"The subtext every time Lord John says goodbye is he wants to say, 'Goodbye, and I love you.'"
Outlander Season 4 2018

Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday's episode of Outlander.

Poor Lord John.

Our favorite Loyalist was back on Outlander in Sunday night's episode, "Give Me Liberty," and the long-suffering Lord John (David Berry) was dealt another blow by his beloved Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

If adopting Jamie's love child as his own son wasn't enough, Jamie now wants Lord John to help cover up the fact that he's decided to throw his lot in with the rebels in the American Revolution. After trying to suss out Jamie's loyalties (the man is good at playing both sides!), Lord John gets Jamie to admit that he will be attending the Sons of Liberty meeting not as a spy, but as a supporter of the cause.

Lord John begs him to see reason and that the rebels have no chance of winning (of course Jamie knows better, thanks to Claire and Bree being from the future). But Jamie asks him to stop, or at least delay, the Crown's men in raiding the meeting. Lord John reminds Jamie this is a big ask — but he loves Jamie, so naturally, he relents.

We caught up with David Berry to talk about returning to the Starz series, how crushing a blow this is to Lord John, and why he just can't quit Jamie.

Credit: Robert Wilson/Starz

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the beginning of this episode, the powers that be are sending Lord John to ascertain where Jamie's loyalties lie. Do we think in this moment that Lord John is very certain that Jamie is loyal to the crown, or is he just saying that for the benefit of the folks he's talking to?

DAVID BERRY: I'm very pleased at your question because I thought I played it quite obviously that he was a bit ambivalent about Jamie's allegiances there. In that moment, his mind is going like, how do I protect this man? Does he deserve my protection? Of course he does, because I love him.

Why does Lord John think Jamie resigned as Indian agent?

I don't think he knows at that point. It's a curiosity that he is carrying with him. In his mind, he cannot really understand why that would be and he needs to get to the core of that for personal reasons, because it has implications for his friendship with Jamie. For Lord John, that's a boundary or a line that of their friendship that would cause a lot of acrimony or would threaten the friendship moving forward. Because it's a line in the sand. You're staking your flag on a particular side. And if Jamie's staking his allegiance to the Sons of Liberty, then that means moving forward, that's going to make their friendship untenable.

You said he's ambivalent or unsure of what's happening. So how horrified is he when he finally realizes Jamie is a rebel and not as a spy?

I don't think he's horrified. Sorry to qualify your words. I think he's just hurt. But also trying to not take it too personally. He's ultimately just looking out for his friend. He's trying to look out for his best interests, his welfare and his well-being, and he thinks it's an ill-advised thing to do. He's hurt because Jamie didn't let him in on this. Lord John has been protecting him. And Jamie hasn't given him the courtesy or the trust to reciprocate and let Lord John in on that, even though John is risking his welfare and his life, staking everything he has on Jamie. To put both of them in danger, it's just hurtful and concerning.

Do you think, though, that knowing Jamie's Jacobite past, some part of Lord John always thought that it might go this way?

Lord John is not naive. But the through-line for me as the character is poking at curiosity. What made it have meaning for me [is] it's like if you know that your partner is cheating, but you don't want to know the truth. You did use the word horrific, so I guess it's almost too horrible to conceive of. He just has to know the truth. But he doesn't want to know it. So he's keeping himself blind to it. And sort of hopeful that his darker suspicions, that the worst part of himself and those anxieties, aren't true. That's why when he does find out it's all the more heartbreaking for him.

Jamie invites him to come to this meeting and just hear what the rebels have to say. Why won't he even entertain that, and could it change in the future?

Historically speaking, the path that Jamie's choosing is, as Lord John says, inconceivable. It's a dream. It's completely nonsense that rebels could actually win. He's looking at it from a very pragmatic point of view. It's not necessarily a principled one of saying the Crown or the Commonwealth is more important or should have dominion over the Americas. It's more, this is actually, in pragmatic and practical terms, what the truth is, and you need to face up to it, Jamie. If you don't face up to it, there's going to be horrible consequences for you.

He does point out that Jamie asking him to delay the soldier's raid on this meeting is a big ask, intimating that he might not be able to do it. But is there any part of him that seriously would not try to do that once Jamie asked?

In those words, the subtext is not about the soldiers. You've hurt me is basically the subtext. You're asking a lot of me again. I'll do it for you. But this is almost too much. I'm telling you here that you better not ask any more of me because I'm not willing to give it. This is him sort of asserting his boundary at that point. And he acquiescences to a degree, but he doesn't give Jamie a full concession. He says, "I'll delay them." He doesn't say, "I'll call them off." And he won't because, on a personal level, he's hurt by Jamie. It's like, you've betrayed our friendship. I'm going to save you this time, but I'm not [going to go that far]. He's trying to be as equivocal as possible.

But he follows it up with, "Be careful." He just can't help himself. He's so hurt in that moment that he's like, "Okay, you're asking a lot of me, I'll delay them." And he's saying, "Well, here's this guy, he doesn't care about his own welfare or my friendship to him," but because he loves him, Lord John can't help himself and says, "Jamie, be careful." There's a lot of partings and goodbyes in every Jamie and John scene. That's something that I put a lot of effort into concentrating on, because the subtext every time Lord John says goodbye is he wants to say, "Goodbye, and I love you." But of course he can't say that. And that's always the parting message that Lord John wants to give Jamie, no matter what the circumstances are surrounding that goodbye.

Yeah, along those lines, how much is his half-acquiescing about protecting the man he loves? Because that look on your face when he walks away is absolutely devastating.

He's hurt. A line has been crossed; the friendship has been tarnished. They're going to need to resolve this in some way. Jamie's going to have to do something. But Lord John is coming to understand that the more he helps this person, the more he hurts himself.

Will we see Lord John, or maybe even William, again this season?

Well, William is an integral part of Lord John's life and Jamie's so whenever Lord John appears in a scene with the Frasers, William will be at the forefront of conversation. Whether he appears I can't say.

You are a fan favorite. Have you had any more conversations or word on a potential Lord John spinoff?

I can't comment.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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Outlander Season 4 2018

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