Droughtlander has finally ended! After over a year of no new episodes of Jamie and Claire and Fergus and Black Jack and everyone else that we love (and love to hate), we’ve finally arrived at season three of Outlander. Welcome to Voyager!
When we last saw Claire, she had been forced to go through the standing stones of Craigh na Dun just as the Battle of Culloden is about to begin. She agrees but only because she knows that she is pregnant with Jamie’s child and Jamie returns to the battlefield, accepting his death. Fast forward to 1968 and Claire learns (after 20 years of thinking otherwise) that Jamie somehow managed to escape death at Culloden and she decides to journey through the stones again.
And then we had to wait a year.
While we didn’t (yet) get the reunion between Jamie and Claire that we’re all waiting for, it was still a solid first episode. As always the scenery, costumes, acting, and storytelling continue to be strong in this series (unlike some other shows who have slipped over the years… Here’s looking at you, Game of Thrones) and most importantly, nothing seems rushed. We know that Jamie and Claire will be reunited eventually so let’s try to enjoy the journey of the story while we wait for that moment.
The first fifteen minutes are powerful (albeit full of heavy breathing). We finally see the Battle of Culloden, an event that has been talked about since literally season one episode one and there has been a sense of impending doom every time that name has been uttered through the last two seasons… and with good reason it would seem.
As Jamie is clinging to life on the battlefield covered in bodies, he thinks back to the battle. This was a far more powerful way to present the battle than showing us a perfectly lit, well shot battle from beginning to end. We only see flashes of memories and hear bits of dialogue. Cannon blasts and musket fire along with smoke and blood. We see Prince Charles panic and Murtagh smile before disappearing back into the fray. This was such a realistic approach to present something that was horrific and traumatizing for Jamie. Anyone who has experienced trauma in their life knows that one tends to only remember bits and pieces: some moments are hazy while others are crystal clear. And that crystal clear moment came to Jamie as he spotted Black Jack Randall. The two enemies fight one another and, again, we really only see flashes of the fight. After everything that Randall has forced Jamie to survive, it is so fulfilling to see that the dead body laying on top of Jamie–shielding him from the British finding him and killing him–is Randall.
It’s heart wrenching to watch Jamie survive one thing after another. He was able to let Claire go for two reasons: 1). He knew she would be safe with Frank and 2). He expected to not have to live another day without her… he wanted to die on the battlefield and he expected to. He survives the Battle of Culloden and is rescued by Rupert. When the British catch up and begin executing everyone, Jamie is once again spared and sent home to Lallybroch. We can see just how tortured Jamie is as he pleads for death each time he takes in a breath.
Even though they are separated by 200 years and now the Atlantic Ocean, Claire’s survival in the 20th century is just as painful to watch.
Claire and Frank have settled in Boston, they’ve built a home with one another, and Claire tries to find her place in the 20th century while trying to navigate technology she is no longer used to as well as dealing with crippling sexism. As she speaks with professors that Frank works with at Harvard, she is spoken to in a condescending way and disrespected by everyone she comes into contact with from her husband’s friends to the very doctor helping her birth her child. It would seem that she was respected and revered far more in the 18th century than in the 20th. And this disrespect and sense of helplessness affects her marriage with Frank… but a little bundle of joy might just help bring them back together. Doubtful… but they can try.
Here’s a look at what’s waiting for us in episode two, Surrender. It looks like we can expect a bit more time jumping and a whole lot of brooding and angst:
All in all, this was a pretty good start for a story that fans are desperate to see play out. We already know that in 20 years, Frank will be gone and Claire will head back through the stones to Jamie, but it looks like it’ll be a bumpy ride getting there.
+As always, the acting by Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, and Tobias Menzies is just stellar.
+Already beginning to fill in the plot holes from the finale of season two.
+Excellent portrayal of the Battle of Culloden.
-Sudden deaths of characters lacks meaning (maybe I’m just a bit sad to see some characters go, okay?!?!).
-Jamie and Claire are still not together.
Amanda Woomer-Limpert is one of the Geekiverse’s newest writers and an Outlander fanatic. While she’s still stuck in book one, she is counting down the days until episode six… Let’s be honest: A. Malcolm has got to be the reunion episode!
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