EDIT: With the episode titles now released (as of late August), this post is kinda obsolete. It remains an example of how *I* would have broken down the episodes, but for my up-to-date speculation, please visit the “Season Three Speculation” page where I’ve updated based on the episode titles.
You guys, this took a really, really long time to do. I have HUGE amounts of sympathy for the Outlander writers.
I also think that they will not follow this exactly. At least, I hope they don’t. I’ve broken up the book into more-or-less equal chunks, and I haven’t deviated from the book at all. But many of those chunks don’t hold together, narratively-speaking. There isn’t a strong sense that these are individual stories making up a bigger story. Some work as individual pieces, and others don’t work at all when taken on their own. So I really hope the season doesn’t end up looking exactly like this!
I’m posting this as a blog, but it will also be available on its own page, like I did with Season Two. And when Season Three starts, I’ll update each episode breakdown on that page after it airs, so that the page will stand as a summary for the season. (And yes, I will eventually do that for Season One. Eventually!) This post will remain, so that people who are interested in seeing what a direct book-to-episode breakdown looks like can still do that.
EDIT- go check out the page linked in the last paragraph for an update based on the synopsis recently released by Starz for Season Three, and an EW article quoting Ron Moore’s plans for Culloden.
EDIT #2 – So, despite my having read in one of Maril Davis’s interviews that there would again be 13 episodes this season, I have heard elsewhere that there will only be 10. That means I have to totally re-think this breakdown. There has also been talk that Claire and Jamie won’t be reunited until halfway through the season. Which is baffling. In any case, what is represented here is what happens in the book. So take that as you will!
OK, here goes:
Outlander Season Three Episode Breakdown
EPISODE ONE – THE DUNBONNET
- Jamie wakes after Culloden. Black Jack Randall’s dead body lies on top of him. Some other Highlanders find him and they hide in a cottage. But the English find them. The major in charge is one Lord Melton – the older brother of John William Grey. In exchange for saving John’s life, Hal spares Jamie’s, and sends him back to Lallybroch.
- Roger and Bree convince Claire not to go jump through the stones immediately. They should try to track Jamie down in history first, so she knows where to go, and can be certain that he didn’t die.
- Jamie arrives at Lallybroch. He is very badly wounded and his leg is infected. Jenny scalds it with boiling water and he survives.
- Bree finds the story of the Dunbonnet
- Jamie lives in the cave. He comes down from time to time. Ian is imprisoned in the Tollbooth. Jenny has her baby and the soldiers come. She lies and says the baby has died to protect Jamie hiding with the bairn in the wardrobe.
- Roger receives a packet from the historian Linklater with passages from Hal’s journal. Claire flashes back to 1949/1950 when Bree was a baby and remembers the ruined dinner party.
- Fergus loses his hand when he tries to protect Jamie from a British patrol. Jamie decides it is time to give himself up in exchange for the reward money. Mary MacNab visits him in the cave.
- Fiona tells the story she knows of the Dunbonnet and how he gave himself up and went to prison so that his people could live off the reward money. They decide to start looking at prison rolls.
EPISODE TWO – ARDSMUIR
- Claire talks about becoming a doctor; flashbacks to trouble balancing motherhood and medical school – Frank takes Bree with him to work; Roger talks about becoming a historian. Claire finds Jamie on a roll at Ardsmuir.
- Harry Quarry turns the prison over to its new governor, Lord John Grey. LJG realizes he has Jamie in his power, but resolves to avoid him. Jamie is known now as MacDubh, and is pretty much the laird of Ardsmuir. All of the men look to him.
- A man is found, delirious and speaking in Gaelic. Lord John must ask Jamie to translate because the one thing they know is that he speaks of French gold. Jamie agrees to a bargain. Jamie learns more than what he tells John, and keeps exactly to the bargain while still escaping. He finds gems and coins, and hides them on an island, but when John blackmails him, he tells him he threw the gems into the sea. He produces a single gem that he swallowed. He says he ran because he was hoping for some sign that his wife was still alive.
- John and Jamie begin having meals together and playing chess. John falls in love with Jamie, but Jamie can’t abide another man’s touch after BJR.
- After they part in anger, Jamie takes a flogging that should have been given to another man. John thinks Jamie is doing it to hurt him. Jamie is doing it to remind him of their relative positions in the world, and because that’s what lairds do.
- Even wounded and surrounded by his men, Jamie is still fundamentally alone.
- Roger finds Jamie’s pardon. Claire goes back to Boston.
EPISODE THREE – HELWATER (TITLE PER IMDB–NOT TRUSTWORTHY–ALL DEBTS PAID)
- Flashback to Claire meeting Joe Abernathy. Claire visits her house and flashes to the night Frank died, after he told her he was leaving her and taking Bree.
- Jamie and John arrive at Helwater.
- ???Lord John mysteries???
- Geneva Dunsany stalks Jamie; blackmails him into sleeping with her before her wedding.
- Geneva dies giving birth to baby William. Jamie kills Lord Ellesmere to save his son’s life.
- Events of the Scottish Prisoner??
- Jamie realizes that William is starting to look like him. He already knows that the Dunsany’s suspect William’s parentage, but they are grateful to him for saving the boy’s life, and offer to help him however they can. Jamie finally asks John and them to get him a pardon so he can go back to Scotland.
- Jamie leaves Helwater, and baptizes his son before he goes. He gives him the baptismal name “James” and gives him his wooden rosary.
- Claire closes her house in Boston and visits Joe. She helps him with some bones found in the Caribbean; these are the bones of Gillian Edgars/Geillis Duncan…and the wound in her skull is one Claire herself will/has already inflicted. TIME TRAVEL WIBBLY WOBBLY.
- Claire confesses everything to Joe. He tells her she should go back (except that in the show Claire had absolutely no reservations…maybe their meeting will go differently?)
EPISODE FOUR – A. MALCOLM, PRINTER (TITLE PER IMDB–NOT TRUSTWORTHY–OF LOST THINGS)
- Roger finds Jamie’s folio and the anachronistic Burns reference. Claire plans her trip. Goes through the stones.
- Claire travels to Edinburgh and goes to the print shop. Jamie thinks she’s a ghost, then faints when he realizes she’s real. When he wakes, Claire shows him photos of Brianna.
- Jamie rushes off to take care of Mr. Willoughby. *sigh* Willoughby causes a scene and they have to run to a brothel where Jamie has a room. Misunderstandings abound.
- Claire and Jamie dance around the awkwardness of 20 years apart, and finally come together.
- But Jamie is keeping a secret. Claire senses it, although she’s distracted by discussions of smuggling, and by speaking once again to him of Brianna.
EPISODE FIVE – UP IN FLAMES (TITLE PER IMDB–NOT TRUSTWORTHY–FREEDOM AND WHISKEY)
- In the morning, Ian arrives and more misunderstandings commence. Ian is shocked to see Claire, and tells them he’s come to retrieve his son, Young Ian.
- Ian and Jamie go out, and while they’re gone, Young Ian shows up. Claire tells him his father is in town, and he runs off, believing Claire to be a prostitute that Jamie and Ian have both visited.
- Claire has breakfast with the brothel ladies. She learns about a Fiend that has been killing women. She meets Fergus as an adult, who is quickly whisked away by Jamie to deal with their smuggling cargo.
- Willoughby kills a man who claims to be an exciseman and accosts Claire. His body is disposed of in a wine cask, and Claire finds out that Young Ian is working with Jamie.
- Jamie takes Claire to dinner and is warned off his usual smuggling route by Sir Percival Turner. They make love in a private dining room and he explains how he became a printer.
- On their way back to the brothel, they see smoke – it’s Jamie’s printing press. He goes in and rescues it and Young Ian. After they’re all safe, Young Ian tells two versions of his day. In one, he follows a suspicious man into the print shop and sets the fire to stop the man from getting some seditious pamphlets. But really, he was fighting with the man, and had thrown a small lead forge at him. He thinks he has killed a man.
- Fergus takes Young Ian to drown his sorrows with a lass.
- In the morning, everyone goes to confession except Claire, who goes to get medical supplies from an apothecary and meets Reverend Campbell. She arranges to meet with his sister, who was severely traumatized post Culloden. She was once betrothed to a friend of Jamie’s.
- Jamie and Fergus decide to go to the second rendezvous point to meet their cargo, but everything goes wrong and their party is separated. The excisemen have been killed, and Jamie and his people set up for the crime. But they all manage to escape and head back to Lallybroch.
EPISODE SIX – YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN
- At Lallybroch, Young Ian is castigated by his parents and Jenny reacts to Claire’s return. Ian makes Jamie give Young Ian his punishment as a way to punish them both.
- Jamie tells Claire the true story of the seal cove and the treasure – he didn’t throw it into the sea as he told John Grey. The treasure is still there, with gemstones and ancient coins.
- Claire and Jamie are interrupted mid-coitus by Marsali MacKimmie and Laoghaire Fraser. Claire gets understandably upset, and she and Jamie argue. They have angry, loud sex until Jenny comes in and tosses water on them. While Jamie is gone, Jenny helps Claire clean up and leave.
- Halfway to Craigh na Dun, Young Ian catches up to Claire. Jamie has been shot by Laoghaire and is dying.
- Claire returns, and uses some of her precious penicillin to keep him from dying from fever after the gunshot wound. They are both still angry, but Jamie explains how the marriage happened, and how it had failed.
- All of the Murray family arrives, and Claire enjoys the company. Soon Laoghaire, her brother, and Ned Gowan come to tell Jamie that they are suing him. A settlement is reached, but in order to pay Laoghaire, Jamie must go fetch a jewel from the seals’ cove. They take Young Ian and plan to go to Paris and stay with Jared, where Ian can go to school.
- But at the seals’ cove, Young Ian is taken by men on a rowboat, along with the treasure.
EPISODE SEVEN – FORCES OF NATURE
(NOTE – I would totally cut all of the stuff in France)
- In France, Jared puts Jamie in charge of the Artemis and they get ready to sail after the Bruja, the ship that took Young Ian. It’s headed for the West Indies.
- While in France, they meet with one of the Rothschilds, who indicates that coins matching the ones in the treasure were owned by the Duke of Sandringham.
- Even though they go separately in the book, I would absolutely have Claire and Jamie go together to visit Faith’s grave. And Claire will speak with Mother Hildegarde, but Master Raymond is gone.
- They return to Scotland to pick up their crew, made up of the smugglers (because Jamie suspects one is a traitor), and Fergus brings Marsali MacKimmie (Laoghaire’s oldest daughter) on board. They are handfast, but have not yet consummated the wedding. Jamie wants to put her ashore, but Fergus insists that she stay. Jamie says they must not sleep together until their union can be blessed by a priest – which means probably months away, after crossing the ocean.
- Jamie succumbs to seasickness. Claire makes friends with the ship’s cook, Murphy. Fergus tells Claire that someone has been trying to kill Jamie – there have been a few “accidents” recently. They think it’s one of the men on board, except for Duncan Innes, who is one of Jamie’s Ardsmuir men who lost his arm in prison and doesn’t want Jamie dead.
- Jamie’s seasickness gets worse until Mr. Willoughby tries acupuncture. (If the character is written out, which would be helpful, Claire could have gotten this knowledge elsewhere). Claire and Jamie sit up and talk about the future – moon landings, and Bree. Jamie looks at the pictures and wonders about what kind of woman she is. Claire says she left a letter, with all of the advice she could think to give.
- Jamie is feeling the effects of celibacy, since Fergus is in his cabin and Marsali is in Claire’s, and there’s no good place for them to have sex. They talk about what it was like for him in prison. The next day, they find a spoiled cask and throw it out to lure sharks. Murphy relishes the thought of cooking them, since one got his leg. Mr. Willoughby catches a pelican to fish for him. He tells the crew of his escape from China.
- Marsali and Claire start to warm up to each other, and Marsali talks about her relationship with Fergus and his past. She also asks how not to get pregnant, because she thinks that having babies is what made her mother dislike sex. Claire shows her how to use sponges (not that those are all that effective).
- While they are talking, a commotion on board signals the arrival of a British man-o-war.
EPISODE EIGHT – WE MEET A PORPOISE
- The man-o-war has typhoid fever aboard. Claire can’t get it, and wants to help. Jamie is reticent, but she’s insistent, citing her Hippocratic Oath, and hopes it will stop them from pressing too many sailors from the Artemis.
- Claire starts to get things in order aboard the Porpoise, and they set sail with her still on board. The captain is apologetic, but they must make haste.
- Claire treats the typhoid epidemic, and her days begin to blur in exhaustion. She becomes friends with the gunner’s wife, Mrs. Johansen, when she needs milk for her patients.
- Claire goes to speak with the captain one day and he accidentally calls her “Fraser” (she’s using the name Malcolm). He has to leave, and she reads from his logbook that one of the men on board gave him information about Jamie and his smuggling activities.
- Claire tracks down Harry Tompkins, none other than the man who Young Ian thought he killed. (In the book, he finds her, but I think that robs her of some agency). She withholds medical treatment in exchange for information, and finds out that Sir Percival was behind everything in Edinburgh.
- One night, she goes on deck and meets the passenger that is responsible for the haste – the new governor of Jamaica, Lord John William Grey. He doesn’t know who she is, and she doesn’t remember him. But they speak about what it feels like to have to watch men die and only being able to do so much, and the responsibility of it. He says, “What it comes to, I think, is the knowledge that you are not God….And the very real regret that you cannot be.”
EPISODE NINE – LAND HO!
- Claire escapes the Porpoise by jumping overboard and floating on a current between islands. She washes ashore and meets an elderly priest who is quite mad named Father Fogden, and a naturalist named Lawrence Stern. Who coincidentally knows Jamie. Because who doesn’t know Jamie?
- Claire learns about a cave called Abandawe on Hispaniola, which is considered sinister and sacred. She also learns that Father Fogden has been defrocked because he ran away with an upper class woman named Ermenegilda from Habana, Cuba.
- The Artemis runs aground, but Jamie isn’t with the ship. The sailors and Claire try to get it back in the water.
- Jamie got aboard the Porpoise, but Claire was already gone. Then he was imprisoned, and during a storm, Mrs. Johansen got him overboard. He washes up on a beach and pretends to be French when he meets some island children. They tell him that the Bruja—and Ian—have recently been in port.
- A group of soldiers arrives at Artemis. Jamie is with them, and tells them that if they get the ship into the water they can have it. But he double-crosses them, and his men launch the ship and take the soldiers prisoner.
- Claire de-louses Jamie and his beard. Marsali and Fergus are “officially” wed by Father Fogden. Jamie gives Fergus the name Fraser. The wedding reminds Claire of her choice to be with Jamie.
EPISODE TEN – WORLDS UNKNOWN
- The Artemis hauls bat guano from Barbados to Jamaica to a certain Mr. Grey’s sugar plantation.
- Jamie speaks with Master Masons in the West Indies asking about news of Ian and the Bruja.
- Claire freaks out when she sees a slave auction and causes a scene. The only way to get out of it without violence is for Jamie to purchase the man, Temeraire.
- But they do learn something at the auction site – the Bruja’s cargo included some slaves with previous owners. One is a Mrs. Abernathy of Rose Hall, Jamaica. They plan to head there to unload their cargo and speak to her. But first, they have to check the pile of dead bodies ready for burning, in case Ian died aboard the ship and was unloaded there. The experience triggers Jamie’s PTSD about Culloden.
- Claire tries to free Temeraire, but the others argue that he won’t be able to make a living as a one-armed former slave. (This SUPER bothers me, and I hope the show cuts it).
- The pirates from the Bruja board the Artemis. Claire is wounded trying to save her and Marsali’s lives. Jamie and Fergus have the unusual experience of doctoring Claire, but Mr. Willoughby sews her up.
- Claire says that her wound hurts, and Jamie says that he was worried because she didn’t think it hurt when it happened. That mortal wounds don’t hurt. She asks how he knows, and he says Murtagh told him. Then he tells her what he remembers of Culloden and how Murtagh died.
- Claire learns that they have a prisoner from the Bruja. Claire patches him up and eventually he tells them his name is Ishmael and he’s from one of the islands. He tells them about the 12 Scots boys in the hold of the ship. Claire drifts into a kind of trance while he talks, and thinks that he might be an ancestor of her friend Joe Abernathy. (I am assuming this is some kind of time-traveler skill, like the way she can diagnose things by touching). This seems to mesh with the fact that her unwanted slave was owned by someone named Abernathy and that Ishmael has removed a brand from himself that was in a similar location to Temeraire’s.
- Claire’s wound gets infected and she has Jamie inject her with penicillin. He can’t do it at first, and she has to start it herself. But when he sees how much it hurts, he takes over. Claire tells him about a patient that she helped commit suicide in Boston. Shortly after that, she was moved up to administration so she would have little patient contact. That was right before she went to Scotland with Bree and found out Jamie was alive.
- Jamie and Claire discuss the future, and possibly moving to America. Jamie could become a printer in one of the larger cities. Murphy sends Claire some turtle soup laced heavily with sherry. Claire gets quite tipsy and she and Jamie have fever-drunk sex, during which Mr. Stern tries to come in and Jamie attempts to tell him nicely to go away, but ends up shouting at him. (This is many people’s favorite sex scene in all of the books).
EPISODE ELEVEN – PROMISED LAND
- When the Artemis arrives in Kingston, Jamaica, the Porpoise is there. Claire explains that they were bringing the new governor. When Jamie hears the name, he explains that they’re friends, and that John was in charge of Ardsmuir Prison.
- Ishmael and Temeraire head into the hills of Jamaica, most likely to join with a band of Maroons.
- The Frasers settle in at Jared’s plantation. They learn that Reverend Campbell has arrived, and that there is gossip about Mrs. Abernathy and the way Mr. Abernathy died. They also find out that there’s a ball being held to welcome the new governor. Jamie decides to attend.
- Since Jamie is a wanted man, they decide to masquerade as French couple – Etienne Alexandre and his wife, Claire. John finds Claire first, and is pleased to see her. She introduces her husband, and John is floored to realize it’s Jamie. And that this isn’t any woman, this is his lost wife, Claire.
- Claire mingles and gossips and finds out that everyone thinks Mr. Abernathy perished under suspicious circumstances. Reverend Campbell is there, and goes on a diatribe about the Jacobites. His sister is missing, and he wants help from the governor to find her.
- Jamie and John meet privately. Claire overhears them talking, and witnesses them embracing, and sees the way John looks at Jamie – and how much Grey is in love with her husband.
- Claire can’t face Jamie, because she can’t reconcile his friendship with a man who is in love with him with his past with BJR. So she goes to the retiring room and stumbles upon a dead woman. The assumption is that Mr. Willoughby killed her, so as his friend, Jamie is questioned. Fergus takes Marsali home, and Claire speaks with John. The captain of the Porpoise arrives and Claire pretends a swoon so she won’t be recognized. John plays along until the captain leaves. Claire is still jealous, and she and John talk, and John mentions Willie. Claire has no idea who he means, until he shows her the portrait of the little boy. John explains what he knows of the circumstances of William’s birth.
- Flashback to Helwater, and the day Jamie asked John to look after William. He offers himself in exchange, and although it is what John wants more than anything in the world, he turns down the offer. It is beneath his honor, and Jamie’s. But Jamie kisses him before he goes.
- Back in Jamaica, John says that he ought to have recognized her, and reminds her of the night before Prestonpans. Then John says one of my absolute favorite lines from the series, about how he feels about Jamie: “To know that you cannot give them happiness, not through any fault of yours or theirs, but only because you were not born the right person for them?” And of course, Claire does know that. It is her relationship with Frank, exactly. When they part, they acknowledge that they liked each other at their first meeting on the Porpoise. Now, there is something very big and awkward between them – their love for Jamie Fraser.
- Claire and Jamie talk about William. Jamie explains the circumstances of William’s birth, and talks about loneliness, and longing, and how that is why he married Laoghaire. He thinks it may be what Willoughby felt and why he might have murdered the girl. He also explains that he didn’t tell her about William because he’d have to tell her about Geneva, and how would she believe that he has only ever loved her? But she says, if he tells her, she’ll believe him, because she loves him, and will keep him honest. They reaffirm their marriage vows.
EPISODE TWELVE – THE SCENT OF GEMSTONES
- Jamie and Claire visit Rose Hall. Mrs. Abernathy is actually Geillis Duncan/Gillian Edgars. She plays coy, and talks to Claire about time travel, the Rising, and how she survived being burned as a witch. She escaped to France and tried to help the Rising there. She also talks about zombies – men who have been drugged and made susceptible to suggestion. Jamie goes to help on the estate in an attempt to look around, and Claire tries to help with healing some of Geillis’s house slaves. Claire tries to question the house girls about Ian, but they won’t talk. When she goes back to see Geillis, she is looking at the pictures of Brianna. Then she realizes that Claire has gone through the stones three times. Geillis has the gemstones from the seals’ cove, and is keeping them in case she needs to travel again.
- As Jamie and Claire leave, Reverend Archie Campbell arrives. They come back at night, to find Campbell still there and Geillis gone. Campbell is suspicious, but talks to her about the Brahan Seer prophecies (note – important for later in the series!). Mr. Willoughby arrives and tells Claire that Archie is the Fiend from Edinburgh who was killing women, and is the one who killed the girl at the ball. Mr. Willoughby kills Campbell, and admits that he is the one who gave away Jamie back in Edinburgh. Then he flees.
- Claire searches for clues to where Geillis has gone. The clue is the prophecy that the line of Lovat will produce Scotland’s next ruler. And the only person alive in the 20th century from Lovat’s line is Brianna Randall. Geillis is going back.
- Claire tries to meet back up with Jamie and Lawrence Stern, but stumbles onto some slaves instead. They are about to rise up against the plantation owners, and are summoning spirits. They have Margaret Campbell with them, and she is the mouthpiece for their summoning. During the ceremony, she even channels Brianna, who speaks to Jamie and Claire. Jamie makes Ishmael tell them where Geillis has gone—to the cave of Abandawe, on Hispaniola. They run toward Ian, while the escaped slaves begin their uprising.
EPISODE THIRTEEN – VOYAGER
- John offers Jamie his boat, and Jamie says they’ll have to steal it so John won’t be implicated. John offers Claire sanctuary, but Claire must go to Abandawe. John misunderstands, and Claire wishes she could tell him the truth, but he is hurt when he says goodbye.
- Jamie forces Fergus to stay behind with Marsali, and then they set off for Hispaniola. On the boat, they discuss philosophy with Stern, and religion, and science. Duncan Innes takes control of the ship while they go inland.
- Claire starts having visions of Geillis, and is drawn toward Abandawe. In the cave, Jamie holds tightly to her in the darkness, because they are both afraid she will be drawn back into the time passage.
- Geillis has Ian – she planned to kill him and use his blood to pass through time. When Geillis threatens Brianna, Claire goes into a blood rage, and kills Geillis with the axe she meant to use on Ian.
- Ian, Jamie, and Claire manage to get out of the cave and into the storm with the gemstones, but Claire and Ian are terrified.
- Lawrence leads them back to the jungle, and Claire treats Jamie’s wound, only to find he has a pistol ball in his scalp. She removes it, then goes into shock. When she wakes, she hears Ian telling Jamie about what happened at Rose Hall, and how the other boys had all died. Then I really, really, hope that they don’t keep the part with Geillis raping Ian, but if they do, I hope they treat it as rape, and without any overtones that Ian wanted it or participated willingly.
- If Geillis rapes Ian, Claire treats him with penicillin, as she believes Geillis was suffering from advanced syphilis. Then they go back to the coast.
- There, they meet the men, and get back on the boat, which is being pursued by the Porpoise. They were really after the escaped slaves on a different ship, but would be happy enough to recover their governor’s stolen vessel.
- The Porpoise chases them into a hurricane. They manage to get through the storm (the Porpoise is swamped and goes down with all hands, including Captain Leonard), but have no idea where they are. Eventually, they sight land, and shortly after that, the topmast snaps and drags Claire into the water. She’s tangled in rigging and her leg breaks. Jamie jumps in and brings her to shore.
- Claire wakes up in a house, and when they ask the owners where they are, they find out they’re in Georgia. They’ve made it to America. And for the first time since Claire came back to him, Jamie is able to openly and honestly introduce himself as Jamie Fraser, and his wife, Claire.