Exclusive: Sophie Skelton On the ‘Outlander’ Finale & What She’s Learned from Caitriona Balfe & Sam Heughan

Content Warning: The following story and video contain mentions and/or descriptions of sexual violence. The finale episode of Outlander dealt with issues that are difficult to watch and might be triggering for some. Please visit: www.rainn.org for resources to help.

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for Outlander’s Season 5 Finale, Episode 12, “Never My Love.”

Sophie Skelton sat down with SheKnows in a two-part interview to discuss her time on the hit Starz show, Outlander. In part 1 of her interview, Skelton told us all about her start on Outlander, why she can’t watch season 1 anymore, and what she’s learned from her on-screen parents, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, who became producers of the show this past season.

After watching the devastating finale the night before, Skelton jumped back on a Zoom chat with us and helped us break down the episode (aka consoled us). This episode saw her character’s mother, Balfe’s Claire Fraser, being brutally assaulted. The show has dealt with sexual assault many times — including with Skelton’s character, Brianna Fraser, and Heughan’s character, Jamie Fraser. Skelton discusses the difficulty of depicting sexual violence on television, but why it’s so important to show survivors’ recoveries and PTSD.

Skelton also tells us her favorite scenes with Heughan and Richard Rankin that got cut this season, why she and Caitriona Balfe loved racing on a beach, behind the scenes info about the amazing final shot of the finale, the one character she thinks her on-screen father should have killed, and her ideas for Season 6 and Diana Gabaldon’s future Outlander books.

Lauren Lyle, Caitriona Balfe, John Bell, Duncan LaCroix, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Sam Heughan Courtesy of Starz

Breaking down the ‘Outlander’ Season 5 finale 

When Claire is being assaulted, she dissociates and dreams of a “happier” time, where her family is all together in the 1960s. All the characters that fans love are there. Murtagh is alive, Fergus (Cesar Domboy) has two hands, Marsali still has a lot of children but bangs to boot, and they’re all decked out in fabulous 60s garb. This cast can literally be dropped in any decade and make it work. But who isn’t there? Skelton’s Brianna and her husband Roger. Skelton tells us when she and Rankin got the script and learned their characters were not only not there, but dead, they were sad to miss what looked to be a fun day on set.

Skelton reveals that the 60s hallucinations could have failed, but thankfully, Balfe, Heughan, Director Jamie Payne, Executive Producers Matthew B. Roberts and Toni Graphia, and team made them work.

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, Courtesy of Starz

After all the trauma Bree, Claire, Jamie, and Fergus have been through, she thinks her TV fam deserves some happiness. In fact, she has some ideas for Diana’s future books and — spoiler alert — one includes a family picnic.

Skelton tells us that last beautiful shot in the episode, where Jamie and Claire are in an intimate moment, was actually a bit different originally.

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, Courtesy of Starz

Working with Caitriona Balfe — Claire & Brianna’s relationship

One of Skelton’s favorite scenes with Balfe is when Brianna hugs Claire after she is rescued. She made a choice not to have Brianna break down, but rather be strong for her mother. And that heartwarming hug between Claire, Bree, and Marsali? They had to film that many times to get it just right. Skelton also talks about how they all work together on set — sometimes they joke around, but other times when the scene is more serious, they support each other by leaving each other alone. She says that while she would have loved for her character to have killed the man who attacked her mother, she’s glad Lauren Lyle’s Marsali got to do it. Ahhh… women supporting women in fake TV murder (of evil people). Warms the heart.

The other powerful scene that stands out to Skelton is when Brianna washes Claire’s hair, and realizes her mother needs space. She says both she and Balfe are committed to showing the lasting effects of how sexual assault changes their characters, and that Season 6 will no doubt deal with the aftermath of Claire’s attack.

Lauren Lyle, Sophie Skelton, Caitriona Balfe

And what was her favorite scene to film with Balfe? The beach scene where their characters raced each other. And although that beach was super cold, she and Balfe had been trapped in a hotel, so it was fun to get to move. But running in a corset? No thanks. In fact, Skelton says while gyms are closed, people should try to do a sit-up in a corset. “Go on,” she dared me. (I think she’s setting me up to fail. *Orders a corset from Amazon. Challenge accepted).

Working with Sam Heughan & the Jamie and Brianna scene we didn’t see…

Last time, Skelton revealed that she also wanted more Claire, Brianna and Jamie scenes. She shared that her favorite scene with Heughan in Season 5 sadly was cut. It took place in episode 7.  It was a lengthy scene that they both loved. She’s hoping it makes it into some of the extras the show will hopefully release in the next few months.

Sophie Skelton, Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Courtesy of Starz

The Roger & Brianna scene that we didn’t see…

Another scene that got cut that Skelton loved doing was with Rankin’s Roger. In an earlier episode, Brianna and Roger have a small argument. But what they filmed was a big argument. Thankfully, it didn’t make it in, because Skelton reveals that it would have made Rankin’s character look unsympathetic.

And that scene where Brianna tells Roger she’s pregnant in the finale? She tells us what was written in the script, and how it just disappeared before they could film it! Season 6, Brianna’s baby shower? Sounds like a happy event, we’ll wait for it.

Her favorite moments in Season 5

Skelton says she loves working with children and animals. In fact, she asked the writers how old Jemmy will be in Season 6 because she wants to work with the twins, Andrew and Matthew, who played her son this season.

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Richard Rankin, Sophie Skelton, John Bell, Courtesy of Starz

And remember when that buffalo leveled Bree? Well that scene actually was filmed a little differently than it aired. Skelton laughs that in the original Bree did not get up like a Teflon pan like nothing happened. Buffalos beware, Bree is not here to play.

She also enjoyed the scenes where Heughan’s Jamie walks in on Roger and Bree in an almost intimate moment. She loves seeing Jamie and Brianna’s relationship growing, and seeing his Dad response to that awkward situation was great. And how about Brianna walking in on her parents? She jokes that Jamie and Claire have a very healthy sex life. And maybe in the latter half of Season 6, we’ll get some awkward family moments with Brianna and her parents — in 2022?!

Droughtlander and Season 6

Skelton says like fans, she and the cast are sad when a season ends, especially right now, not knowing when they’ll be back to work. So how is she getting through Droughtlander? Facetiming with Balfe, Heughan, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Duncan LaCroix, John Bell, Lauren Lyle, Rankin, and binging two seasons of Dead to Me.

As for Outlander fans, Skelton apologizes for the long drought that’s coming, but gives us hope again for an Outlander musical. Or rather, Outlander the Zoomsical. (Make it happen, universe). We already know Rankin is a great singer. In fact, Skelton and Rankin recorded a duet that played at the end of episode 8, that was just released. Who else would participate? Skelton says Jemmy would sing, Balfe has a great voice, and jokes that Heughan could tap dance. New show idea: So You Think You Can Dance — except we call it, Sophie Thinks Sam Can Dance. (He can dance, go re-watch episode 4. Jamie Fraser on TikTok, yes please).

And it’s official. Droughtlander has begun.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted or needs support in dealing with sexual violence, there is hope and support out there. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is free, confidential, anonymous, and available 24/7. 800.656.HOPE & http://online.rainn.org/.

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