The moment — however fleeting — that we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived: the reunion of star-crossed lovers Claire and Jamie! After weeks of getting narrative short shrift, Claire and her story line finally get satisfactorily (if not lavishly) serviced in “Freedom & Whisky,” as the 20th-century surgeon wrestles with the decision to return to 18th-century Scotland.
But it’s another journey that sets this one in motion: Roger turns up on Claire and Bree’s doorstep for an “American Christmas” — and right as the mother and daughter are engaged in a heated argument over Bree dropping out of Harvard. The Randall women are surprised to see him, but it’s Bree who walks out with a flippant, “Let’s hang out tomorrow,” to Roger as she leaves him to be entertained by Claire. Teenagers!
“You seem to be a magnet for our family quarrels,” Claire jokes as she makes him comfortable. And while it seems pretty clear he’s hopped the pond largely to see Bree, he does have a discovery to share with Claire. “It might put a smile on your face,” he hints. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.)
He produces an article printed in 1765 by a printing shop in Edinburgh. And it has Jamie’s (metaphorical) fingerprints all over it. First, it includes the phrase “freedom and whisky gang together,” an idiom Claire frequently repeated to Jamie. Second, it contains a line of poetry that had not yet been written in 1765 (the author was 6 years old at the time and we can probably assume he was no Young Sheldon). And finally, and perhaps most telling, the printer is listed as one Alexander Malcolm. (Again, not so creative with the nom de plumes, that one.)
Given the parallel timelines, all of this means Jamie was alive and well in Edinburgh just one year prior. But instead of being elated, Claire is distraught.
“I never asked you to do this,” she says.
“I thought you would want to know,” Roger replies.
“Well, I don’t. I could have lived the rest of my life not knowing.”
There’s just no convincing Claire that this is good news, and she makes Roger promise he won’t tell Bree.
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At the hospital, Joe Abernathy is sorting the bones of a woman found in a cave in the Caribbean, sent to him by an anthropologist friend to divine the cause of death. Claire identifies the bones as 150 years old and those of a murder victim without much investigation at all. Strange. Joe changes subjects and inquires after Claire’s man, the one from her past she’d confided about. She finally reveals that this man (Jamie) is, in fact, Bree’s father. Joe doesn’t seem altogether surprised.
“No one thought you and Frank were Ozzie and Harriet,” he jokes, trying to persuade Claire to give love a second chance.
Meanwhile, Bree, finally spending time with the man who flew thousands of miles to see her, is giving Roger a tour of Harvard’s hallowed halls ahead of her father’s remembrance ceremony on campus. Claire joins them for the fete, and is faced with an awkward situation when Professor Travers — otherwise known as Frank’s would-have-been wife had he not died in that car accident — confronts Claire about her selfishly holding on to Frank all those years. “He was the love of my life…I could have made him happy,” she chastises her, before the two part ways.
As Bree and Claire are walking home, Bree says she recognizes the woman and wants to know who she is, reminding Claire that there are to be no lies between them. Claire tells her the truth. Then she reveals the only truth that really matters: Jamie is, most likely, still alive in the 18th century. Bree insists Claire return so she can be reunited with Jamie: “I love you but I don’t need you,” she tells her mother. “Not the way I did when I was little.”
With Bree’s blessing, Claire is truly free to go. But will she? It takes a bit more coaxing from Bree and assurances from Joe that she’s sexually attractive (“You’re a skinny white broad with too much hair and a great ass,” he tells her), but Claire makes up her mind. For good measure, she swipes some scalpels and penicillin from the hospital, since they’ll come in handy in 18th-century Scotland. Roger even suggests she could fashion herself a utility belt like the Caped Crusader! (The pop culture references throughout this episode were fun, weren’t they?) To further prepare Claire for her journey, Bree and Roger buy her some old Scottish coins for a Christmas present and Bree gifts her with a topaz (the daughter’s birthstone), since a gem is required to cross through the stones.
After fashioning her utility belt and raincoat couture, there’s one last step Claire must undertake to truly be ready to reunite with Jamie: dye her grays. (Honestly, I think Miss Clairol can suck it.) With that, she gives Bree her grandmother’s pearls and the deed to the house and is off, leaving the two youngsters to celebrate their American Christmas, which includes lobster rolls, Boston cream pie, and A Christmas Carol. Oh, and how could I forget, a smooch, too.
Thankfully, we’re spared from having to watch Claire journey through the stones another time, and instead flash directly to historical Edinburgh, just yards from Jamie’s print shop. She locates the building, with a beautifully etched sign at the front, ascends the stairs, and pushes the door open with bells chiming above.
“Is that you, Geordie?” Jamie calls out. “Where did you go to get the ash, all the way to Glasgow?”
“It isn’t Geordie,” Claire replies from the balcony overlooking Jamie at his work. “It’s me, Claire.”
He turns from his leaflets very slowly. And then faints.
Be sure to tune in to Outlander Live!, hosted by Lynette Rice and Amy Wilkinson, every Monday at 12 p.m. ET on Sirius XM 105.
Outlander airs Sundays on STARZ.