We saw the Outlander Season 3 premiere at SDCC and it was beyond brilliant! Check out our spoiler-free review of “The Battle Joined”.
I was lucky enough to attend Outlander‘s panel at this year’s Comic-Con. (For my full roundup post of the panel, including exclusive photos/videos, go HERE. ) We may/may not have camped out for the Ballroom 20 line (MAY!), but I assure you it was worth it, especially when Ron Moore announced that the entire room would be the first to screen the Season 3 premiere episode, right then and there! My immediate feelings were shock and elation… so much so that I started having heat flashes and almost passed out! And by the end of the episode, my shock and elation continued because this premiere was so magnificent in it’s storytelling and deep emotion.
I was so overcome with feelings that it was really important to me to write a review that night. And now, I’m sharing it with you. For the most part, what’s below is spoiler-free. Rather, I focus on sharing general themes of the episode, links to Voyager, and my flails. (However, as soon as the premiere airs on STARZ, I’ll definitely be providing a full recap/review!)
Outlander Season 3 premiere is entitled “The Battle Joined” (written by Ronald D. Moore, directed by Brendan Maher ) and, as we follow Jamie and Claire in their separate time periods, we see that both do battle in various ways.
As promised, the premiere allows us to follow Jamie immediately after Claire goes back through the stones. He descends from Craigh na Dun, having saved the love of his life and child, and goes to Culloden where he plans to die a honorable death defending his country.
Those of us who have read Voyager know that after a brutal, bloody battle, Jamie wakes up on the battlefield, deeply injured, with a dead Black Jack Randall on top of him… and still, til this day (well… as of book 6, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, which is how far I’ve read), we know next to nothing about the final confrontation between Jamie and BJR. Through a series of vignettes, as Jamie vacillates between unconsciousness and wakefulness, the audience finally gets to see their last confrontation.
Ron Moore’s rendition is violent, stressful, exhausting, and strangely erotic. Unfortunately, at every turn, Jamie’s desire for death eludes him. The audience watches Jamie lose the remainder of his comrades-in-arms and doing so is heartbreaking. Yet, these proud Scots leave this world on their own terms, and there’s honor in that. Again, if you’ve read the book, you’ll know that a series of events, triggered in Dragonfly in Amber, force Jamie into a salvation that he really doesn’t want.
For me, Sam Heughan is the shining star in the episode. He says so little, yet Sam’s eyes, his very breaths, convey the depth of Jamie’s grief… over Claire, over Culloden. It’s absolutely brilliant to watch!
Jamie’s story is interspersed with us watching Claire and Frank settle into life in Boston. Frank is eager to offer Claire the stability and family life she seems to want.
When leaving Scotland, they promised each other to leave the past in the past, yet it’s so obvious that neither of them have. Claire struggles with grief and trying to smother it, impending motherhood, and trying to manage Frank’s expectations when she is no longer in love with him.
I enjoyed having the look into Claire and Frank’s daily lives together… BTW, 1940s America was misogynist AF. There are several examples of Claire’s agency and intelligence being totally bulldozed by men who insist they know her wants and needs better than she does. The most egregious example of this happens near the end of the episode and makes me SO ragey just thinking it. Unexpectedly, Frank is somewhat of an ally in treating Claire’s intellect with respect.
For me, Frank’s character is the biggest dilemma I face with this adaptation. I despise Frank Randall, especially in Voyager, where he is nothing short of abusive towards Claire and racist in general. Yet Tobias’ Frank is head over heels in love with his wife, patient, understanding, charming, and desperate to make a new go of things. I find myself sympathizing with Frank a lot, even when his frustrations eventually boil over.
As for Claire, Cait brings a quiet strength to the performance that is painful in parts to watch. I can’t even imagine the level of devastation she’s living with. But day in, day out, she puts one foot in front of another and continues to live for Frank, for her child, for Jamie, and a little bit for herself, too.
The end of the premiere promises a detente between Claire and Frank and maybe even positive progress. But the very last line of the episode (one that caused the entire Ballroom 20 audience to literally groan out loud) reminds us that the gulf between Claire and Frank might just be too big to overcome. How do you sustain a life with someone you don’t love for over 20 years?
“The Battle Joined” is beautiful, poignant, and crushing. Watching Jamie and Claire live without each other really, REALLY hurts. With that said, I’m willing to endure it in order to enjoy PRINTSHOP (which according to the TCAs 2017 panel, is coming in Episode 5!).
I’ll be here, live tweeting every episode of Season 3, starting September 10 and bringing you full, flaily recaps!
Were you at SDCC and saw the panel? What did you think of the premiere? Even if you weren’t, please share your thoughts with us in comments!