Outlander 3.05 recap: Journey to the past

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Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 3 episode, “Freedom & Whisky.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.

Greetings, sassenachs! Your intrepid Outlander recapper has returned for yet another week to delve into the happenings of this series. If you’re reading this, I may or may not have survived the wilds of New York Comic Con -- but nothing’s going to stop me from getting back into this show with you all. Last week, Claire decided it was time to abandon her search through the past for Jamie, while Jamie experienced a bit of a … (baby) bump in the midst of his parole. Oh, and Brianna and Roger finally smooched. It was a lot to handle.

This week: Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Roger gets into the spirit of the Christmas holiday, Brianna makes a decision about her future, and we finally get the reunion we were all hoping for … with, perhaps, a hilariously unexpected ending.

The recap for this episode is going to be a little different -- but that’s because the episode itself is different. For once, the story doesn’t alternate back and forth between Jamie and Claire’s narratives, informing us of where they are at any given point in history. Instead, the story picks back up with Claire in 1968. It’s Christmastime, and while some characters are certainly feeling the holiday spirit, others are a bit more conflicted. Claire’s back doing what she loves, though, which is performing complex surgical procedures. Clearly this scene is here just to show us how Good and Capable a surgeon she is, because I get the feeling her medical knowledge is going to come in handy when (I mean if! IF!) she goes back through the stones to the 1700s.

Brianna is at college at Harvard by this point, and while one might suspect she only got in at first due to Frank-related nepotism, apparently she’s a good student. This semester, however, is a different story. Her history teacher, a self-proclaimed former bestie of Frank’s, calls her up after class to talk about her declining grades. In short, Brianna is failing -- and the fact that she’s a Randall is only going to give her so much leeway with her future at an Ivy League school. This exchange is followed by a scene wherein Brianna returns to an empty house (implying that Claire tends to have a lot of long nights at the hospital), then proceeds to sniff Frank’s pipes and comb through old photos.

Claire’s having a similarly reflective moment in her shared office with Joe Abernathy, who comments on her expression. She’d had the same lost-in-thought look right after returning from her trip to Scotland. Upon further prompting from Joe, Claire admits she’d attempted to look up a love from her past but hadn’t succeeded -- not a lie, not really. According to her, “fate had other plans,” and Joe’s response to that? “F*ck fate.” That line reading made me smile the same way Claire does before she departs for home.

Roger’s been watching one too many romantic movies, because apparently he’s gotten the idea into his head to hop on a plane from Scotland to visit the Randall women for the holidays. Before he even rings the doorbell, the sound of shouting reaches us, and at this point it’s anyone’s guess what mother and daughter are fighting about. Once Roger steps in he’s filled in quickly: Brianna has decided to take a break from college and move out of the house. Not necessarily out of character for a millennial, but probably a little more rebellious in the 1960s. Finding out the truth about your birth father can be a little disconcerting, but I’m not sure why Brianna’s choosing this moment to establish her independence from Claire.

Brianna exits stage left, and Roger’s left alone with Claire -- though it isn’t as awkward as you might expect, especially once they start sharing wine and a cheese plate. Although Claire and Brianna gave up the ghost of Jamie, Roger’s continued to do research on the downlow -- and he thinks he’s managed to catch up to where Jamie is in the equivalent of the present day. He’s found a journal article written in 1765 -- and nothing about it seems all that evidentiary on the surface.

However, there are specific phrases that point specifically to Jamie -- things Claire had quoted to him once upon a time that had made their way into the article later on. There’s even a quote from a poem by Robert Burns, who was only 6 at the time. Only someone with knowledge of the future could’ve quoted a poem that wouldn’t be written for another 21 years. And the writer of the article? Why, it’s one of Jamie’s many aliases conjured up from his 20 different names: Alexander Malcolm. He’s a printer, and he’s living in Edinburgh in 1765 -- only a year behind Claire’s present timeline currently running in tandem with the past.

For a moment, Claire almost looks as though she’s beginning to hope again -- but then she gets angry. Leaving Scotland behind had been her way of leaving the past behind as well, and she was hardly expecting to have Roger drum it all up again. Now that there’s a possibility for her to return, she doesn’t even want to consider leaving Brianna behind. She makes Roger promise not to tell Brianna about what he’s found, but more secrets are the last thing this family needs.

Harvard’s honoring Frank by creating a fellowship in his name, so Claire, Brianna, and Roger show up to put in the necessary face time with his colleagues and fellow academics. Of course, Frank’s mistress Sandy is also in attendance, and during a small info dump we learn that not only is she a professor currently working at the college -- but she was also one of Frank’s former students. The dean making the introductions excuses himself, leaving Claire and Sandy to share a frosty silence. Claire’s about to peace out of the awkward moment when Sandy decides that it’s the best time to confront Claire about trapping Frank in their marriage for 20 years. Claire, to her credit, doesn’t lose her you-know-what on this chick; in fact, it seems like Sandy’s words about truly loving Frank resonate with her in a new way.

Afterward, Brianna and Claire have a little alone time on the Harvard campus. “Secrets, secrets are no fun,” Brianna says. “Secrets, secrets hurt someone.” (Okay, I’m paraphrasing, but you get the picture.) Claire ‘fesses up about Frank’s mistress and then the news about Jamie’s whereabouts, pulling out the newspaper article she seems to have been carrying in her purse this whole time. She’s still insistent on the fact that she won’t be going back through the stones, but Brianna insists she should. “I love you, but I don’t need you,” she says. (That’s a direct quote.)

While watching the Apollo 8 mission, Claire seems to have an epiphany. (She also inwardly muses about having traveled further than the moon -- but come on, Claire. It’s the MOON. It’s probably on par with time travel.) She doesn’t want to miss out on all the milestones in Brianna’s life, though Brianna points out that there’s one person who doesn’t know she exists yet -- and that’s Jamie. If nothing else, Claire should go in order to tell him about his daughter.

So Claire makes plans to travel to the past. She checks in with a hot-blooded straight male (Joe) to confirm whether she’s still f*ckable after all this time (he says yes). Roger and Brianna’s Christmas presents to her consist of things she might need -- like old coins for money and a glorified Cliffs Notes on the history of Scotland. And, of course, Claire will need period-accurate clothing to blend in, so we witness her superhero costuming montage, wherein she cuts up an old raincoat and makes herself a dress. (The whole thing is set to the tune of the old Batman TV show theme song. It’s charming in a way I never expected.)

Claire says her goodbyes in Boston. She wants her next trip to be peaceful -- and if Brianna tags along to Scotland she might not be able to convince herself to leave. She gives Jamie’s pearls to Brianna, who settles in for a cozy first Christmas with Roger and then departs for Scotland. The jump from the taxicab to the streets of Edinburgh is a little abrupt, but we’ll forgive the show for this because it brings us minutes closer to Claire discovering Jamie. She finds the print shop owned by Alexander Malcolm and walks inside -- where Jamie stands unawares and with his back turned. When he hears Claire’s voice for the first time in years he slowly turns to face her -- and then faints dead away. (I’ll admit it: I chuckled.)

Miscellaneous Thoughts:
- In the scene where the cab driver drops Roger off at the Randall house, the fare is only $2.50. $2.50?! Can you even imagine?
- Joe receives a box from an anthropologist friend containing the bones of a woman. He and Claire eventually deduce that she was in fact murdered (by someone attempting to chop her head off with a dull blade), but what’s even odder is that her remains were found inside a cave in the Caribbean -- and she was white. Methinks this will be important to remember later on.
- At one point, Roger watches the original Dark Shadows on television. (He seems to have an intricate knowledge of the storylines the same way Spike did with Passions on Buffy.) 
- I don’t know about you, but this episode left me craving a lobster roll and some Boston cream pie. Two of both, please.

That’s it for now, Outlander fans! Feel free to sound off in the comments about your favorite moments this episode, as well as your predictions for Season 3, or tweet at us over at @Syfyfangrrls. How will Brianna and Roger fare with Claire back in the past once more? More importantly, what kind of hot reunion is going to go down in that print shop?! Inquiring minds need to know.