Sunday’s newest episode of Outlander brought fans another unexpected reunion when Lord John Grey (David Berry) arrived at Fraser’s Ridge. The traveling Red Coat found his way to Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire’s (Caitriona Balfe) new home on his way north.
While Jamie was glad to see his old friend, Claire was not enthused to see the former prison guard in her cabin — especially once she realized he had brought Jamie’s biological son Willie with him. Matters only became more complicated when John came down with measles before he and young William could leave, forcing Jamie to take his son away from the quarantine and Claire to spend a few days alone with a man she knew harbored feelings for her husband and still maintained an intimate relationship with Jamie that she could never understand.
Between fever baths and feeding John Grey soup, Claire and the British lord were able to talk openly and honestly about their respective connections to Jamie and found common ground in their mutual jealousy. The measles may have almost cost John his life, but it also helped him and Claire reach a much better understanding of each other.
At the end of the episode, John rode off into the sunset with Willie while Jamie and Claire resumed their lives working the land. TV Guide spoke to Berry about John and Claire’s tense discussion and subsequent resolve — and what it means for John’s relationship with both the Frasers going forward. See what he had to say below!
What was John’s intention for visiting the Frasers? He admits he still has feelings for Jamie, but does wanting to see Jamie translate into John still holding out hope that there will be a physical relationship there?
David Berry: Oh, no. No, no, no. I don’t think so. At the dance, and he said, Lord John’s coming with an expectation that Jamie is going to have a relationship with him, but physically absolutely not. I think he does have feelings for him, and he does want to see Jamie and so on and so forth, and that may be a motivator for him being there. But I think that there’s also a deeply compassionate reason for him to be there, which is, as he says quite fed up, that it’s to allow Jamie to see his son and for [Willie] to see Jamie, even though, unbeknownst to him, Jamie is his real father.
And do you think John was at all worried that letting Jamie see Willie would ignite Jamie’s desire to be more in Willie’s life?
Berry: I don’t know if that would be. I think the only worries he would have is that William may [find out] that Jamie is his real father, and the effect that that would have on the child. And of course, what would John say? I think he knows that it’s selfish of him. What if he found out the truth? But I don’t think that phases Lord John. I think he’s thinking longterm. He’s thinking further down the track. At some stage in this child’s life, he may reveal to him that Jamie is his real father. I think that’s his secret hope, that they could have a relationship, that is William and Jamie.
What do you think is it about John and Jamie’s relationship, and the special bond they have there, that kind of ignites just a little bit of jealousy for Claire?
Berry: It’s a very special friendship. I think those men know exactly what it is. John is not going to act upon it. Jamie obviously has no intention to act upon it. But, the relationship sort of transcends those romantic feelings. … Jamie holds it as a special bond in his life that’s not as important as his relationship with Claire, but it’s up there. And it certainly causes him to have feelings of conflict, and with Claire, and with his relationship to his own, the regulators, and his own people, and so far. And he’s having a relationship, [a] friendship with a Red Coat, and I think it goes to the heart of [John’s] character. He’s a very compassionate, selfless man. In spite of his feelings, he’s able to conduct himself to have this friendship that I think he feels is quite altruistic and is mentioned with Jamie, but I don’t think it’s in any way one-sided. I think Jamie gets a lot of it, too.
It was nice to see John and Claire come to an understanding of some sort in this episode. Do you think that they would have been able to get to that place if his life hadn’t been hanging in the balance and she wasn’t fulfilling that role of caring for him and keeping him alive?
Berry: Maybe if they had a few more drinks, had a real wild night out, and something else happened, they might. I think it’s a very good point that through this shared trauma, that this very intimate experience they both go through — John is on the brink of death and Claire nursing him back to his health — and John being very concessional in that moment. This is unusual for him because he’s someone who always plays his cards extremely close to his chest, I think. What they go through is a catalyst for [John and Claire] to have that very sweet intimacy at the end of the episode, where they both have an admiration for each other, I think, and a deep mutual respect. Claire leaves John with that parting gift of saying, “You deserve the look of satisfaction on your face,” which is basically, you deserve happiness in your life, which is something John has always been yearning to hear.
Do you think that conversation, that understanding potentially allows for John to move on from this infatuation one day?
Berry: That’s the nature of infatuation. I think it’s possible. … He’s certainly had a big therapy session with Claire, and it might help him get over his infatuation with Jamie. … But Claire does ask him toward the end of the episode, “Do you still have feelings for him?” And John says, “God help me, I do.” And I think that’s a burden and a thing that he’s willing to bear. He can live with his infatuation with Jamie, or his feelings for Jamie, but he may be able to find happiness in spite of those feelings.
What would does it mean to John to be able to raise Jamie’s son? Does that fulfill a little bit of his longing there?
Berry: He knows that he has a piece of Jamie, and he has, in the sense that he’s got Jamie’s complete trust and confidence, and to raise his son, who is one of the most dear things in his life to him. There can be no greater affirmation of a friendship or of someone’s trust than to to be the custodian of the thing that they hold most dear. So, I think Lord John is very gracious of that, and very cognizant that’s something that Jamie has entrusted him with, and that means a great deal for his friendship.
What does John’s relationship with the Frasers look like going forward? I know he does show up in several more books. So, do you have any insight into that?
Berry: Lord John is like the perfect best friend, let’s be honest, other than he has a few feelings for him. And that’s OK, but he can deal with that. He’s not creepy about them, I don’t think. He’s there when you need him. He’ll show up when you need him the most, as he has done for the Frasers throughout time, and for Jamie, in particular. Just when things were getting as bad as they could, he’s there for the Frasers like the best friend that he is. So, it stands to reason that that’s probably going to be his relationship with the Frasers moving forward, being there when you need him the most.
Outlander continues Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.
Additional reporting by Lindsay MacDonald