Warning: This article contains Outlander Season 3 spoilers.
It’s been almost a year since Outlander fans watched Claire (Caitriona Balfe) go back through the stones at Craigh na Dun and return to the 20th century — leaving Jamie (Sam Heughan) to face his certain doom in the Battle Culloden — at the end of Season 2. However, the long Droughtlander is slowly winding down, and a new season will be upon us before we know it.
Here is a guide to everything you need to know ahead of the Outlander Season 3 premiere in September.
The plot will follow the book — mostly
Outlander Season 3 is based on Voyager, the third book in Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling Outlander novel series. Series executive producer and showrunner Ronald D. Moore recently told TV Guide that the new season would largely follow the book, but he has a few tweaks in mind.
“The majority of the major events are in the season, but we are probably going to reorder them and present them slightly differently,” Moore said. “The third book is a clean narrative as opposed to the second book –which was a very complicated narrative. It still went to Jamie’s storyline for a very long time and then Claire catches up.”
One significant change to the story will be the inclusion of the Battle of Culloden, which Voyager skips. Moore told Entertainment Weekly that fans deserve to witness the showdown between Jamie and Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) after two seasons of buildup.
“It just felt like for the TV show, we’ve been promising this for a while and it just felt like we should have something,” he explained. “We should give the audience some sense of what happened on that moor.”
Here is the official Starz synopsis for Outlander Season 3.
“In Season 3 of Outlander, the story picks up right after Claire travels through the stones to return to her life in 1948. Now pregnant, she struggles with the fallout of her sudden reappearance and its effect on her marriage to her first husband, Frank. Meanwhile, in the 18th century, Jamie suffers from the aftermath of his doomed last stand at the historic battle of Culloden, as well as the loss of Claire. As the years pass, Jamie and Claire attempt to make a life apart from one another, each haunted by the memory of their lost love. The budding possibility that Claire can return to Jamie in the past breathes new hope into Claire’s heart… as well as new doubt. Separated by continents and centuries, Claire and Jamie must find their way back to each other. As always, adversity, mystery, and adventure await them on the path to reunion. And the question remains: when they find each other, will they be the same people who parted at the standing stones, all those years ago?”
Outlander Season 3 will welcome several new actors to the show. The most significant of these is David Barry, who has been cast to play Lord John Grey. Fans of the Outlander book series know that John plays a major role in Voyager and subsequent books.
Starz describes John as “a steadfast and honorable British subject, torn between a finely-honed sense of familial duty and a strong moral compass of right and wrong. He is boyishly handsome with an upper-class rearing — the consummate gentleman. However, a scandal from his past has relegated Lord John to an undesirable position as governor of a desolate prison in Northern Scotland.”
Other new cast additions include newcomers Hannah James and Tanya Roberts as sisters Geneva and Isobel Dunsany, and César Domboy as a grown-up version of Fergus.
Will Johnson will play Claire’s friend and medical colleague, Joe Abernathy, in 20th century Boston, and John Bell will play Jamie’s nephew, Ian Murray, back in the 18th century.
Before Claire knew that Jamie existed, she was married to — and loved — Frank (Tobias Menzies). But her return to him in Outlander Season 3 will be very complicated and fraught with conflicting emotions, especially when dealing with the fact that Claire is pregnant with Jamie’s child.
“We start the season, I think everyone’s seen from the trailer so it’s not a spoiler, that Claire goes back to Frank,” Caitriona Balfe told E! News.
“And it’s very tough for her, because this is a man who really didn’t do anything wrong. You know, he was her first love, he was a good husband to her, but because of circumstances, she fell in love with someone else in a much deeper and much truer way than she ever did with Frank.”
Claire’s life with Frank in the 20th century is not a focus of Voyager, but Moore felt it was important to expand the couple’s relationship on the TV show.
“The story requires [Frank]’s presence. Claire, from the beginning, was married to Frank and spent the entire first book trying to get back to him,” Moore told TV Guide. “She’s found the love of her life in Jamie Fraser, but there’s still this man that has this hold on her so she feels like she needs to go back. That to me says that’s a really strong character and an important character. To understand Claire, you need to understand the nature of that relationship with Frank.”
Frank will also be a key figure in Brianna’s (Sophie Skelton) life in Outlander Season 3.
“He is the father figure that Brianna knew as opposed to Jamie,” Moore said. “Claire spent 20 years with him before he died. We needed to bring that part of the story forward to really understand how all these things work.”
So while Frank and Black Jack Randall mostly disappear from the Outlander book series after Voyager, Moore said they may appear in future seasons of the TV series.
“There’s always the possibility of flashing back and revisiting him in either role if we had a reason to.”
A long separation, but a beautiful reunion
All the expanded focus on Claire and Frank’s marriage means that Jamie and Claire shippers will have to remain patient during the first part of Outlander Season 3.
“We’re going to keep them apart for a while,” Moore confessed to TV Guide.
So Season 3 will spend some time exploring the two decades of time Jamie and Claire spend without each other.
“One of the things we wanted to do was talk about what Claire was doing in those 20 years as well,” Moore explained. “The way we’ve structured the season allows you to experience both [Jamie and Claire’s lives] at the same time.”
But never fear, Jamie and Claire do eventually find their way back to each other, and — just like in Voyager — their reunion takes place in a print shop. Series producer Matthew B. Roberts was so excited about filming the sequence, he posted a photo of the script on Twitter.
Balfe told The Wrap that the reunion is everything fans hope it will be.
“It’s been filmed really beautifully. It’s very interesting, it’s like, how do two people come together after not seeing each other for 20 years, after both believing each other have died, and how do you build something real again?”
Meanwhile, Sam Heughan told PopSugar that Jamie and Claire would be different people when they see each other again in Outlander Season 3.
“Time has passed, they become different people, but they do have this great love for each other and this great bond,” he said. “Ultimately, that’s their saving grace, and what brings them back together. They have so much history. It’s really wonderful to play these characters who have moved on from where they were in Season 1, but, hopefully, you’ll see bits of what attracted them to each other in the first place.”
Once Jamie and Claire are together again, fans are hoping that their sex scenes are as hot and plentiful as they were back in Season 1, a dynamic some felt was lacking in Season 2. Balfe addressed the issue in an interview with Vanity Fair.
“I definitely heard that they missed a lot of the intimacy between Jamie and Claire, which I think we were sort of expecting,” she said. “I think even Sam and I sort of missed — especially in the beginning because it was so heavy on the politics — I think we were all missing those more intimate moments. They have so many of their iconic fan moments that they really are looking forward to, so you definitely always hear whenever some of those are not there. I’m trying to think of specifics for you, but the one that I just kept hearing, from what I saw on my Twitter: ‘Where’s the sex?'”
But Balfe promised things will heat up in Season 3.
“There will be some other sex going on.”
And in an interview with Vulture, the actress promised that the sex between Jamie and Claire would still be white hot — even though they will have aged 20 years.
“In terms of the sex, I think old people have good sex too, last I heard!”
Outlander Season 3 will end with Jamie and Claire going on the run to Jamaica. The cast and crew have spent the last several weeks in Cape Town, South Africa, filming the scenes.
“We’ve got the great reunion happening and then we go to South Africa — well, in the story it’s Jamaica — but there’s old ships involved and it’s just a constantly evolving, exciting adventure,” Balfe said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
As for how closely the series will follow the ending depicted in Voyager, in which Jamie and Claire’s ship is blown off course and lands in the American Colonies, Matthew B. Roberts provided another hint on Twitter.
.@outlandshlove Here's what we are going to do... We are going to end season three with a super exciting and spine-tingling... never before— Matthew B. Roberts (@TheMattBRoberts) December 27, 2016
Do you think Outlander Season 3 will live up to Voyager?
Outlander Season 3 returns to Starz for a 13-episode run in September.
[Featured Image by Starz]