Outlander 3.1: The Battle Disjointed

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.

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We get to see some old friends for the last time, like this guy:

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And this guy:

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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 keep up with season three of “Outlander” on STARZ, follow Rebecca Phelps on Twitter @DownWorldNovel, “like” us on Facebook at Novel2Screen, or just follow this blog.

To read my Voyager series in its entirety, click here.

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29 thoughts on “Outlander 3.1: The Battle Disjointed

  1. Ron said during press week that for Jamie 1 is Culloden, 2-the cave, 3-Ardsmuir, 4-Helwater and 5-Edinburgh. Claire will move along during these 20 years roughly in parallel.

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    1. jamies was days and claire 9 months, keeping feeling like shouting hurry up, get going, your wasting time………hopefully next week we will see a little movement note: my husband who has not read the books but has been a faithful watcher was not impressed

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  2. I love reading your comments. I watched episode 301 twice, back to back, to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It was BRILLIANT! It will be very interesting to see how it matches your outline.

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      1. Yes, thank goodness. At the very least he lost a lot of blood and would get peritonitis from that belly wound if he had survived, but he looked pretty dead to me!

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    1. I watched this twice (back to back) and loved every piece if it. “I Dinna tell if you Dinna” but can’t remember where Murdoch died… I have to watch again. The ending was perfect with red hair comment….shows us that this “new beginning” will never be perfect.

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  3. Acting was superb! Caitrina and Tobias nailed it in their scenes together. By the way, one more time Tobias showed us what a fantastic actor he is. Most of the time his eyes expressed all Frank’s pain and love for Claire even when he said nothing. And Sam… well, it goes without saying. He is getting better and better each new season and he’s proven himself as one of the best actors of his generation. Fantastic show!

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  4. I know everyone wanted it to go further into the story, but as Sam said, they’ve spent two seasons talking about Culloden, they had to show the epic battle and the aftermath. It is a mater class in making good TV…well put. Caitlin and Tobias have always had real depth. This show showed just how far Sam could go. It didn’t rely on his hunky shots or on well written Scottish sentiment. This was gritty and real, and it was marvelous.

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  5. I am a huge fan. Was upset that Angus was killed. They left the story about Murtagh open. One of the characters says that he lost sight of Murtagh on the battlefield. I was upset with the scene when Jaimie saw Claire because I thought it ripped off the scene from Braveheart when Mel Gibson was being killed. I agree that there is a lot of ground to cover.

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  6. I was an early devotee to the books – having read them out of order – Dragonfly first – and I always wondered how it would translate on screen. I enjoyed this one and found myself feeling sorry for Frank all over again. The first two seasons were good, but to me, this is the meat of the story. Is it Sunday yet?!?!

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  7. Hope there will be a season 5 most marvelous acting ever. Tobias,Sam,Catrina, fantastic actors words cannot express how much I love this show and all who make it what it is. This show makes most acting and shows on American tv baby steps. Also costumes and scenery are the most fabulous.

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  8. I was expecting a continuation of last seasons debut of an adult Bree traveling back to Scotland.In the series of events leading to Claires return thru the stones.

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    1. I’d be happy to:
      Outlander (1991)
      Dragonfly in Amber (1992)
      Voyager (1993)
      Drums of Autumn (1996)
      The Fiery Cross (2001)
      A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)
      An Echo in the Bone (2009)
      Written in my Own Heart’s Blood (2014)
      Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone (soon???)

      Enjoy!!!

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    2. I’d be happy to, Kathryn:

      Outlander (1991)
      Dragonfly in Amber (1992)
      Voyager (1993)
      Drums of Autumn (1996)
      The Fiery Cross (2001)
      A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)
      An Echo in the Bone (2009)
      Written in my Own Heart’s Blood (2014)
      Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone (soon???)

      Enjoy!!!

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  9. As much as I adored Murtagh his death on Culloden’s field should have been in this episode. When he tells Jamie “don’t worry a balach (my boy or my lad in gaelic) dying doesna hurt a bit” it just showed the futility of the Scots throwing their lot in with that weakling Charles Stewart. Such good men wasted for such an idiot

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  10. I’d be happy to:
    Outlander (1991)
    Dragonfly in Amber (1992)
    Voyager (1993)
    Drums of Autumn (1996)
    The Fiery Cross (2001)
    A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)
    An Echo in the Bone (2009)
    Written in my Own Heart’s Blood (2014)
    Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone (soon???)

    Enjoy!!!

    Like

  11. I truly hope that they saved Murtagh’s character! I loved this character! Duncan Lacroix did an outstanding job as Murtagh! He was such an intriguing, lovable Scot, who played such an important role in the lives of Jamie, Furgis & Claire! He is needed on this show! Please bring him back! 😦

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  12. Why was there a live rabbit on the battle field just before Jamie saw Claire and does it have any connection to the bunny that is obviously Bree’s favorite toy?

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