By Lynette Rice
October 20, 2017 at 12:58 PM EDT

Before we can get onto savoring the much-anticipated reunion this Sunday on Outlander, there is some outstanding business to discuss — namely, that memorable confrontation between Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Sandy (Sarah MacRae) at the Harvard event to honor Frank Randall’s legacy.

Many fans refused to show any empathy for Frank’s ex-lover as she excoriated Claire for never wanting him but never wanting to “give him up.” Some viewers challenged the drama’s writers for turning Frank into a martyr and making Sandy out to be a victim. Here’s a sampling of the comments on Twitter:

So did Sandy really deserve the final word? Balfe thinks so. In my recent chat with her about season 3, she said she believed it was appropriate for Sandy to express how Claire’s actions had painful consequences.

“People have a tendency to jump on teams and take sides with things. But life is always much more complicated than that,” Balfe told me. “Generally its circumstances that cause people to act in a certain way. Yes, Frank was cheating but that’s because he was in a loveless marriage and a marriage that had no intimacy. That was Claire’s choice. So rather than it being important for Claire to hear that, it was important for the story to tell how it had repercussions for everybody. It doesn’t just affect Claire or Jamie. It affects the marriage. It affects Brianna’s childhood, it affects this other woman’s life. Living with secrets from the Claire and Frank perspective has repercussions beyond the couple.”

“I think the reason that Claire stood there and listened to Sandy was because she recognized another woman in pain and that, on some level, her and Frank were both responsible for that. I think Claire is a big enough person to stand there and listen to it and to allow someone to have their voice. I also think it is a reminder to Claire that if you have the opportunity for happiness you have to seize it.”

And since we were on the subject of Frank, I asked Balfe if she thought Brianna would have gone to England with Frank after he asked for a divorce from Claire.

“I don’t think she would have been choosing a parent,” Balfe said. “I think if she would have gone to England, it would have been to choose an opportunity. Frank tries to make her a pawn, I suppose. But if you want to talk about it from Brianna’s perspective, I don’t think she would see it that way. She wouldn’t want to play that role. So I think if there was an opportunity to go to university in England, then maybe she would have chosen that. But if it was to just go be with her father, probably not.”

After a painful week off, Outlander returns this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on Starz.

Episode Recaps

Outlander Season 4 2018


Diana Gabaldon's genre-bending time travel novels come to life in the Starz series.

  • TV Show
  • 5
  • 55
  • TV-MA
  • Ronald D. Moore
  • Starz
stream service