Outlander tackled its biggest season 3 hurdle by nailing the long awaited Jamie and Claire reunion.
Any series has its ups and downs, particularly series that are adapted from best-selling novels. There’s always the complaint that the characters are out-of-character, or something critical from the novels is missing. Those critiques aside, what’s important is that a series gets it right way more often than the series gets it wrong. Outlander, now in its third season, seems to be over its growing pains.
Showrunner Ron Moore has had, and will continue to have, various high-points of the Diana Gabaldon Outlander novels that his team have to get right. In season 1, he delivered admirably with two episodes that couldn’t be more different on every level if they tried: Jamie and Claire’s wedding, and the rape of Jamie by Jack. In season 2, the loss of Faith and Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire’s (Caitriona Balfe) reconciliation hit all the right notes, and left viewers baffled by how Caitriona Balfe’s work didn’t qualify for an Emmy nomination.
This isn’t to say there haven’t also been downsides. Over long narration in various episodes, seasons 1 and 2 frequently break the “show don’t tell” mantra. Additionally in season 2, Claire’s meddling in the Mary Hawkins and Alex Randall romance made us ask, “Who are you, and what have you done with Claire?”
Fortunately, when looking at season 3, Outlander seems to have avoided major missteps. Up until this week, we’ve had an in-depth look at Jamie and Claire’s lives over the past 20 years of their separation. Life tossed them a raw deal. Sometimes they made the best of their circumstances, other times their actions made their lives worse.
What we were faced with as we led up to the reunion was the ultimate question that anyone who has ever tried to rekindle a romance after years apart asks. “Have we changed so much that we no longer have any semblance of the bond that was there?” In short, “Is this reunion doomed?” It doesn’t matter if that question is asked aloud or to yourself. When said reunion involves time traveling 200 years into the past, leaving your daughter behind, the stakes are considerably higher.
Ask an Outlander fan what their favorite scene in any of the novels is, and the print shop reunion is in the top three. The Outlander team nailed it on several levels.
Kudos to Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. Trying to toe the line of disbelief, longing, reunion, trepidation, and ultimately rekindled passion is a tall order. They managed it without wallowing in sappy sentimentality. Balfe and Heughan have developed a rich chemistry over the past three seasons. It’s reflected in the nuances in their scenes together.
With an episode that’s over the usual hour, it’s easy to talk about pacing issues. At times, the episode seemed a little slow, but in the end it reflected what Jamie and Claire ironically needed after so much time apart — time to get to know each other again. The episode began as a Viennese Waltz and climaxed in a passionate Tango. It worked because Balfe and Hueghan have all the intricate footwork down. It’s second nature to them.
The humorous highlights that made the novel’s Jamie and Claire reunion work were all there this episode. Whether this was Geordy being scandalized that sex could happen before noon, Jamie’s fears that he’d pissed himself, or head cracking during sex, it all served to make the reunion more real. Life is humorous. Things never go the fairy tale way. Outlander made romance awkward and imperfect the way it often is.
Like every reunion, the next, obvious question is “now what?” With the cliffhanger ending of the mysterious man in Jamie’s bedroom, the fact that Jamie lives in a brothel because of his dubious business, and that we haven’t quite gotten our footing on what it’s like to be in Scotland twenty years after the rising, it all leads to us wanting immediate answers. In short, it’s what drives episodic television in the era when people marathon series instead of tuning in each week. Having viewers ask “now what?” at the end of a long awaited episode is the kind of tension that showrunners want.
Outlander continues this Sunday at 8:00 on Starz.
Did the ‘Outlander’ reunion succeed for you?
Between the announcement of a Birds of Prey movie and Steven Spielberg at the helm of Blackhawk, it’s been a week of good news for DC fans. So what do these movie choices mean for the future of the DCEU?
The 100 season 5 kicks off with the formidable “Eden,” in which Clarke Griffin proves, in a dozen different ways, why she is the best lead character on TV.
Director Wes Ball wraps up his Maze Runner Trilogy experience by discussing his favorite Death Cure featurette, if he’d do a Fever Code movie, and more!
Revisit the highs and lows of Chris Evans' career as you fret over Cap's fate
I Feel Pretty may look like a one woman show starring Amy Schumer, but the movie features another in a long line of incredible supporting performances from Michelle Williams.
It comes down to who's more stubborn, Madison or the Vultures?
Accio, exciting new role!
A Quiet Place succeeds where many movies of its kind have failed, because it knows that suspense can rely on much more than just the big monster reveal.
Author Jay Kristoff introduces an action-packed excerpt from his new YA novel LIFEL1K3.
Get your first look at Ōkami by Renée Ahdieh, a new novella featuring a fan favorite from Flame in the Mist.
Recent Podcast Episodes
Join ReWatchable as we discuss a very harmonious Angel 5×09, “Harm’s Way,” and welcome a new hero (?) in Angel 5×10 “Soul Purpose.”
- Resistance Radio
Mikey, Kaitlin, Ben and Dan-O are back with the latest news from a galaxy far far away and we talk about this years Force Friday and the toys from Solo: A Star Wars Story!
Join ReWatchable as we discuss Angel 5×07, “Lineage,” and Angel 5×08 “Destiny.”
- Resistance Radio
Mikey and Kaitlin are back with the latest news from a galaxy far far away and we break down the new trailer from Solo: A Star Wars Story!