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Starz drama series Outlander focuses on the central love story and marriage between Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan) and his time travelling wife Claire (Caitriona Balfe). The show started with Claire getting hurled back through the centuries and falling in love with Jamie – despite being married to historian Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) in the 20th century. Due to the dangers created by the Jacobite Rising and its devastating fallout, Jamie forced Claire to return to the future.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers from all seasons of Outlander
Season three saw Claire building a new life with her first husband Frank, who still loved her and wanted to be with her even if she had disappeared for several years and was pregnant with another man’s child.
They moved to Boston, America for a fresh start after Frank got a teaching post at Harvard.
Frank and Claire raised Brianna MacKenzie (Sophie Skelton) together but as the years went on, the cracks started to show more and more.
Claire made it clear she was no longer in love with Frank and gave her tacit approval for him to see other women if he remained discreet about his dalliances.
The historian was left heartbroken and angry by his wife’s change of heart, refusing to believe her time travel story.
Frank desperately hoped Claire would come back to him, but it was clear her love for Jamie remained despite the pair living in two different eras.
There would be frequent moments of tension between Frank and Claire, which Brianna only started to pick up on when she reached adolescence.
During their marriage, Frank was a loving father and highly supportive of Claire’s decision to go to medical school and become a doctor – something of a rarity in the 1960s.
However, Claire – much like Jamie in the past – was constantly thinking about returning to her true love and wondering whether he was still alive.
For two decades, Claire and Frank were unhappily married with the doctor being confronted by her husband’s mistress Sandy (Sarah MacRae) over her selfishness for holding onto him.
Speaking about this scene, writer Toni Graphia said: “Claire’s a great character but she’s also a flawed character too.
“Maybe there was a little bit of selfishness there in keeping Frank the way that she did.
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“There was a cost to it, there was a cost to Frank and there was a cost to her. And there was a cost to Sandy. And Claire doesn’t have a comeback for that.
“And I love how Caitriona plays that scene because you can see it on her face that she’s like, ‘God, you know, she’s right. She’s right.’”
Addressing why Claire made the decision to hang onto her husband, producer Maril Davis went on to explain: “Claire wants a father for her daughter.
“To me, that’s the ultimate sacrifice that she chose living in an unhappy marriage because she wanted a family unit for her daughter.”
While Graphia added on the Outlander season three DVD: “They could have split up, but Frank’s fear is that she would have kept Brianna from him and he loved Brianna so much.
“Back then, a father would not have got custody of a daughter and like you said, in the last episode, he’s says, ‘Forgive me, Claire if I cannot count on your word’.
“Because she’s broken promises to him and they’re kind of trapped together in this marriage and I think he will always love Claire and if Claire would’ve said at any point, ‘I’m all in’, I think he would have probably left Sandy.
“But to me, it’s very heart-breaking to see what this woman [is] saying and getting a chance to confront Claire and be in her face and say, ‘Look, you kept him from happiness and you gotta own that.’ I think Caitriona does and the look on her face.”
Davis added: “Frank’s great love ends up being Brianna and Claire will never reciprocate his love, so his great love ended up becoming a child that’s not even his which is beautiful.”
From their words, it sounds like Claire could have gone but she wanted Brianna to have a father rather than being a single parent.
The flipside to this was Frank wanted to be a father and perhaps the only way to do so was to stay with Claire. Additionally, Frank still loved Claire even if she no longer shared his feelings.
Outlander seasons 1 to 5 are available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray now
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