Warning: Spoilers ahead from Saturday's episode of Outlander. If you've just watched it, proceed! If you haven't, what are you doing here?!
Claire spilled the beans about her true 20th-century origins to Jamie at the end of Saturday’s episode
after Geillis sacrificed herself under claims of witchcraft (she, like Claire, was actually from the future) and Jamie questioned whether she was a witch herself. What was surprising wasn’t that Claire clued her husband in on where she came from, but rather his unflinching trust in everything she told him.
“Ultimately, he’s always known that she’s got a secret,” Sam Heughan tells ETonline. “He’s said it to her: ‘I know you’ve got something you won’t tell me, but I want the truth.’ And he knows deep down that whatever she says is the truth.”
“Because he believes her, he gives her the chance to go home, which is a lovely, unexpected reaction,” executive producer Ron Moore tells ETonline. “The fans who don’t know the story probably would think, ‘Well, he’s going to believe her and he’s not going to condemn her for it.’ But I don’t think they’d expect him to bring her back to Craigh nu Dun and give her the opportunity to leave.”
In the end, Claire chose to stay. Admittedly, Caitriona Balfe had trouble rationalizing Claire’s decision – at first.
“That was quiet a tough scene to figure out her thought process,” Balfe tells ETonline. “I didn’t want to make it as simple as she’s in love with Jamie so she’s going to stay. Of course that’s a huge, huge part of it but I figure it has to be more complicated than that. You’re effectively saying goodbye to an entire time period that you know and are aware of and all your life you’ve spent there. It was really interesting trying to find all the different reasons she was telling herself to stay.”
It is Jamie’s complete trust in Claire following her secret-spilling that cements their union – not that it needed any more solidifying to begin with.
“I think he knows her soul and therefore that she’d tell him the truth. Whatever she believes, he is willing to go with that. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he can get his head around it,” Heughan says with a chuckle, with Moore echoing that sentiment: “I don’t think he quite believes it but he believes her.”
The 34-year-old actor gave insight into Jamie’s thought process during Claire’s revelation, and even he admits it’s a tall ask for anyone to accept the idea that the person you’re wedded to is a time traveler.
“There’s a moment when she’s talking [when] he sort of goes into shock. It’s so much to quantify and to get over. I remember the line, ‘I believe you. I cannot understand it a single bit.’ He can’t get it but the only thing he knows is that she wouldn’t lie to him,” Heughan explains. “Whether or not that means he can grasp the full enormity of it, he just knows the one thing he can rely on is her. It’s a huge ask for anyone.”
He says later, “All these things are going on in his mind: Who is she? Why is she here? He’s suddenly ended up having to rescue her from all these people, and it’s a very crazy place that he’s in.”
Moore points to Jamie’s upbringing and their supernatural beliefs as a key component in his willingness to stay by Claire’s side.
“Jamie comes from a place where the people still believe in superstition and witches,” Moore says. “He was raised in the Highlands and they do believe in a lot of strange things – there’s the power of various forces of nature and all of that, so he had that on his mind too. He, on a fundamental level, thinks she wouldn’t lie to him and that’s what carries him over.”
Even so, there is a silver lining. Claire’s knowledge of future events will be used to aid Jamie and the others to hopefully gain an advantage in forthcoming battles as they aim to rewrite history.
“We’ll see that later on,” Heughan teases, pointing to the Battle of Culloden as the first major test. “[Claire] basically warns Jamie, ‘If you go to this battle the Highlanders are all going to be wiped out. You’re going to be wiped out.’ We will get to that toward the end of the season and into season two – why they go to France. They start to use that information that she’s got.”
Had Claire never gone to the magical stones of Craigh nu Dun the first time around and transported herself to 18th-century Scotland, things would be far less interesting for Jamie.
“Interesting’s the word, isn’t it?” Heughan says, agreeing. “Before, nothing went wrong and now he’s constantly being questioned and being asked of things. If she hadn’t turned up, he probably would have married Laoghaire and [would still be] battling Dougal.”
For Claire, discovering that she wasn’t the only person to pass through time becomes useful intel moving forward, as she begins to wonder if there are others out there.
“Up until this point, Claire has been on a very singular journey. Her one goal has been to go back to the stones and back to her life. Gaining this knowledge has blown all that out of the water,” Balfe says. “She realizes that there is a much bigger picture at stake and she needs to realize that there are great implications to this knowledge that she knows now. It’s very interesting to see what happens in the [next] episodes.”
Outlander airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.
Press play below to watch Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan tease the rest of Outlander season one!