A True Fan’s View of #Outlander Ep. 301: THE BATTLE JOINED

One of the many things you’ll notice about Ron D. Moore‘s scripted Outlander Episode 301: THE BATTLE JOINED is the silence. Though it’s not without battle scenes on Culloden Moor and in Boston, silence is the name of the game.

Firstly, they’ll be no juicy spoilers in this glimpse of Episode 301. My lips are sealed out of respect for the show and its fans.

Secondly, there is no Claire or Jamie voiceover, nor any “Look Who’s Talking” voiceover from baby Bree. Nope. No voiceover from Frank, either.

Thirdly, the battle scenes are quite intense. (I don’t believe I’m introducing a spoiler here. It’s common knowledge the Season 3 premiere takes up where the Season 2 finale left off.) Though intense, the decision not to drown out the sounds of battle with loud action music is greatly appreciated by this fan. This isn’t a Hollywood blockbuster sci-fi movie. This is Outlander where the music by Bear McCreary is written and orchestrated with his personal and emotional connection to the material in the books and on the screen. (No offense to other composers.) The key battle sounds are made more poignant by this arrangement as well.

Fourthly, Claire is isolated … again. The tense silence between her and Frank is felt as much as heard. When they do speak to each other, it’s with strained politeness – almost as if we’re back in Season 1, episode 1. They are getting to know each other again after a long separation, only this time – a baby (elephant) is in the room. Sex is not the fixer here.

Fifthly, Frank is a reticent man. The war changed him. Claire’s disappearance changed him. He’s a man leading a post-war, post-Claire life doing his “thing” while having to adjust to a new life with a distant Claire. Pins and needles, folks. Pins and needles.

Sixthly, Jamie is a man of quiet and violent action rather than words in this episode. When he does speak, grunt or wheeze, it’s with brevity and loneliness. I believe book fans will be especially pleased.

Lastly, the ticking of a clock is featured in one scene, and to me, represents everyone’s emotions perfectly – the characters and ours. Fans cannot wait for the moment Claire and Jamie reunite. Even non-readers know it’s going to happen. This entire episode is a countdown of sorts – not toward the reunion – but toward its own conclusion. I knew what was going to happen and yet the simmering tension kept me riveted. Frank is a patient man. He did, after all, wait for Claire when all hope seemed lost, but every man has a breaking point. The clock clicks down. Jamie is a dead man. He does, after all, give up hope when Claire leaves and seems resolved to die. The clock clicks down. Claire is a pregnant woman. She does, after all, have a promise to keep to both men and a baby reminding her at all moments. The clock clicks down. What a pickle for all three of them!

The pickle(s) unfold through flashes between Claire and Frank’s stuffy life in Boston and Jamie’s sucky life in Scotland, much like the Season 2 final episode splitting the story between Claire and Jamie’s sucky life just prior to Culloden and Claire’s furtive life with grown up Bree. Then and now. Back and forth.

Tobias Menzies‘ always mesmerizing performances are a welcome addition to any episode. [Pooh pooh to the naysayers.] He brings a breadth and life to both Frank and Jonathan not present in the book series. And he does it again in Episode 301. One side of the coin has more to say than the other, but we’re completely aware of what the other guy is thinking and feeling through Tobias’ marvelous expressions.

Caitriona Balfe makes us feel her frustration, pain and loss. Claire is safely back in the 20th century, but it feels more foreign to her than the 18th century ever did. That’s what happens when you leave part of yourself behind. She’s at odds with Frank, his colleagues and society in general. In Episode 301 Caitriona continues to embody Claire in a way which makes it difficult to imagine anyone else personifying the character so perfectly.

Sam Heughan seems to know Jamie as well as he does himself. As we enter the third season, actor Sam continues to evolve with red Jamie – never boring, always impressive. How does a man live knowing death is upon him? Jamie shows the way while Sam makes us root then breaks our heart with a little help from his friends.

Given Voyager is perhaps my favorite novel of the Outlander series, on which this season is based, it’s easy to understand how much I enjoy Jamie and Claire’s character arcs. What’s special about the beginning parts of the storyline in this season is watching Jamie truly develop on his own in the past while Claire forges a life for herself in the future. They each grow in ways they couldn’t have in each other’s company.  In Claire’s case, both the 18th and 20th century present her with obstacles she must conquer on her own. Jamie’s existence is harrowing and empty at times, but enriched in other life-changing ways.

Diana Gabaldon commented during the panel discussion prior to the screening she did not write an episode for season 3 because, after all, she wrote the book. Some of Jamie’s scenes, in particular, are ripped straight from those pages. Other scenes bring life to my imagination. Claire and Frank’s scenes are whipped cream with cherries and sprinkles, showing us their life in old-fashioned technicolor. Frank and Claire’s life is soaked in 1940s Boston from their beautiful house to other locales. It very much feels like watching an old movie with your favorite silver screen stars.

We all have to wait until September 10 to see this episode again or to see it for the first time, but you can feast your eyes on this thrilling, three-minute series recap shared by Outlander STARZ prior to the screening.

From the very beginning to the bittersweet end, I devoured the story in a way I don’t think I ever did in Season 1 or Season 2. Episode 301: THE BATTLE JOINED has a sublime combination of action, drama, lightness, sadness and just the right amount of comedy. Perhaps I’m more invested. Perhaps I was overloaded and awestruck by the surprise screening. Perhaps it was just that good. More than likely, it was a combination of the three. After all …

this is Outlander.

55 thoughts on “A True Fan’s View of #Outlander Ep. 301: THE BATTLE JOINED

  1. Wow! Just Wow! Your description of episode 301 brought every memory I had to life. I’ve read Voyager and listened to Voyager at least seven times. I just finished it to refresh my memory. It is my favorite book of the eight big books. Your writing is superb and the way you describe Frank, Jamie, and Claire is perfect. No order to the actors just the way it rolls off my brain.

    1. Thanks, LK. I think this might be the best season yet! It’s off to a great start. Can’t wait for the intro of Lord John Grey – my fav. 😉 Have you read all the LJG books, too?

    2. Thank you for the review. You have given me hope, that, they are doing the book justice. Between your discriptive writing, brings it too life.

    3. I am so moved by this article. You write beautifully and it truly touched my heart. I’m an actor and was moved by your words. You have made my anticipation rise, even more, with your breakdown of episode 301. Bravo!

  2. Thanks for the review. I’m really excited about this season. Voyager is one of my favorite books in the series and it certainly sounds like the show is doing it justice. I am a little disappointed that there’s no Look Who’s Talking voice over from baby Bree, but I guess we can’t have everything!

  3. Dear Candida, from one fan to another, I can tell you, you have no idea how much your review has moved me. I can picture every single thing you write. The silence….. The sadness on Claire’s face is unbearable. It kills me just to think about it. Let alone Jamie’s expression when he found out he didn’t die….. oh my God, I can’t wait. I am not Frank’s fan so I have no comment about him. Just one thing, I did notice: the recap put together by Starz doesn’t include the torture to Jamie by BJR… Nor Claire’s miscarriage….. Interesting…. I am looking forward to the third season….. Well, you know what I mean… Did you get to see the actors up close? I need to remind myself that thhey are the actors; that good they are!… What about Herself? What a woman!!! I hope I can meet her some day. Oh my gosh I can’t take it!!
    Thank you for your review. By the way I follow you on Twitter, girl. I’m your fan
    Where are you from? Where do you live? I’m from Mexico, but I’ve lived in Lexington, KY. for many years, married to an American.
    Candida, you rock!

    1. Thanks, Eugenia, for your kind words. I am also in the United States. To answer your first question, I had the pleasure of meeting both Diana, Ron, Sam and Caitriona at the very first Outlander fan event in Los Angeles – before the show really took off. They were all gracious and charming – especially Ron who listened to me go on and on longer than the others because they were all swamped by fans and he was standing alone. That doesn’t happen to him anymore! I opted for a hug from Sam rather than a picture. I’ve been at a few events with Diana in attendance since then. It’s always a treat to converse with her. If you haven’t yet, send her a tweet. She likes tweeting with fans when she has the time. I’m sure you already know that. Carry on!

  4. What is this hold Outlander has on us? How is it possible? The perfect storm. Magical prose, combined with perfect casting, gorgeous sets, remarkable cinematography, and the most haunting music. It seems every choice made by the production team is perfect. Thank you for a beautifully written article. On pins and needles waiting the season premiere! Slainte mhath!🥃
    Kirsten
    Scottsdale AZ USA

      1. I have to think that there will be seasons 5-10 to look forward to … I always hate it when a good show gets cancelled so let’s hope this one goes on … and on …

  5. Wonderful insight into episode 301 from a true fan’s point of view. I truly appreciate you giving a honest review without the need to include spoilers that would diminish the experience for those of us yet to see it. Thank you very much!!

    1. You are so welcome, Betty. I was a little concerned people would be upset I wrote a little something on the episode. But so far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Whew!

  6. You write this beautifully without any spoilers, I can almost feel the atmosphere of the episode through your writing. 301 sounds like even more than we fans have been antipating. Thank you for sharing this.

  7. Thank you! Perfect for those of us who have to wait until September for our first viewing of S3 E1. Looking forward to it even more now that I’ve read your analysis.

  8. Thanks for your warm review of Season 3. You’ve really enhanced my joys of anticipation for the new season.

  9. I always enjoy your writings. I am especially excited about Season 3; my husband and I spent a week in Scotland in June and visited almost all of the filming sites thus far. Especially touching was the Battlefield at Culloden; I had the same feeling as I stood there as I did at the 9-11 Museum in NYC. Senseless loss of lives in a very short amount of time. Counting the days to September 10th!

    1. Hi, Susie. So glad you like my writing. I’ve been to Scotland a few times myself. My favorite place to visit (shooting location-wise) was the manor where they shot the WWII field hospital scenes. It’s closed now to the public because it’s under development. At the time, there was no one around so we were able to scamper about the place though it was entirely safe. Some of the floors were ready to collapse. So glad I got to visit before they started changing it. September 10th is so close, yet so far, eh?

      1. I think my fave was Lallybroch aka Midhope Castle. As we walked up to it at first it looked exactly like it looked when Jamie and Claire were coming to it on horseback. Then as we got closer there was a keep out sign on it which was like when Claire visited it 20 years later when she was in Scotland for Rev. Wakefield’s funeral. Also the back of Linlithgow Palace (aka Wentworth Prison) was pretty realistic on the water. From the front it looked friendly, from the back somewhat foreboding. Keep up the great work helping us get through Droughtlander!

  10. This is wonderful. Not having seen episode 301 you’ve given me a good idea of what to expect. I was wondering where Bear was this season or if he will have new music for season 4. I guess I’ll find out in September. Thanks again!

    1. Hi, Joan. Thanks for dropping a comment. You’ll love Bear’s music – as always. Fingers crossed Starz will make the episode available early, like they did for Season 2.

  11. Parched as we all are awaiting the end of this torturous DROUGHTlander, any word of the new season is much welcome news. Like you, I have read all the novels (at least those that are currently in print) and like you, VOYAGER is my favorite…. for many reasons. You are among the lucky few who have had the distinct pleasure of seeing the first episode… lucky sod.

    1. Parched, yes. It’s been a long, dry season. I think most of the book fans have been anticipating this season the most. VOYAGER is a special segment of the saga. I am a lucky sod!

  12. Your description is exactly what I have been expecting in each part of Season 3. Thank you for your perceptive analysis on every level. It’s nice to share the same feelings about these characters and the actors bringing them so carefully to life for us .

  13. Culloden Moor is also called Drumossie Moor and about 2 or 3 years ago they found some remnants of tartan in a big-one was the Cumming tartan-which is the clan I married into

  14. What a well written review Candida! Thoroughly enjoyed it! I haven’t read Voyager yet, the plan is to wait until after the season and fill in any holes by reading the book. We’ll see if I can actually hold off that long. Your description was amazing and made me even more anxious for Season 3 to start! And I thought that was impossible! lol

    1. Ah. Envy your watching Season 3 not knowing what’s going to happen. Of course, Ron likes to throw zingers in there, so we’ll see what surprises he has in store for us all.

  15. Well, I hope I write this post as the first I wrote. WordPress insisted my password was incorrect. By the time that was fixed my comments were gone.
    You did a magnificent job of summarizing the episode and yet not telling about blow-by-blow.

    The silences are what I saw and heard reading the book. I have looked forward and yet dread each of the imposed silences Jamie experiences.

    The other scene that will be very difficult is Jamie, undressing, turned inward, as he prepares to die. He has absolute knowledge that this will bring about the deathof so many men and the death of his culture. How does a person find the internal fortitude to move forward, knowing?
    Those who watched Downtown Abbey are aware that the family was involved in helping the WWI soldiers recuperate. The current duchess of Carnovern wrote a book about the history of their home. I was particularly struck when she told of WWI officers who recuperated in the home, some, only to return to the trenches. I think it would have been horrendous to arrive at the trenches and learn what was expected. They followed orders. I cannot begin to imagine the minds and hearts of those who had served in the trenches, escape through injury only to be sent back with sure knowledge of what awaited. How did they find the internal fortitude to put one foot in front of another moving closer and closer?

    Unfortunately, war continues and each day men, women and children are killed and maimed.

    Perhaps our anguish as we watch Jamie march forward to die will kindle us to try and help the real life flesh and blood who live with war.

    1. The men and women of WWI and WWII were a generation apart. I cannot imagine suffering the ravages of war up close and personal. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I’m so fascinated by anything and everything related to WWII. My interest in the history of Scotland, and thus Outlander, sprung from my fascination with Wales and the history of its princes and their wars with England. I visited Wales before Scotland. All so intriguing.

    1. Sorry to hear about your condition. Have updated with a darker font. Hope this helps. Perhaps you could try highlighting the text? Not sure if that would help also. Thanks for reading!

  16. What a brilliant review. Brilliant. Thank you. The waiting is exquisite torture, but through your melodious descriptions, there is naught but anticipation. Truly, this will be the season – until Drums, which is my favourite…

  17. Love your recap! Very sensitive to spoilers imho so carry on 😉 You’re so lucky to have seen the episode; I can’t wait to September to see for myself 😍

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