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There were groans, sighs, and more than a few unexpected laughs.
But the biggest sound that came out of Ballroom 20 at San Diego Comic-Con Friday were the cacophonous cheers from fans upon learning they would get an exclusive first look at the season 3 premiere of Outlander.
It was a major surprise for the crowd, though celebrity moderator Jenna Dewan Tatum started hinting pretty early that something special was planned for the 90-minute panel. After questioning the cast and taking queries from the audience for only 30 minutes, Tatum announced how “time was almost up.” That’s when Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore revealed that they would screen the hour-long premiere for the 4,000 people who packed Ballroom 20, the second-largest room at the San Diego Convention Center.
As first teased by Moore in EW’s exclusive first look cover back in September, the episode begins on the fields of Culloden with an epic war scene — so many extras! — and a much-anticipated showdown between Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). During the Q&A portion, Menzies — who was joined on the dais with Heughan, Caitriona Balfe (Claire), Sophie Skelton (Brianna), Richard Rankin (Roger), Executive Producers Moore and Maril Davis, and author Diana Gabaldon — teased that Black Jack’s confrontation with Jamie “is surprising, actually. Maybe it’s not entirely what people expect, which is keeping what we try to do.”
The premiere episode also jumps forward to 20th century Boston, where Claire returns to her old life and resumes her now tense marriage to Frank Randall. Get used to Jamie and Claire following two very divergent paths for a while, teased Heughan. “We were apart for a lot of this season,” Heughan told the crowd. “The characters have their own lives.”
Added Balfe, “It was an interesting challenge about this season, trying to figure out how time weighs on a person. How do you live with grief?”
Naturally, Tatum asked about the print shop scene that will occur later in season but Balfe was hesitant to give away too much. “We had a great script from Matt B. Roberts. I think that with any of these big fan moments, you almost have a tug-of-war. You don’t want to give it more credence than anything else so you approach it like everything else.”
After orchestrating a little game that gave some of the cast members a chance to show off their dance skills, Tatum asked Gabaldon whether she penned an episode for season 3. “I wrote the book,” the author deadpanned in response. “I thought that was enough.”
Starz also released several new images from season 3 before the panel. You can find them here.
Season 3 of Outlander will premiere Sept. 10 on Starz.