Caitriona balfe

Claire ‘more content’ in S4: Balfe

Caitriona Balfe on the set of "Outlander." Season 4 began last night. PHOTO COURTESY OF STARZ

By Karen Butler

Irish actress Caitriona Balfe says Claire and Jamie will be a happily established, immigrant couple in Season 4 of her time-travel romance, “Outlander,” which debuted last night.

“I think after the 20-year separation and, also, Claire making the ultimate sacrifice by leaving her daughter to go back to him -- once they kind of got over that initial, ‘getting to know each other again’ period – I think, this season, there is such a contentment with the two of them being together,” the 39-year-old Dublin native recently told the crowd at New York Comic Con.

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“You see them enjoy building a life together, building this home together and it is a much more settled and content place than we have ever gotten to explore before,” Balfe added. “Obviously, it’s ‘Outlander,’ so there’s always going to be external forces and many other things, but I don’t think there are cliffhangers again about whether this couple will stay together or not. That’s pretty certain that they’re solid.”

“We’ve got this,” joked the former fashion model.

Season 4 of the small-screen adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling novels last night on Starz.

This chapter of the story finds star-crossed lovers Claire (played by Balfe) and Jamie (played by Sam Heughan) relocating to 18th century North Carolina.

The first season follows Claire – a British, World War II nurse – as she is magically transported to perilous, mid-1700s Scotland where she falls in love with and marries Jamie, a Highland warrior who is always on the run.

Pregnant with their daughter Brianna by the end of Season 2 and also fearing Jamie may have died in the Battle of Culloden between Scottish clansmen and English soldiers, Claire returns to her own time where she reunites with her confused husband Frank, played by Tobias Menzies. Together, they spend two decades raising Brianna in Boston. Claire also goes to medical school and becomes a surgeon, while Frank works as a university professor.

When Brianna is grown, Frank announces he wants a divorce so he can marry his mistress, but he dies in a car crash before anything can be sorted. Freed from a loveless marriage and armed with evidence that Jamie survived the battle, Claire goes back in time again to find him in Season 3.

“We’ve been through a lot,” acknowledged 38-year-old Scottish actor Heughan. “We’ve been through three seasons and many experiences and I think their relationship has evolved and, at the core of it, is this great love and understanding. They are soulmates. But they have been fighting to be together and now, finally, this season, they are allowed to be briefly together for a period of time and it’s what they’ve always wanted and, also, they find a home and I think that is what Jamie, certainly, has always yearned for.”

Gabaldon said it was a natural decision to move the story – though not the show’s shooting location – from Scotland to America this time around, even though readers and viewers remain intrigued by this era in Scottish history.

“That Scotland is gone. It disappeared after Culloden. It was not there anymore, so the Scots had to go somewhere and where a lot of them went was the New World,” the author explained. “Some of them went up the coast to Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia. A whole lot of them went up the Cape Fear River and into the mountains there because it looked like home.”

She continued: “So, the next question was what was going on in the mountains then? And that was the War of the Regulation, which was just getting started. If you stand back a little, you can see this escalating tide of philosophy, enlightenment and violence that leads straight from the Jacobite Rising across the ocean and straight through the War of the Regulation into the American Revolution. At the time of the revolution, one colonist out of every three was from Scotland.”

“It’s also the classic story of immigrants coming to the New World in a wave of people that are coming in the 18th century and Claire and Jamie are just two more of them, along with their family and friends that they bring with them to these shores,” producer Ronald D. Moore offered. “It’s a great retelling of the American foundational myth as they come into North Carolina and put down stakes.”