We’ll be discussing Outlander season three, episode one in this article. Please read it after seeing the episode.
Well, I’ll hand this to myself: I didn’t screw up the opening shot!
Just like my MOCK ONE, Ron Moore decided not to mess with a great opening and stuck with Jamie on the battlefield, Black Jack Randall laying across his middle, drifting in and out of consciousness.
We get to see some old friends for the last time, like this guy:
And this guy:
Adieu, Murtagh. We loved you. (I’m assuming he won’t be back, but who knows? This show doesn’t shy away from veering away from the novels if it means keeping a great character around.)
And, lest we forget, we say goodbye to this jackass as well:
The Battle of Culloden occupies the first 15 minutes of this 40-minute episode, culminating in Jamie having a vision of Claire approaching, as I had anticipated.
And that, my friends, is where our paths differ.
I’ll say this for episode 3.1: It was flippin’ gorgeous. I had forgotten, to be honest, just how beautifully crafted this show is. Everything from costumes to set design to music to, of course, acting, is like a master class in “How To Make TV Good.”
This episode was far more elegiac than the one I had conceived, taking its time with swooping shots of the characters, meaningfully absorbing the worlds around them, longing for the one thing that isn’t in the room.
And yes, now that I think about it, I clearly see why the writers decided to spend a good chunk of time on the executions of the remaining Highlanders, a scene which I skipped past in my Mock One, as well as young Claire adjusting to life in Boston and awaiting the birth of Brianna. I made the choice to fast forward past most of these things, and the majority of what was covered in this episode, for that matter, not because I didn’t think it would make for good television, but for a very practical reason—namely: there’s a lot of plot to get through.
Like, A LOT.
And only 13 episodes with which to do it.
So I erred on the side of staying in “present day” (namely, 1968 for Claire and 1770s for Jamie), with much of the missing 20 years being told in flashback, interspersed throughout the 13 episodes of season three.
As I’ve mentioned before, I did this because it allows us to do two things: A. Get on with the story (there is, after all, about 900 pages of story to get through here), while B. Allowing Claire and Jamie to rediscover each other over time as they learn (along with us, the viewers) what exactly the other has been up to for the last two decades.
But that’s not the way Ron Moore is doing it.
And while I loved episode 3.1, and I’m champing at the bit along with everyone else to see the next one, the writer part of my brain is doing somersaults. This version of episode one covered about 2% of the story, if that.
It leaves us with our protagonists just beginning the journeys they will take in this epic story. Namely, Jamie has been saved from execution by Lord John Grey’s brother, who remembers his family’s debt to “Red Jamie” and transports him back home to these loving people:
Fat lot of good it’ll do him as he’s still a wanted man and he’s bleeding profusely from the leg, but that’s a problem for another day, I suppose.
And Claire, after telling the obstetrician from hell where he can shove his needles (seriously, where was she when I was giving birth?) ends up here:
A beautiful ending, truly. (And that last line about the baby’s red hair is killer.) However, I hate to be a killjoy, but we didn’t cover much ground, did we?
Now, I’m not a mathematician, but if there’s 13 episodes, it would seem to me that we’d be aiming in the neighborhood of 1/13th of the story (or almost 8%) per episode, right?
At some point, we’re going to have to skip something. But what?
Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. For the moment, I’m just happy to have this show back, to get to live in its world, or worlds, I guess, for a bit longer. After all, I’m not just using “Outlander” as a writing exercise, I’m also a fan.
And the fan in me (as well as the writer) can’t wait for next week.
To read my Voyager series in its entirety, click here.