STARZ Outlander Series 3 developed by Ronald D. Moore from the books by Diana Gabaldon has thankfully arrived back on our screens to beguile us once more.
In Episode 2 we find James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie (Jamie) Fraser (Sam Heughan) hiding out in a cave deep in the woods near his family seat at Lallybroch. It’s a prison both of the body and the mind. Jamie survived the Battle of Culloden, saved by an Englishman because of a debt of honour.
Now having been nursed back to health by his sister Jenny (Laura Donnelly) and her husband Ian Murray (Steven Cree), he spends his time hunting and gathering and only visits them at home when he is sure there is no one else around, particularly the English redcoats.
They are still offering a reward and searching to find the infamous Red Jamie otherwise known as the ‘Bonaid Odhair’ (Dun Coloured Bonnet – he wears a brown bonnet to hide his red hair). The locals have given him the nickname so they can talk about the fugitive without the Duke of Cumberland’s men knowing who he is.
Jamie looking wild and wooly has gained a reputation for being not only a leader of the rebellion, but also is regarded as a potential threat to the stability of the region and so it’s not long before the redcoats realise who it is the locals are talking about and that Dunbonnet and Red Jamie are one and the same man.
Don’t read any more if you don’t want Spoilers
In Scotland the tartan, plaid and kilts they wear, the clans and customs they celebrate, all have a rich heritage dating back to ancient times and with all of their history under oppression by the British, they seek to safeguard their traditions yet more.
Those who seek to continue to fight for their right to be free will work all the harder to ensure it happens, even if it does take hundreds of years.
The hardest thing of all for many of the Scots after Culloden to come to terms with, is those of they’re own countrymen who became turncoats, fighting for the other side and that loathing will run deep for a very long time.
Young Fergus (Romann Berrux), the infamous pickpocket Jamie and the love of his life and his wife Claire (Caitriona Balfe) rescued from trouble in Paris, is now growing up in the Lallybroch household with Ian and Jenny’s two sons, watching out for his master and his welfare as he can.
In this episode he will suffer much because of his devotion.
The English arrive to harass the family and take Ian Murray away to the Garrison cells hoping he will give his brother in law up. Jenny is not far from giving birth and so it looks like she will be doing it alone with only her friend Mary MacNab (Emma Campbell-Jones) to help her.
When she goes into labour, her boys see a Raven up on the wall and so Fergus fetches a gun, which he has hidden on Jamie’s request, one he is not supposed to bring out ever again.
Fergus shoots the raven to be sure that all will be well for the people he calls his family. The only trouble is that redcoats nearby in the woods hear the shot.
They arrive at Lallybroch to find out who has the gun and why it has been shot, little knowing Jamie is in the next room with Jenny’s newborn son that he’s come to see. He’s hoping against hope it won’t cry.
She pretends the wee bairn died in childbirth and Mary gives up the gun, saying it was her who shot the raven and she was worried for her mistress. Not being able to get anywhere further with the two women the disgruntled redcoats withdraw, but not before one notices Fergus looking at him defiantly.
Over in Boston it is 1948 and Claire (Caitriona Bale) the love of Jamie’s Life has finally given birth to their daughter Brianna. She is trying to cope with coming back to the future and taking up the role of being the wife of Professor Frank Randall (Black Jack’s descendant), who now has a prestigious job at the University.
It’s a tough ask for Claire when her heart is in the past and her body in the present with the man she is pledged to live her life with, one who is the spitting image of his cruel relative Black Jack who cased Jamie so much pain and distress.
She’s fighting herself, remembering Jamie her body responds as she is yearning to be touched and loved. She is however not finding the satisfaction she needs with her husband of the present.
Frank knows that while he is with her when they make love, she is with him….Jamie in the past and she doesn’t deny it.
She’s made a stern stuff, is Claire and so focuses first on bringing up Jamie’s baby daughter Brianna, but all too soon as the baby begins to grow and move she will become aware that is not going to be enough.
Back in Scotland the soldiers have been unconvinced by Mary’s confession about the gun, and start following Fergus hoping he will lead them to where Jamie is hiding.
He’s much too clever and senses they are behind him so taunts them, making them angry until finally one holds him down while the other cuts off his hand.
Jamie observing from the top of the hill, hurries down to fetch him, and takes him home so Jenny will look after him and she and Mary MacNab stop the bleeding and save his life.
Later Ian tells Jamie over a drink he understands how he feels and he is aware Claire was his heart. He’s implying he knows what his brother in law is going through, because the leg he lost even though a wooden peg has replaced it, still aches at night.
Jamie becomes introspective and tells young Fergus he has reminded him he has something to fight for. He then tells Jenny and Ian who is now back home, that he wants them to turn him into the redcoats for the reward.
They fight him but he will not change his mind.
He knows it will give them some much-needed funds and he’s hoping the English won’t kill him, but just leave him in gaol where he knows how to survive. Mary McNab has brought food and she shaves off his red beard and trims his hair before he has a bath, preparing himself for surrender. She knows he loves another, but misses her husband too and asks if they cannot find solace in each other.
In America Claire has thrown herself into her new life… although she knows much is missing and her life is now not whole. So she enrols at Medical School, the first woman in the class to do so.
On the first day she introduces herself to the Dr in charge of the anatomy class, only to be rebuffed. Medicine has been a doctor’s domain and he’s not happy, nor are the other male students when she arrives.
Arriving to the anatomy classroom she sits alone until the first negro to also enrol Jo Abernathy (Wil Johnson), comes and asks may he sit next to her. They shake hands, both of them aware they will suffer the consequences of being ‘different’ and that they will both have to fight prejudice as well, if they are to succeed.
As she’s walking home there’s a lone bagpiper on the bridge playing ‘Scotland the Brave’.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017