Plus, check out an exclusive clip from the premiere.
Outlander Season 4 2018

Our long personal Scottish nightmare is over. On Sunday, the prolonged Droughtlander will finally come to an end as season 6 of Outlander premieres on Starz.

The gap between seasons is the longest audiences have had to wait for more of the historical drama, thanks to the pandemic. Fans have been left wondering how Claire (Caitriona Balfe) will process the horrible trauma of her experiences in the season 5 finale, whether Roger (Richard Rankin) and Brianna (Sophie Skelton) can accept and find peace in their lives in the 1700s, and what will become of them all as the American Revolution edges ever closer to the Ridge.

We'll start to get answers in a truncated season (cut down from the usual 12 episodes to 8) on Sunday, as well as meet new faces — namely, the Christie family — sure to bring more drama and tension to the Frasers' lives.

To get a sense of what's in store, we called up our favorite sassenach, executive producer Maril Davis, to try to pry as many hints out of her as we could, including what Claire's journey this season will be, how her experiences will impact her relationship with Jamie (Sam Heughan), and what to expect from the Christies.

Watch the exclusive clip from the premiere above and read on for more.

outlander season 6 key art
Credit: starz

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Because of the pandemic, this was a very long Droughtlander. Did the extra time away change the shape of the season or cause you to reconsider anything from where you left off at the end of season 5?

MARIL DAVIS: I don't think so. I'll be honest, I've never experienced Droughtlander myself because me and Matt Roberts, who's our showrunner, we're working on Outlander pretty much all year long. I'd say the only time we weren't more actually working on it maybe was during the first part of the pandemic, but it's 24/7 all year. We're always in it and always thinking ahead. We were ready to start before the pandemic hit, and then, obviously, with everyone else, we got pushed. But I don't know if that pause caused us to change anything, because we had a pretty clear idea what we wanted to do. We left part of [book six] A Breath of Snow and Ashes still untold. So, we had a pretty clear idea what that season was going to be about; the roadmap was fairly clear.

Claire ended season 5 having experienced horrific, unspeakable trauma after being kidnapped, tortured and raped. How is that going to shape her journey this season?

That's something we talked a lot about when we approached season 6 because in the books, [author] Diana [Gabaldon] doesn't deal that much with the aftermath of Claire's attack. Part of it might be — and everyone who's gone through trauma like this, it's just as important as everyone else's — but pretty much every character in Outlander has gone through some sort of horrific trauma, oftentimes involving rape. So it felt like this was yet another character that she was dealing with that was going through this, and maybe there wasn't a different way to do it. But we struggled to figure out how to tell that story without delving deeper into Claire's post-traumatic stress. I'm not trying to say Diana didn't deal with it, but it wasn't maybe as significant in the beginning as we hoped. In talking amongst ourselves and talking to Caitriona, we wanted to do justice to her character in that way and show her trauma. We'll see throughout the entire season that she is haunted by the events of the end of season 5. In previous seasons, Claire, as a doctor, has always been able to compartmentalize very well. We'll see her starting to breakdown a little bit more this season. People experience it in different ways. We tried to find a unique way to show that, and I hope we did her story justice because I'm so proud of that story and how Caitriona played it. It's so powerful. It shows people that strong, weak, whoever you are, that's a trauma that does not go away, that stays with you, and trying to get through it is really tough.

Something like that is also likely to effect intimacy. How will it impact her and Jamie's relationship?

We've always talked about Jamie and Claire, one of the ways they communicate is through intimacy. That's why it's so important. They have such an amazing relationship anyway, in terms of their verbal communication, but intimacy has been a language for them as well. We will see the Jamie and Claire we know and love. I don't think it changes as much this season in terms of intimacy. Though Jamie is someone who always knows exactly what is happening with Claire. He knows what her cycles are, he's in tune with her. This is maybe one of the first times he has not been able to figure out what's going on with her and how she's struggling.

Roger and Bree attempted to return to the future, but it didn't work. Will we see them try again?

Maybe we will. This season got kind of truncated. Roger and Brianna struggled all during season 5 feeling like they were out of place in the 1700s. Season 6 for them is all about realizing that this is their home. That's why they were spit out and they didn't go anywhere — because they thought of home and home is where Jamie and Claire are and Lizzie [Caitlin O'Ryan] and everyone else. This season, they're now trying to find their place here and figure out where they belong. Roger will try to figure out if preaching is for him. Brianna is trying to figure out engineering and how she can make that fit in here without people thinking she's a witch or crazy. She's obviously a little nervous. Specifically seeing what happened to her mom in season 5. We will definitely see them more trying to find their way and find their footing in this time, knowing that they're going to stay.

Outlander Season 6
Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe); Brianna Randall (Sophie Skelton)
| Credit: Robert Wilson/Starz

There's always new faces on Outlander and this year one of the main groups is the Christie family. What can we expect from that trio?

I love the Christies. This is something I've been really looking forward to since we started this series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, which is book six, [and] has always been my favorite book after the O.G. Outlander. Part of that is the Christies, because Tom as a dad is such a complicated figure and Mark Lewis Jones does such an amazing job with him. He's so conflicted. He's very religious. He thinks things have to go a certain way. Yet, he's actually very passionate. It's deep down, but it's there. He's struggling coming to Fraser's ridge. There's a past with him and Jamie.

His kids are also struggling. Malva, played by the amazing Jessica Reynolds, is in awe of Claire. She comes in and has never had a strong female figure in her life. They've never seen someone like Claire, someone who's a doctor and an equal partner in her marriage and just beloved by everybody. She's someone she really looks up to. Allan is an unknown. He's in the shadow of his father. He's a struggling young man, played by Alexander Vlahos. They're both struggling under the strict regime that Tom has imposed upon them. What they're bringing us is some turmoil and disruption on the Ridge. They're the family you love to hate, but there's so much more to the Christies than meets the eye. You come in thinking, "Oh, there's trouble," but there's so many layers to them, and that's what makes them so much fun.

You ended up shortening the season, so will it end with a cliffhanger or still have a bit of a bow drawn around it?

This season will definitely end on a cliffhanger. We never see Claire and Jamie in a happy place for very long. I so often joke that I want to send Claire and Jamie on a vacation to Hawaii. It's just turmoil and trauma. This season, because it's shortened — where we were going to end it was no less fraught necessarily — but for some reason, it seems more traumatic. This season we don't get a chance to breathe. It's trauma upon trauma or issues upon issues. And I'm just so excited about where it ends. Even though I wish we could have done 12 [episodes], in some ways it's really worked out. I love the end of the season. It is a cliffhanger and it makes you really want to come back for season 7. I don't know when that's coming back, hopefully, it's not too long a Droughtlander. But the season has such a pace to it.

Can you sum up season 6 in three words?

Trauma. Deceit. And, pain.

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

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Outlander Season 4 2018

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

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