Outlander, Season Three (2017)


Outlander's third season faces the difficult task of keeping its main lovers apart for six episodes, and covering twenty years in the meantime, as each of them attempt unsuccessfully to build lives away from each other. The result is a sometimes lagging plot that doesn't really take off until the final handful of episodes, which take place in Jamaica and bring the entire season full-circle.


Life has changed for Claire (Caitriona Balfe), who has returned to her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) in the 1940s by passing through the stones. She has arrived pregnant and unsure of the fate of her Scottish husband, Jamie (Sam Heughan), at the Battle of Culloden. She and Frank have agreed to give their marriage a second chance and live together, while raising her daughter as their child, but find that difficult. She cannot get her red-headed Scotsman out of her mind, and Frank knows that each time he reaches for her, she's thinking about what she's left behind. Driven to help people and still fiercely independent, Claire decides to attend medical school after Frank moves them to America. There, she faces sexism and other challenges, while unable to find out what fate has befallen her beloved. It's not until after a tragic accident changes her life forever that she even considers making her way into the past to find Jamie again...


Meanwhile, Jamie has survived the fiercest fight and landed in prison. He's to be executed as one of the Scottish traitors, until an old favor allows him to escape. Recaptured again, and placed in the care of a man who knows him from the past, Jamie continues to do his best to fight for Scottish independence however he can. When Claire pops back into his life, he has opened up a printing house with an illegal side-business to cover up the rent. But no sooner do they find one another again than life takes an unexpected turn and thrusts them onto the high seas--to save his nephew from a fate worse than death. Little do either of them know what awaits them on the far side of the sea...


This season requires patience and diligence to get through at times, because you cannot skip any of the earlier episodes without missing important plot points. Much of the action doesn't pay off until late in the season--where seemingly innocent moments like Claire recognizing that a woman whose bones are two centuries old was murdered come into focus. Characters appear for a couple of episodes, then disappear until the end, when they become important again. I loved that aspect of the storytelling, that even occasional things here and there were explained at the end. The last few episodes are so good, so full of action, and familiar faces (despite many coincidences -- everyone winding up in the same place, at the right time, with whatever they need), that it makes up for some of the duller moments of the season -- namely, how long it takes Claire and Jamie to find one another, long stretches of people being sick on board ships, and then a tedious episode in which Claire gets stuck marooned on an island.


The characters are more likable in this season, including the Chinaman that Jamie has nicknamed "Willoughby" (since no one can pronounce his name right), but the minor characters aren't fleshed out that well. We also get a glimpse of Brianna, their daughter, as an adult and she eagerly helps her mom figure out how to travel into the past, a setup for later seasons in which Brianna travels back in time to find them. Though they are all twenty years older for most of this season, there's very few changes to them other than a few gray streaks in their hair. The costumes aren't anything to look at until they reach Jamaica and attend the governor's ball, but the settings, set design, and music continue to be excellent. We also finally get to resolve a plot line from an earlier season, while ending up in the perfect launching place for the next season--which takes place somewhere Jamie and Claire have never been before, at least not in this century.

Sexual Content:
A dozen sex scenes, spread out over as many episodes; some clothed, others unclothed, all with graphic movement, noise, and often nudity; there are other nude scenes (bare backsides, as men/women dress/undress, including one where a naked woman rises out of a pool full of blood and rinses herself off in front of a man). A man becomes aware that another man is gay, and offers himself to him in exchange for a favor (the first man admits he's attracted to the second, but feels repulsed at the idea of taking advantage of him sexually; he had placed his hand on the man's arm before). A woman is almost raped; another is threatened with rape; a woman says she will accuse a man of rape if he doesn't keep his mouth shut. Discussion over whether slaves are 'fertile' in a slave market; a man shows off the slave's penis to the crowd (not shown) and touches it, to prove 'how it rises.' Bare-breasted women in a brothel, and sexual stuff happening in the background; characters hear moaning coming from the other rooms. A man tells another man that he cannot marry a girl, because he has bedded too many women (but later allows it). Discussion about how to prevent pregnancy. An absent-minded priest ran off with a woman "in sin," and has lost his mind, so when he marries a young couple, he inquires after the man's private parts. A woman says she has her way with men, and then has them killed.
A half-dozen f-words, several uses of c*nt, balls, pr*ck, c*ck, etc. Two abuses of GD, and 10 of various names for Jesus/Christ. A dozen uses of sh*t.
The season opens with a graphic depiction of war--men are blown apart, stabbed, shot, and skewered. Soldiers shoot the wounded. Claire often operates or performs medical surgeries on people who have been shot (close-ups of her suturing wounds, picking buckshot out of holes, etc); she rips her arm open on a branch and needs it sewn shut; a man finds his pet goat has been skinned and eaten (he carries around its bloody head, then dumps carnivorous beetles all over it to clean up the skull). A man throws a woman around a room, threatens to rape her, then falls and hits his head on the floor; he later dies from his injuries. A fire ravages a house and almost kills someone; other characters are beaten up, thrown around, punched in the face, stabbed, and shot.

A "witch" bathes in fresh blood (she says it comes from goats) and tries to interpret a prophecy that would allow a Scottish king to come to the throne. A clairvoyant who suffers from bad headaches tells fortunes and has 'spells' (she looks as if she is channeling and speaks in convoluted sentences/riddles).

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