Outlander Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Outlander
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes:  13
  • Discs:  5
  • Network:  Starz/SonyPictures
  • Cast:  Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

Season 3 of Outlander begins with Jamie and Claire separated and living completely separate lives. Jamie survives Culloden and joins up with a few additional survivors. The British army finds them and executes all the surviving “rebels” save Jamie. By an incredible act of luck, one of the British officers is the brother of an English officer whom Jamie spared a few years earlier. Owing Jamie a debt of honor he captures him and does not kill him. Jamie is on the run for a few more years, before being captured and sentenced to jail.

Claire meanwhile returns to her own time. She, her husband, Frank, and her daughter, Brianna, are living in Boston, where Frank is a history professor at Harvard. Claire is in a prison of her own, trapped in a loveless marriage. She eventually enrolls in Harvard medical school and becomes a surgeon, one of the first female surgeons in the US, at Boston General Hospital. But she and Frank are not happy. The discuss divorce once, but Frank won’t hear of it – fearing Claire will take Brianna from him. The second time the two discuss divorce, Brianna is eighteen. Frank intends to divorce Claire and marry his long-time mistress, a one-time grad student and now a linguistics professor. But Frank is killed in a car accident shortly after the discussion. Claire and Brianna return to Scotland and Roger, to try to find Jaime. They discover he survived Culloden and was jailed, but when the jail was closed, they find no evidence that Jamie was “transported” as an indentured servant.

Meanwhile, we discover what Jamie’s up to. Jamie had become the leader of the prisoners in his jail, and reluctantly befriended both governors of the prison, the second is John Grey whose life he had spared so many years ago. At one point, a man is found on the moors muttering about treasure and a white witch. This motivates Jamie to escape, which he does and he finds the island the man’s mutterings lead him to – but not Claire. He does find a treasure, but hides it again, taking only a single sapphire. When he’s recaptured he gives the sapphire to Grey, telling him the treasure box was empty. Much later, the prison is closed. Rather than turning Jamie over for transportation, Grey has him change his name and gets him a job as a groom (stable hand) in an English landlord’s house in England. Jamie does well there and eventually is bribed into having sex with the Englishman’s young daughter (it’s complicated). The girl is married off to a much older Earl and is soon pregnant. The Earl doesn’t believe that he’s the father of the child. The girl dies in childbirth, and during a struggle between Jamie, the girl’s distraught sister, and the two sisters’ parents – the Earl is killed. Jamie’s child, Willie is taken in by the sister. Soon after Jamie leaves.

Meanwhile, in Boston, Roger drops by – and tells Claire and Brianna he has found Jamie, he was a printer in Edinborough twenty years after Culloden. Brianna convinces Claire she must try to be with her one true love. Claire succeeds in her journey through the stones. She finds Jamie right away, and the two are happily reunited. Jamie is a printer, a smuggler, and also printing “seditious” pamphlets and helping what remains of the Scottish Rebellion. He’s also living in a rented room at a brothel. Claire, though surprised and upset, accepts everything as well because she loves Jamie so. She and Jamie catch-up on their twenty years apart. Claire shows Jamie pictures of his daughter.

However, one night, the exciseman comes calling and attacks Claire. In self-defense she kills him. At the same time, someone attacks Jamie’s nephew, Ian, at the print shop – during the struggle, the shop is set alight. Jamie is able to rescue Ian from the flames, but the shop is a total loss. Jamie, Claire, and Ian leave for the family estate. Once they arrive, Jenny, Jamie’s sister is extremely cold to Claire, not quite getting why she disappeared for so long.

Just as Jamie is about to reveal to Claire his last secrets from their time apart, two young girls rush into the room calling him “Daddy”. It turns out Jamie is married to Laoghaire MacKenzie. He quickly explains it was a marriage of convenience the two girls are from Laoghaire’s first marriage, and he and Laoghaire have lived apart most of the time of their marriage. Jamie consults Ned Gowan and confirms that because Claire was “missing” but not “dead” his own second marriage is null and void. But, to let him leave, Laoghaire demands alimony.

No problem, Jamie tells Claire and Ned – he knows of a treasure on a small island off the coast. They can get the treasure, go to France to sell the antique coins and jewels, and come back to pay off his other wife. But Jamie’s been in a fight and is injured and cannot swim to the Selkie Island. Young Ian offers to swim to the island instead. But a pirate vessel captures Ian and the jewels. Claire and Jamie discover the ship is Portuguese and probably going to Jamaica to sell Ian as a slave. They book passage on another ship.

The journey on the ship isn’t without issues – they are becalmed at one point. Then a British warship approaches, they press Claire into service as their ship’s surgeon to treat a fever on the ship. Claire recognizes the fever as Typhoid. Although the British ship loses many men, eventually the disease runs it’s course. But Claire discovers the young captain knows who Jamie is and instead of reuniting her with him in Kingston Jamaica, he intends to use her as bait.

Claire jumps ship at first opportunity and washes up on another island. She is bitten up by fire ants, becomes a bed for a python, and eventually meets a very strange defrocked priest and his mother-in-law. The priest offers to help her get to Jamaica “in a few days”. But he then complains one of his goats was killed “by a Chinaman” from a stranded ship. Claire realises this is “Mr. Willoughby” a friend of Jamie’s and a companion on their journey. She rushes across the island and is reunited with Jamie. They head to Jamaica to find Ian, forwarned that the Navy Captain wants to capture him.

In Jamaica, Claire runs into Geillis, who wants the three sapphires from the jewel box on Selkie Island so she can hear a prophecy about the “next king of Scotland”. She also bathes in goat’s blood and is just very, very weird. The Seer she hires is Margaret Campbell – a patient of Claire’s in Edinburgh when she was with Jamie (and he was a printer). The new governor of Jamaica is John Grey – friend to Jamie. Yes, all this dovetails the season nicely.

I’m not going to spoil the last two episodes, because the series’ does a really good job of bringing together these various characters from various times in Jamie’s and Claire’s lives. They do find, rescue, and escape with Ian in the same boat they took to Jamaica, but that boat is hit by a hurricane – still Claire and Jamie survive, and it’s a set-up for the next season.

Outlander is beautifully filmed and has excellent acting, especially the leads. This season paints a wide canvas of locations: 1960s Boston, Edinburgh in 1766, 18th-century sailing vessels, including a British Man’o’War, and 18th century Jamaica and nearby islands. The season is a bit timey-whimy, and plays with the ideas of predestination versus free will. On the other hand, Claire and Jamie are soul mates, destined for each other, and whatever the obstacles in their path they always overcome them to be together. It’s a beautiful, enjoyable and lovely show. Highly recommended.

Read my Review of Outlander Season 1 Volume 1.

Read my Review of Outlander Season 1 Volume 2.

Read my Review of Outlander Season 2.