***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Outlander through Season 3, Episode 5, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager follow. Spoilers***
Let’s get right to it this week, shall we? Despite all the stalling — and to be clear, that’s what most of the episode was — “Freedom & Whiskey” is all about Claire and Jamie finally reuniting, meditating on the couple’s unwavering love across time and Claire, rather ungracefully, allowing her heart (and her daughter’s coaxing) to guide her back through the stones. Everything leading up to this moment these past four episodes really doesn’t much matter (other than losing Tobias Menzies as Frank/Jack, and the oddity of not having him around). After fiddling through the majority of a monotonous and excruciatingly slow first forty minutes, the emotional and wonderful last five were so fulfilling, we can forgive just about everything that came before.
Despite Claire and Brianna’s apparent reconnection, mother and daughter are still often at odds, and so it goes upon their return to Boston. Having lost the father that raised her, and with no current hope of meeting the one who didn’t, Bree isn’t really focused on school and wants a break. Roger’s surprise (not) Christmas appearance at the Randall/Fraser front door earns quick faux smiles all around, but the awkwardness between she and Claire remains as Brianna makes a fast exit; our finger-tapping drags endlessly on. Polite talk and drinks aside, the crux of Roger’s visit turns out less about his desire for an American Christmas and not being alone, than pushing Claire past her own stubbornness — though even after he shows her proof of Jamie’s new life as printer, Alexander Malcolm, the will-she-or-won’t-she (COME ON) nonsense is carried on just a little bit longer.
Sighing and waiting through silly shenanigans with the young, sparkless couple (Broger? Breeger? Just plain SNORE?), and a watered down friendship with Joe that never quite gets off the ground … we suffer a needlessly gory surgical scene, and Brianna’s apparent lack of true emotion. (Did she really have a lobster roll and Boston cream pie sitting out on the counter, waiting? And, for how long?) Two seconds after Claire walks out, the possibility of never seeing her mother again seems just that forgettable to Brianna.
The closing scene, though, is so beautifully done, so perfectly emotionally expressed by Caitriona Balfe’s wonderfully emotive face, once we’re swept into that scene, everything else fades away. With one step into a 1968 cab and another out from a a 1765 carriage, Claire and we find ourselves back in time, cobblestoned streets and adorable moppets (handy!) waiting to guide the way to Jamie.
In this moment, the prolonging’s no bother. We can almost feel the sign as Claire’s hand touches it; our hearts vicariously skip and beat alongside Claire’s as she makes her approach, walks up the stairs to open that bell-ringing door. And, as the voice calls out to admonish Geordie for disappearing, as Claire walks toward the love of her life; it’s not at all hard to imagine ourselves in her footsteps. Peering down — recognizing him, even with his mane neatly tied back — we watch together when Jamie turns to the sound of her voice …
… we join in her bemused horror as he sees Claire and faints to the floor.
As regular readers know, I’ve really tried to give Sophie Skelton some time to grow into Brianna; despite other commenters feeling very strongly from the outset, I didn’t want to judge her performance too quickly … but, admittedly, I’m having a hard time. Still, there’s not much to be done but wait it out and hope she grows (I’ll make no more excuses). Compounding the problem is that there is utterly ZERO chemistry between her and Richard Rankin’s Roger. This hour, watching them together really was akin to paint drying.
Conversely, Caitriona Balfe simply nailed her scenes, one and all, but especially Claire’s discovery of the print shop. Every single moment, her every expression is giffable. Give this woman her Emmy now.
Likewise, Sam Heughan imparted Jamie’s pretty perfect reactions.
The showrunners, producers, writers, etc. know full well that we know that they dragged out this hour — the entirety of the season three episodes thus far — just to get to those last moments and like I said, because the final scenes were that great, we can forgive. But, that doesn’t mean we’ll forget. The lead-up was pretty awful (quite possibly the most boring of all Outlander’s hours); we suffered Roger and Bree, and Joe (nothing against Wil Johnson; he’s a fine actor), whose friendship with Claire just was never allowed to root.
That scene with Joe and Claire talking about the dead white lady’s bones has to be the setup for a future murder. I’m not far enough in the books to know specifically, but Claire was very certain that woman’s death was a homicide. Very interested to see the payoff.
If you watched Inside the Episode this week, you’ll know how clever Ron Moore and the writers thought that whole Batman theme song playing over Claire’s sewing was, but personally, I didn’t like it. It rang out of place, and a little corny to me.
The only thing I like about Roger so far is his Dark Shadows fascination.
Now that we’ve been given that little taste of Jamie and Claire being back together, you’re all ready for a big sexytimes episode, right? Too bad we have to wait two weeks. That’s right, the next episode, “A. Malcolm” won’t air until October 22nd.
Joe to Claire: “You ever gonna tell me what really happened over there? Did you meet a man, Lady Jane? … Jesus, I can’t believe you held out on me. … Fuck fate.”
Claire: “I never asked you to do this.”
Roger: “I thought you’d want to know.”
Claire: “Well, I didn’t.”
Roger: “But, this isn’t just hope. This is real. You can go to Jamie.”
Joe to Claire: “No one thought you and Frank were Ozzie and Harriet. If you have a second chance, you should take it…”
Bree: “What is history? It’s just a story that depends on who’s telling it … history can’t be trusted.”
Sandy to Claire: “You should’ve let him go. All those years, you never wanted him, you wouldn’t give him up. I knew part of him would always be in love with you. He was the love of my life, and I wanted him, even if I had to share him with you. You lived a lie, and you made Frank and Brianna share in it with you. I would give anything for just one more day.”
Claire to Bree: “I love you for you, Brianna, not for the man who fathered you.”
Joe: How do you take a trip like that and come back to life as you knew it?”
Bree to Claire: “I’ve been trying to figure out if I’m more Randall or Fraser, and I realized I’m more you than either of my fathers.”
Claire to Joe: “Joe, I need a second opinion … Am I attractive, sexually?”
Joe: “Is this a joke?
… You’re a skinny white broad with too much hair and a great ass.”
Claire to Bree: “The first time I was terrified, the second time I was heartbroken. This time I want it to be peaceful.”
Bree to Claire: “Find my father. Give him this (kiss).”