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'Outlander' Is Back and So Is 20th Century Britain
September 8, 2017  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

Outlander finally launches its long-awaited third season on Starz this Sunday, 8 p.m. ET, and for us fans, it was worth the wait.

That’s the good news. Pretty much everything else, at least for the characters, is bad news.

Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe, top), who at the start of the series was mystically transported from 1945 Britain to 18th century Scotland, has found her way back to the world of electricity and comfortable fabrics.

You’d think that would be good news since time-travel can be so unreliable. In this case, to be charitable, Claire is ambivalent.

Thing is, during her stay in Scotland she fell in love with Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan, left). They had wild and daring adventures in support of the rebellious Jacobites while experiencing first-hand the cruelty of the British rulers.  

Claire and Jamie bonded deeply enough to get married despite the fact Claire had a husband back in the 20th century, Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies, top).

Frank seemed like a decent chap for whom Claire felt genuine love. But, as Bob Dylan once wrote, “Strange how people who have suffered together have stronger connections than people who are most content.”

So even as she reunites this season with Frank, it’s clear she left a big chunk of her heart with Jamie.

And Jamie left something with her: their daughter. Claire returns to the 20th century pregnant.

Frank, to his credit, accepts Claire’s explanation for what has happened, including the time travel. He agrees to raise the child as their own and makes a deal with Claire that the past is the past and they will henceforth focus on the future.

Take a wild guess how long that pact lasts.

Jamie, meanwhile, is stuck back in Scotland on the losing side of a rebellion, and the victorious Brits are not nearly as understanding or forgiving as Frank.

Just staying alive constitutes a big win for Jamie, never mind the fact the love of his life has disappeared with his unborn daughter, and most of his clan and friends have been imprisoned or killed.

At the very least, we can forgive him for being an absentee Dad when his kid lives two centuries away.

Following the third book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, the third TV season will cover several years. So we don’t only see the initial shock of separation and the wrenching cultural readjustment for Claire, but we see how all this wears on both Jamie and Claire as their lives start passing by.

Adjusting to comfortable post-war British life after what she came to understand in Scotland does not get incrementally easier for Claire. Those dinner parties, frankly, are less fun than they used to be.

Balfe, who did a splendid job conveying Claire’s adjustment to the 18th century, does equally well with the wistful transition back to the 20th.

Since Claire has no idea if she will ever see Jamie again, and each passing day seems to make it a little less likely, there’s a certain sadness that can’t be wished or willed away.

Outlander’s story could have been just a time-travel sci-fi adventure. Balfe and Heughan, plus a strong supporting cast backed with great visual support and lush filming, have made it a dramatic pleasure. This season’s stark reset only increases that.

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Shani Ferguson
Um, son? Claire has Jamie's DAUGHTER.
Sep 8, 2017   |  Reply
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