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[This story contains spoilers for the Feb. 15 episode of Outlander, “The Fiery Cross.”]
After more than a year off the air, Outlander returned to Starz with its fifth-season premiere Sunday that saw family bonds deepen around a romantic wedding at Fraser’s Ridge.
In the run-up to the ceremony where Brianna Randall (Sophie Skelton) and Roger MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) finally said “I do,” Bree and her father, Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) — who spent the past two decades in different centuries — saw their relationship grow as he presented her with something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
“It’s so touching they got that in — especially the six pence from Murtagh [Fitzgibbons, Jamie’s godfather]. I think it’s really sweet and it’s beautiful how emotional Jamie gets,” Skelton told The Hollywood Reporter. “For Bree, Frank [Randall, who raised her in the late 1940s] not being there is quite difficult, but obviously her and Jamie’s budding relationship is such a beautiful thing and to show it was really lovely.”
Despite her father mistaking Roger for her rapist in season four, beating him to a pulp, and telling Young Ian (John Bell) to get rid of him, with her love since rescued (from the Mohawks) and returned, Jamie and Brianna will re-cultivate their much-longed-for father-daughter relationship in season five.
“Although he’s her biological father, it’s awkward. She’s a woman now. It’s not like she’s a 5-year-old-girl and so to get to know each other is difficult and weird. And actually, we do see more and more this season them coming closer and closer because they’re so similar as people and they start to have a mutual respect for each other, too,” Skelton said.
“The Fiery Cross” episode (named after the Diana Gabaldon novel on which this season is based) interspliced footage from Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie’s season one wedding as Brianna and Roger said their vows.
“It wasn’t in the script. I think that was probably Ron [D. Moore] or Matt [Roberts, Outlander executive producers] sort of in the edit afterwards…. For me, it sort of splits between Roger and Brianna and following their story, but also following where Jamie and Claire are at and Jamie and Claire are still very much in love, still have a lot that they haven’t lived together. There’s still a lot yearning,” Heughan told The Hollywood Reporter.
While the wedding festivities featured music, laughing, merriment, community and drunken tongue-twisters (of which Lauren Lyle’s Marsali Fraser was the queen), Brianna was left shaken after overhearing Lord John Grey (David Berry) tell her father that her rapist, the smuggler Stephen Bonnett (Ed Speleers), escaped death in season four.
“Bree is a very strong character. She’s not hysterical. She’s never going to be running around, screaming, crying that Bonnett’s back. I know that it was always in the back of her mind. She’s not a moron…. But obviously, she has her baby now and she puts on an exceedingly strong front for her family,” Skelton said of how her character — a woman who came of age in the 1960s — will handle the news going forward.
Nightmares of Bonnett still traumatize the new mother, and her new husband’s impending absences after being named a captain in Jamie’s militia, will be a cause for concern.
“Roger goes away a lot this season and Brianna gets left on her own, so there’s the emotional fear [and] there is then a practicality there, too, because from their meeting in season four, she knows that Bonnett now has an interest in [baby] Jemmy. So finding out he’s alive — it’s not just about PTSD now, it’s now about danger, too — if he’s coming back for her child or to harm the child,” Skelton said.
Last season, there were some strong reactions to Roger’s delayed reunion with Brianna after he took time to think post-rescue when Jamie and Claire told him she might be carrying her rapist’s baby (not his), and also is unable to currently time travel because of the child.
“Those two — their relationship’s better now; it’s in a more secure place,” Skelton said. “They communicate better. They really do have each other’s backs and they feel like more of a solidified couple, but they’re always rocky and they’re definitely going to have their arguments this season.”
For the couple on unbreakable relationship footing — Claire and Jamie — the season premiere ended on a haunting, and familiar, note. After being commanded by the British Governor to rally a militia to fight for what they secretly know is the wrong side of history, Jamie lit the fiery cross on Fraser’s Ridge and gave a stirring Highland Chieftain-style speech to round up the men, who pledged their loyalty and vowed to take up arms.
“He knows what’s going to come and he’s really become, I think, for me, a lot like Colum [MacKenzie] from season one — his uncle,” Heughan told THR. “He is a great leader of men, Jamie, but he’s never wanted to be that. It comes naturally to him, but I think he really comes into his own this season and he really has become this great general…he is almost like the clan chief…. I think this season, he’s certainly playing two sides — he’s playing the British and he’s trying to protect his family and everyone that lives on Fraser’s Ridge. So for him there’s a lot more responsibility.”
Outlander airs Sundays on Starz.
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