By Ani Bundel

It’s been over a year since Outlander Season 5 aired on STARZ, and it will be a while yet until Season 6 arrives in 2022. It’s the longest draughtlander since the series began in 2014, and fans are starved for any look at the next season. The production knows it too, which is why it opened the NYCC 2021 Outlander panel with the footage fans have been waiting for in the first trailer.

The trailer made it clear to fans where the series is headed: “War is coming.” The synopsis concurred: “The last time we saw Claire and Jamie, Claire had just escaped a violent encounter with Lionel Brown and returned to Fraser’s Ridge. The threat of the Revolutionary War looms over the ridge, and Claire and Jamie must choose what is best for their family.”

Actor Sam Heughan reiterated the theme several times. (He acknowledged the show has been gearing up for war since the move to American shores, but he swears this time it’s for real.) Heughan was one of the few actors to appear in person at the convention, alongside executive producer Maril Davis and series author Diana Gabaldon. The hybrid panel, moderated by Entertainment Weekly’s Ruth Kinane, was also partly virtual, with actors Caitríona Balfe, Lauren Lyle, César Domboy, and John Bell joining via screens on stage.

The panel, as always, talked about the weather and how it did and did not cooperate this year. The production has always treated the Scottish weather as an extra character nobody cast in the series, and this year was particularly difficult for the already-shortened pandemic-delayed season. With eight episodes this year (the shortest since the initial episode drop of Season 1, Part 1), Season 6 won’t last long, but the actors promised there’s be plenty when it arrived.

Gabaldon didn’t drop any spoilers for characters fans could expect to meet in Season 6. (Though she reminded people who have read the books – this season is drawn from A Breath of Snow and Ashes – the spoilers are on their bookshelves should they need to look). But she once again marveled at the way the casting process works. Actors who look nothing like the people who have been in her head for 30 years land the roles, and then somehow, they take their faces and turn into the people they’re supposed to be.

Heughan noted that this season’s shortened run meant that some installments would be supersized, including the premiere, which will run 90 minutes. In his view, that would give viewers time to digest where the characters are as the show returns and dive deeper into interior development. Davis agreed that even though the show only filmed eight episodes, “it felt like 20.” Lyle, meanwhile, made jokes about how pregnant Marsali remains. Good to know that some things will not change.

Though the panel did not talk much about Season 7 (or even give much away about Season 6), it’s been reported the episode count had been upped to 16 installments to make up for this season’s foreshortened run.

Outlander Season 6 is currently planned to debut in early 2022. Season 7 will begin filming soon, and STARZ has hinted fans should anticipate a late 2022/early 2023 premiere.

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