Spoilers for the “Outlander” series ahead!
When “Outlander” first premiered in 2014, many people, particularly fans of the book series by Diana Gabaldon, had their reservations. The television adaption was marketed as a soapy, historical drama and mainly featured unknown actors. Soon, however, “Outlander” had developed an extraordinary fan base. Many people tuned in weekly to see the story unfold. Celebrities became heavily invested, with Susan Sarandon tweeting “When is Outlander coming back???” and Pink admitting she is “obsessed” with the show.
Several seasons into production, “Outlander” received several nominations for prestigious awards, particularly for its production design, music composition and exceptional period costumes. The new season of “Outlander” premiered on Sunday, March 6, which provides the perfect motivation to catch up or start watching from the beginning. What follows serves as a refresher for the show’s main plot points for fans of “Outlander”; for newcomers, it offers insight into this immense show and may inspire fans of the book series to give it a try.
The show stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, an English combat nurse who served in the just-finished World War II. Claire and her husband, Frank Randall, played by Tobias Menzies, travel to Scotland on a second honeymoon to reacquaint themselves after a long war spent apart. Claire explores the Highlands on her own one day and sees a formation of rocks known as Craigh na Dun. She hears a buzzing noise, reaches out to touch the stones, and before she knows it, she has traveled through time into 18th century Scotland.
She faces many dangers as she attempts to stay safe and make it back to the stones so she can travel back to Frank in the 1940s. Nearly halfway through the first season, Claire has to marry highlander Jamie Fraser, played by Sam Heughan, as part of a plan to escape villain Jack Randall. Jack is an ancestor of Claire’s husband, Frank, and is portrayed by the same actor. Claire and Jamie fall in love, and she ends up choosing to stay in the past with him, even facing Jack to rescue Jamie.
Season 2 shows Claire and Jamie in Paris, and the audience can see Versailles, complete with gorgeous costume designs and incredible sets. They ingratiate themselves with the French aristocracy and learn about politics while trying to prevent the Jacobite rebellion, which Claire already knows is doomed to fail. “Outlander” explores various historical moments, providing an educational and entertaining experience. Another popular aspect is the love story of Jamie and Claire, a major reason the show has garnered so many fans.
Regarding Claire and Jamie and why their love story persists against so many dangers, Balfe said in a 2016 interview, “At the end of the day, they’re each other’s soulmates.” “Outlander” has attracted such an expansive fan base perhaps because of Balfe’s and Heughan’s chemistry and epic portrayal of love; in addition to the history and exciting exploits, everyone can find something to enjoy. The finale of Season 2 revealed the lead-up to the historical Battle of Culloden, where Jamie and Claire are heartbreakingly forced to part.
Season 3 shows Claire 20 years later after she returns to the present to raise her and Jamie’s child safely. In the 1960s, their daughter Brianna has become a young woman. Claire discovers Jamie did not die at the Battle of Culloden, as she previously thought, and decides to return to the past to live with him. Fans cite their epic reunion after 20 years in Episode 6 of Season 3, titled “A. Malcolm,” as one of the best and most touching moments of the series.
The rest of Season 3 shows Jamie and Claire falling in love again and sharing more adventures as they travel to Jamaica to rescue Jamie’s nephew Ian. After battling someone from their past and finding Ian, Jamie and Claire attempt to voyage home to Scotland. Season 3 ends on a cliffhanger with a shipwreck, and the following season picks up with Jamie and Claire’s arrival in America, or, as it was known then, the “colonies.”
Seasons 5 and 6 continue to explore the journeys of the Frasers as they adjust to society in the colonies and try to build a life for themselves. Eventually, Jamie and Claire’s grown daughter, Brianna, travels to the past with her love interest, Roger. Brianna also experiences danger and adjustments in the past on the way to reunite with her parents and warn them about an impending danger she discovered. As the characters inch toward the Revolutionary War, the Frasers begin to build a life of their own. The show builds complex webs that stay loyal to the books. Author Gabaldon remains on staff as a paid consultant, which helps to keep the show accurate to the novels.
While this article covers the main plot points of each season and serves as a refresher for previous fans, I highly recommend newcomers watch “Outlander” for themselves, especially from the beginning, as the characters go through immense development. Each season reveals many new facets and expands on the story. “Outlander” runs roughly 40-minutes long per episode with around 13 episodes per season, making it a perfect show to binge-watch. Along with compelling characters and magical realism, with five prior seasons and a sixth coming out, the show has reached the point where the characters become more nuanced and different historical landscapes are being explored. “Outlander” offers escapism, poignant storytelling, beautiful and lush sets, incredible costumes and spectacular romance and adventure. For anyone looking for a new show or needing an immersive experience, “Outlander” is a perfect choice. Seasons 1 through 4 are on Netflix, while 5 and 6 are on Starz.