Frontier season 3 tied up some major loose ends, which means when the show (hopefully) returns for season 4, it’s got some work cut out for it.
There are some major spoilers below for Frontier season 3. Continue at your own risk.
For the most part, I enjoyed Frontier season 3. It gave us a lot of what we already love about the show, wrapped up some major plot lines, and introduced some new characters. I took issue with some of Declan’s choices (especially his interactions with Chaulk) and how Grace was sidelined for the majority of the season, but I still love this show.
That being said, Frontier season 4 could make or break the series.
Now that Lord Benton has been killed and Declan is on the run from Lord Fisher, it feels like we’re entering a new era of the show. Declan’s main objective for three seasons has been getting revenge on the man who killed his family. At the end of season 3, he finally does that and learns that his son is still alive.
What happens next will be critical to keeping fans interested in the series.
Love him or hate him, Lord Benton was an excellent villain. He was intelligent, manipulative, resourceful, powerful, and damn near impossible to get rid of. Hew knew how to hurt Declan and he was just as determined to kill Harp as Harp was to kill him. They were vastly different people in a lot of ways, but they were on equal footing when it came to getting what they wanted in life. Not many people can say they could go toe to toe with Harp, but Benton always found a way to keep pace.
Will Lord Fisher be able to do that? He’s much more sympathetic to Declan than Benton was, even giving him a head start before he has his men pursue him. He wanted Benton out of the picture, too, and although Declan refused the offer to return to the HBC, it’s clear that Fisher is intrigued by Harp’s mythical status.
If duty is the only thing driving Fisher, and not revenge like it was for Benton, will this new Lord be that much of a threat? And if he’s not, what else will drive the conflict? Perhaps Declan will go after his son and find someone else on which to enact revenge, but will they have the staying power of Lord Benton?
It felt like the right time to kill off Lord Benton. Three seasons is enough, and I’m glad Declan finally got his revenge (though a simple swipe across the neck was not the kind of death I was hoping for). But the next villain to take his place needs to be just as interesting and formidable. Otherwise it’ll feel like the show is suffering without Lord Benton’s presence.
We explored a bit more of Declan’s darkness in season 3, which was as interesting as it was uncomfortable. I didn’t like seeing him nearly killing the young Red Coat or treating Chaulk the way he did, but Harp has always been a violent person, and it’s important to see him struggle with his brutality.
Frontier season 4 needs to take a stance. There must be a line for Declan. Season 1 and 2 proved that Harp wasn’t evil; he didn’t kill innocent people and it was obvious his ferocity was calculated. In season 3, it felt out of control. I would love to see season 4 delve deeper into this, ultimately showing that Declan has a conscience and a drive to help people, especially now that his thirst for vengeance against Lord Benton has been satiated.
What I don’t want to see is Declan going down a dark and bloody path without it being addressed. Don’t get me wrong — I love this show for the action and the gore. The scene where Harp holds aloft a head with the spine still in tact was awesome. But you can’t show other people trying to hold Declan back from crossing a line without eventually talking about it directly. Declan Harp needs to reestablish with himself just how far he’s willing to go to get the job done.
Now that Charlie is gone, Michael is busy with the company, Sokanon has her crusade, and Grace can’t stay with Declan because he’s on the run from Lord Fisher, I worry that Harp won’t have those voices of reason in his ear anymore. What I truly hope is that he’ll begin listening to his own heart again, once more working for the people instead of just for himself.
I also hope Grace and the other women on the show have larger roles in season 4. I’ve talked about how the women of Frontier are the best part of the show, but I have to admit I was disappointed they weren’t as front and center as they have been in the series.
This responsibility mainly falls on Grace’s shoulders, who has been a huge linchpin for Frontier from the very first episode. She had a great deal of power and respect at Fort James, and as soon as Lord Benton whisked her off to Scotland, she lost much of what made her such a formidable woman to deal with. While in Scotland, she was forced to wear a dress and lie on behalf of Benton. She spent the majority of the season as a damsel in distress, waiting to be rescued by Harp.
Elizabeth Carruthers had the same kind of presence as Grace, but she’s dead. Sokanon can certainly handle the spotlight, but the most action she took in all of season 3 happened in the last couple episodes. Josephette, Clenna, Mary, Imogen, Chaulk, and now Kahwihta all bring something to the table, but they tend to react to what they’re given rather than be the driving force in their lives.
In Frontier season 4, I want to see more agency from all of these women. Josephette is an intelligent businesswoman, and I’d love to see her have a larger role in her company and on the show. Clenna has been trained as a lady and is capable of manipulating men to do her bidding. I want to see a darker side of her. I also want to see a darker side of Mary, who has become somewhat of a wildcard now that she’s killed multiple people without any apparent remorse.
Imogen may be gone, but she’s far from out, and I’m sure she has something up her sleeve. She makes a frustratingly good foil for our heroes, and I like that she’s found power in her womanhood. Chaulk, no longer masquerading as a boy, is alone in the world. I want to see what she does next and how her interactions with Benton and Harp have changed her. And then there’s Kahwihta, who we don’t know much about. I want to explore who she truly is without O’Reilly’s influence in her life. I’d love to see her team up with Sokanon.
And speaking of Sokanon, it’s going to be up to her and Grace to really lead the charge. I want Frontier season 4 to return to form when it comes to their female characters. They both need to have a more active part in the series going forward.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to see Grace as Governess of Fort James? It would certainly be an uphill battle for her, needing to gain the respect of the men who would report to her, trying to keep Michael and the other traders happy, taking care of her alehouse and the women she employs. There would be no shortage of struggle to make things interesting, and having a woman take on such a title in an era where they’re nothing more than wives, mothers, sex workers, or seamstresses would certainly send a message.
And what about Sokanon? She’s already a respected warrior amongst her people, but she has clearly found a calling to help women who have been sold to white men, either as their wives or their whores. Wouldn’t it be incredible to watch her and an all-female group of fighters go around releasing women from enslavement, fighting for the rights of Native people? As much as I love seeing her as Declan’s right-hand woman, I’d truly love to see her become more of a leader in her own right.
Frontier season 4 certainly has a tall order to fill. It must keep us engaged with the characters we already know and love while bringing something new to the table. I trust the creative team behind this show — they’ve rarely led us astray in three seasons — but I’m also cautious. Frontier is one of my favorite shows on television right now, and I want to see it continue to succeed without sacrificing the quality of its characters.