- Outlander -All The Established Time Travelers On ‘Outlander’ & What We’ve Learned From Them
After five seasons of television, we still really don't know how time travel works on Outlander. But fans of the Starz TV series who haven't read the Outlander books shouldn't feel too bad since readers of Diana Gabaldon's novels don't know much about this magical teleportation either. Hell, even Outlander's number one time traveler, Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser, is still ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Most of the information we have on time travel according to Outlander is through the trial and error of the characters who have successfully journeyed to the past. And there's one thing we've known for certain since the very first episode: You must be at an ancient stone circle.
Since then, we've learned that there's apparently a genetic predisposition for time travel. We also know, thanks to Gabaldon, that Jamie Fraser is absolutely, positively, not a time traveler like his wife and daughter. Sorry man.
Of course, there is a richer mythology to time travel in Gabaldon's novels and companion books, but when it comes to what we've learned about time travel from the series, we must look at those who have done it to get answers.
Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser
Claire has no idea how she the hell she landed in 1743 when she first travels through the stones at the Druid-built circle of Craigh na Dun. She simply hears a whirring or buzzing-like sound when she approaches this ancient stone circle and then she falls through time. Just like that. She had no control over the when, but as for the where, the rule of thumb seems to be that you'll always land in the same spot you left.
In Season 3's "Freedom & Whiskey," Outlander explained a bit more about how a gemstone is required to travel. Brianna had read about it in Gillian's journal (more on in her in a moment), so she gives her mother a topaz necklace for her next time-traveling journey. Claire confirms she has lost a gemstone anytime she went through — the first time, her jeweled watch and the second time, the stone in Jamie's father's ring.
Gemstones are one of the major keys to time travel and this understanding helps not only Claire pass through safely back to Jamie, but eventually, other members of her family are able to travel as well.
Claire realizes that her buddy Geillis Duncan is a fellow time traveler when Geillis reveals her smallpox vaccine scar during their witch trial in Season 1's "The Devil's Mark." Geillis, whose original name is Gillian Edgars, traveled from the 1960s to ensure a Scottish ruler would take over the British throne. While Geillis knew about the gemstones — check — she also (incorrectly) thinks you must have a blood sacrifice to travel and so she murders her husband to pass through.
Though Claire tells her a human sacrifice isn't necessary in Season 3, Geillis isn't convinced and it costs her her head. Literally. Through Geillis, Claire does realize there are other stone circle time portals, including the cave at Abandawe on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
While not definitively stated in Outlander Season 2, there were certainly hints that the friendly apothecary in Paris, Master Raymond, was a time traveler like Claire. In the episode, "Best Laid Schemes," he told Claire, "We will meet again, Madonna... in this life or another." He also claimed that Claire had a blue aura like his own in "Faith." Slight book spoilers follow.
When it comes to the books, Gabaldon has confirmed he's a time traveler — even revealing that Raymond is a "prehistoric time traveler" on the FAQs section of her website.
Sticking specifically to the mythology Gabaldon created — and not the Starz adaptation — another time traveler Claire encountered in Paris is none other than the villainous Comte St. Germain (who was a real person, BTW). But the show decided not to portray him that way and thus, show watchers didn't learn anything about how time travel works from this Parisian pair. And I feel confident saying it's probably not super historically accurate that the real guy was a time traveler anyway.
When Claire gets lost in the woods of the American colonies in Season 4's "The False Bride," she encounters the skull, gemstone, and ghost (hey, if you can buy time travel, you can buy ghosts) of the Native America Ta'wineonawira, "Otter-Tooth" — also known as Robert Springer. Since the skull has silver fillings, Claire correctly reasons that he's a time traveler like her.
In the Season 4 finale, "Man of Worth," Wahkatiiosta explains that Otter Tooth came to her Mohawk tribe to warn them that white men would eliminate their future existence. When Young Ian returns from living with the Mohawk in Season 5, he brings Otter Tooth's journal written in ballpoint pen, solidifying to Claire that Robert was a time traveler.
Brianna Randall Fraser MacKenzie
After she helps her mom return to the past to Jamie, Brianna herself goes through the stones in Season 4. She seemed to inherit her mother's ability since she goes to her parents to warn them of an impending fire at Fraser's Ridge that is supposed to kill them. At least in the books, her adoptive father Frank seemed to know about Brianna's time-traveling ability and fears that other people may be pursuing her because of it... ooo.
It's pretty convenient that the man Brianna loves can also travel through time, but it's no coincidence if you consider his ancestry (he is the descendent of Dougal MacKenzie and Geillis Duncan). Does that mean other members of Roger's family can time travel too? After all, Buck MacKenzie (the illegitimate son of Dougal and Geillis) returned in Season 5 when he so very nicely got his descendent Roger hanged by the British. At least it was good to see Dougal actor Graham McTavish again!
Roger also discovered a stone circle in Season 4's "The Deep Heart's Core" when he was captured by the Mohawk. This time portal located in the Americas was first shown in the Season 4 premiere when Claire spoke of the importance of circles.
Built by Native Americans, this circle exists between Fraser's Ridge in North Carolina and New York and is the same one that Brianna and Roger try to use in Season 5. They didn't successfully go through it, but at least its existence means they weren't required to take an 18th-century transatlantic boat trip to try to get back to the future.
The penultimate episode of Season 5, "Journeycake," was written by Gabaldon herself and it shows that Brianna and (presumably) Roger's son Jemmy is sensitive to the gemstones. That leads the family to theorize that he'll also be able to travel through the stones. Young Ian doesn't have that same sensitivity, so, like his uncle Jamie, he can't go through.
While it appears Jemmy is a time traveler too, he doesn't actually end up in the future since the MacKenzie family's attempt to return "home" lands them right where they were in the 1700s. So that tells us intention must have some influence over where you land in time.
The Season 5 finale introduced another time traveler — Wendigo Donner. As a member of Lionel Brown's gang that kidnapped Claire, he figures out Claire is from the future by her Dr. Rawlings medical advice and her use of Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.
After confirming that Claire knows who Ringo Starr is, Donner tells Claire that he had "traveled back with a group of American Indians from 1968," but he has since been stranded in the past without any gemstones. (So he's got that gemstone intel.)
Claire connects that he must have traveled with Robert "Bob" Springer and she promises she'll provide him gemstones and passage to a stone circle to get him if he would free her. But Donner is a coward and doesn't help her escape the sexual assault by Lionel Brown's men. Yet, he manages to not be killed by Jamie when the men of Fraser's Ridge do come to Claire's rescue.
Undoubtedly, the time-traveling Wendigo Donner will return to Outlander since Claire is the only other person he knows with his ability. However, even though he is from the future, he's far from a friend. So we may have a Geillis 2.0 on our hands in Outlander Season 6. The silver lining? This future foe may give us more intel on time travel.