been pretty unhappy. Because the postwar world would have forced her into another role: They tried very much in the world after the second World War to return it to just the way it used to be. They told women, "No more working in factories, it's time to go home and you're going to be homemakers again." And a lot of women had trouble with that transition and I think Claire wouldn't have really enjoyed that.
She has too much life in her for that.
Moore: I don't think she would have known that about herself in the beginning, because when the pilot starts in, going home and doing that is what she's planning on — I think that's what they were all planning on doing. And I think it would have taken her awhile to realize, "Something's not right here; this is not good; what's wrong with me?"
What did you think of Outlander's big reveal? Sound off in the comments section, below. Outlander airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.