Sep 11 2017 9:30am

Torn Between Two Lovers: Outlander Season 3, Episode 1 Jamie x Claire Heart-to-Heart

Outlander, Season 3, Episode 1

Show/Episode: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 1, “The Battle Joined”
Couple(s): Jamie and Claire

Outlander 3x01 Captain's Log

For Jamie, the battle of Culloden may be over, but Claire and Frank’s battle reaches fever pitch, the two conflicts both worlds apart and yet intrinsically intertwined. Jamie lies near death on the battlefield, helpless as the British soldiers search among the fallen for valuables, and survivors, whom they quickly dispatch. Disjointed images of the battle flash through Jamie’s mind, both horrific and hauntingly beautiful at the same time. From a melee of countless soldiers on either side, the conflict narrows to its heart; Jamie and Black Jack Randall, face to face. Time seems to stop around them as they confront each other. Jack lands a vicious slice to Jamie’s thigh, but Jamie slips a knife between Jack’s ribs, and the two men fall, entwined on the very cusp of death. Is Jack alive? Dead? Imaginary? Hard to tell with Jamie’s mindset, but then a rabbit hops past, one small detail that makes this all the more heart-rending, and then the big bomb drops. Jamie hallucinates Claire walking toward him, dressed in her shift. She asks if he’s alive, and then boom, reality. It’s not Claire, but Murtaugh, intent on getting Jamie off the field before he’s slaughtered like other survivors. Jamie would rather die.

Cut to 1948 Boston, where Frank and Claire tour their potential home. They’re easy, friendly, teasing, even, feeling each other out. Even for diehard Jamie and Claire fans, the pull to root for this couple is strong, and maybe, maybe, a new home, in a new country, in the new postwar age, might be just the thing. Or not. Quick flash forward a few months more, the house full of furniture, and Claire, full of baby. She is not having any luck with the gas stove, and she casts a longing look at the fireplace. Next thing we know, she’s hauling firewood out of the trunk of her car. Of course, a curious neighbor, Nellie, insists on helping her carry her load, and is bemused at the thought of anyone cooking over an open fire. Is Claire sure Frank will be okay with this? Nellie marvels that Claire won’t find a man like Frank again. Oh, Nellie, if only you knew.

While the outlook for survivors of Culloden, huddled in a shack,  look bleaker and bleaker, Claire finds that 1940s Boston and 1740s Scotland aren’t all that far apart.  She’ll do what she must to fit in, but she can only compromise so far. When she tries to chime in with her opinions on the presidential race, Frank’s boss pooh-poohs her. Frank better watch his woman, or she’ll be trying to get women into Harvard Law. The smoke from Claire’s slow burn probably does reach all the way to Scotland, and, when Claire’s mention of women in Harvard Med gets brushed off by the boss, Frank is quick to praise his wife for her work as a combat nurse, which doesn’t shut up his boss, but proves where his loyalty lies.


The next morning, some friendly banter about the American penchant for newness brings Frank and Claire’s simmering issues to the boiling point. Claire would like to apply for American citizenship, so their child could have a real home. Their child? Uh huh. Claire shies away when Frank moves to touch her belly, and that’s the last straw. Can Claire walk away from her history that easily? Nothing doing. Frank’s job will provide them all with permanent residency, matter closed. Only it’s not. Claire insists this isn’t about residency, and Frank agrees. It’s about Frank having a wife who uses her pregnancy to keep him at arm’s length. Frank demands to know when Claire will return to him from the past. Claire insists she’s kept their bargain to the letter; she’s here, she’s with him. This baby will be theirs, but Frank still needs more. When is Claire going to let him in?

Claire assumes Frank means sex, and snaps that there are lots of girls who would be all over Frank’s English accent. Oh yeah? Well, he’s not the one who’s been fucking other people. Oh no, he didn’t.  Claire lobs an ashtray at his head, and he dodges, but she still hits her emotional mark. Frank didn’t force Claire to come to Boston, and he won’t force her to stay. He’s out the door, and she’s in tears.

Later that night, a sleepless Frank sits at his desk and begins a letter to Reverend  Wakefield, about Jamie, but doesn’t get far—Claire’s water breaks, and it’s baby time. Off to the hospital.

From here, the birth cuts in and out with the death that permeates Culloden’s aftermath. Jamie lies powerless as his fellow survivors are dispatched, one by one. Rupert won’t forgive Jamie for killing Dougal, but only God can judge them both. Jamie refuses an offer to write to Claire, stating only that his wife is “gone,” and by this point, we almost want him to tumble into the sweet release of death, but when his turn comes, lo and behold, plot twist. Lord Melton, the British officer in charge, recognizes Jamie’s name. Does Jamie know John William Gray? He does? This changes everything, as the family owes Jamie a debt of honor. They’ll need a wagon by nightfall. In the morning, Jamie wakes at Lallybroch, Jenny’s face the first one he sees.

Jamie lays gravely wounded on the battlefield of Culloden
Jamie hallucinates seeing Claire on the battlefield of Culloden

Cut to Claire and Frank in the hospital. The doctor, new to both of them, talks to Frank, not Claire, even when asking if this is Claire’s first baby. Claire and Frank give different answers, and yet Frank is still understanding, still there for her, until the doctor shoos him off and sedates Claire, rendering her as completely helpless as Jamie, two centuries away. When Claire wakes, her first concern is for her baby, whom Frank deems perfect, just like her mother. Claire tries to apologize for the way she’s treated Frank, but he’ll have none of it. What they have, right here, right now, that’s what’s important. Claire agrees, and it’s a tender moment, a new beginning for them all...and then the busybody nurse has to ask where baby got that red hair.

Though Claire and Jamie absolutely rank among the OTP-est of OTPs, it’s moments like this that show how great Claire and Frank could have been, if left to their own devices. Frank is no Jamie, but he does love Claire, and he has a dogged hope that maybe, maybe, if he hangs in there, things will be all right, which makes the pull between Claire’s two lives, and two loves, all the more poingnant.

Memorable Lines:

Can you walk away from your heritage that easily? Hastings and Magna Carta, Drake, Marlborough, the Tudors, the Stuarts, the Plantagenets; these are things I fought a war for.

Is it sex? Is that what this is? That you need a good fuck and you can’t find one?

Charting the Course:

Jamie survives Culloden and returns to Lallybroch, but believes Claire gone. Claire and Frank agree to make the birth of their daughter a new beginning, though genetics prove that the past can never truly be left behind.  

Next Stop:

Season 3, Episode 2, “Surrender”

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Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Kat Howard
1. Pokey
Great recap! Just one thing, though. It was Rupert who found Jamie and carried him off the battlefield, not Murtaugh.
Susan White
3. whiskeywhite
Yes. What has happened to Murtaugh? Jamie asks for him after the battle and I think Rupert says he saw him fall, or some such. But I'm not really sure. Did anyone catch it?

Rupert's courage when he brusquely goes off to be shot was so sad. "Try to keep up," he tells his redcoat guard. I will really miss him and Angus.

Jamie wishing to die, and volunteering to be next to be shot, was a hard part to watch. As was the sad look in his eyes when he was brought home to Lallybroch. Living without Claire is more painful than dying.
Heather Waters
4. HeatherWaters
Caitriona Balfe knows how to bring the angst. Makes me physically hurt for Claire in gifs alone.
Anna Bowling
5. AnnaBowling
@Pokey, thanks much for the kind words and the correction. Good catch.

@whiskeywhite (great username, btw) Jamie living without Claire is absolutely worse than death. That look when he realized he wasn't going to be shot about did me in, then when he arrived in Lallybroch...hang in there, Jamie. It's not over.

@HeatherWaters, boy, does she ever. That, people is what we call acting. I felt the ache, too.
Susan White
6. whiskeywhite
Thanks @AnnaBowling. I'm really a rum drinker. But rumwhite lacked alliteration. :-)
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