‘Outlander’ Gets Intimate With Its Fans at NYCC

Comic Con attendees fancy-mask for a season 6 preview

There’s an especially odd disconnect between the modern COVID protocols at New York Comic Con and the world beyond the stones in the pre-Revolutionary War America of Outlander. One minute, a bewigged martinet with a megaphone is howling at attendees to wear a mask outdoors, and moments later, you find yourself in a corseted crowd of Claire Beauchamp Randall Frasers. There were Paris Claires, bridal Claires, season one Claires, as well as a lone Aunt Jocasta, all with matching colonial style masks. Except one of the bride Claires, who went for sequins.

The crowd for season 6 updates swelled into the thousands, which is particularly impressive as most of the Outlander cast appeared remotely. Only Sam Heughan appeared live, alongside author Diana Gabaldon and producer Maril Davis. Actors John Bell (Young Ian), Laura Lyle (Marsali), César Domboy (Fergus), and Caitriona Balfe (Claire herself) all appeared on oversized iPhone-shaped screens perched on chairs. Despite the initial awkwardness of this setup, the cast is so close that they were able to banter as comfortably as they did back in 2019.

There were a few tidbits and spoilers about Season 6, which premieres early 2022. There will be a few fights between Fergus and Marsali. Fergus begins to drink heavily, as Marsali struggles with their growing family and her medical training. Lauren Lyle (resplendent on Zoom with adorable bangs) confessed that she enjoyed this season as she got to be pregnant, which means less corsets and more padding on top. She also revealed that a drinking scene in season 5 was real, and not just colored water. When they drink wine on set, it’s grape juice that leaves a stain.

John Bell revealed that he may have a new romance, and is going to go his own way in the war, in part based on his knowledge of the future. He was told in season 5 that Claire, Bree, and Roger were time travelers, and that they know that the British are going to lose the war. And yes, his mohawk is itchy. At one point, he was head-banging to Kylie Minogue (!!!) and the hairpiece flew off.

The cast all had funny tales about filming. Lyle went to the Glastonbury Music Festival and was called back to the set after a few days and nights of celebrating, and Domboy showed the Comic Con audience a photo of her sleeping on set:

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According to the cast, Domboy and Bell flirt the most with fans. Plan your photo ops accordingly.

Season 6 will feature one extended episode and then just seven others. The horrible weather curtailed the shooting even more than the COVID protocols, and a few scenes were even shot indoors as the snow and cold were overwhelming. The cast considered Balfe the hero of the season, as she was working in the extreme cold, during a pandemic, and while pregnant. Producer Davis said that they’re writing Season 7 for filming later in 2022.

There are several looming threats on Fraser’s Ridge, and not just the impending war. The Christie family will become residents and antagonists, and Lionel Brown’s family will be seeking a savage revenge.  The trailer courtesy of Starz gives some hints to the trouble, which always follows the Frasers. Davis called this season “traumatic,” and author Gabaldon said “And that’s why it is my favorite.” Domboy thinks season 6 is healing, Bell calls it cathartic. But true Outlander fans will like Lyle’s answer best: intimate.

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Rebecca Kurson

Rebecca Kurson writes about literature, pop culture, television, science fiction and music. Her work has appeared in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Observer, The Federalist and Rodale's Organic Life.

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