[WATCH] Is ‘Outlander’ still great now that Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan are back in Scotland?

Things get raucous in this lively discussion (watch below) of the latest twists in “Outlander” – episodes 8 (“The Fox’s Lair”) and 9 (“Je Suis Prest”) – by me and Gold Derby editor Tom O’Neil (self-professed “number-one ‘Outlander’ fan”) and writers Amanda Spears and Ted Stevenson.

Is the hit Starz TV series better now that Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) returned to Scotland after their romps through the royal courts and whore houses of France? Or worse? And what is it about “Outlander” that makes it a cult sensation tracked fanatically by millions of crazed TV fans worldwide?

O’Neil believes that the genius of the program is that it appeals to women who feel disenfranchised in a male world. Its protagonist has secret powers. “Claire travels back and forth in time and she has these powers of medicine and knowledge of history,” he says. “Then add the fearless romanticism of this wonderful show in an age when you’re not allowed to be too sappy. That’s why this TV show is a massive hit.”

‘Outlander’: 15 steamy photos of Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan)

I agree with O’Neil and add, “It’s so rare to see a show told through a woman’s gaze. And this show has done that beautifully well.”

Stevenson and Spears note that much of the show’s success is due to the magnetism of its leading lady Caitriona Balfe. “She has this confidence about her, and you completely believe it,” Stevenson notes. Spears concurs, adding, “She’s not the damsel in distress. I always love that she doesn’t need to be rescued. She’s able to take care of herself.”

Coming off a Golden Globe nomination earlier this year for Best TV Drama Actress, Balfe is now  competing at the Emmys where “Outlander” is also in the running for Best Drama Series, Actor (Heughan), supporting actor (Tobias Menzies), writing, directing, costumes, art direction, music and more.

Starz to ‘Outlander’: Give us more of Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan

Gold Derby has learned exclusively that Balfe will submit “Faith” as her episode to Emmy judges if she lands a nomination for Best Actress. Since it aired a few weeks ago, it’s been a fan favorite because of its poignant portrayal of Claire suffering a miscarriage in Paris while her husband Jamie is locked up in the Bastille.

“I think she can be nominated,” O’Neil says while sizing up her chances against likely nominees Viola Davis (last year’s winner for “How to Get Away with Murder”), Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”), Robin Wright (“House of Cards”) and multiple past champ Claire Danes (“Homeland”). Stevenson agrees, but Spears hesitates because she thinks the other two spots for nominations might be taken up by Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”) and Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”).

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