Outlander Season 3 Kick Off!
It’s back! It’s back! After 14 long months, Outlander season 3 has finally started!! Outlander is my favourite TV series next to Game of Thrones so I am PUMPED!
Outlander is based on the book series by author Diana Gabaldon. If you can believe it, it’s actually an even bigger series than Game of Thrones. Currently it sits at 8 full novels, a few novellas/short stories, a 6-volume series of side/supporting novels and novellas, and a non-fiction companion guide. Fun fact – one of the supporting novellas was actually published in a book of short stories edited by George R.R. Martin!
Anyway, on to the TV show. A quick note, like my Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale post, be warned there may be spoilers ahead.
Season 3 – Going into it
Before I get too deep here, I want to come clean and say that I have a bias against this season. Voyager, the third Outlander book, is my least favourite book in the series. Since this season will be covering the material in that book….I’m wary.
I don’t like the pace of the book. It spent way too much time leading up to things and too little time on content that actually progressed the plot. It was as if Gabaldon had two major events in mind (the reunion and their arrival in the West Indies) but wasn’t sure how to get to those points. She just kept writing until the characters stumbled into the end result. Readers slog through chapters of (frankly forgettable) exposition broken up by spurts of whirl-wind activity and then back to boring chapters. In other words it somehow managed to feel both lazy and rushed.
Having said that, the series has been very loyal to the books and I expect no less from season 3. My hope is that in the transfer from novel to script, the writers will be able to cut out a LOT of the fat from the book and streamline events into a more well-paced narrative. I remain cautiously optimistic, so we’ll see if my concerns are valid as the season progresses.
Season 3 Episode 1 – The Battle Joined
I really enjoyed this episode, despite my misgivings towards this season as a whole. It didn’t feel like the rest of the series, but in a good way. It flipped between scenes of Jamie in 1746 and Claire in 1948 as they struggle in the aftermath of their parting. Switching the scenes like that helped create an overall atmosphere of jarring confusion, which complimented the characters’ realities nicely. Every time you felt like you were becoming comfortable in a scene they switched it and threw you off again. I liked that they are exploring new story telling methods.
I also loved the art direction in this episode. The sumptuous colours and vistas of Jamie’s wartime Scotland were beautifully offset by the dull neutrals of Claire’s Boston suburbia. It further emphasized the distance between the characters, which I thought was a brilliant touch.
I only have two real gripes about the episode. First, the commercials. Holy hell in a handbasket there were a lot of commercial breaks. It felt like the time spent in commercials equalled the time spent in the show and that’s unacceptable. Second, I don’t like how they are developing Claire and Frank’s beyond-complicated relationship. The books always described it as politely affectionate but this episode had Claire behaving little better than a shrew while Frank simpered about as if he perpetually walked on egg shells. It doesn’t fit their character arcs, nor does it mesh with their pre-time-travelling dynamic. They seemed to be reconciling at the end of the episode, so I’m hopeful that it’s a temporary state.
Season 3 – What’s to Come
Season 3 has 13 episodes, just like season 2. At the time I am writing this, IMDB has episode information for less than half of them so it’s kind of hard to predict how they are going to pace things. If they are going to follow the books as closely as they have for the first two seasons, then we won’t see a Claire/Jamie reunion until we’re mid-way through the season. I hope they speed it up, but we’ll see.
Until then, there are a few things I’m looking forward to seeing unfold. We saw a hint of the relationship between Roger and Bree in season 2 but it doesn’t pick up speed until Voyager. I’m excited to see this budding romance develop. It’ll make for a good substitute until Claire and Jamie are together again.
I’m also looking forward to seeing Jamie’s life after Culloden. He talks about it piece meal throughout Voyager and subsequent books but never as a sequential story. If this first episode is anything to judge the season by, we may actually get to see what happens to post-war Jamie in chronological order.
Which brings me to the third thing I’m looking forward to in upcoming episodes. If my theory about Jamie’s storyline is correct, that means that we will get to see the beginning of his relationship with Lord John. I ADORE their relationship in the books, so the idea of watching it unfold in full story has me very excited.
The next episode will air on Sunday September 17. You can look for my thoughts on that episode next week. Until then, happy watching!