The Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe-starring time-travelling romance is back for another season, and it promises to be its most dramatic yet. Mark your calendars, Outlander fans, because the fifth season is out 16 February and it sounds like it’ll be a corker.
A media outlet that shall remain nameless once described Outlander as Game of Thrones for “soccer moms”.
The less said about that very sexist statement the better, but it’s time that we gave Outlander its due. The Starz show (it streams on Amazon Prime in the UK) starring Sam Heughan as Scottish heartthrob Jamie and Caitriona Balfe as time-travelling nurse Claire is an insanely popular series, watched by millions of people around the world. If you like Game of Thrones, you’re probably going to like Outlander.
That’s because Outlander takes everything that is good about Game of Thrones – thrilling battle scenes, a whisper of magic, gorgeous vistas of rural Scotland – and layers feminism over the top of it like a warm tartan blanket and a dram of whisky. Outlander is a show told from a strong female character’s perspective, and the central relationship between Claire and Jamie is founded on the respect, love and devotion of a man to a woman and her, ahem, pleasure.
Interest piqued just a little bit? Fantastic. Here’s everything you need to know about the fifth season of the show, when season 5 officially premieres, plus some information on how you can catch up if you’re yet to watch it.
What do we know about season 5 of Outlander?
In a recent Facebook video with the stars of Outlander, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan revealed some of their favourite moments of filming the fifth series and hinted at the most stand-out scenes.
When asked about which scene struck a chord with him, Heughan said: “Well, my favourite scene to film this season, I can’t tell you because It’s such a spoiler, but, someone comes back. Shall I give you that? Someone comes back.”
As well as an old face returning, the pair also let fans into a little secret about a new, furry, character to join the cast: Adso the cat. “We found that Adso doesn’t want to be in a scene, Adso just wants to lie by the fire. Which, is kind of pretty much what we want to do,” said Heughan.
Balfe agreed, saying: “He’s my spirit animal, I think.”
Excitingly, Caitriona Balfe also recently hinted at whether Brianna Fraser will be able to return to the future.
If you cast your mind back to the season four finale, you’ll remember that Brianna Fraser (played by Sophie Skelton) gave birth to Jemmy without her parents present, after she time-travelled to the past to warn Claire and Jamie Fraser about their fate. At this point, though, no-one yet know whether baby Jemmy has the ability to return to the 20th century.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, Balfe addressed the family’s status in season 5, and hinted that they could be staying in the past because they’re “settled.” Intriuing…
“The season is really, really good,” she began. “Last season was really setting up the fact that the Frasers were in Fraser’s Ridge and that they were starting to settle.”
“This year is really about this family coming to terms with a lot of consequences of things that happened last season,” she continued. “But there’s a settled nature to it and I think it’s a really strong, strong season.”
Balfe added that Outlander fans are going to be “really happy” with the next outing, which has us keeping everything crossed that the family have a happy ending after overcoming their fair share of adversity in the last season.
When is season 5 of Outlander airing on television?
Fans call it the ‘droughtlander’, or the long, agonising breaks between seasons of their beloved television show or books in their beloved series. Last month, Starz Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Hirsch revealed that the fifth season of Outlander won’t air on television until 2020 at the earliest.
“Everything we do is based on delivering,” Hirsch said at the Television Critics Tour in California. “Trying to have something on the air to serve that premium female audience. We have some shows coming before like Power that serve the general market. It’s more about scheduling around that digital experience.”
Well, Outlander fans, we have some very good news, because the fifth season has now received its official premiere date. Starz has finally confirmed that the droughtlander will end on 16 February 2020, when the new season airs in the US.
Leaving aside the airdate, what can we expect from the new season?
What is the plot of season 5 of Outlander?
The fifth season of Outlander is based on the fifth book in Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling fantasy series of the same name. (Copies sold? 25 million. About the same as Game of Thrones.)
Yes, it’s a lot to take in. But although this is a show ostensibly about time travel, the time travel is merely a device for the true heart of the series: love. This is a big, blowsy love story between two people, featuring some of the best feminist sex scenes ever to be put on screen.
In season five, Claire and Jaime are struggling to establish a new life for themselves in America after escaping Scotland. Because she is originally from the another time, Claire knows that the America in which they find themselves is an America hurtling headfirst towards civil war, and she desperately wants to protect her husband Jamie from harm’s way.
“Against this backdrop, which soon heralds the birth of the new American nation, Claire and Jamie are forced to ask themselves just how far they are willing to go to protect their home,” producers said, explaining the fifth season’s plot. “[They are] praying there will be no reason to light the fiery cross, an ancient Scottish call to arms.”
How will Outlander season 5 differ from the books?
The thing you need to know about Outlander is that, unlike Game of Thrones, Outlander has been doing a pretty fine job following author Gabaldon’s original book series. This is partly because, unlike Game of Thrones, there’s plenty of material to go off. Gabaldon has written eight books so far, and is working on a ninth right now.
But, like Game of Thrones, the Outlander books are enormous, many-paged things, so inevitably some scenes, storylines and even whole characters are left on the cutting room floor. Looking at the fifth book in Gabaldon’s series, titled The Fiery Cross and released in 2001, is an interesting exercise but may end up bearing no relation to the television series. But let’s try it anyway.
So what are Claire and her somewhat implausibly emotionally intelligent husband up to in the fifth book? The book takes place between 1770 and 1772, with both Claire and Jamie staying put in that specific time period and keeping far, far away from any time-travelling stones. The book grapples with the forthcoming American Revolutionary War, but it also gives the Frasers a chance to relish their time together as husband and wife. By which we mean: many sex scenes.
Also, Stephen Bonnet is back.
This awful Euron Greyjoy-esque villain keeps hanging around like the worst of all possible smells, and even though everyone thinks he died in an explosion in book four, the fifth novel reveals that he made it out by the skin of his teeth. (Though, book five does give a very satisfying resolution to the Bonnet problem, involving a gunshot wound in a place no man ever wants a gunshot wound.)
Who is producing Outlander season 5?
That would be both Heughan and Balfe themselves. Both stars have anchored the action of the series thus far, and now they’re adding producing credits to their CVs.
“We would both relish more responsibility,” Balfe told Harper’s BAZAAR. “I definitely would love to direct down the line, and I think he would too. I would love to be on set when Sam Heughan’s bossing me around… It’s important to have a say. We’ve built these characters from day one, and I think we feel – especially when so many of our core writers are not on the show anymore and we’ve got new writers coming in – it’s [important] to retain that through-line throughout all the seasons.”
How old are Claire and Jamie in Outlander season 5?
When Claire and Jamie meet in the first season of Outlander, the year is 1743. Claire is 27 and Jamie is 23. The next three seasons see decades go past, as both Claire and Jamie move through the years and (in Claire’s case, returns to her present day life). By the time season five begins, the year is 1770, which means that Claire is 54 and Jamie is 50.
Will there be more seasons of Outlander after season 5?
There will be at least one more season of Outlander after season five. The series is confirmed to return for a sixth season with an air date still to be announced.
Both of these series will reckon with the impact on Jamie and Claire of their existence out of time and out of place, Heughan told Harper’s BAZAAR. “They’ve tried to change history before and have they been successful? Not so much. They’re very aware this season [about] what’s coming. It’s on the horizon, the Revolutionary War is there.”
He continued: “You can sort of feel it – the thunderclouds are there, so it’s setting it up. By the end of the season you see, no matter how hard they try, they get pulled into it.”
When will Outlander season 5 be released?
Starz have finally confirmed the the fifth season of Outlander will officially premiere in the US on 16 February 16, 2020.
No exact release date has been released yet for UK fans, but hopefully it’ll hit our television screens shortly after.
We’ll keep you posted when we know more, sassenachs.
Season five of Outlander will air on Starz in the US and Amazon Prime in the UK. This story was originally published on 17 April 2019.