It’s been over a year since Outlander wrapped its fourth season, and fans of the Starz series have been anxiously awaiting its return ever since. As the show's most devoted fans already know, the coming fifth season promises to be one of its very best. Here are just a few reasons of the reasons why:
For the first time in the history of the series, all four of its main leads are together in the same place, and in the same time period. Picking up shortly after the Season 4 finale left off, Outlander returns with Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe), Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger (Richard Rankin) all settled on Fraser's Ridge, living in relative harmony with one another.
Previews for the fifth season have hinted at quite a lot of drama ahead for the Fraser clan this year (surprise, surprise), which likely means it won’t be long before Outlander finds some way to yet again separate its leads from each other. But even if that happens, fans can still look forward to more shared screen time between the four leads than we’ve ever seen before, and hopefully more happy moments than we saw in the show’s turbulent, globe-trotting third and fourth seasons. Fingers crossed, at least.
Among those happy moments is the already-confirmed wedding between Brianna and Roger, an event that's been a little over two seasons in the making. After being separated, reunited, and then separated again, the show's fourth season concluded with the two finally back together and fully committed to each other. Now with the wedding almost here, we finally get to see the moment that all of those hardships were building toward. It seems like a pretty perfect way to kick off Outlander’s fifth year, and tie a bow around one of the show's most significant narrative arcs of the past few years.
Outlander fans rejoiced when Murtagh Fraser (Duncan Lacroix) made his long-awaited return in the show’s fourth season, after being absent for most of its third. His emotional reunions with both Jamie and Claire were among the season’s highlights, and going into Season 5, it’s looking like Murtagh will have more to do than ever before.
As the leader of the Regulators, Murtagh is in an extremely dangerous position as a man wanted for treason by the British. The fan-favorite is also at the center of what looks to be a blossoming romance with Jamie’s Aunt Jocosta (Maria Doyle Kennedy). Both storylines point to Murtagh being one of this year's most pivotal characters, and we couldn't be happier about that.
Murtagh isn't the only one who's going to find himself in an increasingly dangerous position as the series goes on. Having sworn his loyalty to the British last season, Jamie can expect to be called upon to serve in the British Army at some point in Season 5, as tensions between the redcoats and the American rebels continue to grow.
Following his fight on the doomed side of the Jacobites in the Battle of Culloden, Jamie’s position in the British army will mark the second time he’s found himself on the wrong side of a historic war. His place in that battle led to his and Claire’s 20-year separation at the end of the second season, and one can only imagine the kind of tensions that will rise this season, as Jamie finds himself fighting on the losing side of an even more historic conflict.
From the very beginning, the relationship between Jamie and Claire has been the beating heart at the center of Outlander. Even when the series has focused on the development of other storylines and characters, as it did last season with Brianna and Roger’s romance, the show has always been able to rely on the strength of Jamie and Claire’s romance to keep it going.
Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan remain two of TV’s most underrated actors; their on screen chemistry is what made the show a hit in the first place, and it remains as potent to this day. It's the reason, above all others, that Outlander fans are approaching the show’s return with such excitement.
Outlander returns Sunday, February 16th at 8:00 PM on Starz.
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Alex Welch has written about television and film for TV by the Numbers, IGN, The Berrics, Paste Magazine, Screen Rant and GeekNation. Follow him on Twitter @alexrwelch.