10:01pm PT by Scott Huver
PaleyFest: 'Outlander' Boss Previews "Harrowing," Surprising Second Half
Starz's breakout hit series Outlander made its PaleyFest debut Thursday at a packed Dolby Theater, where fans looking for a glimpse at the second half of the breakout drama's freshman season came looking for answers.
Executive producer/showrunner Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) was joined by cast members Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies as well as author Diana Gabaldon to provide answers after a hiatus diehard fans dubbed "Droughtlander."
The April return episode features one of the most iconic — and controversial as well askinky — sequences from Gabaldon's first novel, in which leading lovers Jamie and Claire's growing bond is tested when he feels compelled to enact a husbandly punishment against her to satisfy his clan's demands. Based on the thunderous shrieks in the packed theater, the Starz take on the scene seemed to have been granted a seal of approval from the legions of devoted fans.
That sequence marks a lighter yet still troubling step toward an even darker tone than the one set in the initial eight episodes. "It does go to some harrowing places," Moore said. "I think if you haven’t read the book you'll be surprised by where it goes." The storyline is leading to a powerful and disturbing confrontation between Highland warrior Jamie and villainous British military man Black Jack Randall who has menaced the couple throughout the series.
"I think the finale, and this is a weird word to use, is a satisfying ending," Moore promised. "It's an ending worthy of the story … It'll take you the places that you weren't expecting to go, and that's what the great stories go."
Acknowledging the raw and wince-inducing nature of the plot twist she penned in her novel, Gabaldon calls the realization of the sequence by actors Heughan and Menzies "courageous."
When it comes to plotting out future seasons and exactly how they'll reflect Gabaldon's novels — eight and counting — "the plan is always to stick as close as possible to the books," Moore said. "I can't really tell you that I have a master plan for seasons five, six and seven ... [but] the intent is to stay as true to the stories as we can."
He analogized the effort as analogous to his experience with HBO's Game of Thrones, as a viewer of the series but not a reader of the source novels by George R.R. Martin, in that it has to satisfy both diehard fans of Gabaldon's books as well as viewers who have no advance knowledge of their storylines — and his has to work dramatically as a TV series. "My show has to sort of serve both masters," he said.