At the key of most seasons of Outlander is an emotional struggle of some sort. If you think back to the first season, much of it for Claire stemmed from her feelings for Jamie and the history that she already had with her husband Frank. Meanwhile, for season 2 we saw a story that was very much about survival and how much Jamie is willing to do for others. While ideally we would love to see the character happy, an emotionally-fraught Jamie is a compelling Jamie. That is why there was such a crater in his heart over the decisions at the Battle of Culloden.
Making a decision in the moment can often have far-reaching consequences, and this is something that we’ve learned time and time again with this series. Is there a different consequence, besides Claire and her unborn child dying, if she stays in the 18th century at the end of season 2? Their decision led to a very different existence for the better part of decades. Meanwhile, Jamie felt the brunt of his own, singular decisions moving into season 3 as he chose to initially not disclose his marriage to Laoghaire. It is both terribly unfortunate and, in some bizarre way, fortuitous that the crisis of Young Ian arrives when it does at the conclusion of “First Wife.” It serves as a distraction and keeps his decisions from potentially being more catastrophic if that element of urgency was not there.
Moving into season 4, one of the questions we wonder is this: Is Jamie set to deal his largest self-inflicted wound yet, and how does he deal with that? Sam Heughan is at his best when showcasing the introspective side of his character and the opportunities are very much present for this moving forward. While it remains to be seen how the story chooses to present the Stephen Bonnet saga, the decisions that Jamie makes to protect this character have far-reaching consequences. In terms of a butterfly effect, this is the equivalent of a butterfly fluttering over the middle of a street before getting smashed by a semitruck. Bonnet’s continued existence alters the lives of others in shattering fashion and Jamie, being the character that he is, could trace everything back to himself. There were warning sides there and we don’t know him to be the sort to let himself off easy.
While we can be assured that Jamie will still, at least in moments, be the Jamie that we’ve come to know, how much will this undercurrent of pain linger? Will life alternate between victory and failure now? It’s a completely new world and in that way, it marks a fresh start; yet, when said world begins with such a disastrous action, is that a black cloud that hovers of it forever? These are the questions that, as an Outlander viewer, you should wonder entering season 4. It’s a painful, devastating circumstance for Jamie to find himself in; yet, this is the sort of conflicted material that should make Sam Heughan an Emmy contender once more.
One of the biggest struggles in general for characters in this era is the inability to properly recover from trauma. What Jamie went through with Black Jack is a devastating, mind-altering event. Losing so much love in his life for decades is another. He is going to need the wisdom, support, and love that Claire provides. He also needs to understand that opening himself up is the only way in which he can properly receive it.
How do you think Outlander season 4 will and should play out Jamie’s emotional struggle? Be sure to share right now in the comments!
As always, be sure to like CarterMatt on Facebook for some additional information and insight regarding the Starz drama the moment more stories are online. (Photo: Starz.)