Caitriona Balfe (L) and Sam Heughan can now be seen in Season 6 of "Outlander" on Starz. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, March 6 (UPI) -- After surviving World War II and Scotland's Battle of Culloden, time-traveling British heroine Claire Fraser and her Highland warrior husband, Jamie, have no appetite for the bloodshed and mayhem the American War of Independence will undoubtedly bring in Season 6 of Outlander.
Claire and Jamie are in their adopted home of North Carolina preparing for the revolutionary war between England and the American colonists when the 18th-century romantic drama returns on Starz on Sunday.
"What they really want is some peace," Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire, told UPI in a recent Zoom interview with reporters.
"They realize that there is this looming war ahead that they are trying to straddle these two alliances or these two loyalties. They know what the eventuality will be, who is going to be the final winner, but they're not sure of the steps they are going to take," Balfe said.
"The people in their community turn against them, so they definitely don't achieve their goal -- they get anything but peace this season."
The new episodes bring fresh political and social conflict, as well as the introduction of Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones), a villain from Jamie's past.
"They've tried to stay out of harm's way. They've tried to not be on the losing side when it comes to war," actor Sam Heughan said of his character, Jamie, and his screen wife Claire.
"From the Christies' [arrival] to Jamie being forced to become an Indian agent, it's out of their control now. They've always tried to control time or change fate, but it's not happening."
Part of the problem is that the couple don't always know or understand all aspects of historical events, even though Claire studied them during her time in the future. Also, the more Claire and Jamie try to change outcomes, they risk corrupting the timeline.
For instance, their daughter, Brianna (Sophie Skelton), was born in the 20th century and time-traveled back to warn her parents that they would die in a house fire. The family's anticipation of this tragedy means they try to avoid it, but have no idea what will happen, instead.
"It's always playing on their minds," Heughan said of the Frasers' preview of their fates. "This season, the impending doom is really, really close."
Balfe emphasized that the Frasers understand and accept they can't change the "grand events of history."
"They can't pervert that, but what they can do is change their position within it. That's what they are really struggling with at this point: How do they make sure that where they've aligned themselves is safe for them?" she asked rhetorically. "How much can they play each side without having to make this huge declaration? It's a really tough place for them to be in.
"If only their daughter had stayed a history major, she would have been more useful," Balfe laughed.
On a more personal level, town healer Claire is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome after she was brutally assaulted last season.
"This is something she's never really had to face in the same way before," Balfe said.
"Her usual ability to compartmentalize and to continue on is not serving her anymore this season, so she begins to unravel, and it was really interesting to explore in that way."
Heughan said his character, who was raped in Season 1, is doing his best to support his spouse through her ordeal, but she is unintentionally pushing him away.
"Jamie is aware that there is something wrong, but he can't obviously put his finger on it," the actor said.
"He also doesn't want to pressure her, having been through something similar himself. He wants to give her space and time to come to terms and to deal with the trauma. It's a really tough storyline for Claire, and I think Caitriona really beautifully played it, and I think she pushed the writers, as well, to really make sure it was an honest and rewarding storyline."
Co-starring Lauren Lyle, César Domboy and John Bell, the show is based on Diana Gabaldon's fantasy novels. Season 7 already is in the works, and the ninth book is due out in November.
Although there is no end to the franchise in sight, Heughan admitted he already is thinking about what life will be like after Claire and Jamie.
"When Caitriona goes off to do another job -- or I do -- I start to see the world outside of Outlander, and it's interesting to look back at it and realize how lucky we are, how incredible the show is, and how good the cast and the crew are," Heughan said.
"It's been an amazing journey, and I guess when we don't have it anymore, it is going to be a shock to the system."
While Heughan and Balfe are deeply invested in their characters, they insist it isn't difficult to separate them from their real lives.
"Sam and I were cast because we have something within us that mirrors or speaks to these characters," Balfe said.
"The beauty of doing a period piece with sort of sci-fi elements is there is not so much of that you can bring into your normal, everyday life," she added. "We've grown and we've matured as these characters have, and maybe it won't be until we get to look back that we see the extent of what that's given us. Hindsight will be much more illuminating than when we are still in it."