Outlander premiere recap: 'The Battle Joined'
Separated by two centuries, star-crossed loves Jamie and Claire make lives for themselves apart. For now.
The Droughtlander is over, Sassenachs, and I, for one, am thirsty. Despite Outlander’s much-anticipated return for season 3 (heralded by EW’s TV critic Jeff Jensen as “TV’s best romance”), our travel canteens aren’t overflowing just yet. Because as you’ll recall from the season 2 finale, our star-crossed lovers are now separated by two centuries, as Jamie sent Claire (and their unborn child) back through the stones at Craigh na Dun to keep them safe from the impending Battle of Culloden.
About that battle: The premiere opens in its aftermath, with Highlander bodies strewn across the moor, some piled two, three, four high. Red Coats pick through the carnage, running bayonets through the near-dead and scavenging valuables. Said soldiers pass Jamie’s body, but he’s not a corpse just yet. As he lies battered and broken, we flash back to the battle. We see Bonnie Prince Charlie, as peacockish as ever, striding among the assembled Scots promising victory. We see the ill-prepared clansmen, who’ve brought swords to a gunfight, charging to their death. And through the cannon smoke and blood splatter, we see Jamie spot the one man to whom he owes his revenge: Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. The two lock eyes and take up arms. Black Jack slices Jamie’s leg, and things don’t look good. That is, until Jamie stabs him viciously in the side. Two of the last men standing, they finally topple over together.
Black Jack may have died on that moor, but Jamie will not. He is found by Rupert (whom he initially — wishfully — mistakes as a cherubic Claire) and is dragged, despite his protests, to an outpost where other surviving Highlanders have holed up. (The dragonfly in amber, gifted to Jamie by his bride, unceremoniously falls out of his bag and onto the field, presumably left to the scavengers.) Jamie is not long for the outpost before the English, led by Lord Melton, find them with orders to shoot the traitors. The men are given an hour to prepare themselves. Rupert says his goodbyes to Jamie, finding solace in the idea that he will soon see his friend, the dearly departed Angus. Jamie, lying on the floor awaiting his own fate, hears the fatal shot meant for Rupert. He then volunteers to be next, but when he gives his name to the record keeper, it perks up Melton’s ears. He confirms that the man before him is, indeed, Red Jamie.
“I’ve been called that by my enemies,” Jamie confirms.
Melton then asks for a different volunteer before sidling up to Jamie to ask if the name John Grey means anything to him. Astute viewers (or ones who watched the “Previously On” reel) will recall that Jamie spared that young man’s life in a season 2 episode, and a debt of honor is owed him. And, as it so happens, Lord Melton is John Grey’s brother. All of which means that instead of executing Jamie, Lord Melton sends the very ill Scot back to Lallybroch — again, despite his protests that he just wants to die (sensing a theme here?) — and into his sister’s safe keeping. (Recap continues on page 2)
Meanwhile, in 1948 Boston, Claire and first husband Frank are settling into their new home, awaiting the arrival of Claire’s (and Jamie’s) baby, whom Frank intends to raise as his own. The transition back to domestic life, following a handful of years adventuring with Jamie, is proving difficult for Claire. The task isn’t made easier with everyday annoyances like a faulty gas stove, which prompts industrious Claire to pick up firewood to cook the evening’s supper. She’s intercepted outside her home by a kindly (or rather, snoopy) neighbor, who carries the load of logs in for her. When Claire mentions how her husband should like the fire-roasted meal because he’s so “progressive,” the neighbor simply coos. “You’re lucky! You won’t find another man like Frank again,” she says.
Frank may be progressive, but his peers are not. When the couple later attend a gathering thrown by Frank’s boss, Claire is made to look the fool when she references an article she read in The Globe about the upcoming presidential election.
“A column in The Globe!” the boss tuts. “Professor Randall, you’re going to have to pay closer attention to your wife’s reading habits. She keeps reading The Globe, the next thing you know she’ll be trying to get women in Harvard Law!”
When Claire points out that women have already been admitted into the Harvard medical school, she’s met again with pandering disdain. Frank tries to stick up for her, mentioning her bona fides as a combat nurse in the war, but the boss’ reply is to inquire whether she’s much happier now leading a life of domesticity. Claire may have gone back to the future, but she’s quickly learning she no longer holds the same place of respect and honor that she did as a healer in the 18th century.
Back at home, Claire voices her interest to Frank in pursuing American citizenship: “I’ve lived all over the world. I’ve never really had strong a strong attachment to England, and I want our child to have a real home.”
Frank softens at the mention of “our child,” but when he tries to touch Claire’s belly, she blanches. The discussion quickly devolves into an argument over Claire still living in the past — and concludes with her throwing an ash tray at Frank’s head, which, thankfully, misses.
But all of that is of little consequence a few hours later when Claire’s water breaks. And once again proving how little autonomy she has as a woman living in the 1940s, Claire is brought to a hospital where the doctor wants to only address her husband. And, later, when the physician tells her he’s going to sedate her for the delivery and she protests, he does it anyway. It’s enough to make any woman’s blood boil!
Claire awakens and find her round belly gone and no baby in sight. She fears the worst — a repeat of her previous delivery — but is relieved when Frank strides in carrying her (their) baby girl in his arms. They’re totally blissed out until the nurse chimes in: “Where’d she get the red hair?”
Outlander Live!, hosted by Lynette Rice and Amy Wilkinson, will premiere at a new time this season! The hourlong show that welcomes viewers to call in will air at 12 p.m. ET on Sirius XM 105. And mark us: Bonnie Prince Charlie himself, actor Andrew Gower, will be the show’s first guest!