Viewers have shed plenty of tears during Outlander Season 3. But what about the actors? We round up all the exquisite single tears we’ve seen in their brilliant performances.
Through Episode 308, “First Wife,” Outlander Season 3 has had us on the edge of our sofas, binge watching each episode and tearing through tissue boxes left and right. But what’s had me re-re-re-re-watching this season, repeatedly pressing the 10-second rewind button on the remote and, in true Scottish fashion, truly greetin’ ma eyes out, are the exquisite single tear, crying-on-cue moments.
Be it a solitary tear, full-out-slow-slide-down-the-wall sobbing or any form of waterworks in between, crying on cue is an art, and the extraordinary Outlander cast has done it perfectly, far exceeding the ‘let’s really make the fans cry’ mark. We’ve seen Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, David Berry and Steven Cree all produce the perfect single tears, precisely spilling the salty drops of liquid gold at just the right moment.
Those exquisite single tears (let’s call them ESTs) have tugged at our hearts, evoking all the ‘x-mpathy’ feels. They are as award-worthy as are our beloved actors who produced them.
We know what brings our Outlander actors to tear. Under the direction of Ron D. Moore, they are acting out the phenomenal source material of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series. Through the first two seasons and the corresponding books, we’ve seen just about every human emotion—joy, sadness, love, hate, jealousy, you name it. You would cry, too, if Black Jack happened to you!
But how do they do it?
Cue the Tears
We may not be privy to each actor’s motivation, but Google always come through for us. I pulled these tips from the Actors Guide to Crying and Tears and a couple of crib sheets about crying on cue—one from Backstage and another from New York Film Academy.
- It doesn’t really matter what gets an actor to that golden drop moment as they aren’t required to divulge how they produce the tears. They just have to cry on cue.
- As with any physical activity, actors must hydrate. I’m making an educated guess here—Sam Heughan likely takes in as much if not more fluids for Outlander tear-jerking scenes than he does for his My Peak Challenge workouts.
- There are multiple mental preparation avenues, from methods like Adler or Meisner to accessing personal experiences.
- There are a couple of fail-safe physical options, too. The first is staring, in an intentional way. About 30 seconds before the tears need to flow, stare at something, don’t blink, and the tears will come. The second is more a trick-of-the-trade avenue, using a menthol stick. Heck, I played the game at home and made it happen with an over-the-counter Vicks Inhaler!
Now you, too, can bring the waterworks on demand. Maybe add acting lessons to your holiday wish list? Or maybe we could leave it to the brilliant actors shedding the best character tears of Season 3…
Guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise, at least for book readers, that Frank had the first EST, in the first episode of Season 3. When Claire returned through the stones, she made a bargain with Frank to remain married and, as our Scottish Highlander Jamie would say, “togetha” raise the baby she was carrying, a bairn fathered by that very same Jamie.
Off to Boston they went, where Claire tried to make a go of it—it being dutiful wife to Frank, cooking, playing well with others, medical school, no big whoop. Well, it was the best of times and the worst. Imagine the worst as all that comes from being married to the wrong man and being the only woman in medical school. The best? The birth of Brianna (also known as Bree), named after Jamie’s father, Brian.
After taking Claire to the hospital for the birth (and essentially being put in charge of everything except the actual delivery, as was customary back in the day), Frank sweeps in afterwards with the wee bairn and is so happy that an EST slides down his cheek. It even lingers for a bit.
We feel hopeful for them, don’t we? Mistake! We were warned with the episode title, “The Battle Joined”—which was about way more than just The Battle of Culloden.
Our King of Men Jamie Fraser is a verbal lover, a fighter and a great crier. His first EST moment helped us (well, me, for sure) get through a scene that book-reading show watchers have been dreading since Episode 101—his encounter with Mary Mac in Episode 302, “Surrender.” We like Mary Mac, we really do. After all, she takes the heat from the Red Coats over the Game of Thrones-ish moment between Fergus and the raven. She’s multi-talented, quick on her feet and a big help to Jenny. What’s not to love?
Well, let me tell you, she finds Jamie’s man cave and practically forces herself on him, that’s what! But I don’t think Jamie’s EST is from happiness like Frank’s, albeit Mary Mac is offering him a gift.
I choose to believe, once they both agreed to surrender to the moment, that Jamie convinced himself that if he just kept his eyes closed, he could pretend Mary Mac was Claire, so his EST came from his remembrance of their wedding night. That’s my story, anyway, and I’m stickin’ with it!
Ron D. Moore and his team of torturers made us wait a bit for Jamie’s next EST but it was so_worth_the_wait. Through all the angst and in so many tender moments between that tear in Episode 302 and the next, in Episode 306, “A. Malcolm,” that I felt sure I had missed one. So, of course, I had to watch again—and again, and again—and, oh, what’s the use of counting! I’ve scoured iPhone and different TV screens just in case one might reveal a subtle shiny drop yet unseen.
But through all the EST-worthy moments for Jamie—parting with Murtagh, leaving Willie behind at Helwater, seeing Claire again in the print shop after 20 long years of his own Droughtlander and, oh_my_goodness, seeing the photographs of his daughter—nada. None. The tears hung on the verge, never breaching the dam of his lovely lower lids, making our eyes leak and leaving us swimming in our own tears.
I didn’t see another EST from Jamie until the super sexy reunion session in Madame Jeanne’s brothel and, still, it took a while. That next EST appeared in the reunion sex part deux, as they took their time to truly savor the moment and each other. It trickled down Jamie’s cheek as they moved together in a way that poor Geneva never had the chance to experience.
Lord John Grey
What can we say about Lord John Grey? He’s honorable, devastatingly handsome and may even beat Jamie in the tricorn hat wearing contest. To quote Jamie, he’s a British officer with a ramrod up his arse. He presides over the prison where numerous Jacobites are sent after Culloden and where Jamie eventually lands after a haircut, shave and essentially giving himself up. Oh, yes, like many of us, Lord John Grey is an Obsessenach. He is head over heels in love with James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.
Unfortunately for Johnny, he hasn’t yet heard the Black Jack vs Jamie and Claire story. So, in episode 303, “All Debts Paid,” he has no idea what’s coming when, in a moment of weakness, he comes on to Jamie. Let’s just say he’s lucky Jamie chooses to use his words and take his leave.
As Jamie walks away, Lord John realizes he has made a grave error, one that has likely broken any tenuous bond that was developing between them. He blinks, and boom—there’s his EST moment, filled with regret, loss and longing.
As our long-suffering heroine, no surprise either that Claire surpasses a trifecta and has not one, not two, not even three but FOUR EST moments—three in “All Debts Paid,” and the fourth in “A. Malcolm.” You have to give it to her, she’s been paying down her debt to Frank in the longest game of Charades ever and, once found again, she’s ready to have her type set (see what I did there?) by Jamie, aka printer Alexander Malcolm.
In EST moment 1, Frank gives in to his Black Jack side and sabotages Claire’s medical school graduation celebration by inviting girlfriend Dr. Candy Sandy over (“she was just picking him up”— really!?). Claire takes the high road and lets him off the hook, or so we think. But, no, she waits up, and lets the obviously inebriated professor have it. He admits to the deliberate act and a frank (pun intended) discussion ensues about options and consequences. When he brings up their lousy parlor game record, it’s all just too much and down comes Claire’s EST 1.
Years later, but remember we’re still in the same episode, Claire and Frank have another frank discussion (yes, I do love puns) on options and consequences. We know time has passed because hipper Frank has new glasses and Claire hasn’t had her ‘does she, or doesn’t she’ Miss Clairol moment to hide her stray grays. This time, she is brutally honest with Frank and herself, fessing up that she could never, not ever, forget Jamie. There’s our Claire EST 2.
There’s a shorter wait, show and years wise, for Claire’s third EST moment. Within hours of her EST moment 2, Claire learns from her bestie, Dr. Joe Abernathy, that Frank has had an accident that she discovers was fatal. As Claire says her final goodbye, I imagine Frank’s spirit hovering in the corner of the room. She kisses his shoulder and tells him she did love him…once. His spirit floats away now with a big smile on its face. It’s the perfect setup for EST moment 3, and Ms. Balfe knocks it out of the park. She bends over for a final kiss and that EST 3 rolls down her cheek, across his nose, onto his cheek.
Now to Claire’s final Season 3 EST moment (so far) in “A. Malcolm.” It’s the moment Claire—and all of us with her—have waited for since Jamie shoved her back through the stones (that’s right, Jamie, she did not WANT to leave, you made her!).
After that final, dare I say kiss of death with Frank, Claire’s journey through the puddle of time, the extended opening, Jamie’s recovery from his dead faint, and the notorious ale pot incident, Jamie finally gets over the shock. With tears brimming in his eyes, Jamie manages to stop himself from his next instinct—to jump her bones—and politely says “May I?” before leaning in for a kiss. Again, Jamie, a question isn’t really a question if you already know the answer!
We see the tears brimming in Claire’s eyes, too, and, for once, Jamie says too much—no need to repeat the “it’s been a long time” line he used on Mary Mac here, right?!? Anyway, just as their lips are about to meet for that long-awaited kiss, that EST spills over and rolls down Claire’s cheek. Let’s face it, we probably would have gotten to the real reunion right there in the print shop if the hilariously long-suffering Geordie hadn’t returned with the ash.
Bless Ian for his never-ending-patience, stoic nature and for his own EST in Episode 307, “Crème de Menthe.” As the episode begins, we think Claire is skating on thin ice when she has a run-in with the excise man hunting Jamie, but it’s really Jamie with the thin blades and shifty eyes as he flat out lies to Ian who appears at the brothel looking for his son, Young Ian.
Ian probably suspects what we know, that after running away from country life at Lallybroch for the umpteenth time, Young Ian went straight to Jamie in Edinburgh to learn the ways of the world. But Ian has a true shock coming—Claire is back.
His EST appears as he listens to Claire describe how she would have returned sooner from “Boston” had she known Jamie had survived at Culloden. Here I put Ian and Murtaugh in the same ‘still waters run deep, ye ken’ barrel. He is so used to putting up with both Jamie’s and Jenny’s shenanigan’s that it takes Claire coming back from the dead to move him to even a single tear.
Dr. Candy Sandy
Not wanting to dwell on the unpleasant Frank and Dr. Candy Sandy business, I would like to recognize her “Freedom & Whisky” EST moment, played out with Claire at the Harvard ceremony honoring Frank’s work. We don’t like it when she takes Claire to task about not giving up Frank and says she would give anything for just one more day with him. We’re glad in the end, however, that Frank and Dr. Candy Sandy met and that, for his sake, he was—here comes her EST moment—the love of her life.
There’s one other potential EST moment that I’m adding in this category because I can’t tell for sure if it really happened. Maybe you can help?
We’ve seen EST moments in all episodes except Episode 304, “Of Lost Things,” which I’ve watched at least 10 times. There’s the Claire, Bree, Roger Three-Musketeers-desperately-seeking-Jamie adventure, AND Jamie’s turn as stable hand MacKenzie at Helwater where he, ahem, fathers wee Willie (not going there, nope). And, ahem again, his ‘I’ll trade ya sex’ bargaining session with Lord John before he has to eventually leave Helwater because people are beginning to talk about how much Willie looks like Mac.
Through all that, the only EST moment that I THINK I saw in this episode was at the end. Was there an EST just barely rolling down Willie’s face as he watches Mac ride out of his life? Even on pause I can’t tell for sure. Did you see it?
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Yes, our tears have rained down hard. We’ve probably cried a river so far and book readers know there are oceans to come. Some good news? Crying is good for us!
I’m guessing many of you are familiar with the Out of Africa story. The book’s Danish author Baroness Karen Christenze von Blixen-Finecke wrote under pen names Tania Blixen and Isak Dinesen, and penned one of my favorite quotes:
The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears, or the sea.
So, let’s prepare ourselves for the cure we’ll obviously need. Hydrate like a professional. Stock up on the tear-catching material of your choice. I prefer plain Kleenex—the ones they describe as “signature soft and strong”—not store brands, nor Puffs, nor even the fancy-schmancy Kleenex, like ultra-soft. No, I’m not a paid spokesperson, I simply have the ability to tie anything back to Outlander, just ask my friends and family.
My husband gets it, though. He agreed when I suggested it may be time to rejoin Costco so we can buy Kleenex by the case. Then, he upped his game by watching Episode 307 by himself so we could discuss when I returned from visiting my parents. And there’s more—he arranged a trip to Scottsdale for a Diana Gabaldon book signing with my Obsessenach friend, Sara, to celebrate our November birthdays. Clearly we are all thinking ahead and planning for what’s coming—a long, rough voyage guaranteed to be met with a few tears.
Oh, yes, we will be crying ALL the tears—from ESTs to uncontrollable sobbing. And the Kleenex will be dropping like flies.
Do you have any single tear moments from any season that tugged at your heartstrings?
You know what helps soothe fresh tears? Free Outlander-inspired jewelry, that’s what! This week’s global giveaway is courtesy of DecodedDesigns, and is another of their unique Morse Code Bracelet—this time, Jamie’s! Enter below by Wednesday, November 15th at 11:59 p.m. for your chance to win this in-demand piece!