Warning: Full spoilers for “The Reckoning” episode of Outlander follow.
Well that return was certainly worth the months-long wait, now wasn’t it? Outlander returned to the U.S. on Saturday night (it returns Sunday night on Showcase in Canada), and from what we’ve seen, it’s going to be an epic rest of the season to come.
Between Jamie (Sam Heughan) saving Claire (Caitriona Balfe) from Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies), that brutal spanking scene and the subsequent hot and heavy sex scene, there was plenty for fans to feast their Outlander-hungry eyes on.
The TV Junkies caught up with Jamie portrayer Sam Heughan to talk about what went into that spanking scene, the sword-tastic sex scene that followed, and what’s to come in the remainder of Season 1, which he promises picks up the pace.
Sam Heughan: It’s an important lesson for him to learn and for her to learn. But also the fallout of that is he learns that maybe this isn’t the way to do things. This really challenges their relationship and moves it forward. It takes a couple of episodes for them to resolve this moment that happened. And it’s fantastic. It’s actually a really important part of their relationship, the fact that two different people from different time periods find a way to sort of connect with each other and ultimately work together.
TTVJ: Did you actually have to spank Caitriona?
SH: Yes. I did. Poor Caitriona. I think we both got a lot of bruises from that scene. It wasn’t fun, you know? We discussed it at great length with the directors and writers and worked out what we wanted the audience to see or not to see. And then we obviously had to shoot it. It’s a very physical scene and she’s throwing things at me and kicking me. And I’m throwing her on the floor… I mean, neither of us relished filming that. Certainly after we felt a little odd about it, because we wanted to make sure we’d done the right thing. But I think it’s come across in the nature of the time and the period of it, it’s worked.
TTVJ: Do you think the scene would have been effective if it had not been told through Jamie’s point of view?
SH: Yeah, well it might have seemed more one sided. This is a bad thing and I think it’s important that we begin to understand the world that she’s not understanding. We see everything through her eyes. The way we see Jamie, the way we see these Highlanders is through her eyes, through her opinions. So it’s really important to start to see the world that she’s beginning to love and beginning to understand more. So it gives the viewer more understanding.
TTVJ: You guys have been applauded for the realistic sex scenes. But with all of that rolling around on the floor, have you been injured trying to perform them?
SH: Oh yes, we have. Yes. There’s a lot of carpet burns. There’s a lot of knocked heads. They are very physical. We didn’t want them to be sort of soft focused… it’s got to be real and it’s got to be real in their relationship. There has to be a reason for them to do such things.
TTVJ: What can you tell us about filming the make-up sex scene in “The Reckoning?”
SH: They’ve gone through this tough and challenging time and they are trying to reconnect with each other, so it becomes very physical and very animated. That’s what’s interesting, it’s about their characters and about their relationship and where they’re at at that time. Their relationship has moved forward from where it was in the wedding episode. And they’re constantly fighting to get back to each other and reconnect, and unfortunately this story doesn’t run smoothly. It’s going to be very testing.
TTVJ: The first half of the season took its time introducing the characters. But there’s a lot of stuff to cover from the books in the back half. Do we pick up the pace?
SH: Absolutely, yeah. We cover the whole book in the first season and it really does. The momentum ramps up. We were setting up the story in the first half of the season and I think the pace is, you know it certainly gave the audience time to see their relationships and set them up. In the second half we really play with them. They get tested; all kinds of politics happen. It really ends in quite a dramatic way. I think that the relationship Jamie and Claire have at the very end of the whole season is um … changed and remarkable and gray and interesting. There will be a hangover into the next season.
TTVJ: Jamie goes through quite a dramatic character change by the end of the first book. Was it challenging filming those scenes?
SH: They’re some of the most intense things I’ve ever done. They were long, long days and very intensive. A lot of concentration was needed. You have a great team of writers and directors and we, myself and Tobias, worked very closely with everybody. We rehearsed, worked on the scenes, worked on the dialogue, worked on what we wanted. Worked on what we wanted the audience to see or not to see. What affect we wanted the audience to have. And then ultimately we just had to film it. And yeah, it was intensive. But kind of a relief as well when it was done, and just really interesting to see where Jamie would go mentally and the man he’s become at the end of the season.
TTVJ: Can you tease how much of that viewers will actually see? In the books those scenes are largely retold by Jamie.
SH: I think it’s going to be very interesting, very challenging for people. I think surprising. People aren’t quite expecting it to go there and I think they could be shocked. There’s a lot of chat about Black Jack Randall and what he does to Jamie at the end, and it’s a little bit light-hearted. But actually you’re going to see two men fighting mentally and physically and ultimately, they’re both changed in various ways.
TTVJ: Are you excited to get back to filming?
SH: I literally just received the first two scripts, so I’m going to finish this press tour and take a week off and just sit with the books and get back into it. I can’t wait. I’m really excited.
What do you think, Outlander fans? Are you nervous about what’s to come? Tell us in the comments below.
Outlander airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on Starz and Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Showcase.
Amber Dowling is a bonafide TV Junkie, critic and freelance writer who watches countless shows and lives for dramatic (fictional!) twists. She currently serves as the vice-president of the Television Critics Association and has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows across North America. An advocate for Canadian Television and a lover of the medium in general, Amber founded TheTVJunkies.com as a spot for fellow enthusiasts to connect and collaborate. She previously spent almost eight years as the EIC for TV Guide Canada.