Time, space, history and Covid, be damned!
You may have heard or even felt it this past weekend, a deep global exhalation of contentment. It was millions of us Outlander Obsessenachs, tuning in to the long-awaited season 6 episode 1, Echoes.
Yes, now that our beloved STARZ series is back, our oasis in the desert after the longest Droughtlander ever, we’re all fine. Really, we’re fine!
The Outlander team persevered, despite personal challenges and all the normal barriers encountered when filming over a dreich Scottish winter with COVID as the poo-flavored icing on the cake. They isolated, worked in bubbles, socially distanced themselves, and tested and tested and tested, whatever it took to get the show in the can.
Our sincere thanks to them, truly, for bringing us eight new episodes, come what may.
Wait, You Haven’t Seen It?
You’ve never heard of Outlander, you say? Oh, mo gradh, please read on for, mark me, a delicious treat awaits you.
Once you take that first wee bite, you’ll lose sleep devouring it all, along with every associated social media and press post. You’ll find all of us other Obsessenachs waiting to welcome you to our Outlander Cast Podcast and Blog and private Facebook page, Outlander Cast Clan Gathering.
Created by Ron Moore from the Diana Gabaldon (GAB-bull-dohn) Outlander book series source material, Outlander is truly an #everythingshow. The STARZ description notes it “spans the genres of romance, science-fiction, history and adventure in one epic tale.” It’s a visual smorgasbord!
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!
Even if you can’t see all six seasons where you live, you likely have several options. You can easily start with the source material. There are nine books in the series, so far, with the tenth currently being written. Or, you could go straight to STARZ (or Netflix or Hulu, wherever you can find it) and start your binge watch from Season One. Then there’s the newbie nirvana – read and watch in tandem. Fair warning, that may take some serious willpower. Bottom line, there is simply no wrong way to enjoy Outlander, though you may lose some sleep. Just heed the advice of Executive Producer, Matt B. Roberts.
— Matthew B Roberts (@TheMattBRoberts) March 8, 2022
You may also be asking, “What’s this Droughtlander, anyway?” Generally, it’s a description of the timespan between Outlander seasons. This Droughtlander lasted just shy of two years. Season 5 episode 1 aired March 22, 2020, just as COVID lockdowns were starting around the globe, and the season finale aired on May 10.
The Droughtlander term was actually coined by a fan, Sher, during the first season which was split into two eight-episode segments, season 1a and season 1b, with a six-month break between them.
— AB/Outlanders #Sher AKA Beav' (@ABOotlanders) October 18, 2019
Sher’s creativity is what has all of us Obsessenachs, scattered across practically every continent, saying, “Aye, our Droughtlander is done!” Mind you, we’re verra grateful for all the Outlander-related morsels that helped us stay connected as we struggled to survive the global pandemic. Here’s a few that got us laughing in our darkest of days.
- BTS photos such as this one from Outlander cast member and professional photographer Richard Rankin (Roger Mackenzie)
- BTS videos from filming, other videos from the cast and production team and from the absolutely delightful new-to-the-fandom comedian Josh Pray
- “Outcasts” podcast by Outlander actors David Berry (Lord John Grey) and Tim Downie (Governor Tryon)
- Outlander producer lead actor Caitroina Balfe’s (Claire Fraser) book club
- Outlander producer and lead actor Sam “The Ginger Menace” Heughan (Jamie Fraser) and Outlander actor Graham “Balding Thespian” McTavishh’s (Dougal MacKenzie) tv series Men in Kilts season one and their two books:
- Mr. Heughan’s new venture into spirits (not ghosts, but as he describes, “imbibables”)
Those refreshing Droughtlander thirst-quenchers and others you can find by googling, helped A LOT. When those first notes of Bear McCreary’s newly arranged duet reimagining of the Skye Boat Song rang out, haunting and warmly raw, it felt like coming home. After the longest hiatus the show has yet seen, we were rather akin to Odysseus, stumbling towards Ithaca after his 10 year journey. What a welcome it was!
And, heaven knows, we’re anxious to see the remaining seven episodes. For now, let’s dig into some Echoes details.
Somethings Old, Somethings New, Somethings Borrowed, Somethings Blue
While we all love a good Ridge wedding, that’s not what I’m predicting with my take on this phrase. But we’ll have to wait and see about any nuptials. Right, book readers?
What I’m referring to are the changes we see in this new season; story, costumes, sets – all the large and small elements that move the story along. Some things have changed, some have stayed the same, just like life around our planet over the past two years.
The first thing that comes to mind is Easter Eggs. I haven’t yet scrutinized the episode for them but I’m sure they’re there. Please share if you’ve seen any.
The spectacular main set, the Big House as Diana named it, is next on my list. While not technically old, this set brought to us on the watch of the brilliant seasons 1-5 production designer Jon Gary Steele is a carryover from season 5.
The house itself seems to have remained essentially the same. Claire’s surgery, Jamie and Claire’s bedroom, the dining room, all as we remember them. Set enhancements by current set designer Mike Gunn (@mikegunndesign on Twitter) now indicate progress and the passage of time. The folk of the Ridge are increasing in number and doing more collectively – growing, making, building, mending, sharing – to get everyone ready for winter.
Did you notice the new woodshed, barn and fencing? All that hustle and bustle brought John Denver’s Thank God I’m a Country Boy lyrics to mind.
“Life on the farm is kinda laid back. Not much an old country boy like me can’t hack.”
Speaking of music, Bear McCreary is back with another beautiful soundtrack including an updated Outlander – The Skye Boat Song theme song duet. Already available on Spotify, it will be released on CD April 15. That’s all I’ll say about music as Outlander Cast Blog contributor Anne Gavin will be publishing her Top 10 Musical Moments piece soon after the final episode airs on April 24.
Given all the hints sprinkled through episode 1, I’m afraid Anne’s musical moments might be heavy on the sorrowful tunes. It looks like there will be considerable commotion for the Ridge country boys and girls to hack this season.
We saw Fergus self-medicating with alcohol which, is it just me, seems a leap from season 5? Claire, too, although with her “revolutionary” development of ether — a plot line that spurred negative comments on social media, predominantly from book readers essentially declaring Claire would NEVER shirk her duty in that manner.
Surprisingly, in an interview with The Dipp, Diana Gabaldon supports this off-book storyline. Noting that she has had the benefit of seeing all eight episodes, “…I think they handle the whole thing pretty well within the framework they’ve developed.” She went so far as to say she views it as a “nod to the books.”
Then there’s Jamie’s Ardsmuir prison foe, Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) and his two young adult children, Allan (Alexander Vlahos) and Malva (Jessica Reynolds ). Mischievous seems too tame a descriptor for these three, yet malevolent may be too harsh? Time will tell but maybe disruptors is more accurate. They have already interrupted Ridge life by forcing change with their family dynamic and personal problems. The scene where Jamie was essentially forced by the safety committee’s Richard Brown (Chris Larkin) to punish Allan for theft was heartbreaking and hard to watch. Those dang Browns – perfect villains, right?
To quote Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “Change is the only constant in life.”
In AMC’s Emmy winning show, Mad Men, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) delivers this great line: “Change is neither good or bad, it simply is. It can be greeted with terror or joy.” Easy for the narcissistic, antisocial Don to say, right? Undoubtedly, watching Jamie, Claire, and company greet the changes to come this season will bring us laughter, tears and maybe a wee bit of terror, too.
Setting the scene for their arrival, the Ardsmuir Prison flashbacks did bring us something beautiful – a view of bonnie Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands. Maybe you’ve been there or it’s on your bucket list? Rain or shine, it doesn’t disappoint.
Checking the credits, many of the Outlander production team members are back. That’s a very good thing in my book.
Intimacy Advisors join the mix
One new team member we’ve heard a bit about is Intimacy Advisor Vanessa Coffey. On the Drew Barrymore Show, Sam Heughan spoke with Drew about how the support of intimacy advisors is more common now than when he and Caitriona Balfe were “thrown in the deep end” on Outlander season 1. He stated, “Bringing someone onboard means we’re all more supported and we can find new ways to, I guess, be more intimate and to add more to those scenes.” Well, that’s definitely something we can all look forward to, right?
Personally for all those involved in filming, I hazard to guess that filming those intimate scenes during COVID was the most challenging development. Regular testing, reportedly three times per week, in a private center built at the filming studio and socially distancing in their personal easy ups (tents) surely must have grown tiresome even with a truncated shooting schedule. Such troopers, our Outlander team!
And baby makes three!
That truncated shooting schedule was necessary for the most exciting personal new development of all. Ms. Balfe had a joyous yet added layer of difficulty in that she was, in her words, “cooking up” her first child during season 6 filming. She and her husband music producer and band manager Anthony McGill welcomed a boy to the world on August 18, 2021.
She posted this sweet photo on Instagram accompanied by this message:
“I’ve been off socials for a while as I was taking some time to enjoy cooking up this little human …. We are so grateful for this little soul ….that he chose us as his parents. I’m in awe of him already and can’t help stare and wonder at all the possibilities of who he will become, where he will go and what he’ll do on the big adventure of his life. Right now he seems so small and fragile and I constantly think how grateful I am that I live in a place, in a time where he is born into peace and safety and yet at the same time I see so many in the world right now that aren’t afforded that same privilege and opportunity … who are born into famine or war and how unjust it is that the same safety isn’t there for all children. Here in the west we have so much, we are so lucky and so if you’d like to join me in supporting any of the wonderful charities that need help trying to give those that are forgotten dignity and hope, we can give the gift of peace and safety and opportunity to a few more children … @wchildcancer @chooselove @unicef @refugees ?” We send our very best wishes to her wee family.
If the ever-cheeky Richard Rankin can be trusted in this STARZ Christmas 2021 video, and we know he can’t, the cast borrows from each other’s wardrobe. What we can trust is the BTS peek into the size and scope of the actual wardrobe area.
Truth be told, Outlander has some of the most beautiful, detailed, historically accurate costumes seen to date in a TV series. Current costume designer Trisha Biggar has built on the amazing wardrobe created by Terry Dresbach and Nina Ayers in seasons 1-4, including accessories like Jamie’s boots. Just imagine how many times these boots were polished to keep them going through multiple seasons.
Other iconic pieces have been carried over into new seasons as well – think Jamie pulling his season 1 kilt out of his trunk in season 5 and Bree wearing Claire’s season 1 hooded fur-trimmed coat in season 4 as she travels from Scotland to find Claire and Jamie. It brings Claire’s “We will mend and make do” line in Echoes to mind.
For more about costume reuse and recycling, this video takes us all the way back to the beginning of the Outlander costume journey, explaining why we may be seeing an untold number of repurposed costumes in every season.
Thirsting for even more costume perspective? Click here for an indepth 2018 interview.
Blue has been a theme throughout Outlander in costumes and most other aspects as well. Like Jamie’s hair circa season 1 running the full spectrum of ginger to copper to auburn variations, we’ve seen the most delicate light blues to the silvery blue light of the Scottish mountains to the rich, dark indigo shades throughout. Remember the hospital scene from Faith with Claire and Master Raymond? It was as if everything in the room glowed blue. Season 6 continues this theme with its key art, costumes and lighting.
In Echoes, it seems they’re adding more autumnal shades as well. These STARZ photos showing browns, greens and lighter blues are lovely.
In Loving Memory
There’s one loss of special note in Outlander season 6. Sadly, the Outlander family experienced the loss of a team member in December 2021. In the Echoes credits, we saw, “In Loving Memory of our Friend and Colleague Alan Decker.” Mr. Decker was an Emmy Award winner who had been with Outlander from Season 1. May he rest in peace.
It’s likely safe to say STARZ gave us an amazing press lead up to Outlander Season 6 with the promos, interviews, BTS photos and videos and the London premiere. Some book readers have even hinted that too much may have been revealed. Personally, I lapped it all up like Adso presented with a saucer of milk.
Now that we’ve seen Echoes, where are we on our Outlander season 6 journeys?
— Sony Pics At Home UK (@SonyPicsAtHome) March 7, 2022
I’m a 6 – cool and confident that this new season is gonna be a good one, right up there with Season 1. Why? Because, In Diana We Trust. In an interview with Outlander Cast contributor Angela Hickey, Ms. Gabaldon describes this season in these three words, “Best one yet.” However, she did qualify it as second best to season 1, “since that was special.”
In discussing her favorite season 6 episodes, Ms. Gabaldon said, “Goodness, it will probably be the two final episodes, 607 and 608. Though, they will also love 601 and 603. The other ones are all very good too, those are just my four favorites.”
So, we have three more of Ms. Gabaldon’s favorites left between now and the finale on April 14, with some episodes reportedly longer than the typical 60 minutes. It seems the production team wrung everything they could out of their truncated schedule.
Looking ahead to Episode 2
Next up? Episode 2, Allegiance, which by now you may have just seen. However, taking into account the midnight release, you may be on multiple viewings by now.
The official STARZ description reads: “Jamie struggles with his first request as Indian Agent. Roger presides over an unusual funeral. Marsali gives birth.” Executive Producer, Matt B. Roberts had this to say:
— Matthew B Roberts (@TheMattBRoberts) March 9, 2022
Buckle up, Obsessenachs! Wishing a safe Outlander journey to ye.
What was your favorite Echoes costume or scene?
Obsessenach Karen K Rutledge found Outlander through the STARZ TV series in 2016 after living under a graduate school rock during Season 1 and most of 2.
She binged watched, first, then began making her way through Diana Gabaldon’s captivating book series.
The rest is history.
Interested in following Karen?