Why Caitriona Balfe Thinks Outlander Fans Will Be 'Pleasantly Surprised' By Season 5

outlander season 5 jamie and claire starz
(Image credit: Starz)
(Image credit: Starz)

Outlander fans routinely have to deal with long hiatuses, dubbed "Droughtlander," between new seasons, but the end of the wait for Season 5 is nearly nigh. Season 4 ended on a cliffhanger that forced Jamie to face a choice between honoring a vow and hunting down his beloved grandfather, Brianna and Roger reunited after Bree gave birth, and Claire as much in the middle of a mess as usual. Given some of the twists in Season 4, even readers of Diana Gabaldon's book saga that inspired the series don't know what's next. Luckily, leading lady Caitriona Balfe has some encouraging comments.

Speaking with Collider, Caitriona Balfe revealed that fans will likely be "pleasantly surprised" by what's in store and more:

We definitely had to do some changes, obviously. When you change little bits in earlier books, by the time the next book comes around, and then the next book comes around, then you’re dealing with bigger diversions from what’s in the actual book. But we try, as much as we can, to revert back to Diana’s plots and story. She’s even written an episode this season, which has been fantastic to film. The main storylines of Book 5 are there, and we’ve borrowed some stuff from Book 6. I think it’s a really strong season. I think fans are gonna be really pleasantly surprised and happy.

Outlander definitely did take some liberties with adapting the first four books of Diana Gabaldon's novel series, some of which had to happen when it comes to adapting from page to screen and some of which were surprises even to the most imaginative book fans. The biggest change slated to impact Season 5 is undoubtedly the survival of Murtagh.

As book fans know, Murtagh perished at Culloden on the page, along with most of the Highlanders that Jamie knew and loved. In the show, Murtagh survived and reunited with Jamie when they were taken to the same prison, although Murtagh was ultimately sent to the American colonies and Jamie stayed on the British side of the pond, where he wound up fathering a child.

Murtagh ultimately built a life for himself in America and joyously reunited with his godson when the Frasers made their way across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, he also became the leader of the dangerous band of Scots known as the Regulators, and Jamie has been tasked with hunting him down, which means a different direction for at least the beginning of Season 5. According to Caitriona Balfe, the surprises accordingly in store should be good for fans.

Caitriona Balfe went on to share how it feels to star on a show entering its fifth season, when many shows don't get to enjoy such long runs in recent years:

It’s funny, we’ve all started to definitely feel that we’re in a very privileged place with the show, that it’s running this long, that it still has an audience, and that the audience seems to be growing, and they’re still invested. What we’ve really loved about filming this season is that we’ve found ways to continue to push the boundaries. For Claire, towards the end of the season, I have some really challenging material, and that’s so lovely to get, so deep into a series. As seasons go on, you plateau and you’re not doing things as interesting, but we really do still push the boundaries, and that’s great, as an actor.

Outlander certainly has gone through some massive changes over the years, shifting from Highlander Scotland to post-Culloden Scotland to the West Indies to the pre-Revolution American Colonies, each with different challenges.

Outlander maintaining an audience is especially a good thing considering there are currently eight books in Diana Gabaldon's saga, and Season 5 will only cover the fifth and apparently part of the sixth. There's still plenty of material that can be covered until Outlander outpaces the books and faces the same problem as Game of Thrones.

Diana Gabaldon, who was not pleased by the Starz explanation for why Outlander Season 5 was held until 2020, also wrote an episode for the fifth season. Be sure to check out Starz in February, since Outlander got a premiere date that is pure romance. For more important upcoming premiere dates, don't forget to swing by our 2020 winter and spring TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).