92nd Street Y Outlander Panel: Here’s What Happened
Want to know what happened at the 92nd Street Y Outlander panel to promote Outlander Season 5? Our bloggers were there and they’re here to share.
Obsessenachs, what happens in New York City may have to stay in NYC, but no FOMO necessary. The three OutlanderCast writers who attended the February 11 92nd Street Y Outlander panel and Season 5 Episode 1 screening have some deets to share. Angela Hickey, Lindley Key and Karen Rutledge give us their unique takes on the evening.
What a fantastic experience at the 92nd Street Y Outlander panel and screening Outlander Season 5. Here are my top 12 overall observations of the night.
- Crowd Power: There is just something about sharing an experience like the long-awaited end of Droughtlander with hundreds of like-minded fans in a theatre. It’s similar to a rock concert. The energy vibrates. You can feel it rise, fall and pulse with every joy, pain and spoiler slip. I love hearing and measuring the crowd reactions. The cheers erupting when Diana Gabaldon said the season incorporates “many book lines.”… Or the rising swell of “OhhhhhhHHHHH” as more people deduced a spoiler that Sam inadvertently revealed under the influence of whisky? The crowd and its energy just heightens everything. Many of my own Outlander friends surrounded me as well, which only made it even better.
- Hello Mr. and Mrs. Producer: One of the biggest crowd reactions came during the opening credit sequence as separate bursts of cheers erupted seeing “Sam Heughan … Producer” and “Caitriona Balfe…Producer.” We all have high hopes that their input enriches the show adds consistency to a rotating bank of writers and directors.
- Fiery Cross Community: Diana has a one-word theme for each book, and the theme for The Fiery Cross is community. Well, they got that right. They let you know right from the start that the Frasers are no longer a single settlement family in the back woods. Much has changed since we last saw Fraser’s Ridge. Now this family leads a great settlement community, teeming with a desire to bond their talents and love together while they forge their way in this New World.
- All the Feels: I know it is cliché, but this episode truly gives you all the feels while setting the pieces in place for the season. Humor. Joy. Thrill. Sadness. Dread. Touching. Awe. Beauty. Warmth. Horror. Celebration. Passion. Fear. YOU WILL CRY. Sometimes happy tears, sometimes sad tears and many times sentimental ones. But be warned. Have your Kleenex ready!
- Whisky Makes Everything Better, Especially When the Boss is Away: First, Maril Davis was sick and could not be there, so it was just the four primary cast members and Diana. Plus,the panel began with each participant getting three different glasses of whisky to determine which was Irish, Scottish or Japanese. This combination resulted in a Wonderful panel of relaxed, loose-lipped and fun-loving Outlanders with no TV executive influence. We saw immense respect and love between Diana, the actors and the source material. We also got a real sense of their closeness and connectivity. While their guard was down, some wee hints and slips emerged. I don’t think I have ever seen a show panel paying such homage to the source material, and the crowd loved it. It gave me really high hopes for the season.
- Excellent and Balanced Writing: Kudos to Matt Roberts on a well executed piece of writing for the premiere episode. As a book reader, I can see all the elements he tied together and set in motion with proper balance and a liberal spread of emotional range. Look out for absolutely outstanding bookending on 501 as well. Bravo Matt!
- Scotland Meets America: In a recent seminar to prepare people for Outlander Season 5, I discussed how the settlers (and Frasers in particular) did not abandon Scotland when they came to the colonies. (So many viewers worry the Scottish element they loved about the show will be gone now. Not so). You see that in this episode. Scotland merges with the backcountry of North Carolina (and still does today). We sense more of a Scottish feel here than what we have seen since Season 1.
- Callbacks to Outlander Season 1: Matt sprinkled reminders of Outlander Season 1 throughout this episode. Some obvious, some subtle, some just too damn awesome for words. You will love every single one.
- Book Lovers Rejoice: You will find many book lines and moments seamlessly woven into this episode. There are lots of wee Easter Eggs for us, and not just from book five. You will discover lost bits from several books creep their way into this episode.
- Sets and Costumes: Set designer Jon Gary Steele’s swan song does not disappoint. Good Lord, I need this man to come to my house and do his magic. Once again, you will be drooling over sets and costumes! The wedding was a feast for the eyes.
- Panel Teases the Future: Keep an eye out for great work from Richard Rankin in Episode 507 especially. Diana pointed out an excellently executed scene between Sophie Skelton and Sam Heughan in the episode she wrote(511). They both beamed at hearing her compliment… like kids bringing home an A+ for mom. Speaking of kids, Caitriona Balfe said the MVP of the season is Robbie (who plays Germain). I already saw one great moment with him in the first episode. He will be a little charmer this season like his da.
- The Music: Bear McCreary and his genius strike again. I can’t wait to watch this episode just for the music alone. A true blend of genres in one episode added to the sense of the Scots merging with Appalachia. Blend in some great tones from Roger Mac?? Just stick a fork in me…I’m done.
It amazes me at each event I go to just how vast the Outlander fandom is. Every seat in the 900+ house was filled with women (and even a few men) who were eager to celebrate the end of the Droughtlander, as well as be in the presence of the creators and artists who give life to their favorite characters. You had enthusiastic Peakers, long-time fans of both the books and the show, even some new fans who came across the event and got lucky obtaining tickets. Some were loyal local Sassenachs, including two wonderful ladies, Alexa and Jessica, whom I had met at the Happy Sad Confused event the week prior. Others had travelled from all across the States, as well as across the globe to come to the screening. Serendipity must have been in charge of seating, because I sat right next to the lovely Dawn Marie, someone I had only known through the Instagram Outlander community, whose sweet nature was just as evident there as it was in person. But no matter who they were or where they had come from, every fan there was in for a truly amazing installment of the thing that brought them all together.
As many of us have gathered by now, the main focus of Outlander Season 5 episode one is a wedding. A certain matrimonial tradition can clearly be found within its plot, as well as beneath its surface: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Something new comes in the form of seeing characters separated by time and distance brought together on screen for the first time. Blue represents something more in the sense of tone than hue. Despite the joyous occasion, there remains a feeling of dread for foreboding events, along with the realization that such happiness tends not to last very long with the Frasers. This first episode of Outlander Season 5 also reminds us all where Claire and Jamie’s journey began. Something borrowed comes from the many call-backs to events from Outlander Season 1. And as for something old…let’s just say something is brought back that fans have been desperately missing in their lives.
Once the episode was over, fans were treated to a Q&A with Caitriona, Sam, Sophie, Richard, and the one-and-only, Diana Gabaldon. The moderator ensured things got off to a wonderful start by, of course, fueling the panel with alcohol. After that, many of their answers to the moderator’s and fans’ questions came along with giggles, fun answers, and some close-calls on spoilers for the rest of the season. It was a joy to watch Diana and the cast have a relaxed and fun talk on Outlander Season 5, Caitriona and Sam’s new roles as producers, and what’s to come for the future of Outlander.
Overall, I really enjoyed the screening event at 92nd Street Y. It felt much more intimate and personal than the grand panels of New York Comic Con, as well as being a bit more organized with seats and the handling of fan questions. Apart from a few audience members talking a bit too loudly and phone-usage during the episode screening (was shocked no one was monitoring this), it was an amazing evening that I was so happy and lucky enough to experience.
The 92nd Street Y Outlander panel was absolutely amazing, well worth our 20-hour odyssey from DC that included eight hours on Megabus. With assigned seating and great acoustics, the 92Y Kaufmann Concert Hall was a charming venue, even from our balcony seats. Here’s my play-by-play.
The bus dropped us in Midtown where we grabbed a bite at brgr then headed to lower Manhattan to tour the 9/11 Memorial and Museum (highly recommend). Interestingly, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium were also visiting, causing a mild flurry of activity. Afterwards, hubby and I headed to the 92Y in midtown, arrived at 5:30 and were directed to the third-floor café as a waiting area. There we had the pleasure of meeting fellow Obsessenach sisters Evangeline Lampadarious and Cathy Lampadarious-Outhouse. It’s always great to meet other fans and our hour wait passed in no time as we chatted all things Outlander. A very special thanks to Cathy whose photos she kindly offered for our use.
Once downstairs on the theatre level, we quickly made our way in and stopped at the bar. Wine and beer only, dang it, no liquor. Was I silly to think they might be serving a certain whisky? While in line we chatted with several others and noted many attendees wearing Outlander-related gear and costumes, everything from Sassenach Spirit scarves to a sequined black and white tartan jacket to Lindley time-traveling Claire’s white dress.
We discovered many family faces sitting near us in the balcony. Behind us were Judy Hockenbrough and Deborah Parker Shelton who I met at Wizard World New Orleans (more on that adventure and Wizard World Cleveland soon). I also met the lovely lady sitting behind them, Yvonne, who originally mistook me for someone she knew.
And So, It Begins
The lights blinked shortly after 7:00 and excited twitters filled the hall. First up, a brief introduction and swearing us to secrecy.
First order of business was what spurred me to buy the tickets and made the bus ride bearable: the airing of Outlander Season 5 Episode 1. WOW, just WOW! It was a fiery episode!! To honor my oath, I’ll share my impressions rather than specifics.
- Jamie Effin Fraser is back, in all his Scottish glory
- Claire is powerful and on point in her doctor gear
- Roger and Bree got all kinds of love
- Fergus and Marsali and their wee family are enchanting
- Aunt Jocasta has highs and lows
- No surprise, Murtagh is in danger
- Claire and Bree are solidly #TeamRoger
- There was food, dancing and flashbacks, oh, my!
- The kids stole the show
- Trisha Biggar’s costumes were sumptuous and exquisite
- Bear McCreary’s music was mesmerizing as always
- The sets were amazing, with ALL the beautiful Jon Gary Steele blues on prominent display
- When Droughtlander ends and you see this episode, you’re gonna laugh and, get your tissues ready, you’re gonna cry #allthefeels
Then, the highlight of the evening for some: the Outlander cast panel.
- I took great hope from the discussion that centered around Queen Diana. For example, according to Sam, all the Outlander cast and crew are afraid of her. Maybe that’s one reason most (80 percent) of the Episode 5.11 script she wrote survived the editing process, including a particularly tender scene between Jamie and Bree. Overall, she seemed quite pleased, stating that the Outlander Season 5 acting is lovely and that they used a lot more original material (cue a big cheer from the crowd). Sam chimed in again, saying “Those are the scenes that work.” I will refrain from a sarcastic comment here but, yup!! She called it, “a good machine!”
- On adaptations, at first Diana didn’t like seeing Jamie dressed as a Redcoat. She said what changed her mind was a picture Sam sent her, with orange hair drawn in, that highlighted his ability to convey so much with only a look. Hope we get to see that snap one day, don’t you?
- Another hopeful sign, Caitriona mentioned that their bond as actors grew throughout filming Outlander Season 5. Lots of giggles emanated from the stage as they discussed having fun on the set.
- According to Caitriona, and Sophie supported with a BTS story, Sam has the best ability to set other actors off while keeping himself under control. They had lots of opportunities to bond with the child actors as well. Filming out in the middle of nowhere, what can you do to entertain them except play games like Xs and Os in the dirt, right? It confirmed my thought that the kids stole not only the show but, with their antics during filming, the hearts of the actors. Caitriona was particularly adorable when she quoted one of them, using a very strong Scottish accent.
- As we’ve seen in other PR events, there were some hints dropped that only book readers understood. Other hints everybody got, especially one in particular, by Sam, which was quite revealing. Sophie joked about it getting him fired.
- On the big family picture, as they have done before, Caitriona and Sam talked about Jamie’s quest to shape America for Bree. Yes, that was confusing, since she was actually not in the future right now, and Diana gave them no help there. Richard talked about how the need to protect the children raised the stakes for the entire Fraser clan.
- Evidently the bond grew between Sam, Catriona and the other producers grew over the season as well. That could only mean good things ahead, right? I believe there was a slight mention of further seasons past 6 but maybe it was the wine? Anyway, should the Outlander universe of Starz, Sony, Ron and producers, and the cast all agree on more seasons, Sam and Caitriona’s continued production role would hopefully keep us closer to Diana’s source material. As Sam said, “Diana’s still writing” but she’s also winding down that source storyline. Go Tell the Bees I am Gone will likely actually be published this year and she said there’s one last part of the Jamie and Claire story to be written, the final book 10. So, here’s my proposed plan. They sign a contract for seasons 7-10. After a break to relax, refresh and have some quality Grandma time with the family, Diana starts writing the final book and it’s published by mid-Season 9. That way Matt Roberts could get his usual production head start on the final season. I think that is totally possible, don’t you?
- On Jamie turning 50 this year, Caitriona says he’s still Claire’s young “toy boy.” Jamie wanted a birthday party with cake for Jamie and Richard was concerned that Roger might not be invited because of the Jamie-Roger adversarial relationship. I’m sure Claire and Bree will make sure he gets an invitation and, in the end, Roger and Bree’s love will overcome all I’m sure. I can’t wait to see how it plays out this season.
- The host did a good job. She had arranged the now obligatory whisky-drinking game in a novel way, asking them to identify the provenance of three different Scotches. If I recall correctly, they all failed, even whisky maker Sam.
- Audience questions and topics were wide-ranging as usual, from the Netflix show Cheer to who among the panellists would be most successful in the 1700s. Everyone agreed it would be Diana with Richard noting, “Diana would have a small settlement established within a week.” The best, however, was for Richard, asking him to sing a particular song. He serenaded us and then stole a remaining whisky as they exited the stage. A practically perfect ending to one magical night!