What to Expect From 'Outlander' Season 3 

Geillis back. Jamie as a pirate. 'Outlander' turning into 'Black Sails.' Here's why Season 3 will be its best. 


Now that Outlander Season 2 has ended with a finale that was emotionally charged (everything about that Craigh na Dun scene), tragic (Dougal), fly as hell (Claire’s glasses), and frustrating (Brianna, the lack of any actual Culloden scenes after a season-long build-up), it’s time to think about what lies ahead in Season 3. Season 2 was wildly uneven — the France section was filled with gilded sets, shiny costumes, and limping plotting, while the show came alive again after it remembered that Scotland is one of its best characters. But there’s reason to believe Season 3 will offer smoother sailing. As a book, Voyager is a more straightforward adventure tale than the jumpy Dragonfly in Amber, and its tangents and side characters are more conducive to a coherent plot.

Thanks to that final line (“I have to go back”) we know that Claire will be returning to 1700s Scotland twenty years after her separation from Jamie. But what exactly will she — and the viewer — find there? Here’s a mostly spoiler-free rundown about why Voyager will make the best season yet.

The Book Is Completely Bonkers

Voyager is nuts in a way that neither Outlander nor Dragonfly in Amber are. There are dramatic reunions that put soap operas to shame, improbable coincidences, pirates, and voodoo zombies. Because of that, it tends to either be a reader’s favorite of the series or their least favorite. Even if you’re in the latter camp, you should still be excited for its screen adaptation. For once, Outlander’s tendency to give scenes far too much room to breathe (did we really need to see the King of France shitting for ten minutes earlier in the season? Did Alex Randall really need to take his last breaths in drawn-out real-time?) will serve the story well, here.

Voyager hurtles from one insane event to the next at lighting speed, give or take a few hundred pages on the intricacies of sea travel and Claire curing ailing sailors that the show can easily cut. If the book’s events are too silly for you, they will be given more gravity when they’re slowed down onscreen and scored by Bear McCreary, who could make an 80s workout video seem moving. If they’re just the right amount of fun, you should enjoy it. And if you haven’t read the books, I have just once sentence for you: Jamie as a pirate. Claire is ready for it.

Jamie Will Briefly Be a Pirate

Don’t worry about why — seriously, it’s one of those convoluted plot points that only makes the barest amount of sense, just like Jamie and Claire’s Season 2 flip-flopping between trying to stop the rebellion by boring it to death in France to suddenly supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie in Scotland while still semi-working to stop him, somehow. But unlike that subplot, this one is more fun, and we therefore don’t mind if the logic isn’t always there. Outlander will briefly turn into Black Sails, which is something every show should do to improve itself.

Maybe since they’re on the same network, they can do a crossover episode and throw in Charles Vane. Maybe Jamie will get Batman-voice lessons from him. None of these things will probably happen, but at the very least, Pirate Jamie will be a hell of a lot more fun than France Jamie.

Jamie and Claire’s New Friends will Be Relevant to the Plot

The Comte St. Germain was one of the best parts of Season 2. His disdainful sneering will live on in glorious Outlander history.

That said, he was also utterly pointless. His presence had so little impact on the main plot that it was easy to forget he even existed by the time Jamie and Claire were back trudging along the rolling moors and muddy roads of Scotland. The same can be said of Claire’s French friend Louise.

But in Season 3, Jamie and Claire will also make new friends and enemies along the way, but — wonder of wonders — they will be relevant in ways that are more than just filler for a few episodes. One of them is someone we’ve already met as a young man in Season 2.

There Will Be Emotion

A lot of fans were salty that Season 2 pushed Jamie and Claire’s relationship aside in order to fit in things like that ten-minute shitting scene and some extra coughs from Alex Randall. And whether or not you agree, it is odd that a show that touts itself as emphasizing the female-gaze and featured its two leads in bed on the cover of Entertainment Weekly proceeded with a season featuring almost no sex and no female directors for those non-existent sex scenes.

Season 1 embraced Outlander’s bodice ripper roots and anchored it in a gritty period drama while rising above both genres and it was the show’s greatest strength. Season 2 threw up its hands, backed away from its strengths, and hurtled toward its weaknesses, shouting, “No, this is a Serious War Drama!” The two seasons have conveyed a sense of tonal whiplash.

Though Jamie and Claire’s parting at Craigh na Dun was the most emotionally impactful moment of Season 2, there is something to be said for the rest of the season losing that particular thread. Without spoiling anything, it’s safe to say that Season 3 will see them reunited after a twenty-year separation, and it would be nearly impossible to remove the impact from that.

Geillis Will Be Back in A Big Way

With her crazy-eyed preening and forest-dancing and keen appreciation for barbecues, Geillis is a pure delight. Outlander is a better show when Jamie and Claire are surrounded by delightful characters — another reason why France was a big snooze and the show came back to life after returning to Scotland. If Season 3 follows Voyager, expect to see more of Geillis and more of her witchy powers in action.

Season 3 has no set date yet but will likely premiere in spring or summer of 2017.

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