We saw Claire reunite with her husband, Frank, in the season 2 premiere of OUTLANDER. Pregnant and despondent over losing Jamie, Claire eventually agreed to Frank’s proposal that they remain in their marriage and he raise her child. She agreed to give up any future search as to Jamie’s fate, but it’s clear that Claire has embraced her life with Frank out of a sense of desperation, rather than a sense of love.
When we spoke to OUTLANDER star Caitriona Balfe, she addressed Claire’s relationship with Frank in the present, calling it a “marriage of convenience” now that Claire has lost her true soulmate.
Meeting Frank Again. Balfe took the time to explain Claire’s state of mind when reunited with Frank in the hospital in the season premiere, saying that “at that point this is a woman whose going through complete grief. This would originally have been at the very end of season 2 and I think it was a very bold storytelling move for Ron [Moore] to put it at the beginning because it sort of gives you that ominous sense of ‘fate is immutable’. Her state of mind, then, is just of devastation and of feeling that everything has been lost. In the beginning, the tough thing about all of this is that she has to go back to Frank. She doesn’t really have any other option. She’s pregnant and this is kind of her only solution at this point in time. And to have to come back to this man when you feel like you’ve lost the true love of your life and everything else is gone, and he’s so hopeful and so emotive and wants to almost welcome her back with open arms. And, yet, she has to keep him at arm’s length because she’ll never be able to love him the way that she did before. And she’ll never be able to love him the way that she loved Jamie. So she has to really hurt him in the beginning to, in a way, be kind to him.”
Can Claire Ever Truly Love Frank Again? It was clear to OUTLANDER fans that Claire deeply loved her husband when we first met the characters. But Claire also chose to stay with Jamie rather than return to her own time, thus giving up Frank in the process. Is there any real hope for Claire to love her former husband again? “I think when we meet her [in season 2], she feels like Jamie is lost. And that he’s dead. She will never love like that again. Jamie is her soulmate, Jamie is the person who occupies the majority of the space in her heart. And even though she did love Frank and even though Frank occupies a small place in her heart, no, I don’t think that that union is going to be a happy union. I think that they make a conscious decision to make a compromise in life. And with any compromise, you know, there’s a sacrifice to make. I think it’s a marriage like an arranged marriage or a marriage of convenience in a sense from this point forward.” While dropping a spoiler from a future book about Frank (which we won’t spoil for you), Balfe expressed pity for Frank, saying that “there’s someone else in that marriage” and that he’s “not loved, at least in the way he used to be”. So why does Claire stay with him? Balfe explained that “people are very good at finding ways with which to be comfortable in life. And finding ways with which to make things okay. You don’t make a conscious to be miserable every day of your life. You try to find the best and you try to adapt and I think that’s what Claire will do. But do I think that this will be a happy union? Probably not.”
Coming Full Circle. We asked Balfe whether the season would end by showing us exactly how Claire ended up on that road in Scotland before she was reunited with Frank and she simply teased that “I don’t know that I can say. And that’s why it’s a very good storytelling move by Ron, because that’s what you’re going to want to know.”