Previously, on Outlander
It feels like it’s been forever since we’ve had any new Outlander to watch, but Season 3 finally aired on Sunday with a bang and a whimper. In case the 14-month hiatus created any memory-lapses, our last moments with Jamie and Claire was a tearful and terrible goodbye as he sent her away from the impending war and back to Frank.
The new season picks up right about where the last one stopped off, which is in the bloody aftermath of the Battle of Culloden. War is horrible, and so is watching it; the Scottish were fierce fighters, but who can really stand a chance against a wall of British muskets and cannons? Spoiler alert: the answer is no one. Jamie is lying bloody on the field of battle, surrounded by piles of the dead and the not quite dead from both sides. As he floats in and out of consciousness, his flashbacks show just how the carnage unfolded. Bonnie Prince Charlie, sniveling and ineffectual and a terrible commander getting in one last snotty “mark me” before he gets his people slaughtered; Murtaugh, wild-eyed and bloody but alive and ready to save Jamie’s ass yet again; scores of Scots cut down (and in half) by Red Coats; and in the midst of it all, Black Jack Fucking Randall. Jamie and Randall finally get to meet on the battlefield, and the fight that ensues is savage, but also weirdly intimate. In the end, Jamie kills his nemesis, and Randall finally gets to lie on top of Jamie without him trying to escape. Fatal wound aside, it’s kind of a win for everyone.
Much to Jamie’s dismay, it’s Rupert who discovers him on the battlefield and not his vision of Claire in a nightgown. The rescue mission turns out to be less than effective, though, because soon enough the British have found the farmhouse where the last eleven Scots are hiding. The “traitors” are offered a soldier’s death—multiple gunshots per person instead of being hanged is quite the military perk. As Jamie’s number is being called, the most bizarre coincidence occurs: stick with me on this one. Remember that kid from Season 2 that was spying on Jamie’s band of merry men and got caught, who tried to save Claire from the Scottish Barbarians? His big brother is the British officer executing everyone in the farmhouse, and when Big Brother learns who Jamie is he is honor-bound to not put him before the firing squad. He instead ties up Jamie’s gushing (and probably infected) femoral gash and secrets him back to Lallybroch. Red Jamie is only mostly dead, but that means he’s still a little bit alive, and that’s all we need to make another episode happen!
203 years in the future, Claire and Frank are tentatively making a go of it. As long as they move to another country, buy a giant new house, and don’t talk about anything other than tea and toast, things are totally going to work for them. In a series of the emotionally awkward scenes, we watch them try to find anything they might still have in common; most attempts end in cringe-worthy small talk, but one morning Claire expresses her desire to become an American and they finally talk. Er, yell. And throw things. It looks like all that time spent on toast and tea might have been better spent talking about what sexist assholes Frank works with or, I don’t know, how Claire is having another man’s baby and is still in love with a man centuries dead.
But once Claire’s water breaks, Team Randall gets their shit together and goes into action mode. All the terrible words they hurled at each other the day before are forgotten as they deliver a beautiful, giant, marriage-saving baby girl. Everything seems to be happy tears and new promises until the nurse asks how two brunettes had a little ginger-haired girl. Welp, it’s kind of a funny story…
Tobias Menzies and Caitrona Balfe both acted their asses off in this episode. They said so much with so little dialogue, just like a real-life Waspy argument, and some of their scenes were as painful to watch as Jamie’s festering leg wound. But in the moments when they were both trying, I actually found myself hoping these two kids would make it. As much as we all love Jamie, Frank isn’t getting nearly enough credit (for now).
For the first time in a long time, Claire wasn’t as much of a twat as usual. I’ll even take it a step further: sitting there and letting herself be spoken to like that by Frank’s boss and her OBGYN is completely unfathomable. Is she growing as a person because she finally learned to (sometimes) shut the hell up, or is she picking all of the wrong battles all the time?
Um, where’s Murtaugh??
Outlander S3E1 Review Score
"The Battle Joined"
Outlander – S3E1 – “The Battle Joined” | Caitrona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies