The third season of OUTLANDER isn’t just an adaptation of the longest book so far in Diana Gabaldon’s time-travel romance series, it’s also one that separates main couple Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe), which is a challenge on a show that revolves around that central relationship.
In Season 2, a pregnant Claire traveled back through the Stones to the 20th Century, where she was reunited with her former husband Frank (Tobias Menzies), while Jamie stayed behind and prepared to die in the Battle of Culloden.
He didn’t die, which she discovered in the flash-forward Season 2 finale, and Season 3 is set to bring the reunion fans have been waiting months for.
But first, the two have to get through twenty years of separation, and the writers are taking their time to lay all the groundwork necessary to get the time-displaced lovebirds back together.
“We never set out like, ‘oh, how many episodes should we keep them apart?’ That was never in our minds, because like the fans, we want to see them reunite as soon as possible,” executive producer Maril Davis told Tracking Board. “We kind of used the moments in their history as our guide. There’s certain emotional beats they go through, we knew Jamie, post-Culloden [would be]in the cave, at Hellwater, running the print shop… so we knew there was a certain amount of episodes we had to cover and there was a certain amount of time for each, and same with Claire. Her journey to becoming a doctor, everything with Frank, the birth of Brianna, so we really used the story points as our guide post and it just naturally laid out like that and we felt it was the right amount of episods to tell their journey and how those twenty years affected them.”
Showrunner Ron Moore previously revealed it would take about five episodes to see Jamie and Claire reunited.
As Jamie and Claire are separated for twenty years, fans will have a chance to watch another love story unfold, as Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin) continue to build their relationship, which was hinted at last season.
“In some ways, it’s seeing a new couple, a budding love again,” Davis said. “We’re trying to build that Roger and Brianna have a really strong foundation of friendship and obviously there are sparks there, but their relationship is on a slower boil than Jamie and Claire’s was and certainly, their relationship and courtship will probably follow more of a normal path than Jamie and Claire’s did. It’s really seeing the next generation of young lovers in this series. Jamie and Claire are our ultimate couple, but I think Roger and Brianna are going to grow into this really amazing love affair as well.”
Outlander Season 3 premieres Sunday, September 10 at 8 p.m. ET on Starz.
Linda Ge | TV Editor