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Sweatpants & TV | Outlander, Season 3, Episode 1 – “The Battle Joined”

By Emily Parker

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Welcome back to our coverage of Outlander! We’ve just begun season 3, based on the third novel in the series, “Voyager,” by Diana Gabaldon. When we last saw our beloved Claire and Jamie, a stunning 1960’s Claire had just learned that Jamie survived the Battle of Culloden and has decided to go back to find him.

The Bloody aftermath.

“Where ha’ ye been? Enjoying a wee whisky?”

We open in the bloody aftermath of the battle of Culloden. There are bodies everywhere – mostly of the Highlanders. It is a massacre. The British are inspecting bodies, gathering swords, stabbing the fatally wounded but still living, etc. We see Jamie’s body lying motionless with Black Jack Randall’s (BJR’s) body draped over it. Jamie stirs, and opens his eyes to see a young Scot being put out of his misery by a redcoat. He closes his eyes and flashes back to the battle.

Jamie is trapped under Randall’s body.

Bonnie Prince Charlie (BPC) is having a glass of wine during the battle, no big whoop. The simpering coward proved utterly useless in a fight. Jamie begs the Prince to give the order to charge while the Highlanders still have a chance, to little avail. Jamie drifts in and out of consciousness as night falls, and snow starts to drift down. He recalls sending Claire through the stones.

“Mark me, James, I am a worthless idiot.”

Jamie and Randall spot one another within the fray. They charge and strike. Randall slashes Jamie’s thigh deeply. Jamie strikes back and wounds Randall in the gut. A rare moment elapses, as if the two are alone in the world. Randall embraces Jamie and falls into him. Jamie awakens again to see that the body atop his is BJR’s, and hallucinates Claire picking her way through the mountains of bodies to reach him.

Battling Randall.

Jamie half-remembers, half-hallucinates.

“Are you alive?”

Dream-Claire whispers “Are you alive?” Jamie shakes awake to realize that his would-be savior is only Rupert, not his beloved wife. “Can ye stand, man?” Jamie begs to be left alone to die. Rupert refuses, of course, and Jamie is carried off, presumably to die someplace else. We see the dragonfly in amber drop from his clothing onto the ground, lost. Randall’s body rolls away as Jamie is retrieved from under him.

Dream Claire to the rescue.

“The lady of the house desires it thus.”

We cut to 1948 pregnant Claire, who is being shown by Frank around an enormous opulent apartment in Boston. The two seem comfortable, if distant. A few months later, it seems they’ve settled in, and Claire looks frustrated and lonely. A neighbor who helps Claire carry in firewood remarks about Claire’s cooking over a fire in the fireplace (she was unable to light the stove.) They chat about how Frank is “progressive”, but most men don’t want their wives doing anything out of the ordinary. “You’re lucky,” the neighbor lady remarks. “You won’t find another man like Frank again.” Claire looks pained.

Claire adjusts to her new home.

“Gotta look pretty when you meet the boss.”

Jamie is slowly improving under Rupert’s care (or at least not dead yet), despite the fact that Rupert witnessed Jamie’s murder of Dougal just hours earlier. Rupert discusses making a run for safety, but hardly a man can even stand, let alone run.

Meanwhile, Claire seems to be going through the motions in her life.

Very pregnant, very sad.

Woman, know thy place

At a stuffy gathering with Frank’s colleagues, Claire speaks her mind, as is her habit, and Frank’s misogynist boss immediately dismisses her opinion. “Next thing you know, she’ll be trying to get women into Harvard law,” he sneers. “Harvard medical enrolled female students three years ago,” Claire politely points out. The dean dismisses her again, calling the women “barely adequate” in their studies, wrapping up his smug rant with “few women succeed as physicians.” Yikes. Before Claire can defend herself and her profession, Frank points out that Claire was a combat nurse. “How patriotic,” the Dean says icily. He wonders if she isn’t happier now that she’s doing proper “womanly things”, however, such as birthing babies. Claire smiles politely. “I’m very happy,” she says through gritted teeth. If Claire thought being a woman with an opinion was difficult in the 1740’s, the 1940’s aren’t proving to be much more accommodating.

Claire is “very happy.”

“No, milord. Traitors, all.”

Back with Rupert and the remaining Highlanders, Jamie is deliriously asking after Murtagh. Nobody has seen him. “I lost sight of him in the fight. I hope to God he’s already dead,” Killick remarks. Lord Melton bursts in with another redcoat and introduces himself to Rupert, who returns the greeting. They’ve been ordered to execute anyone who participated in the battle as traitors. Rupert denies nothing. “Shall we be hanged, then?” “You will be shot. Like soldiers.” Rupert nods. “Thank you, milord.” The redcoats give them an hour to prepare themselves for death.

Rupert is large and in charge.

“Go, or stay, but do it because it’s what you really want to do.”

Frank & Claire exchange pleasantries over breakfast. Frank is unimpressed with American teabags. Claire enjoys such things about America – it’s progressive, comparatively. She wants to apply for citizenship. Their tentative peace is marred when Claire involuntarily flinches when Frank touches her. He’s suddenly cold about her wanting citizenship. “We fought a war for England.” He calls her on her coldness and distance. The two quarrel, and Claire heaves a glass ashtray at Frank’s head after he quite rightly points out that it was not he who had an affair.

Frank and Claire share a tense breakfast.

“Steady, now, lads. It will be over soon. Chin up.”

Inside the croft, Rupert crosses himself as he listens to the men get shot one by one. Jamie glowers in his cot, unable to move. Rupert makes a case for two young boys to be spared, but there are to be no exceptions. Killick asks Jamie if he’d like for him to write anything down for him, for Claire. “She’s gone,” Jamie breathes. “Where did she go?” Killick wonders aloud, to no response. Killick hobbles outside to meet his fate, leaving Jamie with Rupert.

Rupert does not forgive Jamie for Dougal, but doesn’t hate him either. “The lord will judge us baith, and I trust in his mercy. Farewell, Jamie,” he says sadly, as Killick’s gunshot rings out. Rupert says he’ll go next. “Rupert Thomas Alex MacKenzie,” he says grandly, when asked his name. “I mean to set a quick pace, so try to keep up,” he quips, as he leads the redcoats outside to his death. Inside, Jamie swallows hard and begins to cry. “Farewell, Rupert,” he whispers in Gaelic.

Rupert makes peace with Jamie.

“My waters have broken.”

Frank tosses and turns on the couch. He finally gets up and begins a letter to Reverend Wakefield, asking him for help. He wants the Reverend to research Jamie. Claire interrupts – she’s in labor.

Claire goes into labor.

“Are they to be shot, lying down?” “Prop them up!”

The redcoats prepare to carry out and execute those who cannot move under their own steam. Jamie, of course, volunteers to go first. Unfortunately, the Lieutenant recognizes his name. “God’s blood!” the man curses. The Lieutenant bends down and asks if the name John William Grey means anything to Jamie. “Either shoot me or go away,” Jamie moans. The man wets Jamie’s lips with a glass of water. He reminds Jamie who John is – the boy in the wood whose life Jamie spared. The Lieutenant ministering to Jamie is John Grey’s brother, and considers that he owes Jamie a debt of honor.

The Lieutenant recognizes Jamie and ministers to him.

The two redcoats debate the merits of shooting Jamie under an alias, but the Lieutenant is too scrupulous. “I willna tell if you dinna,” Jamie begs. Ultimately, they decide that they’re going to have him secretly hauled away once darkness falls, not killed.

Jamie catches the first train, er – haywagon – out of town.

“I’m glad I missed you with that ashtray.”

Frank jokes with Claire as she labors. The doctor is another shining example of period misogyny, asking all his questions of Frank instead of Claire, and telling Claire not to panic, when she clearly isn’t. Claire admits to the previous miscarriage of Faith, and Frank dismisses it. “None of that matters, now.” Frank gets shooed away by the doctors and Claire is whisked to delivery, alone. “The father’s waiting room is down and to the left. Just follow the smell of cigarettes and flop sweat,” the doctor quips. Frank tells Claire quite hopefully that he loves her, but she says nothing. His face falls as he leaves.

Frank forgives Claire for the ashtray incident.

“You needn’t worry your pretty little head about anything.”

The doctors want to knock Claire out for her labor, but she balks. How does that even work? How can you push if you’re not conscious? Against her wishes, they put her to sleep anyway. “Good night, Mrs. Randall,” the doctor snaps. “Leave everything to us.”

Claire gets knocked out.

The prodigal son returns

We cut to Jamie deliriously examining his bloodied hand, and Jenny and Ian standing over him, worried sick. The redcoats have sent him home to Lallybroch, likely under the assumption that he will die there. “Am I dead?” Jamie gasps. Jenny grins. “I can’t believe you’re really home.”

Jenny and Ian welcome Jamie back to Lallybroch.

“A new beginning, for all of us.”

Claire comes to and, reminiscent of her miscarriage in Paris of her first daughter, whispers “Where’s my baby?” She feels her now-empty belly and starts to panic. Luckily, this time, Frank comes in holding their new daughter, Brianna. The new family bonds, and Frank sheds a tear. “Oh, Frank,” Claire sighs. “I’ve been so horrid to you.” Frank dismisses it. “This is all that truly matters now. It’s going to be alright. We’re going to be alright. I promise.” They kiss.

“What a beautiful little angel,” a nurse remarks, as Frank and Claire beam. “Where’d she get the red hair?”

Welcoming Brianna.

Stray Observations:

  • The theme music is a bit more stripped down, this time around. Beautiful.
  • When Claire points out that Harvard medical accepted female students three years ago to the Dean, (1945-ish, on the Outlander timeline), she’s not exactly correct. Women attending Radcliffe were allowed to attend Harvard classes starting in 1943, but did not receive Harvard diplomas until 1963, and women were not completely allowed at Harvard until 1977, although diplomas were still signed by both college presidents. It was not until 1999 that “Radcliffe” stopped appearing on diplomas at Harvard for women altogether.
  • I know that it was the 1940’s and they didn’t know anything back then, but every time I see Claire drinking while pregnant, I can’t help but cringe.
  • For those thinking that the doctors knocking Claire out against her will to give birth being inaccurate or over the top, it really wasn’t, for the time. Even into the 1970’s, men weren’t typically present in delivery rooms, and mothers were often kept in the dark about things, if not fully unconscious for birth. We’ve come a long way in that department!

Join us next week for Episode 2, “Surrender.”

Image Credits: Sweatpants & Coffee.

Emily Parker is a musician, writer, and avid reader who started Bucket List Book Reviews, the ‘1,001 Books to Read Before You Die’ project. For Sweatpants & Coffee, Emily hopes to inspire the reading of the classics by a whole new audience by only reviewing the really good stuff.

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