What to Expect in Outlander Season 3

Photo: Steffan Hill/Sony Pictures Television Inc. All rights reserved.

Spoilers ahead for the Outlander season finale and Outlander book series.

As we leave Outlander in season two, we’ve been introduced to a couple of new characters in 1968 who will be pivotal to the story going forward — an older Claire, her daughter Brianna, and Roger Wakefield. Claire’s contemplating another jump back in time, now that she’s learned Jamie survived Culloden, but she can’t make the trip just yet — she’s got some planning to do! The more historical research Brianna and Roger can help with, the more they’ll learn what Claire can expect should she return to the 18th century. What should we expect, then, when Claire makes the voyage, in search of a man who might now be a stranger to her, given that 20 years will have passed? Here’s some of what can happen in season three, based on the third book in the series, Voyager.

Debts of honor. At the battle training camp before Prestonpans, Jamie was assaulted by a 16-year-old British youth, John William Grey. Grey was prepared to die, but Jamie wasn’t prepared to kill him — he breaks the boy’s arm and then pretends he’s going to rape Claire to trick Grey into spilling some military secrets about British infantry movements. If the information proves true, the boy lives. “I give you your life. I hope you use it well,” Jamie tells him. Grey regards this as a debt of honor and says he hopes to discharge that debt in the future. “A Grey does not forget an obligation, sir.” That debt will be repaid, in more ways than one. (For those who want to read along in the books, John Grey has his own spinoff series.)

Time served. Our favorite Highlander has done hard time at Fort William, Wentworth Prison, and the Bastille. Next up? Ardsmuir Prison, where prison records reveal Jamie Fraser’s sentence following his capture some seven years after Culloden. “Ardsmuir is the carbuncle on God’s bum,” one character says of the place, where the prisoners resort to eating rats, are flogged if caught with clan tartans, and huddle together for warmth. One prisoner in particular acts as their spokesman to try to better conditions (including getting the men more food, more blankets, and even medical treatment). “The prisoners obey him without question; but give orders without his putting his seal to them, and you might as well be talking to the stones in the courtyard.” Consequently, the warden takes supper with this redheaded representative once a week, to talk things over — and play chess.

Strange affairs. Just because Claire and Jamie are separated by 200 years, and may even at times believe the other is dead or lost to them, they don’t stop being sexual beings. During the 20 years they spend apart, they have other partners — Claire is married to Frank, for starters. (The marriage will be rocky, though.) And then there’s poor deprived Jamie. Before he goes to prison, one of the local widows offers herself to him, since it might be a while before he has another chance. When he’s out on a sort of work-release program, another woman decides Jamie should take her virginity before she’s forced to marry someone less desirable. And then after prison, another woman wants him to marry her. Jamie, forever a wanted man …

Lovesick Laoghaire. Laoghaire begs Claire’s forgiveness this season “for the horrible wrong I did you,” i.e., trying to get Claire burned at the stake as a witch. “I don’t hate you, Laoghaire,” Claire tells her. “I pity you, for the dark places you must have inhabited, in the hopes of getting something that you’ll never have … Jamie will never love you, Laoghaire, but there might be a way to earn his forgiveness.” Thanks to their early make-out sessions, Laoghaire thought Jamie might be hers one day, and has tried to push Claire out of the way — so what do you think will happen when Claire’s time travel clears a path for Laoghaire to try to win Jamie back once more? “A lot of what we did with episode 208 was not to redeem Laoghaire, but to soften her just a little bit,” writer Anne Kenney said. “That way, when we see what happens 20 years later, everyone won’t be like, ‘What?!’ Because then Jamie can be like, ‘Well, you told me to forgive her.’ It’s a bridge between these two points in the story.”

A frame job. Jamie is a man of many talents. He runs a printing shop that attracts seditionists, which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t also supposed to be a “respectable” cover for his less-than-legal activities on the side. You see, Jamie is also a prized criminal. The only thing is, there is no evidence of his crimes. Not that this would stop the customs agents in hot pursuit — all they need is to be able to pin a heinous crime on him, the sort that would cause a major public outcry. A capital charge.

A serial killer. Who is killing the whores of Edinburgh? Someone referred to as “the Fiend” murders eight women over the course of two years with a hatchet or heavy-bladed instrument of some sort, severing the heads of prostitutes (or women mistaken for them), like an early-day Jack the Ripper. In some cases, the bodies are dismembered or otherwise “interfered with.” Most of the women are killed in their own rooms or at their brothels, with one exception — a French nun coming ashore at Edinburgh who was abducted from the docks. Being mistaken for a prostitute in this place and time is no joke.

Buried treasure. Legend has it the king of France sent his cousin Bonnie Prince Charlie a fortune in gold to aid the Jacobite cause, but the Highlanders never got to use it. Some say the gold was hidden by the Highland army during the last headlong retreat to the North, before Culloden. Others say the gold never reached Prince Charles, but was left for safekeeping in a cave near the place where it had come ashore on the northwestern coast. Others yet say the secret was lost, as the person who knew where it was died at Culloden. It’s also possible the place is known, but it’s being kept a secret by a single Highland family. It might even be a rite of passage for certain members of that family to visit the treasure and bring it back, one piece at a time …

Pirates. Where there’s buried treasure, pirates are sure to follow — and where there are pirates, there are pirate ships. Expect a large portion of season three to take place aboard a series of sea vessels, including a French cargo ship called The Artemis, a British man-o’-war from the Royal Navy called The Porpoise, and the Portuguese pirate ship Bruja. Two of those ships are not above kidnapping or “pressing” people, and all three share the same destination — the islands of the Caribbean. Seasickness, however, will be the least of their problems at sea — not when there are typhoid epidemics, hurricanes, and sharks. More than one character will have to jump overboard.

The slave trade. While in search of someone who was kidnapped (and might be sold at auction), Claire and company end up in a slave market, and Claire’s modern sensibilities leave her outraged — “the branding, the nakedness, the crude talk and casual indignity” — and she tries to intervene. It backfires.

Magical rituals. Men who might be zombies. Voodoo priests. Oracles who can hear the spirits of the dead. Human sacrifices. The more Claire travels through space and time, the more she learns about the occult. As Geillis tells her in Voyager, “Ye dinna want to believe in witches and zombies and things that go bump in the night? Well, legends are many-legged beasties, aye? But they generally have at least one foot on the truth … If everyone can do it, it’s science. If only a few can, then it’s witchcraft, or superstition, or whatever you like to call it. But it’s real. We’re real, Claire — you and me. And special. Have you never asked yourself why?” Good question.

Outlander Season 3: What to Expect