Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) lies on the Culloden battlefield expecting to die, but he is wounded and is to face execution or prison. Each prospect is pale in comparison to Claire (Caitriona Balfe) being gone forever. But forever does not always mean forever. In 1746, Claire journeyed back through the stones to give birth to their unborn child (Brianna), every bit the rogue as Jamie. In 1968, Claire is dealt a blow, finding out that Jamie didn’t die in battle. Where is he now? With the help of her daughter Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and their friend Roger (Richard Rankin), Claire begins to study the past in hope of finding the man who was her life and might be once more.
Based on book three (Voyager), the third season picks up where season two (based on Dragonfly in Amber) ends. By Freedom and Whisky, Claire knows that Jamie survived Culloden and she has to ask herself what should she do next? Stay in 1968 with her adult daughter Brianna or brave Craigh na Dun again and travel back to the man who was once her husband? Season three is slower than seasons one and two; it had to remind viewers why they cared about these characters and the writers do this by catching up with the characters (twenty years on), including Claire, Frank (Tobias Menzies), Jamie and Lord Grey (David Berry), showing how they’d changed
I think season three is weaker than season one but stronger than season two. Season one’s quality was so high that anything that came afterwards would have to be phenomenal to compare. However, I favoured Voyager more than Outlander. And I like how in season three in similarity to Voyager, the characters converged halfway through. Akin to Gabaldon with the books, with showrunner Ronald D. Moore, they writers did an excellent job connecting all the lives and stories together so quickly without confusion. And I enjoyed watching Claire working with her daughter Brianna and their friend Roger to find Jamie (in Of Lost Things and Freedom and Whisky) too.
Claire and Frank aren’t the people they were twenty years ago. Frank is instantly more detestable, more in line with his book counterpart. Though, I still think the writing team still held back on that and I can now see Frank and Black Jack is two separate entities. Claire is still a woman out of time. Season three introduces another supporting character, a work colleague of Claire’s called Dr Joe Abernathy (Wil Johnson). Many personal conversations occur between them. They share much in common. Not just because they were both doctors. Since Joe is black, he is also at the mercy of the White Man in the same way that Claire was under the same oppression for being a woman.
Season three takes Claire and Jamie to the West Indies where we see another side of the British Empire, The Slave Trade. And with the season finale (Eye of the Storm), it seems I have to read Drums of Autumn (Book Four) in haste. With excellent performances from the cast, surprises (for the show watchers) and a meandering narrative, season three is great, even if it’s not as good as the first.