In the recent episode “Better Marry Than Burn,” art seemed to mimic life as Roger and Bree contended with a practically biblical plague of locusts on Fraser’s Ridge; the episode aired just as grasshopper swarms descended upon East Africa in real life. The same episode began with a man putting a mask up to his face as spray is used to set his hairstyle—just a quick snippet seen as the opening credits finished rolling. Later on, the governor talks about recent legislation preventing 10 or more men from gathering, implemented in an effort to prevent an uprising—another reminder that right now, social distancing mandates are keeping us apart from each other.
“I feel like Outlander always has really bizarre coincidences,” Skelton, who plays Brianna, says on a call from London, where she’s self-isolating. “Even just the fact that [Outlander co-stars] Tobias [Menzies] and I and Richard [Rankin] and Graham [McTavish] all have the same birthdays, lots of us have the same middle names. There are a lot of bizarre coincidences. I was looking at the locust [news], and then all of a sudden the whole world is wearing masks. I think that’s one thing that does always happen to add to the richness of Outlander…these bizarre, mystical coincidences.”
Balfe agrees. “Things like that are strange, and maybe it’s just because we look for those similar themes in things that we’re watching and we’re trying to find some kind of understanding through storytelling,” she says. “Storytelling has always, generation through generation, given us a framework to understand what we’re experiencing at any moment, and that’s why I think we all find solace in TV or film, because I do think there is a very medicinal quality to storytelling.”
That feels true to me. With its absorbing action and characters that, at this point, feel like family going through all that making a home in the new world entails, it’s become my biggest solace after a long day of the very busy but lonely life that is quarantining. Yes, it’s entertainment, but seeing the Frasers, whom I’ve spent so much time with through the years, addressing the highs and lows, and difficulties, of life on the ridge is also a helpful reminder of what self-reliance looks like.
The finale of Outlander airs on STARZ on Sunday May 10.