Sophie Skelton on the differences in Brianna between the past and the future, the false sense of security in the present, and what it was like to be isolated from the rest of the cast.
Traveling through the stones has a lot of side effects for the time travelers in Outlander—loud buzzy noises, heart palpitations, and the like, but luckily for Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) and their two kids, they are good travelers. They don’t experience whiplash in going from the 1770s back to the 1900s, which they did in last week’s episode in order for their infant daughter Mandy to have necessary heart surgery that Claire (Caitríona Balfe) isn’t able to perform. But there’s also the comfort factor of being in familiar surroundings.
“For one thing in the future, they can just be themselves again,” Sophie tells Parade in this interview. “I think they can kind of breathe for a second. (A), because there’s not this impending danger, or they don’t think there is. And (B), they have to watch themselves a lot in the past. They have to watch their mannerisms or things they’re saying or anything that could be construed as witchcraft, or future telling, or anything like that. So, I think they can breathe a little easier in that time, which I think makes it easier for them as a couple for a second.”
It will turn out that Bree and Roger also have to watch themselves in the future, because of events from the past, but it’s a different kind of danger. It’s one caused by greed, which we won’t spoil.
But in the meantime, on tonight’s episode, Bree interviews for a job as an engineer, which is what she went to college for, but it isn’t going to be easy to get it because while not quite as misogynistic as the men in 1770s, the interviewer isn’t quite convinced a woman can handle it. But it is also harder for Roger, who had planned to become a minister in the past, but isn’t sure if he wants to go back to teaching history in the future.
“It’s hard for Roger not really knowing his calling again,” Sophie continues. “For Brianna, it’s a lot easier in that she’s found her calling again. She can go and be an engineer, which is what she struggled with in the past not being able to do. I think it just means that even now when these problems arise, they are better equipped as a couple to deal with it because they’re both feeling more settled in terms of being back in their own time.”
The fact that Brianna and Roger are no longer part of the Fraser’s Ridge family has also changed what work is like for Sophie and Richard. They are more isolated from the rest of the cast and crew, who are working on different sets. Not the modern-day version of Lallybroch where the MacKenzies find themselves.
“It feels like a different show,” Sophie admits. “[Richard and I] were joking at the time it felt like we had our own ‘80s sitcom, like The Brianna and Roger Show. But it was fun. Look, we’re very lucky that you can hit Season 7 of a show and you can actually feel like the characters are different and the show is different. It’s really shaken up. So, it was fresh for us, and it was a little MacKenzie clan adventure. It was great.”
One of the perks of being separated from Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire is that Caitríona, who is going to direct a full episode for season 8, was able to get some practice in on a few second-unit scenes for season 7, one of which was a scene between Bree and her son Jemmy.
“It was a really, really lovely scene, a very emotional scene, a really vulnerable scene,” Sophie says. “We haven’t really seen this side of Jemmy before and it was great being directed by Caitríona. It was great to have an actor’s director, somebody who knows the show so well and somebody who knows the characters so well. And, also, it’s a very mothering scene where Brianna is really being a mama bear towards Jemmy. To have Claire’s input via Caitríona to Brianna, it’s like passing advice down two generations. It was really sweet.”
Sophie also reveals that when season 7 of Outlander was filming, season 8 had not yet been picked up, so when they were filming the 16 episodes of the supersized season, they knew it could have been the end.
“It’s such a magnificent season and I’m so excited for all the fans to see it,” she says. “ I think for Roger and Brianna, as well, it’s such a great story. We had so much to do and so much to play with and such a journey to go on. So, I think we’ll talk about eight when you guys have finished watching seven because you’ve got a big season ahead of you yet. So, the end is not in sight just yet.”
New episodes of Outlander are available to stream weekly on Fridays at midnight on the STARZ app, all STARZ streaming and on-demand platforms, and internationally on the Lionsgate+ premium streaming platform in the U.K. New episodes will air weekly on the STARZ linear platform on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET in the U.S.