By Lynette Rice
October 06, 2018 at 08:14 PM EDT
Fall TV
  • TV Show

Outlander fans who attended New York Comic Con on Saturday were treated to a surprise screening of the first episode of season 4.

This is the second time Starz has shared a premiere at the convention; the last time it did was in San Diego in 2017. Like always, security officers roamed the aisles for potential pirates, but most fans were too busy cheering when Sam Heughan (Jamie) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire) appeared on screen (and took off each other’s clothes). Fans also chuckled at several jokes, something Author Diana Gabaldon — who appeared on the panel — was happy to take credit for. Rollo the dog also earned a fair share of oohs and aahs, as did his new owner Ian (played by the delightful John Bell).

Afterwards, Balfe and Heughan were brought on stage with Gabaldon, as well as Richard Rankin (Roger), Sophie Skelton (Brianna), and executive producers Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis. Moderated by PeopleTV anchor and Couchsurfing host Lola Ogunnaike, the panel addressed how the new season is all about coming to America.

“They finally decide to have a home, a place to call their own,” teases Moore. “It’s a classic story of immigrants coming to the new world. There was a wave of people in the 18th century [who came to America]. Jamie and Claire and just two more of them. It’s a great retelling of the American foundational myth.”

Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Gabaldon, as usual, regaled the crowd with her encyclopedic knowledge of history by noting why the Scottish people made their way to the New World. “Everybody loves Scotland but that Scotland is gone,” she explains. “It disappeared after Culloden. It wasn’t there anymore. A lot of them went to the New World. A whole lot went up Cape Fear river [in North Carolina] and into the mountains because it looked like home. You could see the escalating tide of philosophy, enlightenment and violence that [began] with the Jacobite rising … and [continued] into the American Revolution. At the time, one of every three colonists was from Scotland.”

There wasn’t much time for spoilers; the panel was only a half-hour long. Skelton, in particular, wouldn’t reveal if Brianna does any time traveling, but she — like the rest of the cast and producers — were happy to admit what they would stitch into their clothes, should they ever get the chance to go back in time. Balfe said money, Heughan said his hip flask, Skelton said a toothbrush, Moore said leg warmers and “headache medicine, Davis said antibiotics, Gabaldon said a microscope, and Rankin said drugs for infections because he “hates the idea of dying of a paper cut.”

One fan during the Q&A portion with the audience tried to get the cast to riff on today’s headlines. After a brief re-direct by Ogunnaike (which was too bad since it seemed like Balfe had something to say), Moore admitted it’s hard to basically ignore what’s happening in America today.

“Ultimately this show is about these characters. We don’t choose to look for a platform for political ideas,” Moore says, to a few scattered cheers of approval. “At the same time, all of us live in this world, this society. We can’t help but have what happens in world inform what we do, to be cognizant of what happens in the world. We try to talk about that through the show but not preach to the audience. It can’t help but influence our work. I take solace in a quote from Barack Obama. ‘The arc of history bends toward progress.’ I tend to take that point of view.”

Outlander returns Nov. 4 on Starz.

For more on Outlander, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands now or buy it here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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Diana Gabaldon's genre-bending time travel novels come to life in the Starz series.
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