WE ARE BACK!!! Okay… May I just say a 15-month Droughtlander is just simply unnecessary torture! Now let’s get into the necessary torture [emotional torture that is]…
The Outlander season three episode one title really does sum things up on several levels. First, as we knew, the Battle of Culloden was imminent. Jamie (Sam Heughan) sent Claire (Caitriona Balfe) back through the stones to save her life, as well as their unborn child, which is the only reason Claire would have left in the first place. Claire returns to 1948 and picks back up with her modern-day marriage to Frank (Tobias Menzies). The internal battles all parties must face are much more enduring and scarring than the physical ones. And believe me, as far as physical scars go, Jamie gets another doozy! Pour yourself a stiff dram, grab your best hanky or box of Kleenex, and settle in for the first installment of season three… Je Suis Prest for “The Battle Joined!”
As the episode opens, we are shocked to see the carnage of the completed battle of Culloden. Piles of bloody bodies, mostly Scots, all over the Moor of Culloden. The British are walking through moving bodies, or kicking bodies, to see if they are alive. If a sound is uttered, the Scot gets a bayonet for their answer.
We eventually find Jamie on the field, with a redcoat on top of his seriously injured body. Can you imagine having the dead weight of a full-grown man lying on top of you as you fade in and out of consciousness? The good news is that the redcoat is the, FINALLY, deceased body of one Black Jack Randall (also Tobias Menzies). Jamie flashes back from the present situation of pain to the circumstances of the pre-battle conversations and actual killing blows as they engage the British on the field. We get one more drinking game shot of whiskey as Bonnie Prince Charlie (Andrew Gower) says “Mark Me” one more time. Slainte Mhath!!
Jamie does flash back to when he sent Claire through the stones and he stands there alone after she is gone. We saw Claire’s reaction in the first episode of season two, “Through A Glass, Darkly.” Now we see Jamie left in his own time clutching Claire’s blanket before he returns to the Jacobite Army. The battle is much as Claire had described it to Jamie. With the British having heavy artillery and being of greater number, the Jacobites were slaughtered; though they did take some of the British with them. As the battle continued, Jamie saw Black Jack across the field almost at the same second as Black Jack saw Jamie. They charged toward one another and the ultimate personal battle ensued.
During the fight with Black Jack, Jamie received a horrible slash that created a very large gash across his upper left thigh. For that little gift, Black Jack paid with his life. Jamie struck Jack a fatal blow with his dirk. Both men stumbled and slashed in the air at each other as they continued to ramble closer together on their wobbly legs. Jack reached out and touched Jamie’s chest as both collapsed, Jack on top of Jamie.
In his fevered and painful state, Jamie continues to go in and out of consciousness. He even envisions Claire coming to find him. The vision of Claire turns into Rupert (Grant O’Rourke). What a shock to the system that must have been! Jamie tells Rupert to let him be so he can die where he is, but Rupert is a rather stubborn Scot, too. Book divergence here… Rupert died well before this point in the books, so you had to know he wouldn’t get too far along in the show with his own storyline.
The scene changes to reveal Claire and Frank looking at a house that would become their new home in Boston 1948. As they go through the rooms, politely talking as couples do about what the rooms would be used for, things feel a bit forced on Claire’s side of the conversation.
Months pass quickly in the modern period, and Claire is fighting the stove, trying to cook a meal over a pilot light determined to stay out on the stove. I must say, I love the vintage stuff in the sets but do admit to a level of gratitude for modern conveniences. Yes, I’m spoiled to my A/C, running hot and cold water, and glass top stove. Back to Claire, she blurts out our signature favorite phrase of hers, “Jesus H Roosevelt Christ,” and goes to take a much-needed seat on the couch. Being most of the way through the pregnancy, I’m sure her back and feet are demanding it. As she’s sitting there, she takes a hard look at the fireplace.
Ingenuity of a Mother strikes again. She goes and buys firewood and is going to cook over the open flame in the fireplace. A neighbor woman sees her taking the firewood out of the trunk and comes to help. They get to talking about how husbands like or don’t like surprises from their wives. The way women and men handled their respective roles in the 1940s were still sorta like how things were done for centuries before that. Men worked outside the home, women did the work inside the home. Of course, we know the roles got a little blurred starting in the 1940s after WWII because women had to get working in the factories and such while men were at war. I am not sure if Claire ever fully appreciated the fact that BOTH of her husbands allowed her to be who she was. They didn’t try to make her be just the same as every other woman of their era. (Fandom, don’t stone me for that…just my 2 cents).
The scene turns back to the 1740s. The Jacobites who remained alive found refuge in a small farmhouse nearby the battlefield. Jamie can hardly move, and many others in the farmhouse are injured in various ways. Rupert tries to get Jamie to drink some water as other Scots lay around them. Some are standing near the doors or windows trying to keep an eye out. The British are still close and traveling throughout the area looking for survivors.
In 1948, Claire gets the immeasurable joy [said in all sarcasm]of meeting Frank’s boss. VERY typical man of that era, the boss-man. Claire voices her opinion on an active political topic, as she usually does, and the man admonishes Frank for not keeping a closer watch on his wife. He even casts aspersions on her time as a combat nurse. Many of today’s 21st century women, especially the younger generation, have no idea what true male chauvinism is. I’m glad the show is not shying away from how people truly acted in their respective time periods. History is not always pretty, and we can’t appreciate the NOW if we don’t clearly see the THEN. Okay, off my soapbox and back to the show…
In the farmhouse, the British find the hiding men. Lord Melton (Sam Hoare) storms in and Rupert informs the redcoats that they are all traitors. Lord Melton informs them they will be given the dignity of a bullet as a soldier instead of a hangman’s noose. Not a fair trade, but a nice gesture. Hanging is so much more gruesome.
At breakfast in Boston, Claire is trying to lay the table. As she’s doing so she notices a bird just outside the window. It is always the small things in life that draw us back to memories of loved ones lost. You could clearly see the shadow of Jamie cross Claire’s face in that moment. Then Frank comes into the kitchen and they start talking about the differences between American Tea and English Tea. Tea in paper diapers… Frank, REALLY! [Snort!] Claire mentions that she would like to apply for American citizenship – Claire clearly has cast off her affinity for the English citizen she once was – and that she would like ‘their’ child to have a real home.
As Frank reaches to touch her stomach after Claire used the words ‘their child,’ she dodges his touch. The temperature in the room felt a drop of ten degrees. Naturally, a marital battle kicked off in fine fashion about Claire keeping Frank at a distance. Anyone who has been pregnant, or around someone pregnant, understands that the mother’s emotions are at a fever pitch almost the entire time, especially just before time to deliver. Fold the loss of the love of your life into that emotion and distance of emotion should be the least of it. Poor Claire, can she not have a simple happy pregnancy?
Though time in the 1940s has passed quickly through the months of Claire’s pregnancy, the time in the past after the battle has been but mere days. The British are taking the men out of the farmhouse one by one and shooting them, after logging their names, of course, for the Crown and posterity no less. Jamie is almost too weak to speak, but he is alive enough to hear each of his fellow men shot just outside the door. Rupert comes over to say farewell and to step up to take his turn with the firing squad. Jamie is left to hear his cousin die at the end of a bullet out of an English musket.
Frank is lying on the couch listening to all the things that make noise in a room in the middle of the night. The sink dripping, the clock’s second-hand ticking, the fire crackling all get to him eventually and he goes to his desk. He starts to pen a letter to the Reverend in Scotland when Claire comes into the room with her coat on. She announces that her water has broken, and the hospital is the next stop. Babies do love to come in the middle of the night.
Now that all the men in the farmhouse who could stand or move on their own have been dispatched, the British soldiers are down to the rest – Jamie being one of that lot. Lord Melton asks who of the men left wants to go next and Jamie naturally speaks up. He told Claire he intended to die, and he still does. As he’s giving his name to the soldier to write down on the list, Lord Melton stops short. He recognizes the name and realizes he has a serious problem on his hands. Lord Melton happens to be the elder brother of John William Grey. His younger brother owes Red Jamie a debt of honor for not him in last season’s “Je Suis Prest” episode. Always cheeky, Jamie continues to tell the man to kill him anyway, he “dunna mind if he does it” instead of John Grey. Lord Melton insists on satisfying his family’s debt, so he sends Jamie home, bouncing along in the back of a cart, to Lallybroch.
Claire is in labor at the hospital, but then the men take matters out of her hands. The doctor takes Claire down the hall to the delivery room and forcibly puts her to sleep instead of letting her have the baby naturally. She protests but it’s kind of hard to fight that anesthetic once you get it forcibly administered. Frank is told to go down to the waiting room. When Claire wakes up, she is clearly in the same fear as she was when Faith was miscarried. That is until she sees Frank enter with the beautiful baby in his arms. They decide to make a fresh start of things and be a family of three. All looks well again, at least until the nurse asks where the beautiful little angel got her red hair. You both better come up with a good story for that question! It won’t be the last time that is asked.
More on Outlander:
– Outlander Season 3 Episode 2 “Surrender” Recap
– Outlander Season 3 Episode 3 “All Debts Paid” Recap
– Outlander Season 3 Episode 4 “Of Lost Things” Recap
– Outlander Season 3 Episode 5 “Freedom & Whisky” Recap
– Outlander Season 3 Episode 6 “A. Malcolm” Recap
– Outlander Season 3 Episode 7 “Crème De Menthe” Recap
– Outlander Season 3 Episode 8 “First Wife” Recap
– Outlander Season 3 Episode 9 “The Doldrums” Recap
– Outlander Season 3 Episode 10 “Heaven and Earth” Recap
– Exclusive Interview on Season 3 with Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore
– One-on-One with Sophie Skelton
– Richard Rankin Interview on Outlander Season 3 and Playing Roger
– Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies Q&A
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