Outlander Season 3 Claire Grief Caitriona Balfe interview

Outlander's Caitriona Balfe Breaks Down Claire's Premiere Heartbreak: 'She's Still in the Depths of Grief'

Outlander‘s Caitriona Balfe knows you wanted to witness Claire Fraser Randall put a patronizing mansplainer in his place in Sunday’s season premiere. She did, too.

But, as the actress explains to TVLine, poor Claire’s heart just wasna in it.

Even though some time has passed since Claire was ripped away from Jamie and the 1700s, the loss is still very raw for the new mother. “It’s a hard thing to imagine how somebody copes with grief and at the same time has to build a new life,” Balfe says, referring in part to the episode’s big finish: the birth of Claire and Jamie’s daughter, Brianna. “There’s two very opposite things pulling at Claire. And in a way, she really is going through the motions.”

Balfe brings up the moment, during Frank’s faculty party, where Claire’s husband’s new boss mocks her interest in American politics as well as her reading of The Boston Globe, then belittles her service as a nurse during the war. (If you want more detail, check out our full recap of the episode here.) The old Claire likely would have verbally flayed him, then skipped off to do something awesome, like sew up a wound using only dental floss and determination. “When she’s sitting there and when she’s been put down, Claire from the past probably would have stood up for herself a little bit more,” she says. “But in this situation, she’s so heartbroken, she’s just kind of like, ‘OK, fine.’ She gets her little point in, but I do think that she’s still in the depths of grief.”

And even though the Randalls seem to come to a tentative peace by the end of the episode, Balfe says that viewers unfamiliar with Diana Gabaldon’s books shouldn’t get too comfortable with harmony between Bree’s mom and (present) dad. (Note: We’ve seen the next episode, and we can concur. It’s a doozy for Frank and his missus.)

“The two of them are walking on eggshells around each other,” Balfe says with a chuckle. “They’ve papered over these — they’re not even cracks, they’re crevices! And she’s just trying to survive every day.”