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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Alicia Rancilio

How to end an epic love story like 'Outlander'? Take the time to do it right, says its stars

2023 Invision

“Outlander” stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan are grateful for the gift of time. The show returns for its seventh season Friday with an eighth season on the horizon that will be its last.

Balfe says there was a time when the powers that be considered wrapping up the epic in a truncated seventh season.

“There was a conversation where it might have wrapped up in two episodes in season seven, and that just didn’t feel like the right way to do things,” she said. Instead, there are 16 episodes in season seven and season eight will have 10.

"We’re just happy that we also get the opportunity to actually come back and have one more stab at it," added Heughan.

Balfe and Heughan star as Claire and Jamie Fraser, who meet in season one after Claire, a British nurse, encounters a set of magic stones while visiting Scotland that transport her from the post-World War II era to the 1800s when Scotland and England are at war. Claire begrudgingly marries Jamie, a Highland warrior and the two fall in love, embarking on an epic romance with Claire choosing to live in the past to be with the man she loves.

In these new episodes, Claire and Jamie are navigating life during the American Revolution. Their adult daughter Breanna and her husband Roger MacKenzie, (played by Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin) are expecting their second baby.

Skelton says these two sets of couples are complete opposites, giving the audience “two different types of relationships” to watch.

“Jamie and Claire have this beautiful love story that's almost like this fairy tale romance, which is wonderful to get lost in. But then Roger and Brianna give this completely opposite dynamic, which is against all odds, they kind of survive as a couple. I think that they mess up a lot. They don’t always communicate. They're realistic. They’re both flawed and their relationship is flawed but... they've come so far."

The story is based on the book series by Diana Gabaldon, who has published nine out of 10 planned novels. Balfe says in season seven they “incorporate parts of book seven and eight” and that overall the series has only “diverged slightly” from the books.

How season eight will reflect Gabaldon's story framework with more books than seasons is unclear. Balfe says that's up to the writers who are tied up with the writers strike.

“I’m not 100% sure where they’re going to land with all of us,” she said. "Hopefully (the strike) will be resolved soon and then we can all start talking about what season eight is going to look like. There’s so many things that we’ve had hints of in previous books and what different characters have said about Claire and Jamie and what might happen. It’s going to be really interesting to see what we get to do.”

Beyond what happens on screen, Heughan says it will strange to not always have “Outlander” to come back to.

“It’s interesting because we’ve both gone off and done other things. I’m working on something in the moment and there's fear on the first day of like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know this character and I don’t know these people and I don’t know this crew.’ It makes you realize how fortunate you are," said Heughan. "It's going to be very hard to leave that security comfort and then go into the big world.”

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