It was barely enough to whet the appetite of even the mildest Outlander fan, but Starz treated its subscribers Sunday to a short teaser from season 4 that’s currently in production in Scotland.
The scene is from the first episode, shot last October, that’s also featured in Drums of Autumn, the fourth book in Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling series on which the season is based. In this excerpt, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) are traveling in a horse-drawn carriage at night when a band of redcoats stop to inquire about their night travels.
“What is it that brings you out so perilously late?” asks one British shoulder.
“A family matter,” Claire replies.
“What have you in the wagon?” the soldier continues.
“Nothing of worth,” Jamie says, adding that it’s just venison, oats, and — ahem, a corpse. Jamie explains they are transporting “one of the men that was hanged this afternoon” while Claire adds they are taking him for a “proper burial with his kinsmen.”
Suspicious, the soldier orders a fellow redcoat to confirm that it’s indeed a corpse. He’s ordered to stab at the body, much to the chagrin of Jamie and Claire, who call it “sacrilegious.”
“Not a twitch,” the bayonet-wielding redcoat confirms.
Jamie and Claire are allowed to drive away and the screen goes black. That’s all, Sassenachs!
So who was under that blanket? Book readers will obviously know, but we aren’t spilling (for now).
EW was on set last fall when Balfe and Heughan were shooting one of those night scenes on the horse-drawn carriage. The location was about an hour outside Edinburgh in an ethereal, outdoor setting that was meant to double as a Carolina forest. Before the cameras rolled, Heughan practiced steering the cumbersome wagon while a grip laid down some smoke to give the scene some atmosphere. And boy, was it nippy!
Sunday’s teaser served two purposes for Starz; it helped to make Droughtlander a little less painful since the series won’t return until this fall and it no doubt prompted a lot of New York and New Jersey fans to call and complain to Optimum, which recently dropped Starz in a carriage dispute. Heughan and Balfe, as well as Executive Producers Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis, tweeted messages encouraging fans to make their voices heard.
Meanwhile, Starz has yet to order future seasons of Outlander but Starz CEO Chris Albrecht recently told reporters that he’s having “productive discussions about the future of the show” with Sony TV, which makes the series.
“I wouldn’t worry too much about that,” Albrecht said when asked about a possible renewal of the time-traveling drama. He reminded reporters who gathered Friday for the annual Television Critics Association that Diana Gabaldon has written eight books in the Outlander series and has a ninth on the way.
“We have joined the legions of fans of Outlander around the world,” he said.