In the season premiere of OUTLANDER we find out how life has treated both Claire and Jamie since she went back to the future. Does Jamie survive the battle of Culloden? How does Claire cope with a life without, living Jamie with a man who looks exactly like her former tormentor?
No matter what lengths Claire and Jamie went to last season in order to alter history and change the timeline so the Battle of Culloden wouldn’t take place, they found they were unable to change history. The disaster of a battle will happen anyway, and in order to save Claire and their baby, Jamie urged her to go back through the standing stone at Craigh na Dun. It worked, and Claire arrived back to her own time period carrying Jamie’s baby. When Claire and Jamie’s lives diverged at this point, they would never be the same. Their love for each other left giant holes inside of them they were bound to carry with them in the others absence. How will they go on without the other?
Jamie believes he’s going to die in the battle, so he throws everything he has into it. Losing the love of his life is the closest thing to death for him already, but at least he gets to leave this life fighting Black Jack Randall. The battle itself is shown as a thing of confusion. Images and glimpses of the fight come and go in remembrances Jamie has while dying on the battlefield surrounded by strewn bodies of dead and dying Scots and British littered as far as the eye can see. As Jamie comes in and out of consciousness, he’s haunted by these moments from the battle. At times he fights side by side with Murtagh, and at others he’s locked in a battle to the death with his long time nemesis Black Jack Randall. These men have circled each other from the very beginning, locked in a hatred so deep it’s touched and affected the lives of everyone around them.
Claire struggles with her own ghost of Black Jack Randall when she returns to her former husband Frank. He’s the spitting image of the man who’s haunted and ruined her life every chance he had, so it’s no surprise she flinches at his touch, or cannot bring herself to be intimate with him. The memories of pain and torture still haunt her with every look on Frank’s face. To try and get past her past, Claire has agrees to continue their marriage and raise Jamie’s child as their own, promising to close the door on her past life and start over fresh with Frank. To really make a clean break, they’ve resettled in Boston where Frank has a position teaching history at Harvard. They have a new house, a new country, and a new baby on the way, but is it enough to bring them back together? Jamie may be relegated to obscure passages in historical letters, but he’s alive and well in Claire’s heart, and Frank senses it.
It’s hard not to feel bad for Frank, because it’s clear he truly loves Claire and wishes she could feel the same way about him as she did before she slipped through time. They were happy together once, and he hopes they can be again, but it’s a fool’s errand to believe things can ever be like they were before. Unless they can both erase their memories ala Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, there’ll always be a barrier between them. Frank wears this knowledge with weariness and sadness. It isn’t fair to him that he looks exactly like a psychotic ancestor who treated Claire and Jamie so harshly. Frank has almost never shown the kind of violent and dark personality Black Jack Randall has, and though Claire may try to forget it, she’ll never completely shake the uneasiness. When she gives birth to her daughter it seems like a real affection grows between her and Frank, and maybe, just maybe they can patch things up. This tender moment is soon broken by a nurse who remarks about their daughter, “where did she get the red hair?” Frank can’t even savor this moment without being reminded this baby isn’t his. Jamie’s ghost will always come between both his relationship to his wife and now their daughter.
It may not seem like it at first, but Jamie is the lucky one. Not only did he survive a battle that killed so many of his kinsmen, but he also succeeded in killing Black Jack Randall. This scourge of a man has finally met his end. Jamie has been seriously wounded in the encounter, and he’s on death’s door when Rupert finds and rescues him from the British, who are killing all the wounded Scotsmen they find. The escape is short lived, and soon the British have located Rupert’s group hiding in an abandoned farm. Each and every man is to be put to death by a firing squad, with their names recorded in an official government ledger. When Jamie’s turn arrives, and he gives his full name, the British Officer in charge recognizes it. Last season Jamie spared the life of a young man who attempted to kill him, named John William Grey. Mr. Grey promised to return the favor, and since he’s a man of honor and keeps his word, the British Officer in charge of the executions can’t allow Jamie to be shot. John is this officer’s older brother. To avoid tarnishing the family reputation, this officer has Jamie taken back to Lallybroch in a wagon, believing he’ll die of his wounds on the way. Luckily Jamie arrives at Lallybroch alive, where his sister and her husband can nurse him back to health.
It’s clear John William Grey is going to play a big part in this season, though I’m not sure how yet since I haven’t read the books. At the end of last season, an older Claire finds out Jamie survived the Battle of Culloden. We know she’ll attempt to get back to Jamie, but how does she do it? I have a feeling she’ll need to find another way besides the stones this time. Will Geillis in the present help Claire return to the past? Once Claire does go back, what will she find when she returns? I can’t wait to find out.
Season 3, Episode 1 (S03E01)
Outlander airs Sundays at 9PM on Starz
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Jeff Iblings | Contributor