Entertainment Television

OUTLANDER: Claire and Jamie back together!

By Jane Stevenson, Postmedia Network

Despite the love the love story, Outlander is also about blood and guts.W

Despite the love the love story, Outlander is also about blood and guts.W

When time-traveling star-crossed lovers Claire and Jamie finally reunite in a Scottish print shop - as already reported by Entertainment Weekly three weeks ago - on the recently launched third season of Outlander (Sundays, 9 p.m., W) fans won’t be disappointed.

So says Irish actress Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire, the married Second World War British nurse in love with the 18th-century Scottish rebel Jamie (Sam Heughan), in the epic drama that combines history, time-travel, and a tortured love triangle rounded out by Claire’s 20th-century husband Frank (Tobias Menzies).

“I really love the way that the writers approach this [reunion] episode,” said the 37-year-old double Golden Globe nominee.

“You know I think there’s a very romantic, obvious way of doing it, which probably would have made a lot of people happy too but I think what we do very well on this show, within the realm of fantasy we really ground it in truth. I think that watching the couple reunite, it’s not your typical violins playing, angels singing, there’s a stream of sunlight coming through the perfect pain of glass. I think it’s almost like two teenagers meeting again. And I think that gives it so much charm and it’s so sweet and it really speaks to the vulnerability of these two characters who for many, many years built these walls up around their hearts.

And, no, Balfe wouldn’t say how long fans will have to wait for the reunion.

When season three began (on Sept. 10) a very pregnant Claire (with Jamie’s baby) is now back living with Frank in 1948 Boston where their unease is evident with Jamie still very much the elephant in the room.

And the birth of daughter Brianna, with Jamie’s red hair, doesn’t do much to ease their suffering.

Jamie, meanwhile, wages war in Battle of Culloden on a Scottish moor and finally dispatches his sworn British enemy, Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall (also Menzies), who raped and tortured him in the season one finale.

24 Hours caught up with Balfe in Toronto recently.

What is about these TV characters that have really drawn people in?

I think it’s just this aspirational love story. It exists outside the normal realms of the rules of physics, as well both time and place, but it’s not just that. Not only is this a story mostly told from the perspective of a woman but it’s also I think a really balanced and beautiful look at relationships. Because a lot of the times when we have a central male character, the female characters surrounding that person are usually very thinly drawn and very two-dimensional. But we have these amazing male characters - they’re full of depth, they’re complicated. It’s really beautiful love story but there’s also this love triangle with Frank. There’s a lot of action. There’s a lot of political intrigue. Scotland plays a huge part and it’s just stunningly beautiful. I think it ticks a lot of boxes for people.

Did you get a sense of fan’s reactions to the season 3 first two episodes?

I think people enjoyed it. I think people thought it was quite heartbreaking, which I think it was. These particular two episodes it’s really interesting for me to be able to watch it, almost as a fan as well, because there’s a lot of it, I wasn’t in, I wasn’t part of that filming. It’s really great to see the work that Sam did. He does such a wonderful job with Tobias as well.

And when you say heartbreaking what are you referring to?

Well, I think watching these characters ,we love to be in so much pain. I think for both for Jamie and Claire and Frank, this is a really tragic situation that they all find themselves in. For Jamie, it’s obviously losing Claire, saying goodbye to his unborn child, also being in physical pain, and also, being surrounded by all of his fallen soldiers who fought alongside him. I mean, it’s the decimation of Highlanders at this point.

And for your character?

Claire’s going back into the future without the love of her life, without the father of her child and is in living in that painful, compromised marriage. And for Frank, it’s getting a woman back who’s only really there in body, not in spirit or in mind.

Are you happy with Claire’s arc this season?

Yeah, you know I think it was a really interesting challenge this season to play somebody over so many decades. And also to examine how does somebody change over twenty years and how does someone’s life experience inform the way that they carry themselves, that they interact with other people. I think each season always presents me with these great challenges acting-wise. It just really has been a dream role from season one.

And you can’t plan for the chemistry your co-stars ...?

I think I feel very fortunate. Both Sam and Tobias are amazing actors and all three of us, we do have great chemistry. We get along really well. We’re all really good friends. But yeah, you can’t plan for it. And I think we were very lucky at the very beginning of this series that there was a little bit of magic floating around. It just created the right ingredient for good TV.

Would you say Claire is an early feminist?

When I was growing up you sort of grow up with this belief that, ‘Oh, well, these issues have been resolved.’ So obviously once people have learned women and men are equal that all women and men are equal. You think that that’s a done deal. But unfortunately, as we know, we can’t rest on our laurels. You can’t fully believe that these issues are past. That there’s a constant battle in many ways. So it’s a nice reminder to watch in our not so recent past how much discrimination there is in the world.