Everything We Learned About Outlander Season 4 From the Set

Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton spill details on what to expect from the return of the Starz drama on November 4

By Kristin Dos Santos, Lauren Piester Nov 02, 2018 8:38 PMTags
Related: Sam Heughan & Caitriona Balfe Talk Finding "Home"

Back in March, E! News paid a visit to the Scotland set of Outlander season four, and it rained the whole time. 

Not only did water fall down from the sky, but it also rained season four scoop all over the place. Kristin Dos Santos sat down with the cast of the Starz hit drama to hear all about the show heading to 1770s North Carolina, where Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) can finally, for the first time in their relationship, put down roots and build themselves a home. 

In the video above, Balfe and Heughan spilled on what that means for the couple, especially considering the home they're building is in America—a very significant place for Claire. 

photos
Everything We Learned About Outlander Season 4 On Set
Related: Richard Rankin Teases Perilous "Outlander" Season 4

We also learned all about the legacy Jamie is trying to leave for his daughter, and even heard from said daughter (Sophie Skelton) about the tough times ahead for Brianna, who is in for a wild ride this season, as she and Roger (Richard Rankin) trace the path of her parents 200 years earlier. 

Related: Sophie Skelton Thinks Roger & Bree Are a "Geeky" Power Couple

We also hung out with John Bell, who plays Jamie's nephew Young Ian, who's done being the cause of all the trouble like he was in season three. Now he's even got a dog. 

Related: Exclusive: "Outlander" Star John Bell Dishes on Season 4

We'll also get to know Jamie's Aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy), who is quite the character, and a new guy named Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) who you might just love to hate, or hate to hate, or just plain hate. We'll just have to see how that unfolds over the course of the season...

Check out all the videos on and scroll on down to find out just how much we know (and are allowed to talk about, at least) about this season of Outlander!

Season 4 Might Be the Most Romantic Season Yet

We know, we know. You already expect goosebumps on top of goosebumps from Outlander and the iconic duo that is Jamie and Claire. But their romance feels more grown-up and grounded this season—without forgoing those steamy sex scenes—and therefore somehow all the more swoon-worthy.

We pick up with Jamie and Claire four months into their stay in America, and the beginning of the season is all about this pair trying to establish their own home in colonial North Carolina (or Scotland in disguise)—with Jamie building a house with his bare hands, of course. "This is the first time we get to see them as a couple and a sort of family unit," Heughan explained.

"It's a fresh start for both of them," Balfe added. "Before, either Claire was going to Lallybroch which was Jamie's previous home, or they were being chased by Redcoats or them on a boat. And this is them finding a place for them to start completely afresh."

It isn't all warm fuzzies, though. There is plenty of danger, suspense and intrigue in each and every episode, just when you least expect it–from persons alive and no longer living. (We're talking native spirits here–don't worry, Outlander isn't going all Walking Dead.)

Home Is a Big Theme

Executive producer Matt B. Roberts reminded us that up until now, Jamie and Claire have never had a place to really call their own, and that's the goal now that they're in America. 

"Over the course of the 40-something episodes that we've previously done, they've never had a place to stay, and now in the fourth season, that's the story we're going to tell," Roberts said. "Finding a place, making a home, surrounding themselves with a family." 

Of course, it won't all go smoothly, because when does it ever? 

Claire and Jamie Want to Live the American Dream

With home comes a chance for Jamie to put down roots, be the "laird" he's always wanted to be, and provide for his extended family—including his daughter Brianna, 200 years in the future. But it's also an important move for Claire, who had just lived in a much later America for 20 years. 

"[The story starts] at the dawn of America as we know it, and obviously Claire has such an emotional relationship with America because that's where she raised her daughter and Brianna's American, so there's that pull for her," Balfe told us. "And that also becomes this great connection for Jamie to have, with the land, it's like well this is the land my daughter will eventually grow up in and inherit." 

Aunt Jocasta Will Be Divisive

Jamie's Aunt Jocasta—played by Orphan Black's Maria Doyle Kennedy—is a significant new character we meet early on, as Jamie and Claire come to stay with her at her massive home, River Run in North Carolina. "You love her or you hate her," Kennedy tells us. "She's a fairly formidable woman. She does not suffer fools at all. And she sees fools everywhere."

Jocasta will be a conduit for Outlander to explore the dark side of this period of American history, given that River Run is a plantation and Aunt Jocasta owns slaves—something you can imagine does not sit well with a certain time-traveling healer.

"One of the things I've been trying to process is that as a woman of her time, even though she's ended up in a powerful position, she's wealthy and runs a plantation, [Jocasta] has very little real power," Kennedy explains. "Her power has to be hidden and controlled and could be taken away from her very quickly by the men around her…She plays a very close game."

Roger and Brianna Will Put You Through the Emotional Wringer

Though we don't see them at the start of season four, the return of Roger and Brianna in episode three is certainly worth the wait. As you've seen in the trailer, Roger is a smitten kitten when the story picks up again, and given the kilted festival dancing, it certainly seems as though it will all be smooth sailing, right? Yeah, well, this is Outlander.

"They're both so stubborn," Sophie explains, "and although that sort of hinders their relationship a bit, I think they do also feed off of that."

The push-pull dynamic is strong with these two, especially since Bree is a modern woman with progressive views, and Roger a little bit more traditional.

"I suppose they have a real fiery, tempermental relationship. They're quite stubborn," Rankin echoed. "They both have their own opinions. He loves the fact that she's a modern woman. She's a free thinker, clearly very intelligent. She's got a really fiery passion about her and it gets him into a lot of trouble." 

Brianna Will Not Have It Easy

When we last saw Claire and Jamie's daughter Brianna (Sophie Skelton), she was saying farewell to her mother Claire with Roger by her side on a picturesque Christmas night in Boston, and was holding it together fairly well. Don't expect that to continue long. When asked how much we should worry for her character on a scale of 1 to 10, Skelton did not hesitate. "Oh, genuinely at a 10. I mean Brianna's a tough cookie, but she has a real roller coaster season so definitely at a 10."

And it truly does sound like a rollercoaster. 

"Brianna in the 60s is a very 60s vibe. She's very happy...and then it does sort of take a 180 twist for Bree," Skelton said, hinting at some darker scenes to come. "I did a lot of research. I read a lot of case studies and [looked] into the scene of how people deal with things, and how their brain works and the inadvertent reflex responses that people have." 

One such scene was filmed on her birthday, and Skelton told us that after filming, she and a bunch of cast members went out for drinks and watched football. 

"You deal with it by acting as if it really didn't happen and just move on." 

Along with the darker stuff, we'll see Bree really coming into her own. 

"There's so much more of Brianna that we see in terms of her personality…and I'm excited to see if she has any reuniting moments with her parents."

We are too, Sophie. We are too. 

Roger Is Also In Danger...Maybe?

Richard Rankin wasn't about to hand over any actual spoilers, but he did try to convince us Roger's life as a university professor gets a little scary. 

"He just leaps straight forward and thinks with his heart in this one, and gets himself into some tricky situations with his history books," Rankin joked. "His teaching at Oxford University all becomes very heightened and dramatic. Students' grades dropping, he blames himself, he feels like he's not teaching effectively." 

But for real, there's some worry to be felt for Roger, especially when his girlfriend is the daughter of a Scottish highlander and a time traveling doctor and he'd do pretty much anything for her. 

Young Ian Is (Sort Of) All Grown Up

While last season, Jamie's young nephew was the cause of a ton of trouble, he's calmed down a bit this season, and barely even rates when asked how worried we should be for him on a scale of 1 to 10. 

"I think for season three, Young Ian was like a 10," Bell said. "Be concerned, he is missing in action! And now, I don't think you need to be as concerned as much about young Ian. He's becoming a man now, he's growing up, he's getting a sense of himself." 

He's also a lot more of a help to his aunt and uncle this season. 

"He is involved in trouble, but is he the root cause? No," Bell explained. "He's more Jamie's right-hand man now, so he'll sort out Jamie's issues with him." 

Ian Also Gets a Dog

This is not a surprise, as we've probably all seen pictures and glimpses in trailers of Rollo, the new addition to the crew, but did you know Bell refers to him as his "little baby" and "big daft dog?" 

While we won't see it happen in the season, Bell promises that the DVD extras will show Ian winning the wolf-like dog in a game of dice with some sailors. 

"The moment [I see] Rollo and the moment he sees me, we just fall in love...and it's got nothing to do with the giant bit of ham I'm holding..."

American History Plays a Huge Role

The revolutionary war, slavery, and Native American history all play into the story this season, and Roberts promises the show is going to great lengths to be both accurate and respectful, especially as they introduce the native storylines into the show for the first time—all seen through Claire's eyes, as a person from the future who has trouble getting past the horrors of the time. 

Roberts took a trip to North Carolina before production on the season began and met with a Cherokee chief and Cherokee experts (and planned to do the same with the Mohawk people), even signing them onto the series as consultants. All Native American characters with speaking parts will be played by people who are actually of Native American descent. 

Young Ian, in particular, will be affected by interactions with Native Americans. 

"Young Ian definitely has a fascination with the Cherokees and the Mohawks from the moment he sets foot in America," Bell said. "He is blown away by their culture, blown away by how they dress, probably blown away by the women as well. He certainly falls in love with them pretty much immediately, and I think that leads on to him basically saying, I want to be a Cherokee, I want to be a Mohawk." 

There's a "Lot of Layers" to the New Bad Guy

Stephen Bonnet is a complicated character in the Outlander world, and by that we mean...get ready to get real mad. 

Actor Ed Speleers describes him as "a pirate, a smuggler...I think in his mind he considers himself a gentleman." 

Speleers said Stephen and previous baddie Black Jack Randall are "two very very different characters," but he feels the pressure of having to follow in the villainous footsteps of Tobias Menzies. 

"He's a world class actor, so that's put a lot of pressure, but they're two very different individuals," Speleers said. "They have a different viewpoint of the world." 

Outlander returns this Sunday on Starz.