Based on Diana Gabaldon’s time travel romance, stranger covers as much material from the books as it can fit in each season. The first two seasons, like the first two novels, take place before the Battle of Culloden, an event that has tragic implications for the Fraser family.
Starting with the third season, the show’s events, like the corresponding books, take place after a 20-year time jump. The tone and feel of the show differ slightly from season to season, but the most stark contrast is in the “before” and “after” of the significant time jump.
10 Before: Claire’s Situation
stranger It begins with Claire traveling back in time through the stones at Craig na Dune. She has to piece together what happened to her and how, all while being an Englishwoman among a group of highlanders.
When her skills as a nurse make her valuable to the people at Castle Leoch, they hold her prisoner and leave her trying to find a way back to the stones and to her own time. This dilemma is credible and compelling in the way that the initial setting of a story is, and it cannot be repeated again to the same effect.
9 After: Jamie and Claire’s reunion
After many years apart, Jamie and Claire’s reunion was very heartfelt and satisfying. The fact that their love endured during the time they were apart is proof that it was permanent. With the rise of the Jacobites in the past, the two were finally free to be together without a foreseeable threat looming.
Fortunately, their passion hasn’t cooled at all with time and age, and their relationship is the most stable and solid it has ever been. One downside to previous seasons is knowing that separation is imminent, but later seasons are less stressful in that regard.
8 Before: Clan Mackenzie
When Claire travels for the first time in time, she is taken in by the Mackenzie Clan. Men treat her with mistrust at first, even outright cruelty, but over time she gains their trust and begins to care for them.
Angus, Murtagh, Rupert, and Willie, to name a few, become Claire’s dear friends. Unfortunately, all but Murtagh died during the Battle of Culloden, if not before, and they don’t appear in later seasons.
7 After: Marsali
The best thing to come out of Jamie and Claire’s time apart is Marsali. Dejected over the loss of his own son, Jamie seizes the opportunity to be a father figure to Laoghaire’s children, Marsali and Joan. He loves girls, but not Laoghaire, and quickly leaves his family behind to work as a printer in Edinburgh. When Claire returns, her marriage to Laoghaire is annulled, but she still has to pay alimony to her and the girls.
He sends young Ian out to find precious stones that he can sell to pay alimony, but Ian is captured and kidnapped by pirates. Jamie, Claire, and Fergus set sail to retrieve it, and Fergus brings his new girlfriend, Marsali, on board. Her marriage to Fergus makes her part of Jamie and Claire’s family, and her tendency to speak her mind makes her a very endearing and entertaining character.
6 Before: Jamie and Claire fall in love
The chemistry between Jamie and Claire is evident from their first scene together. Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan make developing the relationship between these two feel organic and fascinating. By the time they tie the knot in the middle of the first season, the couple seems totally correct, even though it is fixed.
Jamie falls in love with Claire almost immediately, but it’s sweet to see Claire’s feelings catch up with his own. She was initially focused on getting back with her first husband, Frank, even after she and Jamie get married. However, the way this relationship progresses makes her decision to stay with Jamie in the 18th century credible and correct.
5 After: The Fraser Family
Jamie and Claire tragically lost their first child, Faith, who was stillborn in season two. They then spend more time apart and are unable to raise their second daughter Brianna together. After the time jump, it’s good to see the Frasers finally have a large family.
Her nephew Ian, Jamie’s godfather Murtagh, Brianna, her husband Roger, their son Jemmy, Fergus, Marsali, and their children end up living at Fraser’s Ridge. It’s so nice to see Jamie finally have a royal family like he always wanted.
4 Before: Jack Randall
Obviously, Jack Randall is the worst of all. However, the personal nature of the conflict between him and the Frasers, coupled with a great performance from Tobias Menzies, makes him the best villain the series has had so far.
His sadistic quest to break Jamie’s spirit and uncover Claire’s secret, and the volatile methods he uses make him a threat constantly hovering over their heads. He is a character who is truly terrifying and fills every scene he encounters with a sense of tension and dread. He is certainly a character that audiences love to hate.
3 After: Jamie’s deal with Governor Tryon
When Jamie and Claire arrive in the United States, Governor Tryon offers them a large tract of land in exchange for loyalty to the crown. Jamie accepts this deal, but it comes with more conditions than he imagined. Find Murtagh in America, acting as the leader of the Regulators, a group that fights against unfair taxes. Jamie is tasked with finding Murtagh and bringing him to justice, so he tells him to hide.
They are forced to fight each other at the Battle of Alamance, where Jamie is forced to wear a red coat. He is then saved by Murtagh, who is shot dead by a member of Jamie’s militia right after. All of this makes for a really interesting and highly personal conflict for Jamie, who wants to make a home for himself and Claire, but struggles to side with the men who slaughtered his people years ago.
two Before: Less wigs
In the show’s first two seasons, stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan wore their natural hair (albeit permed or dyed). The last few seasons, from season three onwards, featured a 20-year time jump. To get old enough Jamie and Claire, they began to sport wigs. This is partly due to the damage the actor’s hair was taking from the perming and coloring.
Additionally, Claire’s hair began to feature some gray streaks to show the passage of time, and Jamie’s hairstyles changed to reflect her age and position in life. The show’s makeup and wardrobe departments always do a great job, but last season’s hairstyles can’t get over the gorgeous curls from the first few seasons.
1 After: More locations
With the exception of a brief stint in France, Jamie and Claire spent most of their time in Scotland during the show’s first few seasons. The last few seasons gave them reason to travel a little more, going from Edinburgh to Jamaica, to various places in America.
The Frasers wash up on a beach in Georgia before heading to North Carolina, where they settle. At the end of the fourth season, they travel to New York to find Roger and bring him back to Brianna. These locations provide beautiful images and cool plot points.
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