4:35pm PT by Sydney Bucksbaum
'Outlander': When Claire and Jamie Will Reunite in Season 3
The "droughtlander" may almost be over, but Outlander viewers have to wait a lot longer for Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) to reunite.
When season two of the Starz time-traveling drama ended, Jamie sent his pregnant wife through the stones back to her own time, saving her life as he went into the Battle of Culloden, knowing the Highlanders would lose and expecting to die. Of course, he'll survive that disastrous battle, but his reward is waiting 20 years to see Claire again. But how long will 20 years take to unfold on Outlander? Executive producer Ron D. Moore revealed that the infamous print shop scene where Claire returns to the past and comes face-to-face with Jamie once more will arrive five episodes into season three.
"As always, we take our cues from the book first," Moore told reporters Friday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "The book laid out this episodic story of Jamie, it began with five chapters of his life from the Battle of Culloden to Lallybroch, to prison and Hellwater and ends up in the print shop. So as we approached this season structurally, we laid out the cards on the board and it was clear, that's five episodes right there."
Because the producers had a five-episode story laid out for Jamie, they had to focus on a "parallel story for Claire" to tell at the same time.
"The most interesting thing is her relationship with Frank [Tobias Menzies] and the dissolution of that marriage, her becoming a doctor and raising Brianna [Sophie Skelton]," Moore said. "We decided on that parallel structure for the first half of the season and we never really vary from that. It felt like the right amount of time. It felt like it was enough to build a want, a desire for the audience to get the characters, to get Claire and Jamie, back together so that they were really pushing for it but it wasn't dragging it out too long. It's two decades of these two people's lives. To do that justice, you had to give it some time and space. We didn't just brush over it and pretend like nothing really happened."
And be warned, as those first five episodes are "heavy."
"It was the nature of the book," Moore said. "You're traveling through 20 years of their lives apart and it's a considerable amount of time. You focus on the heavier moments as you move through that chronology."
But before Claire and Jamie reunite, Outlander will expand upon what book readers are expecting from the Battle of Culloden. Namely, viewers will actually get to see Jamie's final fight with Black Jack Randall (also Menzies), and the ultimate end to that villain after his fraught, intense, obsessive and sadistic relationship with Jamie.
"The first episode was something we were all looking forward to shooting," Heughan said. "It's a real important part of our history. It's a great start to our season, and certainly Jamie suffers pretty horrendously, coming to terms with having lost Claire and not expecting to survive the battle."
"It's a difficult storyline to tie up," Menzies added. "Where do you go after especially the stuff at the end of season one? They meet on the battlefield of Culloden. It's Jamie's hallucinations as he remembers this encounter. It's nonverbal, it's this strange dance, and as always with their stuff, we always try to look for an unusual angle. There's something odder going on with them. It's part fight, part dance, part embrace, and I feel like a fitting end to this quasi-love affair."
As for what that means for Menzies' future on the show, could he show up as yet another Randall ancestor in the future?
"The Randall family tree is a very broad one," Moore joked. "You never know. [But] there are no plans for that. It's very difficult to imagine that he's not apart of the family moving forward."
While Moore cited flashbacks and time travel being a key element of Outlander, he did reveal that there were no plans to use those storytelling devices after this season with Menzies "at the moment."
When asked about the longevity of the series (and if the show would ever surpass author Diana Gabaldon's speed of writing the novels), Moore laughed, as this is no Game of Thrones situation.
"I cannot imagine a scenario where we catch up with Diana Gabaldon," he said with a smile, noting that "she'll tell us" when the end of the series arrives.
Check out a video featuring new season-three footage and cast interviews below.
Season three of Outlander is set to premiere Sunday, Sept. 10, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.