SPOILER ALERT: Do not read until you have watched “Outlander” Season 6, Episode 8 titled “I Am Not Alone.”
Despite a tightly packed sixth season comprised of just eight episodes, Starz’s “Outlander” did not disappoint with its dramatic finale episode “I Am Not Alone.”
At the start of the finale, Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) — a couple who can never catch a break — barricade themselves inside their home while facing off against Richard Brown (Chris Larkin) and his militia. Brown has come to fetch Claire to make her stand trial for the murder of Malva Christie, a “trial” both Claire and Jamie know will not end well if Brown and his mob get their hands on her. As bullets rip against the walls of the Big House at Fraser’s Ridge, the two have a heartfelt discussion as to whether this could truly be the end of their story.
Their salvation comes in the surprising form of Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones), who says he’ll ride along with Jamie and Claire as she is taken to trial to ensure justice is fairly served. The trek to find an open court amid growing Revolution chaos proves difficult for the Browns, and Jamie and Claire are constantly met by angry mobs who have already deemed Claire a murderer, and worse: a witch. Eventually, young Ian (John Bell) is alerted of his aunt and uncle’s perilous predicament and tracks them down, which comes in handy quite soon.
While chaos has come to Fraser’s Ridge, Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger (Richard Rankin) are completely unaware while on the road to Edenton, where Roger plans to be ordained as a minister. The two actually discover delightful news when their son Jemmy needs to have his hair cut due to lice. Bree discovers a birthmark on Jemmy’s head, one that Roger explains is genetic and notes he has as well. The two joyfully realize at that moment Jemmy is truly Roger’s son, and not the product of Stephen Bonnet’s assault on Bree in Season 4.
Jamie is separated from Claire in the final moments of the finale, with the Browns deciding to take justice upon the Scotsman for the murder of Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy). Claire is put in jail, with Tom Christie trying to assure her she’ll face a fair trial and Jamie’s fate will not be a deadly one. Just as Jamie is about to be shipped back off to Scotland, seemingly a deal Brown planned instead of having him murdered, Ian arrives with the Cherokee to save his uncle. Jamie rides off in valiant fashion to go rescue his wife — hopefully, he gets there in time.
Variety spoke with stars Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe and executive producer Maril Davis about the epic Season 6 finale and what lies ahead for our “Outlander” couple and their loved ones.
We’ve got quite a cliffhanger with this finale. When learning that’s where the sixth season would stop, what were your reactions?
CAITRONA BALFE: We originally were supposed to film 12 episodes. That was the original idea. But this felt like a really natural point. If we had to stop somewhere, this felt like a good place to stop. It’s such a great cliffhanger to be on. There’s that point of hope, but you’re definitely left kind of on the edge of your seat wanting to see what’s gonna happen next.
SAM HEUGHAN: I mean it’s pretty breathless, right? The last two episodes, so much happens. So in a good way, I think it’s good that we have this ending and give time for the viewer to catch up.
Absolutely. What has been interesting for this season is with just eight episodes, so much has happened and it feels as if each episode is more intense.
BALFE: The interesting thing about that is none of these episodes were adapted. That was always the way they were written, even when we were going to still do 12 episodes. I think we had a long time before all that lockdown, the writers were thinking very deeply about everything they wanted to put in and it just sort of was organically like that.
HEUGHAN: Also there were several episodes of this season that are longer. There is more time to sit with the characters in those scenes. I think the first episode especially, you see a lot of intimacy as well as, you know, stuff happening. So I’m really proud of the season. I think it’s actually a really strong one, possibly one of our strongest.
Maril, how did the decision come about to end the season here?
MARIL DAVIS: So originally we’re supposed to have 12 episodes, right? Due to COVID and a variety of factors, we kind of realized very quickly after we started the season that we couldn’t accomplish those 12 episodes. It just so happened eight was a perfect point to cut it off. Not only because that’s as long as we thought we’d go, but also it was a perfect way to end the season, with Jamie and Claire separated. We didn’t know what was gonna happen. We’d leave a cliffhanger moment. So it was perfect. There was a little bit of a tag at the end of this episode that we pushed into Season 7. But that was honestly the only change we made to this episode. This episode was always planned to be this way, this shootout at the O.K. Corral. I just love it. That shootout at the beginning is so cool. And I just love that shot of Claire coming around the corner with the rifle.
I just love seeing Jamie and Claire with their backs against the wall, it’s them against the world. It’s so symbolic of this whole season. We talk so much about the Ridge, and what happens when your home turns against you? Its climax is at this episode. Everyone is against Jamie and Claire. Everyone believes Claire did it, and no one speaks up for them. There’s a very small group of people who do. And it’s a huge surprise when Tom Christie speaks up for Claire. We don’t know whether he thinks she’s guilty or not, but we do know he’s gonna ensure she has a fair trial.
It’s been really interesting to watch Tom Christie’s relationship with Claire. He’s wavered between respect and disgust for her and the work she does. Throughout the finale, he remains by Claire’s side vs. just letting the Browns take justice into their own hands. Maril, why is it so important to him to stay there for her?
DAVIS: We will see in Season 7 kind of the reasons why Tom has done what he’s done. Tom is a flawed character, played so brilliantly by Mark Lewis Jones. He’s flawed and he’s conflicted. He’s always at war with himself. He knows what’s right or what he thinks is right. He’s a very pious man. He’s very judgmental. Deep down, he’s a fair man and he wants to see justice for his daughter. I think deep down, he probably knows Claire didn’t do it. But regardless if she did it or not, he’s not okay with this vigilante justice. He’s not okay with Richard Brown taking her off. He knows if Richard Brown takes her, he’s just gonna kill her by the side of the road. She’s never going to see a fair trial. So for him, he does want this to be done the right way. And he knows he’s also the only one that can make sure that happens because… the justice is his.
Let’s discuss where Jamie and Claire are in the finale. For Jamie, he’s been rescued by Ian and needs to go save his wife. As for Claire, she is sitting in jail awaiting a trial for Malva’s murder and fearing for Jamie’s life. So many at Fraser’s Ridge have turned against them, making this finale a pretty unsettling one for them both.
HEUGHAN: Jamie and Claire’s world has been completely destroyed here. Normally, the popularity and the strength of their reputation is something that they’ve utilized, but this time it’s strange. Their allies come in different shapes and forms. In this standoff with the Browns, Tom Christie, in a very odd way, comes to help them. The situation they’re in now, for Jamie certainly, he’s clearly gonna go find Claire and luckily does have some allies left. But it’s a very different world that we’re used to. We see that throughout this journey of the last two episodes. We see the world, the actual physical world around them, is also very unsettled. A lot of terrible with the upcoming revolution. But you can count on one thing and that’s that Jamie’s gonna go find Claire.
Caitriona, this season explored how all of the trauma Claire has endured can, with the right amount of pressure and triggers, overflow in a destructive way. On the outside, she appears so strong. Near the finale, she’s realizing how all she has experienced is affecting her and opening up about that. How did it feel to explore that side of Claire this season?
BALFE: This whole season is in a way of deconstruction of Claire. Claire, as a product of her time, as a product of her profession, has always been very good at compartmentalizing everything. I think in the medical field, you have to be able to do that. You have to be able to experience trauma, see trauma, but put blinkers on and focus on the job that needs to be done. You put away your feelings about it and you’re very good at shelving your emotions. I think Claire has always been able to do that. But I don’t think anybody, doesn’t matter if you’re a strong person or not, I don’t think anyone is able to go through life without allowing yourself to process these emotions. It’ll come up one way or another. I think for Claire this season, that’s what we really explored. How does she get through trauma and get over what happened or heal from what happened if she’s not processing it, if she’s not dealing with it. And the answer to that is that it rears its ugly head and forces her to find a new way of approaching things. I think what’s beautiful is that we are still showing her continued journey and it’s like a growth now, which is so beautiful. We see that she’s learned a new coping mechanism. She’s learned that she can’t shut down and hide things and try and manage things on her own. She needs to be able to share.
Especially with Jamie, it’s that connection that they have, but if she’s not open with him and if she’s not allowing him to see her at her most vulnerable, then she’s not being fully present I suppose. That was the big lesson that she learned from Season 6 — everything with Malva and all of that. What I loved Episode 7 is that we really explore her subconscious and this guilt that she’s been feeling. When we see her in Episode 8, I wouldn’t say she’s healed, but she’s definitely on that journey. But now, of course, mentally, she’s in a better place, but physically she’s in a really bad place. She can’t really catch a break. The most pressing concerns for her at the moment are that she’s stuck in this jail, but because of the Revolutionary War, the system of justice that would normally be in place is sort of completely blown apart. So I think for Claire, her biggest fear is that she’s just gonna be left to rot in jail.
Sam and Caitriona, this season packed so much into just eight episodes. What about your character’s stories, or others, this season did you enjoy the most?
HEUGHAN: I was really impressed and loved, especially in this last episode, Brianna and Roger’s storyline, just some really intimate moments with them. I think it’s nice to spend time with the other characters and to see this beautiful relationship that they have.
BALFE: I think this season, there was actually a lot of time dedicated to everyone else. I mean, you know, Marsali and Fergus, that was like a great storyline early on. And its really sad that they’ve moved to New Bern. And young Ian, we get to see a lot more of his back story. I think it’s really lovely. I think it opens up the world. It allows the audience to get to know all these great characters a little bit deeper. We have such an amazing group of actors around us. And it’s just so lovely to get to see them shine as well.
As for you Maril, how do you feel about where many of the characters are left at the end of Season 6, and what can you tease about what’s to come for them?
DAVIS: We’ve kind of purposely had Roger and Brianna in a pretty great place when we’re ending Season 6. They’re completely unaware of where Jamie and Claire are. They’re unaware of the danger they’re in. We’re purposely setting them up that way because there might be rocky waters ahead for them in Season 7. But we also wanted to see that Roger and Brianna had finally settled into this place. They had tried to go home last season. They finally realized this is where their home is and we see them trying to set down roots. This season, Brianna is pregnant again. They find out Jemmy is actually Roger’s and not Steven Bonnet’s. So they’re in a very good place. Obviously, Jamie and Claire are not in a good place. But that’s typical of Jamie and Claire. Things never run smoothly for them for very long. For Ian, I mean, I’m so impressed with John Bell this season. Every season I am, but I just think we’ve seen young Ian and I love that we call him that. But young Ian turned into a man this season. He’s really coming into his own. Everything we saw in Episode 4, his backstory with the Mohawk and his tragic love story. I’m so excited for where we’re going with Ian and Season 7. We’re gonna see such a great arc for him. I’m just so impressed by John and the way he’s transformed that character from boy to man. We saw that before our eyes this season and it was really lovely.
While hiding within their home from the angry mob led by the Browns, who want to collect Claire for the murder of Malva Christie, Claire and Jamie discuss the possibility of this being the end. Jamie remembers a fortuneteller who told him he had nine lives, and he recounts several of his near-death experiences. I believe he’s at five (Wentworth, Culloden, Laoghhaire’s shot, a snake bite, and Doughal’s axe being the count so far). Maril, can we consider what happened in the finale as his sixth?
DAVIS: Actually it’s funny. We purposely didn’t include all of his near deaths in there because we want to keep it kind of vague about how many lives he has left. I never considered this one of his nine lives, but it’s interesting you bring that up because I’m not sure. I wonder if Diana [Gabaldon] considers that one. I’m not sure.
Any teasers you can give for Season 7? This season, the theme has been what happens when your home turns against you. What theme would Season 7 center on?
DAVIS: I can’t get into the theme too much. I will say we’ve talked so much about the Revolution coming — it’s like “winter is coming” in “Game of Thrones.” Next season, the Revolution is here. It’s our biggest season yet. We’re gonna straddle so many storylines and so much ground is covered in this season. Everyone goes on such a crazy arc this season. It’s the biggest season we’ve ever done and I’m so excited. I’m particularly excited about young Ian. He has a great storyline. Jamie and Claire, there’s so much I can’t talk about because I don’t want to spoil anything.
This interview has been edited and condensed.