Outlander season 3 premiere recap: Season 3, Episode 1, “The Battle Joined,” Aired Sept 10, 2017
After months and months and MONTHS of waiting, the Droughtlander has officially ended. Claire and Jamie have returned in tonight’s season premiere, “The Battle Joined”. If you have not watched the episode, please be advised that this recap will contain spoilers for 3×01. In last season’s finale, Claire and Jamie shared an emotional goodbye at Craigh na Dun before she returned to her own time and Jamie headed into the doomed Battle of Culloden.
The Battle Lost…
The battle that Jamie and Claire spent all of last season attempting to avert finally came to pass in tonight’s premiere. The episode picks up with Jamie and other not so familiar faces lying among the dead on a quiet battlefield. Don’t know about you, but I rewound a few times trying to make sure that I didn’t recognize any of those faces (Where’s Murtagh?! Don’t be dead, please). Redcoats are walking among the dead and using their bayonets on any lingering survivors. Jamie is there with a dead Redcoat lying across his own dying form.
It is through Jamie’s eyes that we see flashes of the battle that ensued after he left the stones of Craigh na Dun. We see him reunite briefly with his godfather, Murtagh, who has returned to the battlefield to fight at his side as promised. The action is jumbled but perfectly rendered as we are seeing everything through the scope provided by wounded Jamie. These are his memories of the battle and spotting Blackjack Randall. Forget the war raging around this duo as they battle it out for hours and hours. When dusk sets in and bodies litter the field, still these two are still going at it, bloody and wounded.
Jamie finally gets vengeance against his tormentor and it is hella satisfying. Blackjack is dead at Jamie’s hands and our favorite Scot is at peace. Lying on that field Jamie is clutching the dragonfly in amber and ready to die, but it’s not to be. After surviving the bayonets and cold, snowy nights with dead soldiers all around him, Jamie hallucinates a vision of Claire coming to him on the battlefield.
However long this separation lasts for our two lovers, I’m hoping that we get more moments like this. Whether it be a dream, memory, or hallucination, I’ll take all the Jamie/Claire interaction the show is willing to offer until their inevitable reunion. Wounded Jamie is rescued from the battlefield by a pair of familiar faces. Nope, it’s not Murtagh *insert all the tears*. Despite his feelings of betrayal after catching Claire and Jamie still hovering over Dougal’s dead body last season, Rupert comes through for Jamie.
The pair end up huddled in a barn with other survivors of the bloody battle. All does not end well for most in the barn, though. Redcoats find the survivors and demand to know if they had fought in the battle. Despite knowing that he was sealing his own fate, Rupert answers quite fearlessly, “Traitors all”. Not a single one of the Highlanders refutes Rupert’s words.
And so it goes. Outside, under the British command of Lord Melton, the Highlanders give their names one-by-one and march to their execution. The audience has just enough time to make some connection with each of the men before they are all eventually shot. This happened time and time again. First with young McMartin and McBain. Then George Kellogg who shares a wonderful moment with ailing Jamie before his march to the executioner. Kellogg offers to write a letter to Jamie’s family or Claire. Jamie tells him no on the first and then only that “she’s gone” concerning Claire.
Next, comes Jamie’s goodbyes with Rupert. The other man reveals that he has missed their old friend, Angus and then he is gone. He’s as sassy as ever even at the end as he tells his jailers to move quickly if they want to keep up with him. Each gunshot is a direct hit the psyche. No wonder Jamie volunteers to go next as all of the able-bodied survivors have been put down at that point.
Clearly, they couldn’t kill Jamie. He gives his name (James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser) and sparks recognition in Lord Melton. It turns out that Melton’s little brother had a run in with Red Jamie in the past (last season) and Jamie spared the kid’s life. Melton owes Jamie a debt of honor. Jamie doesn’t care. He’s lost everything at this point and just wants to be dead. Lord Melton doesn’t care what Jamie wants. Under the cover of night and in a wagon, Jamie is transported back to Jenny and Ian at Lallybroch.
Definitely Not Donna Reed
The year is 1948 and Claire Randall (Fraser) is making every attempt to accustom herself to her new normal in Boston. Fulfilling Frank’s wish from last season to move to Boston and eek out a fresh start for their family, Frank and Claire are house-hunting at the top of the episode. They actually appear the picture of a happy and expecting couple. It doesn’t take long before the cracks begin to show. Claire is still reacquainting herself with the “modern” world and what’s expected of her.
Claire is still reacquainting herself with the “modern” world and what’s expected of her. She gets creative when the stove top won’t operate properly. Claire comes up with a rustic solution using their fireplace and kindling. Her neighbor wonders if Frank won’t be upset with Claire’s unorthodox approach. Then there’s her run in with Frank’s boss. We’ve seen Claire deftly handle spoiled princeling and brooding Highlanders, but nothing is quite as irritating as watching Claire have to deal with “modern” chauvinists like Frank’s boss. All is definitely not well in 1948. Plus, despite her promise to Jamie and agreement with Frank to start again, she’s keeping him at arm’s length.
At one point, after she talks about her wishes for “their” child, Frank reaches out to touch her belly and she flinches away. He’s apparently also unhappy about the lack of sex in their life. Claire pretty much tells him to get bent and go find some foolish college girl who’ll fawn over his British accent. Ouch. Frank takes offense at this and the distance that she continues to maintain between them. He also gets angry when she reveals that she feels no allegiance to their former home (England) and wants to apply for American citizenship. Could this desire be related to the fact that she’s spent the past few years married to James Fraser and her dealings with 18th century British wasn’t exactly the best?
Later, Frank feels guilty about the entire confrontation and his earlier demand that she put the past behind them. He starts writing a letter to Reverend Wakefield and asks that the man find whatever information he could about James Fraser. Did he ever finish the letter or even mail it? Who knows, because panicked Claire comes downstairs to tell him that her water broke. Baby
Fraser Randall is on the way.
At the hospital, Frank discovers that Claire was pregnant the year before, but lost the baby to a miscarriage. He’s very understanding and supporting throughout. Too bad Claire doesn’t get the benefit of that support in the delivery room. The 1940s is rife with chauvinists. Her doctor barely speaks to her and asks Frank questions about the pregnancy and her labor pains. Prepping for the baby’s delivery, the doctor has her knocked out despite her protests. Bastard. His bedside manner was beyond frakked up. Between this encounter and her earlier confrontation with Frank’s sexist boss, it’s no wonder that Claire eventually decides to go to medical school. We did find out in last season’s finale that she becomes a doctor.
Panicked Claire awakens and demands to know where her baby is and if it died. I don’t know about you, but she sent me reeling back to the trauma of ep 2×07, “Faith” with that fear. Of course, the audience has already seen grown-up Brianna, but Caitriona Balfe plays the moment so well that you feel that fear with Claire. Enter Frank with his precious burden and then it seems that the Randalls will have that fresh start after all as the couple embrace and bond over the new life. Of course, the past quickly intrudes as a nurse wonders where Baby Randall came by her pretty copper hair. Ru-roh.
Hopefully, we won’t have too long to wait before Claire and Jamie are eventually reunited. For now, it should be interesting to see what else has transpired in the 20 years that they are separated. Also, please say that we find out what happened to Murtagh and that the answer will not be a gut punch. Be sure to hit the comment section below with your thoughts on the episode.
Outlander airs on Sundays on STARZ at 8/7c
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(Photo Credit: STARZ/Outlander)