Frank certainly took to the books to find out more about Jamie in Outlander, both books and show. Why wouldn’t he have gone straight to the source? Here are my three thoughts on why not.
We know that Frank researched Jamie—and even looked at Claire’s life in the past. This has been the case in both the Outlander books and the TV show. But instead of researching and getting Reverend Wakefield to help, couldn’t he have gone straight to the source?
It would have been possible to get the information directly from Claire, who had lived through the lead up to Culloden. She would have been able to tell him about Lallybroch, the attempts to thwart Culloden from ever happening, and the world of the Highlanders in the 18th century.
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But he didn’t. Instead, he made it clear that Claire couldn’t research Jamie. In the show, he even burned everything she came back in—and I’ve defended his actions there because, from a personal point of view for him, his actions were understandable.
But why not turn to Claire for help to research Jamie? Why not let her know that Brianna’s father was actually still alive somewhere out there? Wasn’t he a bad historian for not going directly to the source? Well, as a historian, yet, but as a person, no. Here are the three reasons I don’t think he involved Claire.
It was way too personal for him
Let’s be honest. Would you want to talk to your spouse about her trip to the past where she fell deeply in love with another man? While Frank would have loved to know more about the past, there’s no way he could have remained detached.
There’s one thing researching your own family line. He wouldn’t have known Black Jack Randall except for what he learned in the history books. Frank didn’t even know Black Jack wasn’t a direct ancestor!
When it came to researching Jamie, Brianna’s biological father and Claire’s husband, Frank would have struggled. Everything that Claire was telling him was true. He would have had to cope with seeing her reminisce and miss Jamie all the more.
Would you have been able to go through that? I’m betting the answer is no.
There was a chance Jamie was alive
When Frank started his research, he knew there was a chance that Jamie would have survived Culloden. Some did—and we know not all of them were executed on the spot. They were taken to prisons and indentured for years after. Frank knew that there was a chance this could have happened to Jamie.
Why even risk bringing Claire into the research? This would risk her going back through the stones. We knew pregnant women could go through the stones without risk to the baby. Claire had already done it. If she was still pregnant when hearing that Jamie was alive, she could have left Frank for Jamie and Frank wouldn’t have wanted to risk that.
Once Frank did know Jamie had survived, he wasn’t going to let Claire know. it would keep the memory of this man alive, even if she did decide to remain in the present day for Brianna. Or she could have tried to take Brianna through the stones to Jamie.
It was only when Brianna was 18 that Frank even considered divorce. He could take Brianna to England with him. He knew Jamie was alive and, I’m assuming here, he could have told Claire this fact and let her go to the past. He knew Claire would eventually go to the past, anyway.
He was being selfish in this regard, but understandably selfish. Frank loved Claire and he certainly loved Brianna. He wouldn’t have wanted to lose them.
He wouldn’t have wanted to believe the truth
The story Claire told was out of this world. If she’d have told many other people, she would have been locked up in an asylum at the time. There’s no way she would have been taken seriously.
Claire was blessed with two men who believed her tale: Jamie when in the past and Frank in the future. They didn’t have her arrested for witchcraft or sent to a nut house. They knew that she was telling her truth.
That didn’t mean Frank would have wanted to believe it. While the historian inside him wouldn’t have let him forget it, he wouldn’t have wanted to believe his wife went to the past and fell in love with another man.
By getting Claire involved in the research, everything would have been made true. She would have been able to give him personal accounts of various elements, and that would have broken through the fairy tale. At least why researching alone, he could pretend that it wasn’t his Claire.
I know there’s not a lot of love for Frank, especially after Claire returns. However, I feel for him. He never asked for any of this, and before we react with hate towards him, we might want to consider how we’d react put in his exact situation during the exact time period. I’m sure we’d all react defensively.
Why do you think Frank refused to ask Claire help him with the research? Should he have been a better historian and not let his personal feelings get in the way? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Outlander Season 5 premieres on Feb. 16 on STARZ.