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Performer Of The Month - Readers’ Choice Most Outstanding Performer of February - Sam Heughan

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This article was written by Aimee Hicks, Julia Krassnik, and Naomi Anna. The article was edited by Donna Cromeans (DJRiter). Prepared for publishing by Aimee Hicks.

After what felt like a never-ending Droughtlander, Outlander finally returned in February with a strong season premiere. Fans were immediately sucked back into the lives of the Fraser family and Sam Heughan wasted no time reminding fans of all the reasons they adore his work as Jamie Fraser. A Fiery Cross (5x1) gave Heughan a chance to really showcase his range starting with showing off his cheeky humor and quickly ramping up to show the more serious sides of the character. No matter what side of Jamie a particular scene is tapping into, Heughan always delivers an engaging and compelling performance. While extremely talented he is also a very kind-hearted man who aims to use his platform to help others. The former earned him a slew of fans and the latter earned him their unyielding respect. Not surprisingly, he has won this recognition many times over the years for various episodes. A Fiery Cross really gave him an incredible range of material to work with and he nailed it. It is no surprise that as a result of this episode he was named SpoilerTV’s February Reader’s Choice Performer of the Month.

Continue reading below to find out our thoughts on the episode. After reading, please leave your own thoughts in the comments.

Sam Heughan has had the opportunity to take Jamie Fraser on a long journey from a single highlander at the start of Outlander to a husband and father and now even a grandfather. He is also a friend and leader to many. He got to portray all of these sides of Jamie in this Season 5 opener. Which aspect of Jamie do you most like to watch Heughan portray? Why?

Aimee: I greatly enjoy watching him bring to life every single side of Jamie, but I think he really excels when he is showing Jamie as a father and husband. He has always had impeccable chemistry with Caitriona Balfe (Claire Fraser) and their scenes are always such a joy to watch. His eyes shine every single time he has Jamie look at Claire as if it is the first time he has seen her. Then, there is the beautiful bond that he has developed with Sophie Skelton (Brianna Randall Fraser). They have done some amazing work together developing the father-daughter relationship between Jamie and Brianna. Let’s be honest, there isn’t really any aspect of Jamie that he doesn’t beautifully bring to life, but I personally just really enjoy watching how he has grown Jamie as a father and husband. I think some of his most powerful moments are when he is in one of those modes.

Julia: I admire how Jamie approaches pretty much everyone he meets with an open mind. Especially in the 18th century, I can imagine that it could be dangerous if one did not encounter strangers with suspicion. Jamie is careful but he also is very much willing to give every person a fair chance. People like him, admire him even, they trust him as a leader. I think a lot of how Jamie behaves and what he believes in he learned through his relationship with Claire. I see these two sides of him strongly connected: as a husband and as a fair, open-minded leader. Had Claire never been in his life I believe he would see several aspects about the world differently and in a much more conservative way. It is absolutely brilliant how Heughan effortlessly manages to portray Jamie as a fair, kind man of the 18th century who treats his wife as an equal while never making the audience question whether he is also a strong, competent leader.

Naomi: Jamie has grown and changed in many ways, but what I have always loved about Jamie is the part of him that has stayed the same - his fierce loyalty to those he loves. Heughan plays the softness of Jamie just as easily and believably as he does the Highland warrior. He makes you believe every minute of it. His loyalty makes him love hard, but it can also drive him to kill. And because Heughan makes Jamie so relatable, I can always find a way to side with him.

Sam Heughan has worked with Caitriona Balfe since the very beginning, but throughout the run of the series new characters and performers have been introduced to the series with big impacts on Jamie’s life. Who do you most enjoy watching Heughan act with? Who do you wish he would share more scenes with?

Aimee: I sort of covered that in my prior answer. I really enjoy when he is working with Caitriona Balfe and Sophie Skelton. He just has such a rich bond with both of them that allows for some really profound moments. I wish that he would share way more scenes with Duncan Lacroix (Murtagh Fraser). I think the show has done a great job evolving the complex Jamie and Murtagh relationship in a way the books couldn’t since Murtagh was killed off. Heughan seems to have so much fun when he gets to work with Lacroix. (NOTE: This answer was written before the events of The Ballad Of Roger Mac (5x7), but my answer still stands that I would have loved to have seen a lot more with Heughan and Lacroix.)

Julia: Heughan and Balfe have the kind of chemistry most actors can only dream of. They are both exceptional at what they do and it makes every scene of them together a pleasure to watch. I definitely enjoy the Heughan-Balfe scenes the most. However, scenes with Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) come in at a close second.

Naomi: I loved the scenes between Heughan and John Bell, who played his nephew Ian. They lit up the screen together with laughs, but also showcased Jamie’s paternal side early on.

There were a lot of poignant and powerful scenes in this episode that gave Heughan a lot of rich material to work with. From Brianna’s wedding to the rallying of his men at the burning cross, Jamie had a lot thrown at him. What particular moment throughout the episode stood out to you as Heughan’s most powerful performance in the episode?

Aimee: From a purely sentimental standpoint I adored when Jamie walked Brianna down the aisle. Heughan had such a look of pride into Jamie that it was palpable how much that moment meant to Jamie getting to be there for his daughter in this major life moment. The love that Heughan had shinning in Jamie’s eyes was powerful. Then, there was the moment at the burning cross. Heughan came into that scene commanding attention and it was impossible to not get hooked by his performance from the moment it began. Both were moments that will stay with me for a long time from this episode.

Julia: The scene with Murtagh hands down. Murtagh is Jamie’s godfather but their relationship is more that of a father and son. As Murtagh is considered a traitor to the crown Jamie and his family cannot be associated with him in any way. Jamie is put between a rock and hard place when Governor Tryon (Tim Downie) tasks Jamie with finding and extraditing Murtagh. Jamie visits his godfather at his hiding place in the woods and informs him that the redcoats are looking for him and that he has to leave the province immediately. Murtagh does not seem to be interested in taking the easy way out. He swore to Jamie and his mother years ago that he will always look after the lad, he made an oath to both of them and he has no intention of breaking it. He wants to stay close by to keep an eye on his godson. Jamie knows that the only way he can keep Murtagh safe is to release him from his vow. So that’s what he does. The younger man all but begs him to leave, to hide and to be hard to find. When Murtagh walks away tears spring to Jamie’s eyes. As I teared up with him, I thought that Jamie was never a "manlier" man than in this very scene. It is not when he fights that shows me how strong a person he is, it’s scenes like this one, where he is not afraid to show emotions. Heughan’s performance stands out in pretty much every episode, in this scene, however, he outdid himself. A well-written script does not get a show far without actors who put their everything into their performance. Heughan gave his everything and it paid off a thousandfold. Kudos!

Naomi: Jamie has never been very at ease with the fact that he didn’t raise Brianna. He always seems to be worried that she will reject him. Seeing him as the proud father when he sees her in her wedding dress was so powerful. And the joy in his eyes when she told him how happy she was that he was a part of her big day is what makes Heughan such a powerful actor.

In The Fiery Cross Jamie was put into a position where he was forced to join with the British forces despite knowing the outcome of the coming war. This storyline is sure to bring some poignant acting moments for Sam Heughan. What are you most looking forward to seeing him depict throughout this season?

Aimee: Jamie has a lot ahead of him this season and his life is going to change in some major ways. While familiar with the books I won’t say much regarding very specific moments simply because I don’t want to spoil anything. I don’t want to speak about something the show may not cover from the books. I am really looking forward to Jamie being stuck between how he knows history plays out and the act he must put on to protect his family. I suspect Heughan is going to deliver some heart wrenching and emotional scenes as the season goes on.

Julia: I am always looking forward to scenes with Heughan and Balfe and therefore thoroughly enjoyed watching Free Will. In regards to the storyline around the oncoming war I’m particularly excited for the moment in which Jamie and Murtagh will encounter each other again. Do they have to act as if they don’t know each other? Do the British already know that they are godfather and godson? I’m certain this scene will be yet another one in which Heughan shines. Another scene I am looking forward to is every moment in which Heughan shares screen time with Adso the cat. They might be my most favorite pair after Claire and Jamie!

Naomi: Seeing Jamie release his godfather from his oath to protect him was so moving! Family is so important to Jamie so to see him have to let go was heartbreaking. As usual, Heughan knocks the emotions out of the park.

What are your final thoughts on him winning this recognition?

Aimee: I am very happy that he won this recognition and think it was very well deserved. He is a powerhouse performer who has never once failed to impress me. Every single performance he delivers is flawless and beautifully executed. This was a particularly strong episode for him and it was great to see him get to cover every complex side of who Jamie is. I’m just excited to see what lies ahead this season for Heughan and I’m ready to sit back and be awed by his performances week after week.

Julia: Well deserved!

Naomi: Sam Heughan deserves all the accolades he is receiving and more for his portrayal of Jamie Fraser. He has taken that character from a young warrior to a fierce leader and doing it all with a heart of gold.

Sam Heughan delivered such a strong performance in this episode that it will stay with viewers for a long time. He continually grows as a performer and feeds more heart and soul into Jamie each episode. He allows the audience to go on the journey with Jamie as he grows and evolves. Not all performers have that unique ability to take the words they are given and connect with their audience on such an impactful level that the audience feel they are there with the character. All of these reasons and many we didn’t have time to cover in the above article are why Sam Heughan was such a worthy recipient of this honor.

Please use the comments to discuss all your favorite parts of Sam Heughan’s performance in The Fiery Cross.

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