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The Journal Gazette

Friday, September 08, 2017 1:00 am

'Outlander' begins 3rd season Sunday

George Dickie | Zap2it

Viewed from outside its gates, Cumbernauld Studios in a leafy suburb of Glasgow, Scotland, appears to be an unremarkable blue corrugated steel building, the type that one would easily mistake for a warehouse. But step inside and the woodshop, seamstress rooms, production offices and film sets tell you something more is afoot here than just storage.

It's actually the production home of the Starz time-travel/romance series “Outlander,” which returns for its third season Sunday. On this sunny mid-October day in central Scotland, a group of journalists toured the impressive sprawling facility, watched filming, interviewed cast and crew and, of course, got to check out the standing stones of Craigh na Dun, the ones that World War II nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) crossed through to the 18th century and her lover across time, Scotsman Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), to open the series.

Standing in a storage area with other props, these stones are about 10 feet high, hollow and made from foam. They're light enough that a gust of wind can knock them over, as can happen in the Scottish Highlands shooting location where they're deployed. One even had to be replaced after being broken in a fall.

It is through these stones, as Season 3 opens, that Claire, pregnant with Jamie's child, has crossed back to her life in 1948 and is now struggling with the fallout from her reappearance and its effect on her marriage to first husband Frank (Tobias Menzies). She's trying to make a go of it with this man that she does not truly love, and does her best over the course of 20 years to forget Jamie. But of course, that's easier said than done.

“I think the biggest thing for me starting this season,” explains Balfe, seated at a table near one of the sets, “was to remember that for Claire, she believes Jamie dead. So once you sort of go through the grieving process and you sort of allow yourself to put that person aside, there has to be this moment of – you know, Claire really wants this relationship to work on many levels.

“You know, here is somebody who's accepted her back and he's accepted her reasons for being away, more or less,” she continues. “And he's agreed to raise (Jamie's) daughter as his own, so there's a lot of admiration there for what Frank is offering her and I think that she wants more than anything else that she can make this work. But of course, it's more difficult than that.”

Meanwhile back in the 18th century, Jamie suffers in the aftermath of his doomed last stand in the Battle of Culloden and his loss of Claire. He never expected to survive the historic battle, and now must move forward into a difficult life that includes a prison sentence and memories of what was.

“The process, firstly, (is to figure out) who is he and why is he still alive,” Heughan says. “Then he has to discover that he actually has something to live for, and that's his remaining family. And then he has to rebuild himself from having nothing, from being a rebel, from being an outlaw living in a prison, so he rebuilds his life.

“And also he has to go through that grief,” he continues, “the grief of losing Claire and then the pain and the anger and then eventually the acceptance, and move forward. So he's got a lot to contend with, but it's an interesting story.”