Now that we’re four episodes into “Outlander” season seven, the action has finally let up enough to allow space for some new characters to be welcomed into the fold.
Alongside the (re)introduction of William, the son Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) secretly fathered back in season three, this installment also gave viewers two brand new characters: Rachel (Izzy Meikle-Small) and Denzell Hunter (Joey Phillips).
We meet the brother-sister duo after William (Charles Vandervaart) injures himself during his ill-fated mission to travel through North Carolina’s Dismal Swamp and is brought to their door for medical help. Together Denzell, his sister, and Young Ian (John Bell) — who appears to have learned a thing or two from his auntie — help save the young British soldier from succumbing to his wounds.
And if you thought you could see sparks flying between Rachel and both Ian and William, your eyes weren’t deceiving you.
“William and Ian have never really encountered someone like Rachel,” Meikle-Small told Insider when asked about the lingering looks the trio exchanged in the episode.
“I think William especially, he grew up as a Lord and all of the women he’s been around are staid and demure and there’s social constructs that keep them in place,” she continued. “Rachel’s obviously grown up very different to that, she says what she wants. I think he’s really taken aback by that, but finds it equally intriguing.”
However, she hinted that, as longtime fans of “Outlander” know, the romance plots are never straightforward. Viewers could very well see a “love triangle” develop between the three as Ian likewise sees Rachel “as this very complex, interesting woman.”
As for why exactly Rachel is such a breath of fresh air for the men of “Outlander,” Joey Phillips, who plays Rachel’s brother, Denzell Hunter, explained: “Quakers were really ahead of their time in the way they saw equality.”
“I found it so interesting researching the religion,” Phillips said. “Men and women have always been equals in the Quaker faith and nobody is above anyone else, every life has the same value. It’s really amazing but it sets them apart from other characters. They’re really unlike the others.”
However, it’s not just Rachel’s forwardness that comes as a surprise, but also Denzell’s deference to Claire (Caitríona Balfe) as a more experienced physician when the pair cross paths later on in the season.
Teasing his and Claire’s first meeting — which will likely come at Fort Ticonderoga, where their journeys are both leading them at the end of episode four — Phillips described it as “a really amazing moment.”
He said: “We know Claire comes up against a lot of adversity and she isn’t seen as an equal in her field. She’s dismissed a lot of the time by men. So when those two meet, Denny immediately gives her the respect that she deserves and he’s keen to learn from her.”
“She’s so refreshed by it,” Meikle-Small added. “She’s like, ‘Finally, a man who sees my work, thank you!'”
As for where their characters’ journeys will lead them, they couldn’t say much. But both did hint that love, in all its forms, is motivating their characters as they find themselves in the middle of the tumultuous struggle for American independence.
Phillips said: “The human need for love is such a through line for this season in different ways. It’s romantic, it’s family — we see love in many different forms.”
“What’s so lovely about ‘Outlander’ is that it always comes back down to love,” Meikle-Small added.
Episode four of “Outlander” season seven is now available to stream on Starz.com, and also airs at 8 p.m. Friday on Starz.