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The Starz time-traveling romance drama is changing things up for its sophomore outing, as author Diana Gabaldon’s second book, Dragonfly, in Amber takes place in a new city, with a new mission, a new cast of characters and even a new time period.
Season two begins with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) arrival in France to join the Jacobite rebellion led by Prince Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower), but with the mission of stopping the disastrous battle of Culloden before it happens. Jamie and Claire are thrown into the lavish world of French society, where intrigue and parties are abundant, but political gain proves far less fruitful. Altering the course of history presents challenges that begin to weigh on the very fabric of their relationship. However, armed with the knowledge of what lies ahead, Claire and Jamie must race to prevent a doomed Highland uprising and the extinction of Scottish life as they know it.
With so many structural and creative changes taking place, The Hollywood Reporter has rounded up all the essential information you should know before season two debuts, for both book readers and non-book readers alike.
Season two won’t be exactly the same as Dragonfly in Amber
There will be big structural changes from the page to the screen, even more so than last season. For one: Frank’s (Tobias Menzies) role will be expanded as the show returns to the 20th century, but in a much different way than how Dragonfly in Amber begins. “[Non-book readers] are expecting that we’re going to open in France and start that story,” says executive producer Ron Moore. “[To open how the books opens], it was too much. It felt like an overwhelming reset of the show. It’s a big enough reset just to say that they failed to stop Culloden and the whole mission was a disaster and that she left him behind. So let’s start at the beginning of that story. I want to tell that story before we get into all the other machinations.”
But the entire book will play out in the 13 episodes of season two.
“We’ve made a structural change at the beginning of the premiere, but the basics are still definitely recognizable as Dragonfly in Amber,” Moore says. “It’s still that story, just told slightly differently in how we’re choosing to parse it out. It’s still going to be that story at the end of the day. We’re going to do the whole book.”
A new city
Although season two takes place mainly in Paris, France, it was actually filmed in Prague, England and Scotland, since most modern Parisian buildings and landmarks weren’t built until after Jamie and Claire lived there.
“It’s just such a different world,” Moore says. “It’s such a different show. We’re reinventing the show in a completely different key. Visually, it looks radically different. It’s fascinating to put our characters into this world, this completely exotic environment for them.”
Jamie and Claire’s daughter will be introduced … with a twist
Two of the biggest new roles in season two are that of Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna, who will be introduced as an adult, and her husband Roger Wakefield. Sophie Skelton will play the strong-willed redheaded young woman, who, despite being Jamie’s daughter, was raised by Frank after Claire returns to the present. And viewers have already met Roger in season one, though it was when he was just a kid at Reverend Wakefield’s home. Now, the adult version will be played by Richard Rankin.
“It was tricky casting Roger and Brianna,” Moore says. “We were searching for this intangible thing and we knew it when we saw it. That’s true for all the castings. It becomes apparent when the actor and the role meet, that it was right.”
The Fraser family is expanding
Jamie’s family in Paris is headed by Jared Fraser, who will be played by Robert Cavanah. Jamie and Claire will find themselves taking refuge in Jared’s mansion, as he’s a wealthy and successful wine merchant. However, there’s a small issue.
“He’s family, and Jamie has got to convince him, this staunch Jacobite, that he’s also a staunch Jacobite while secretly knowing he’s not,” Heughan says of Jamie and Claire’s secret mission to sabotage the Jacobite rebellion from the inside. “He’s having to be duplicitous and it’s tough. Jamie and Claire are constantly going to have to put on a persona and air to blend in with the social elite and they’re going to struggle with it. It doesn’t sit well at all with Jamie.”
“Bonnie Prince Charlie” is more than just a phrase
While viewers have heard the phrase “Bonnie Prince Charlie” all throughout season one, he will finally be introduced this season. The character is the leader of the Jacobite rebellion, and he will be played by Andrew Gower.
“He’s a really complicated character,” Moore says. “I’m looking forward to everyone seeing who he is and what he’s about and why this did all fail. When you first meet him, you realize almost instantly why it almost succeeded and why it could never have succeeded because he’s the guy that can rally people to him and is a man with a mission, but he’s also so deeply flawed.”
Claire and Jamie become parents sooner than they expect
While Claire is already expecting a child with Jamie, the two will take on the role of parents to Fergus, a precocious French pickpocket raised in a brothel, played by Romann Berrux. “He’s their surrogate son,” Heughan says. “It’s really nice to see Jaime and Claire play father and mother. It brings another dynamic to [the] whole relationship.”
Trouble in paradise?
Possibly throwing a wrench into Jamie and Claire’s impending parenthood happiness is the fact that his ex will cross paths with them in Paris. Margaux Chatelier will play Jamie’s love interest Annalise de Marillac from back when he was a teen in Paris.
“Her marriage continues to be put under pressure from external circumstances,” Balfe says. “So how will they as a couple cope with that and grow with that? You’ll see as the season progresses, it feels like we’ve gone down a rabbit hole in some ways. We’ll peel back more layers on both Claire and Jamie and we’ll see them use not very attractive sides of their personalities. There’s a lot of duplicity, a lot of lying, a lot of manipulation. They’re doing all of this for their greater mission, but it’s an interesting, psychological season whereas last season was focused so much on the action.”
While Black Jack Randall’s (Menzies) fate is unknown, his brother will play a big role in season two. Alex Randall, played by Laurence Dobiesz, is much kinder and gentler than his sadistic brother. He works a secretary for the Duke of Sandringham, and will get to know Jamie and Claire while they’re in Paris.
But that doesn’t mean that season two won’t have its fair share of new villains. The biggest one is Le Compte St. Germain, who will be played by Stanley Weber. The wine merchant/titan of industry is also a member of the French Court, and he’s got a reputation for ruthlessness and is rumored to dabble in the occult.
Back to the hospital
Now that Claire will find herself back in a city and away from the Scottish Highlands, she’s going to get back to her roots as a medical professional. Harry Potter alum Frances de la Tour is playing Mother Hildegarde, the commanding Mother Superior of Paris’ L’Hospital des Anges, a new set piece where Claire will find herself spending a lot of time.
Outlander season two premieres on Saturday, April 9 at 9 p.m. on Starz.
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