By: Marianka Swain.
Outlander's long-awaited season 6 sees a new family settle on Fraser's Ridge in North Carolina: the Christies. And with their arrival comes serious religious disputes.
As we learn in a flashback in the 80-minute first episode of the new season, the fiercely Protestant Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) spent time in prison with Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), and frequently clashed with him and the other Catholic convicts.
Richard Rankin, who plays Jamie’s son-in-law Roger MacKenzie, told RadioTimes.com that faith is a major theme in season 6: "We're going to see some religious elements being brought into the show and questions [asked] of people's faith and where it lies.
"Tom Christie brings in such a staunch devout approach to Christianity, and his methods of teaching and keeping that line among the community are certainly questioned by Roger. So immediately, you get that feeling that there's some sort of tension that's going to build between the Christies and the Frasers/MacKenzies."
Rankin was delighted to see the Christie family enter the fray this season: "It’s always fun to have new characters, new relationships, potential drama and conflict unfolding. I think the Christies are a particularly interesting bunch – they bring with them a sense of uncertainty and danger.
"That's one of the many ways in which Outlander holds itself up so successfully, its guest characters and its guest actors, and I think this is one of the best [seasons] to be honest."
Rankin also spoke about his character's new path towards becoming a minister in season 6: "It's an interesting direction for Roger to take. I feel like it's one that he would often have resisted. He was raised by a minister – his adopted father [Reverend Wakefield] was obviously a minister back in Inverness – and he went on a completely different path. So it's a reluctant one that he's almost kind of fallen into, but he sees that opportunity to help people and the void that needs to be filled."
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Rankin then joked with co-star Sophie Skelton, who plays his wife Brianna, about the unknown fate of the minister who was meant to be coming to the Ridge, but never turned up. "Apparently he got lost somewhere," said Rankin.
"I didn’t know if he was killed or got lost," chimed in Skelton.
"I think he just got lost," confirmed Rankin.
He continued: "So then Roger was like, 'I'll be a minister.' He does have the background, he does have the experience, he kind of knows what he's doing. He is capable of it. It's just whether or not it's right for him.
"But I suppose that's part of the journey of season 6, exploring whether or not it is, and where that's going to lead, and where that's going to take him and his family. It's definitely something new to play.”
Rankin noted how a flashback in season 5, which showed Roger teaching in Oxford in the 1960s, showed how this new profession actually plays to his character's strengths: "The whole purpose of [the flashback] was demonstrating Roger's capability as an orator and a communicator and an educator."
The flashback arrived in a dramatic episode when Roger was recovering from being hanged and subsequently lost his voice.
"[His voice was stripped from him and you feel the weight of that," he said. "So it's interesting, going into season 6, he really puts that into practice."
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