The title of this promo is more than a righteous Magic:The Gathering card. It’s also the nickname for Plutarch’sLives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, a series of biographies of famous men that highlighted their similar virtues and failings, and a fascinating study of morality and choices. It’s an apt lens through which to view this season of Outlander, in which Claire and Jamie struggle to make the most of their choice to separate, consequently exposing the best and worst of themselves (and those closest to them). It’s a reminder that our heroes are no more human than any of us: sometimes disturbingly fallible, others heartrendingly persistent. Plus I hear there’s a lot of sex.
Let’s dig in.
The promo opens on Claire and Bree, presumably on a plane back to Boston after their visit to Scotland. Caitriona Balfe narrates, letting us know that when we last saw the character it was 1968, right after her character discovers Jamie didn’t die at Culloden. Both Randall ladies seem immersed in thought.
Information like that has a way of jump-starting one’s fantasy life, and Claire gazes out of her plane window while Bree reassures her that they “will find him.” Don’t pat yourself on the back, kid. Everyone finds Jamie eventually. He’s pretty noteworthy.
Cut to Bree and Claire researching at what looks like a library with Roger. This promo needs more Roger. If this keeps up I am just going to start Photoshopping his face onto vases and stuff. Here he is, color-coordinating not only with the rich wood paneling but also Bree’s vest. I assume he’s the head researcher because he’s the only one who can read fluent Scottish noises.
It’s worth noting that the group searching for Jamie in the past is also in a prime position to see their relationships most significantly affected in the present. One woman longing to leave the present to return to the past, another firmly anchored to the present but potentially fragile in the face of the loss of another parent, and a man re-evaluating his past identity while harboring new hopes for his future.
Meanwhile, we flash to Jamie gasping in a tortured breath and opening his eyes on Culloden field, a familiar uniformed ponytail visible over his left shoulder.
Sex has always been a huge part of Outlander. It’s pretty much the reason we all watch the show. You know it, I know it.
So, when I realized Voyager — the book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon the upcoming season 3 is based on — featured a major time jump, I got worried. What would Jamie and Claire sex scenes look like after a 20-year separation?
Luckily, I got to travel to the Outlander set in Scotland to ask Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan that exact question.
But first, since it’s been a while (too long!) since we last spent time with our favorite time-crossed duo, let’s recap what we know. Last season of Outlander saw Claire (Caitriona Balfe) stepping back through the time stones and returning to her 20th century life and first husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) circa 1948, leaving Jamie (Sam Heughan) to die in battle on the Culloden moor.
Fast-forward 20 years to 1968, and Claire, along with her and Jamie’s daughter Brianna, has learned that her dashing Scottish lover/husband survived the battle, which means he would be alive today, if today were 200 years ago.
The thing about Season 3 of Outlander is that dates are important, so if you happened to nap through mid-18th century Scottish history in high school, you might want to pay attention now.
When Claire first goes back in time, it’s 1945 in the present, but 1743 in the past. She stays in 18th century Scotland for three years, leaving on the eve of the bloody Battle of Culloden — which pitted Scottish supporters of Charles Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) against British troops loyal to King George II, and ended in carnage on the Scottish side — in 1746. But because that time also translates to three years in the p resent, it’s 1948 when she gets back. Leaving 1968 to seek Jamie in the past puts us in 1766. (I know, I know — it’s very confusing.)
In the book’s timeline, Claire is 50 in 1968, while Jamie is 45 in 1766. We’ve already seen 50-year-old Claire, who looks pretty fantastic, nary a grey hair in sight. And while we’ve gotten a glimpse at what looks like caveman Jamie in the years following Claire’s departure, we don’t yet know how the years will affect him.
Historical purists (a.k.a. me) could point out that 45 in 1766 would be considered nearing old age, but this is a fictional universe, so I’m fairly certain he’ll still be hunky, something Sam Heughan basically confirmed when we met. “Jamie ages more emotionally than physically,” he said. ” The aging process was more due to the trauma and experiences of his life that he’s gone through. I won’t be walking around with a wooden stick and long white hair.”
But still, sex in your late 40s and early 50s isn’t quite the same as sex in your 20s. At the time of the set visit, Balfe and Heughan hadn’t yet filmed their highly anticipated reunion. But they were definitely aware of the fan expectations, and had some of their own.
“I’m so excited to play that stuff because even though this show is a fantasy what we all try to do every day is ground it in some kind of reality,” Balfe explained. “It’s nice to have the ability to delve into the fantasy of what this relationship would be like. Anyone who’s spent any time away from their partner knows that when you first see each other again in your head, you’ve played all the scenarios of how perfectly it’s all gonna go. Then, somebody says one thing and you’re at each other’s throats. It’s important to allow this relationship to become real, and for them to discover who each other are all over again. They’re both flawed people. They’re not perfect. That’s also what makes it interesting.”
And as for the sex? Check out what they had to say in the video above!
Outlander began on Amazon. Are you excited it’s finally on a terrestrial channel so more people can see it?
It’s fantastic. It’s very much a Scottish show and Scotland is very much a character in it — it’s so integral to our story.
Do you have to apply a sense of humour to get through all the sex scenes?
The first series was my first time doing anything of that kind on TV and I think naivety helped. But it was important for the story and I like that it’s told as much from the female perspective as possible. It’s interesting to have a woman of that time be sexually liberated. But the actual doing is always awkward and there are too many people in the room who you have to try to look in the eye afterwards. But you giggle your way through it.
Have a lot of your friends and family seen it?
I think for some members of my family it’s better they don’t! My mum has seen it. We just don’t talk about those parts [the sex scenes]. There are certain episodes I tell my dad he can watch. I don’t think he wants to see the others — and I definitely don’t want him to.
Were you prepared for how huge it was in the US?
I had no idea. I didn’t know about the book series. I had never done TV so I had zero expectations. I was just so delighted I’d got the job and that it was going to shoot in the UK so I’d be back on this side of the world.
It has a feverish fan base. Do you get chased down the street?
No, luckily Sam [Heughan, her co-star] gets all the chasing!
Sam didn’t have any big acting roles before this either, so you’re doing it together…
So much so. We have each other’s backs and it’s great that you have somebody to confide in and share an experience like this with who knows exactly what you’re going through.
Guilty pleasure? A lazy weekend in bed watching box sets, especially anything American and sci-fi. I recently got through Netflix’s Stranger Things.
Where is home?Wherever my suitcase is, because I’m away so much for filming. I had a home in London for 12 years and now have a place in Scotland, which is where I’m from.
Career plan B? I’m really into sport, so perhaps a professional sportsman.
Who would play you in a movie of your life?Sean Connery.
Biggest bugbear?People littering the natural environment. Hiking is a great passion of mine and I find myself picking up empty bottles.
As a child you wanted to be… A magician.
Earliest memory? Playing in the grounds of a ruined castle in Balmaclellan, Southwest Scotland. We lived in converted stables on the estate.
Secret to a happy relationship? As I travel so much, I would say that being on the same continent certainly helps.
Your best quality? Stubbornness – you’ve got to be pretty strong-willed in my business.
And your worst? The same. Being stubborn doesn’t always help.
Last meal on earth? I wholly promote the omelette as a meal whatever the occasion, especially your last one.
Dream dinner–party guests?Elon Musk, who is fascinating and inspiring, the tennis player Martina Hingis, who I was obsessed with as a youngster, Michelle Obama and the astronaut Tim Peake.
Advice to teenage self? Just relax.
Cat or dog?I’m wholeheartedly a cat person, although it’s not practical for me to have one at the moment. When I was growing up, we had cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, goats, chickens – a whole menagerie.
What do you see when you look in the mirror?I spend so much time in front of mirrors as part of my job that I try to avoid them outside work.
Starstruck moment?Meeting Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton on a flight to Los Angeles last year. I was very embarrassing and asked him for a selfie.
Big break? Appearing in a play called Outlying Islands at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2002, my first job after leaving drama school.
Career highlight? The 2014 New York premiere of the first season of Outlander, my biggest role so far.
Most embarrassing moment? Being on stage at the premiere in a kilt and giving the front row a sneak peak.
Favourite tipple? Single malt whiskies from Islay.
Hangover cure?Hair of the dog.
Top of your bucket list?To go to base camp on Mount Everest and go hiking in Nepal or Tibet.
Secret skill I can juggle pretty well – with balls, clubs and, if pushed, knives.
Philosophy? Trust your gut instinct.
Last film that made you cry?The Light Between Oceans, which is extremely moving and well-acted.
Most extravagant purchase?Taking a flight to Thailand for Christmas on impulse two years ago.
Biggest regret? Not playing rugby for Scotland.
Biggest fear? Getting the sack.
Celebrity crush? Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters.
Outlander Season Three premieres September 10 on Starz, but critics got a sneak peek at the new season at TCA. Season Three will open with Jamie and Claire separated by centuries. Jamie must face down the legendary Battle of Culloden, while Claire has to raise their daughter with another man in the 20th Century. Stars Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies, Sophie Skelton, and Richard Rankin were on hand, along with showrunner Ronald D. Moore and Executive Producer Maril Davis. Sam Heughan joined the panel later via satellite. (Warning: spoilers for non-book readers!)
Starz unveiled a brand new video hyping Jamie and Claire’s star-crossed romance in Season Three. Showrunner Ronald D. Moore explained that he looked at Jamie’s storyline in the book Voyager to help inform how they laid out the season. Jamie’s journey could be broken down into about five parts, from the Battle of Culloden to the moments leading up to the Print Shop. From there Moore broke down Claire’s life with Frank and Brianna to create a parallel narrative. “You’re traveling through 20 years of their lives,” said Moore. “So you focus on the major moments of drama.”
The Battle of Culloden kicks off the third season and Sam Heughan said the historical event made for a “great start to the season.” Tobias Menzies explained that they took a “strange” approach to it and that it marks the end of the Black Jack/Jamie storyline. “They meet on the battlefield in Culloden. It’s almost in flashback…you get fragments of the encounter,” he said. “I like the way it came out. It’s a strange part fight, part dance, part embrace.”
Spoilers, but season three sees two characters’ approaching the end of their respective storylines – and both are played by Menzies. When asked if Menzies was done with the show for good, Moore teased: “The Randall family tree is very broad.” He added, “You never say never. There could be flashbacks, we are a time travel show, so you never know.”
Maril Davis joked he could come back as a female member of the Randall clan, which Menzies loved. Balfe exclaimed: “Daisy Randall!” So stay tuned.
Heughan said, “I think this season in particular feels very strong. Every episode has an individual theme and the characters, they grow up, they change.” Balfe said that when she approached her character’s aging, she wanted to focus on how time changes you, over cosmetic “crows’ feet.” She watched specific actresses at different points in their film careers to track how Claire might change. “People don’t change that much,” she said, “but certain things change about them. How they carry themselves.” At the very end of the panel she joked that they had thought about a “monobrow,” and Heughan added, “I’d like to see that!”
The countdown is on. Starz has set an 8 PM Sunday, September 10, premiere for Season 3 of its time-traveling drama Outlander, starring Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. The premium cable net also released the key art, which shows the stars on opposite sides of the standing stone that once brought them together; check it out below.
The 13-episode new season is based on Voyager, the third of eight books in Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling Outlander series. It picks up right after Claire (Balfe) travels through returns from the 1700s to her life in 1948. Now pregnant with Jamie’s (Heughan) child, she struggles with the fallout of her sudden reappearance and its effect on her marriage to her first husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies).
Meanwhile, in the 18th century, Jamie suffers from the aftermath of his doomed last stand at the historic battle of Culloden, as well as the loss of Claire. As the years pass, Jamie and Claire attempt to make a life apart from each other, both haunted by the memory of their lost love.
The budding possibility that Claire can return to Jamie in the past breathes new hope into Claire’s heart — as well as new doubt. But they are separated by continents and centuries, and the questions remain: When they find each other, and will they be the same people who parted at the standing stones all those years ago?
Series developer Ronald D. Moore, Maril Davis, Matthew B. Roberts, Toni Graphia, Anne Kenney and Andy Harries serve as executive producers of Outlander, which is produced by Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining & Supply Company and Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television.
The 13-episode new season is based on Voyager, the third of eight books in Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling Outlander series. It picks up right after Claire (Balfe) travels through returns from the 1700s to her life in 1948. Now pregnant with Jamie’s (Heughan) child, she struggles with the fallout of her sudden reappearance and its effect on her marriage to her first husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies). Meanwhile, in the 18th century, Jamie suffers from the aftermath of his doomed last stand at the historic battle of Culloden, as well as the loss of Claire. As the years pass, Jamie and Claire attempt to make a life apart from each other, both haunted by the memory of their lost love.
July 9th 2013 was the official announcement of Sam Heughan landing the role as Outlander’s leading man, Jamie Fraser. Sam agreed to have a short Q&A with fans via Twitter as a “birthday” gift to them. A celebration of our favorite BBF (book boyfriend) coming to life.
Happy casting anniversary @SamHeughan ! So…. do we get a Q&A in honour of this momentous occasion? 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏