The third season of Outlander is adapted from Voyager, the corresponding novel in Diana Gabaldon’s series of novels. The third outing was a journey of epic proportions with the characters markedly changed by their experiences, particularly Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) who were separated for 20 years.
A lot happened during the two decades of separation between Jamie and Claire and the couple was no longer the family of young lovers and star-crossed crossovers that audiences met in seasons one and two. One of the most important things about season three was the couple’s various relationships with other people.
Jamie not only slept with the Murray’s maid, Mary McNab (Emma Campbell-Jones) in a moment of compassion and seeking solace for the loss of Claire, but he was also blackmailed into having sex with Geneva Dunsany (Hannah James) during his time at Helwater. There was more, though: He also slept with Laoghaire MacKenzie (Nell Hudson) after the couple tied the knot.
Claire was stunned after meeting Jamie only to find out that she had married Laoghaire but hadn’t told her. In the original material, Laoghaire appeared to find Jamie and Claire having sex and was furious to learn that her love rival was not dead as previously believed.
On the show, events unfolded slightly differently when one of Laoghaire’s daughters found Claire and Jamie together in a bedroom in Lallybroch, albeit in a less compromising position.
However, in both the novel and the series, Claire was surprised by the revelation and required some time to process. In the end, Jamie explained why he married Laoghaire and revealed that it was hardly a union with the disagreeing couple. Similarly, Jamie told Claire in the novel how he tried to make it work with Laoghaire, explaining why.
“I tried to be nice to her; God, I tried again and again, everything I knew to please a woman, but it was useless.”
Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) words suggest that there was clearly something wrong with the marriage and Laoghaire (Nell Hudson) seemed to be afraid of sex and intimacy due to her previous relationships. Nonetheless, Jamie had sex with Laoghaire in an attempt to make the marriage work, but it ultimately failed and the couple broke up.
Also, it appears that Jamie (Sam Heughan) was acting out of obligation to her new wife, however past trauma meant that Laoghaire (Nell Hudson) was unable to reciprocate. There also seemed to be something emotional that deeply troubled her that was never fully revealed.