Outlander season 3 and a simple question: What’s in a name?

Outlander season 3 episode 9 photosFor this Outlander season 3 story, we want to discuss titles — to be specific, we want to discuss episode titles. Even though they may not be the sort of thing that people often think about, they are the cornerstone for many episodes. They help to make a show memorable, to discuss it after the fact, or to easily separate one story from some of the others. It’s with this in mind that we don’t understand why shows like 24 or Jane the Virgin choose to give their shows generic titles — you’ll never remember when certain events happened.

The question we want to pose within the context of Outlander is this: How much do episode titles matter? Are you more drawn to some stories because of what they are called, and how much do you pay attention to it?

We bring this up now in the context of Outlander season 3 episode 9, entitled “The Doldrums,” experiencing the second-lowest ratings of the season. One of the comments we received in a few different venues in response to that was that the title was not altogether appealing. In theory, maybe that’s true. An episode entitled “The Doldrums” doesn’t exactly get anyone enthused — it’s a little bit of a downer, even if there were some beautiful and lovely moments over the course of the hour. (Read our full CarterMatt review for this installment over here.)

If we were to continue along with this logic, then in theory Sunday’s episode entitled “Heaven & Earth” should see a sizable ratings jump. Has there been a more romantic title this entire season? This is an abridged version of the old romantic adage “I would move Heaven & Earth to be with you.” It’s a perfect representation of how far Jamie and Claire are willing to go in order to be with each other. It’s very romantic, and we say that even knowing that the episode is going to be kicking off with Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe’s characters on separate ships in varying degrees of danger.

Our perception of titles and their impact

We do think that it matters; however, it’s hard to quantify its impact on live viewership. We feel like the majority of people who care about titles are diehard fans, and by and large they are the ones more predisposed to watching in the first place. On the flip side, casual viewers — otherwise known as the ones who are fickle and may not watch live every week — may not be so familiar with episode titles in advance. Outlander shows them at the start of each episode, but by that time viewers are already watching so we don’t think they impact anything in that sense. It just helps to make each episode more memorable. We probably have a better recollection of Outlander episode titles than the majority of other shows out there, save for maybe a Game of Thrones or other shows with such short episode orders that it’s easier to remember them all.

What do you think: Do episode titles have much of an impact on your excitement for viewing Outlander, or any other show for that matter? Share in the comments!

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