Everything You Need to Know About Outlander (That Badass Show You've Been Missing) Before Season 6

If you're casually scrolling through your recommended shows, you may stumble across Outlander and think it's just another historical romance novel adaptation. In reality, it's a time-traveling glimpse into Scotland's history and an expertly crafted lesson in character development. Focusing on themes of love, loss, family, and conflict, the show adapts Diana Gabaldon's insanely popular book series for television. I found it after watching Game of Thrones, and the lush world and complex storytelling keeps me interested while I await House of the Dragon. If you're an Outlander skeptic, allow me to convert you over the course of this article. Trust me, this show is way more badass than you might be expecting for a show known for its steam.

Season 3 Reaction GIF by Outlander - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now that you've been introduced, let's get down to business…

Let me start off by saying this article will not be discussing Jamie Fraser's kneecaps. Yep, that's a whole thing the internet concocted and we're not going there. If you're looking to read about the more…ahem, romantic…aspects of the show, you're gonna have to go elsewhere.

Secondly, I haven't read the books, and I shan't pretend like I have. This article is going to stick to the TV show content. I shall stay in my lane.

After this point, spoilers abound!

The real-world history in the show

Historical fantasy fans, fasten your seatbelts: Outlander was inspired by real events. The show begins around the time of the Jacobite Rising of 1745. That's when supporters of James the VII of Scotland formed a rebellion in the hopes of restoring James (or his heirs) to the British throne. James had been usurped by his Protestant son-in-law, and his grandson, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, tried to regain rule. The Bonnie Prince Charlie garnered a good deal of support from the Highlanders as well as other factions, and they eventually advanced into England. However, the devastating Battle of Culloden brought his advancement to an end in 1746. We meet the Prince and experience that historic battle and its aftermath in Outlander. Expect political intrigue, betrayals, and poisonings right from the start.

The super-short summary of what happened in Seasons 1-5

Season 1

Claire Randall (played by Catriona Balfe, who's now a BAFTA Nominee for Belfast), a combat nurse in World War II, and her husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) find each other again after the end of the war. They've been through a lot of things while apart, but they're committed to rekindling their relationship. While taking a trip to the Scottish Highlands to spend some quality time, they secretly visit the standing stones called Craigh na Dun to watch a ritual. Later on, Claire returns alone to the stones in search of a certain plant she had noticed (she has an interest in botany) and finds herself pulled through time by the stones to a point two hundred years into the past. 

There, she meets Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) whose family takes her in. Also, throughout the season, they contend with Captain Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall, Frank's ancestor. To the audience's horror, he looks exactly like Frank (and is also played by Menzies). Henceforth referred to as Captain Randall in this article, he can be described as Jamie's archenemy. This man is cruel with a capital "C" and we hate him.

Fraser and Co. go to great lengths to keep Claire safe from harm and out of Randall's hands. She and Jamie marry to change Claire's legal status from English to Scottish so Captain Randall won't have jurisdiction over her as an English subject. The season ends with them trying to escape to a new home only to find themselves embroiled once again in Captain Randall's sadistic schemes. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the timeline, Frank struggles to come to terms with his wife's disappearance and finally leaves her suitcase behind in the Highlands in an attempt to move on with his life.

The concept of being flung through time two hundred years into the past, with everyone you’ve known and love now nonexistent, is fucking terrifying. Add being caught up in the underpinnings of war to the mix, and you have a real nail-biter. As if that wasn’t enough, Captain Randall sends it all straight to hell. The end of this season sees Jamie and Claire set sail, hoping to change the course of history. 

My take on Season 1: This season boldly tackles the moral dilemmas Claire faces in her new situation. One thing that really stood out to me as a viewer was the way Outlander handles the repercussions of each character’s decisions. Claire, someone who knows history and which side won, now finds herself on the side that lost. Not only that, she finds herself newly widowed (I guess?), ignorant to the way of life around her, and embroiled in politics she can now influence to some degree. How strong can newfound loyalties really be in the face of an unshakeable threat? Season 1 isn’t afraid to find out.

Season 2

Claire and Jamie go to France to infiltrate the Jacobite rebellion and hopefully prevent the Battle of Culloden. Their attempts to alter the future become increasingly desperate, and viewers feel a great sense of foreboding because it could very well be Jamie, Murtagh (Jamie's godfather, played by Duncan Lacroix), and others falling on that battlefield. While in France, they navigate French society, a world of intrigue, and lavish parties. However, Prince Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) is difficult to persuade. Changing history proves challenging, and Jamie and Claire do everything they can to stop the uprising that leads to the end of the Scottish lifestyle they hold dear. 

They are thwarted at every turn and end up back in Scotland with The Battle of Culloden rapidly approaching. Dougal MacKenzie, War Chieftain of Clan MacKenzie (played by none other than Couch Soup guest Graham McTavishUncharted fans rejoice!), overhears Jamie and Claire’s last-ditch plan to stop the Jacobite efforts before it’s too late, and he violently confronts them. Loyal to his cause until the end, in a heart-wrenching scene, he becomes one of the first casualties of the finale.

My take on Season 2: Watching this season felt like racing toward a rock wall, the end looming and seemingly inevitable. The characters don’t run from it; rather they attempt to confront the plot’s conflict head-on. They show agency, courage, and tenacity. But it's human will versus the sands of time. Is history truly unchangeable, even against our protagonists' best efforts?

Season 3

To keep Claire and their unborn child safe, Jamie had sent her back through the stones right before Culloden. Her return to her own time was heart-wrenching, to say the least. Once back in her own time, she and Frank reunite, and though their relationship is troubled and clearly never the same, Frank agrees to raise Jamie and Claire's daughter. 

Jamie survives Culloden and kills Captain Randall. Afterward, he struggles with the trauma of surviving the battle, losing Claire, and not knowing the fate of their child. They were concerned that while Claire could time travel, the baby may not be able to. This season also sees their daughter Brianna (Sophie Skelton), alive and well, and developing a relationship with a young man named Roger (Richard Rankin). By the end of the season, Claire and Jamie have reunited again after Claire journeys once more through the stones to find him. They travel across an ocean and endure disease and unrest on the voyage. Our protagonists end the season in Jamaica facing off against an old adversary (we hate her, too).

Nerd Note: Roger is related to Dougal MacKenzie from seasons 1 & 2 among others in the story.​​ Time travel and family trees…

My take on Season 3: I want to take a moment to acknowledge the villains in this show. To say they are shocking is an understatement. Randall’s death in particular has stuck with me, and I’m not sure I’ll ever forget it. There are few characters I have hated–no, loathed–more. I'd rank Captain Randall right under Joffrey and Ramsay from Game of Thrones, only because Joffrey was unpredictable as hell and Ramsay literally skinned people.

Season 4

Claire and Jamie move to colonial America and start up a new life for themselves. Claire is aware of the American Revolution that's not far down history's road. With this knowledge, they face difficulty balancing their loyalty to the British ruling class of the time. They meet a pirate named Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) (we hate him, too, too), and he goes on to do many terrible things throughout the show. Brianna and Roger, still in the 20th century, search for clues recorded throughout 18th-century history that prove Claire successfully reunited with Jamie. They do find the clues, but they also uncover something terrifying. The new information has them hurrying to follow Claire through the stones to find Brianna's parents while there's still time. 

My take on Season 4: Outlander has never been an easy show to watch. This season is no exception, and trouble follows our characters from the start. The show highlights how dangerous, complicated, and complex it would be to not only navigate the past but experience it firsthand. This season juxtaposes some of the worst attitudes of the time with Claire’s more evolved attitudes toward equality and her commitment to saving lives. Our main characters grapple with what’s right, what’s wrong, and how to act when your hands are tied by history itself.

Season 5

Claire has reunited with Brianna and Roger, Jamie has met his daughter for the first time, and disaster was staved off. The Frasers previously established a home on an acreage known as Fraser's Ridge, and, in this season, they focus on protecting their growing foundation. 

Nerd Note: You can actually get pretty close to where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be by going to Grandfather Mountain State Park (and other locations) in North Carolina. In fact, Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming 2022, a fan event celebrating the history of Outlander’s North Carolina backcountry wilderness, is hosting an exciting gathering that Graham McTavish is attending as a special guest. You can learn more about that here.

Jamie has tenuous loyalty with the British. However, Murtagh, Jamie's godfather, has no such loyalties. Murtagh has been Jamie's friend, father figure, and confidante since Season 1. Jamie is tasked with hunting down and killing Murtagh, who is part of the Regulator Rebellion. The Battle of Alamance occurs during the War of the Regulation, and I won't spoil what happens. Suffice it to say it's been about a year since I saw this episode, and I'm still not okay with it. 

Brianna and Roger are building their relationship, Roger struggles to earn Jamie's respect, and the season finale sees Jamie going on a rescue mission to save Claire from brutal captors.

My take on Season 5: The standout episode for me was "The Ballad of Roger Mac." Murtagh's death and the way it comes about was devastating. It highlighted, for me, the central theme of consequences. Jamie gave his orders, and they were followed, but damn. At what cost? This complex and visceral question has been a theme since Season 1, and, for better or for worse, it shows no signs of letting up now. I was left asking myself, "What else can they stand to lose if it all goes wrong?" I’m afraid to know the answer.

This is the most straightforward series summary I could come up with, and I'm actually surprised I was able to streamline it this much. Some of it crosses seasons, but I kept it chronological. There are many pivotal characters I've left out and many, many experiences and events I haven't mentioned for the sake of keeping this recap short (otherwise this article would be a novella). Please also be advised that this show includes many instances of violence, physical and sexual abuse, and other possibly triggering content. If you are wanting to watch but are concerned with the content, you can reference this list of trigger warnings to inform your viewing discretion.

What to expect in Season 6

Here's what we know so far: Claire and Jaime have founded their home, Fraser's Ridge, on land in North Carolina granted to them by the Crown. Their world is undergoing extreme political upheaval, and the American Revolution is rapidly approaching. Against this backdrop, the two have to navigate increasing conflict on both Fraser's Ridge and between themselves and the Crown. Lines will be drawn.

Outlander may be your new favorite show if…

Do you enjoy a lush world, complex storytelling, and romance set against a historical backdrop? How about villains you’d like to strangle, sword fights, and politics that will have you willingly picking up a history book? If you slept through it in high school, don't worry because it comes alive in this kickass show! Outlander depicts strong friendships and explores themes of loyalty, love, and loss. Some badass characters are involved, as well as some morally gray ones. (I'm looking at you, Dougal!) There are some terrible, terrible, terrible characters that pollute the screen, as well. Jamie, Claire, and their family have fought hard to be who they are "today," and it's moving to watch their stories grow. 

I learned a good deal about Scottish history while watching (though I know they take creative liberties), and I've enjoyed the show's dialogue overall. And about that violence, even if you've seen Game of Thrones or a similar show, be advised that Outlander has some scenes that were hard to watch for me even after watching GOT episodes like "The Mountain and the Viper." Viewers grow very attached to these characters, and the show is not afraid to hurt them. On that note…

A few personal thoughts

I, for one, am terrified of what's about to happen. I have no idea who lives. I have no idea who dies. I have no idea who is about to have their ass handed to them. 

These characters have overcome so much in the past five seasons. I've been rewatching from Season 1 as a refresher, and I've noticed that Claire, for one, has grown exponentially from who she was when she started out. As a viewer who hasn't read the books, I have no idea what to expect. And that’s scary as hell. 

I'm genuinely worried about the Frasers. They'll be navigating the thin ice between loyalty to the British and loyalty to their newfound home. Everyone looks to be in a great deal of danger, and many characters have recently survived exceedingly difficult situations. I'm also nervous to see how the show handles the many historical events they may possibly cover in this season. I hope they include respectful and accurate representation for all parties involved. 

To be frank (no "Frank" pun intended), this season's gonna be a nail-biter for me. I've done my best, even while researching, not to get too far into spoiler territory for Season 6 so that I can be surprised when I watch it. I may regret that… it feels like (more) tears are on the horizon. 

You can join me and watch Outlander on STARZ, with Season 6 premiering on March 6, 2022. Some past seasons are available on Netflix if you want to catch up.

Are you tuning in to watch Jamie and Claire face the Revolutionary War? If so, let me know your favorite stress management tactics. I'm gonna need them!

Pop-Culture Predictions #2

Hi, I'm Drew, a big nerd who happens to run a hybrid marketing and production company. I lead content and brand strategy and use data to build insights that inform our clients' business decisions. In this weekly series, I'm going to pick a couple of pop-culture IPs and make a bold prediction based on past experience, real-time data, and a boatload of moxie. Here we go...

Prediction - DC Films & WB will double down on adult oriented streaming Superhero shows and win

The first part of this prediction is a bit of a layup as far as predictions go. Peacemaker has made some waves in viewership according to Parrot Analytics who said the show was the most in-demand original stream TV series in the world as of January 22. In numbers that's 69.5 times more in demand than the average series. (When they say average I'm assuming they're talking about Netflix's "Cooking With Paris" which is a dumpster fire of an idea for a show.) That said, this is a huge win for DC/WB who in the past has struggled to find a tone and premium storytelling that works for their TV universe. Someone smart must have shown them this Venn Diagram for success.

This leads me to the second part of my prediction - If they stick to the above formula and stop making superhero shows for everyone below the age of 21 (Say hi and bye CW's The Flash, Batwoman, Supergirl, The Legends of Tomorrow), I can really see DC carving out a winning set of shows on a premium channel like HBO that knows how to make really really good TV. For context on how good HBO is at making good content; They spend about 1/5th the amount of money on shows than Netflix yet walk home with more Emmy awards than any other platform on average.

Bottom Line: The fans want violent and real superhero shows (exhibit A: The Boys, Invincible), but they want them with their comic book icons like Green Lantern (a series currently in development) and perhaps Justice League Dark (also in development). I'll leave you with a final chart aka nail in the coffin for CW superhero shows and the sub-par "Titans" show compared to the recent Peacemaker in terms of interest online over two years. Hint... "Peacemaker" leaves them in the dust.

Volume of interest over 2 years of The Flash, Supergirl, DC Legends of Tomorrow, Titians, and Peacemaker.

Prediction - Valves Steam Deck will be another Atari Lynx disaster

A quick history lesson for anyone below the age of 40. Back in the 80s, the Atari Corporation was a titian in the gaming industry. Having released the Atari 7800 and 2600 which were both huge hits along with a series of popular gaming hits (hello Tetris) they were raking in $452 million dollars a year and looking to the future of gaming. They needed something big since they knew a little company called Nintendo was releasing the Nintendo Entertainment System and a charismatic plumber. So Atari puts all its efforts into mobile gaming. Like, bet the farm big. Enter the Atari Lynx, a handheld gaming console with 16bit color graphics that would retail for $180 (which is equivalent to about $380 today). I'll make a long story short and just say it didn't work out well for Atari cause Nintendo launched the Gameboy and ate their lunch selling 16 million Gameboys to Atari's 3 million Lynx. Some tend to think that ET killed Atari, it was actually over-investing in the Lynx. They actually made a Lynx II (silly rabbit) hoping for the best I suppose.

Enter Valve and their very impressive Steam Deck that promises to bring PC gaming quality and games to a mobile device. And damn if it doesn't look good. It also looks giant. I saw a guy holding one up to his head and it was no joke was as wide as the guy's shoulders. I suppose he could've been a small dude. Let's talk about price for a second. The el-cheapo model with only 64GB of space (which is like half of a Call of Duty Game these days) is $399. That's about $50 more than the OLED Nintendo Switch (yes, I know different audiences but they are both mobile game consoles). The prices go up from there to $529 and $649 respectively. If this is an IQ test for how to spend my money, I'm having a hard time justifying this investment. Steam clearly has a lot of R&D cash to have developed and built this beauty and pulling numbers from Statisa.com in 2020 they reached 120 million active players (wow!). I'm sure they did the math and thought if we just sold to 15% of those 120 million we'd be doing ok.

Number of monthly active users on steam worldwide from 2017 to 2020.

The difference is hardware is hard and supply chains are harder. There's a reason nobody has entered the arena against Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo (sorry Meta/Oculus) because it's hard to make margins on hardware alone (note the recent purchase of Blizzard Activision to prove my point). If Valve is somewhat successful in selling millions of Steam Decks I wouldn't want to be in the boardroom the moment Microsoft announces their handheld gaming device that plays PC and Xbox games.

Bottom Line: I applaud Valve's effort here but all signs point to this being a flash in the pan of an idea and execution that Valve, if smart, will quietly walk away from over the next few years slowly phasing out the production of these. Otherwise this could be the beginning of the end for Valve as we know it if history repeats itself.

Prediction - The Next James Bond Will Not Be Idris Elba or any A-List Actor

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Idris Elba will not be the next James Bond even though he would've been great. Here are a few reasons why.

I see the resemblance.

The script for the next film will more than likely determine the look and feel for the next bond more than anything. If we've seen anything in pop culture that represents the kind of debonair secret agent personality type for today's audiences look no further than the popular Netflix series Lupin and Omar Sy's eccentric but brilliant portrayal of an art thief. He's honestly a mix between Pierce Brosnan's charm and Timothy Dalton's wit. Unfortunately, he's French so MI6 won't be giving him his OO status. I honestly don't have a great prediction on who the next Bond will in fact be. I don't think we've seen him yet. There might be a film this year that comes out with a British star who just commands the screen as Craig did in Layer Cake.

Bottom Line: I am pretty confident that we won't see another Bond film for at least 5 years and it won't star Edris Elba or any current A-List British celebrity. The world needs to get through what it's going through now and I promise you they will wait for a perfect script and perhaps a series of scripts with an arc before launching into a new set of films. Or just go with what Insider.com says (Golding is dreamy).

I'll be back every few weeks with some more predictions. The value of a prediction is not accuracy (though it is better to be right than wrong), but the reasoning and conversation that the prediction catalyzes. Let me know if you think I'm right or wrong in the comments below!

Pop-Culture Predictions #1

Hi, I'm Drew, a big nerd who happens to run a hybrid marketing and production company. I lead content and brand strategy and use data to build insights that inform our clients' business decisions. In this weekly series, I'm going to pick a couple of pop-culture IPs and make a bold prediction based on past experience, real-time data, and a boatload of moxie. Here we go...

Prediction - The Uncharted movie will underperform in ticket sales.

I want to be wrong here. I'm a big fan of the games, and I think the world could use a fun, light-hearted adventure film. But no one is talking about Uncharted online, and it looks like it is destined to underperform. Take Tom Holland's last tentpole film Spider-Man: No Way Home. If you do just a simple Google Trends analysis on searches for Spider-Man vs. Uncharted, the differences are striking. Uncharted is basically flatline compared to Spider-Man. Even at its highest search peak in October (see chart below), Uncharted still didn't match Spider-Man. More surprising is that even after the Uncharted trailer drop, the peak is still lower than October's search. Interest seems to be going down, not skyrocketing up as Spider-Man clearly did when that film launched.

According to the New York Times, the Uncharted movie reportedly cost $120 million to make. So this needs an opening weekend of over $90 million and have enough legs overseas to warrant a sequel. In comparison, before No Way Home's insane $260 million opening haul, Venom had the highest pandemic opening weekend at $90.1 million.

Uncharted Interest vs Spider-Man Interest over the last 5 years

Bottom Line: Uncharted needs an incredible marketing push in these last few weeks to drive an insane amount of buzz towards this film to drive people to theaters. Otherwise, I suspect people are Tom Holland-ed out and are willing to wait till this hits the streaming services in 90 days.

Prediction - God of War Ragnarök will not release in 2022.

God of War Ragnarök was originally announced to be released in 2021 (note, it wasn't) and is now rumored to be releasing in September of 2022. Let me be clear: there is no way this game comes out in 2022. COVID variants will continue to plow through the vaccinated and non-vaccinated developers who will need to take weeks off to recover, slowing the production of these AAA game titles down to a crawl. The good news is this can often lead to a slower pace and better working environment for devs and writers alike. It will likely be pushed from September to late November before finally letting everyone know that this will be a March 2023 release. Overall, more than 40 games were delayed last year. Here's a quick list of some of the bigger games that got delayed in 2021:

Bottom Line: COVID isn't going away, and, for the foreseeable future, it will continue to have a tremendous effect on game studios' ability to deliver on their promised launch windows.

Prediction - Xbox will sell more consoles than PlayStation in 2022.

Sorry, Sony, but this next generation might belong to Microsoft. I personally believe that Sony, and specifically PlayStation, makes better hardware that plays nice with more developers. But Xbox understands gamers better. Their Game Pass is a far superior fishing lure to get gamers to switch to Xbox and stay there, with constant access to new games for no extra cost. Couple that with the smart pricing structure on the elite Series X and the cheaper Series S console, and it looks like Xbox might have a winner on its hands. You can see in the chart below that in the last 12 months more people in the US have searched for Xbox over PlayStation by a large margin, especially during the holiday season. The big X-factor here (pun intended) is the global chip shortages and Microsoft's ability to get their next-gen consoles into people's homes faster. The demand is there for both platforms, but the delays in availability may make people choose to buy whichever next-gen console is available once they've got the saved up cash to buy.

Search interest of Playstation vs Xbox over the last 12 months.

Bottom Line: Halo Infinite, Xbox Game Pass, Smart Pricing, and better advertising are clearly winning the day for Microsoft and Xbox in terms of interest but supply issues may make this a closer race than it appears.

I'll be back every few weeks with some more predictions. The value of a prediction is not accuracy (though it is better to be right than wrong), but the reasoning and conversation that the prediction catalyzes. Let me know if you think I'm right or wrong in the comments below!