Warning: This article contains spoilers from Outlander season 7, episode 2, “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Some men like to watch the world burn — and if you work on a television set, that opportunity might come along more often than you’d expect.
At the conclusion Outlander season 7’s second episode, the Frasers’ beloved home on the Ridge goes up in ash and smoke. Claire (Caitriona Balfe) arrives home to find Wendigo Donner (Brennan Martin) lurking in the hopes of gaining a gemstone and knowledge about time traveling back to the future.
With Jamie (Sam Heughan) held hostage by Donner’s men, he threatens the Frasers to get what he wants — but his methods go awry when he lights a match and sends the house into a fiery blaze as the flame makes contact with Claire’s homemade ether. The house explodes as Jamie and Claire try to leap to safety.
Balfe tells EW that she and her costar performed the stunt themselves. “There’s a great shot that we got to do. It’s where we run and go flying in the air from the explosion. It’s not such a big deal for Sam, cause he does a lot of his own stunts, but that was a big deal for me,” she says. “I squealed like a small child that was flying through the air.”
As fun as the stunt may have been, it was also a genuine goodbye for the cast and crew, since they really set fire to the exterior set that they had filmed on over the last several seasons. “It’s a really sad moment when we say goodbye to that set and that location,” Balfe says. “But it’s such a catalyst for the rest of the season. We loved filming in that location. It was one of the most beautiful we’ve been. We had a three-dimensional facade on location that was completely burnt down.”
Adds Heughan: “I know it’s a TV show, but we still have so many great memories there — Brianna and Roger’s wedding, many other great moments being shot there. It was sad to say goodbye.”
That wasn’t the only tearful goodbye this episode. After Brianna (Sophie Skelton) gives birth to her and Roger’s daughter, Mandy, Claire discovers that the baby has a heart murmur. Bree and Roger (Richard Rankin) realize that the only way to save their daughter is to travel back to the future where she can easily have a corrective surgery.
First, they must seek out a gemstone, which involves traveling to town. They encounter Lord John (David Berry) and a grown-up William (Charles Vandevaart), who Berry calls “the ticking time-bomb in any scene” because of the secret of his parentage. Lord John gives Jamie the sapphire that Jamie first gave him during his time in Ardsmuir prison, eager to help Bree.
“I’ve called this scene the divorce scene and that gemstone is symbolic of a wedding ring,” reflects Barry. “It holds extreme sentimental value to Lord John. It’s something that binds John and Jamie in a ceremonial way. When that stone was first found, Jamie was a prisoner. Later, Jamie sees it in [the Caribbean] when John is the governor there, and he’s kept that stone with him as a memento and reminder of Jamie and the relationship that they have. The handing over of that back to Jamie is symbolic of a change in their relationship.”
Gemstones acquired, Roger, Bree, Jemmy, and Mandy all travel to the standing stones at Ocracoke for an emotional goodbye to Claire and Jamie. “They feel like this is the last time,” Balfe says. “The finality of that for them, it’s like a death in a weird way. They know that it’s happening so that Mandy can be saved and that they will go on and live another life, but for them, they believe that this is the last time they’ll ever see them, which is so heartbreaking.”
It was equally emotional for the cast, since Heughan and Balfe would spend very little — if any — time working on camera with Skelton and Rankin for the remainder of the season. But Rankin (accidentally) cut the tension while filming.
“There was one take where the camera turned around to Sam and Caitriona,” he recounts. “So, we are not in the shot, and I have to take the gemstones out of my pockets. But I had been eating little packets of sweets, little milky ways and things like that, so I put all the wrappers in my pocket of my costume jacket, which is a big no-no. Anyway, so in the scene when it’s all Caitriona and Sam and they’re really intense, everyone’s crying, and I go to take these gems out my pocket and with it comes a whole handful of chocolate wrappers. I couldn’t meet Caitriona’s eyes.”
Heughan confirms this turn of events, saying, “He pulled out a bunch of candy wrappers and then denied that they were his.”
“We’re all shaking, and it’s not from the cold. It’s so human that you have a really sad event in your life and then you need some humor to break through the tears. It felt so real,” Skelton adds.
Rankin says that eagle-eyed viewers can see their shoulders shaking from laughter in the shot.
Still, the final moment is very emotional. After Roger, Bree, and family disappear through the stones, Jamie tells Claire, “If not for you, I would not go on.” Executive producer Maril Davis pushed to include that piece of dialogue, which is taken straight from Diana Gabaldon’s novels.
“That, to me, says everything you need to know about their relationship,” Davis tells EW. “He’s just sent his daughter and grandchildren through the stones; he’ll never see them again. It’s like, ‘If not for this person, I would not be able to survive.’ … They complete each other. That doesn’t mean they’re not each on their own complete people, but them together is what makes sense.”
Still, even though Jamie gives Claire a gemstone in case the worst should happen, Balfe isn’t so sure Claire would take another trip through the stones. “She’s made this time her own now,” she reflects. “She feels at home there. This time suits her in a strange way. She feels alive and vital there. Her home is with Jamie; their lives are together. Even if he weren’t there, maybe she would still stay.”
Outlander airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.