A Refresher Course
If you’re not one of the 5 million-plus viewers who have watched Outlander on Starz, life must feel very empty for you. All those dinner parties that you dinna know what to say when someone brought up Jamie and Claire! Fortunately, we know how to fix it: by encouraging you to read this handy primer! Let’s go back to the very beginning, shall we?
Meet Claire, a WWII nurse and the primary voice in the uber-successful Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon. She’s played by Caitriona Balfe, a gorgeous Irish actor and model who was relatively unknown until she showed up on Starz. Now, there about 7,450 Twitter accounts* devoted to her work.
*We jest. Kind of.
That’s Claire’s husband Frank (the extraordinary Tobias Menzies), a historian she married but spent a lot of time apart from because she was off curing soldiers during the war. Once the war was over in 1945, they decided to enjoy a second honeymoon in Scotland. Frank will live to regret this trip.
While collecting plant samples around an ancient stone circle called Craigh na Dun, Claire stumbles into a time portal and is transported back to 1743. Meanwhile, Frank’s back at the B&B thinking, “Where’d my wife go?” He won’t see her again until season 2. Sad!
Now this is crazy: The first person Claire meets in the 18th century is Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, a sadistic British Army officer who is a very distant ancestor of her husband, Frank. Gee, he looks a lot like him! Gee, he’s mean! Also played by Menzies, Black Jack becomes a key adversary for Claire and a man named…
…Jamie Fraser, played by Scottish actor Sam Heughan (another unknown until he started showing up shirtless on Outlander; now he’s recognized by pretty much every red-blooded woman across the globe). He meets Claire and nicknames her “Sassenach,” a Gaelic term for outlander (or English person) that becomes a term of endearment. And boy does he endear her: He ends up marrying her as protection from Black Jack, who thinks she’s working as a spy for the Scots. If only he knew the real story of her nutty time travel!
Aye, does this turn into a love affair for the ages, or what? It’s now the best romance on TV! (Sorry Jack and Rebecca Pearson). But it’s not without tragedy: In season 2, we learn their first child, Faith, dies at birth. At least they still have each other until…
…a historic battle threatens to wipe out the Highland clan system. Because Claire knows what really happens (she’s from the future, remember?) she and Jamie embark on a valiant but ultimately ill-fated attempt to stop the impending Battle of Culloden. Jamie realizes that he can’t protect Claire under these circumstances and implores her to return through the stones to her old life with Frank. Why? Because she’s carrying baby No. 2!
Now, let us introduce you to Claire and Jamie’s daughter, Brianna Randall Fraser, played by the U.K. born Sophie Skelton. She was introduced at the end of season 2 and we’ll see her childhood play out more in season 3 with Claire and Frank. She’s pictured here with Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin), a man she met in season 2 who plays a key role in helping her and Claire research the whereabouts of Jamie after that battle. Did Jamie survive the bloodshed after Claire returned through the stones? You’ll find out all about in season 3. Plus…
We’ll see Claire try to make a go of it with Frank in 20th century Boston. Trust us, it won’t go well. Meanwhile…
…Jamie’s off to prison after the war, trying to imagine a life without Claire. Trust us, it won’t go well.
And now you’re up-to-date, Sassenachs! Outlander returns Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.