Should the Outlander season 4 premiere be extended by Starz? The more that we think about it, the more it seems worthwhile.
One of the things that were quite surprised about season 3 of Outlander was that the premiere and the finale were both within parameters for runtime. Maybe we hoped for another lengthy end to a season, like seasons 2s “Dragonfly in Amber,” or maybe there are some within the show who subscribe to the belief that less is more. Sometimes, it is. There are lots of shows that extend their runtime beyond the hour mark, but fail to bring something more to the table. If you milk the story too much, it just ends up feeling tiresome and you lose some of the momentum and impact. Also, not everyone (*cough*The Walking Dead*cough*) has an hour and a half to give to a show every night.
For the Outlander season 4 premiere, there is a pretty good reason to have an extended runtime, such as introducing the new setting our characters are in. This is probably the most-ambitious premiere for the show since the pilot, as they have to introduce the new setting, to establish a completely different world which is far different from anything Claire and Jamie have ever experienced. While the season 3 was lofty in its own right courtesy of the two dueling timelines, at the same time you had Claire with Frank and Jamie battling Black Jack- there were some familiar characters featured there and it was clearly established in “Dragonfly in Amber.”
Meanwhile, their won’t be many familiar faces in the Outlander season 4 besides some of the people aboard the ship, and this is a very different time period for American history than the one where Claire has been. There’s a lot of chance for the show to explore themes such as freedom and revolution. Jamie, for the first time in his adult life, is miles away from the British throne. (Granted, we haven’t gotten to the American Revolution just yet, so he has some breathing room.) For Claire, this is a chance for her to lend her voice and her skills to a new group of people who are trying to find their way in this world. There is a sense of newness, and a common ground that can be explored between her (a relative stranger in this era) and the new social system being developed here. In giving the premiere a longer runtime, they can give themselves more time to dive deeper into these themes and introduce new characters.
Basically, an extended runtime will be a great way to establish a foundation for the fourth season- and a little extra Outlander is never a bad thing.
If there is one drawback, it would have to be that the people behind the scenes put so much hard work for a single minute of the show, let alone an entire episode. So if an extended premiere is to happen, we will consider it as a gift for that very reason.