Outlander Freedom & Whisky Review
Starz’s Outlander: Season 3, Episode 5: Freedom & Whisky was an episode where the two main female leads transitioned into new phases of their lives. Claire Beauchamp Randall/Fraser (Caitriona Balfe), once resolute in not wasting her life chasing James “Jamie” MacKenzie Fraser (Sam Heughan) throughout time in historical documents, found that flimsy mindset quickly cracked then splintered when new news about Jamie Fraser was brought to light. This was to be expected. Jamie was the love of Claire’s life.
Brianna “Bree” Randall (Sophie Skelton)’s intransigence during Freedom & Whisky about dropping out of college after learning the truth about her mother, her father, Jamie, and time travel were to be expected as well. The bedrock of Brianna’s existence had been detonated, in previous episodes of Outlander, by small narrative blasts until only two former truths remained: 1.) Frank Randall had loved her as his own and 2.) Claire Randall had always loved her. Sitting in college classes and making the grade as her mind swirled around all those new facts and truths must have been extremely difficult for Brianna, the results of which were on display in Freedom & Whisky.
Claire’s decision in Freedom & Whisky to leave her modern life behind ran parallel to Brianna’s decision to leave her collegiate life behind. The difference between the two of them was that Claire was stepping into a familiar role while Brianna was stepping into a brand new one for herself. The road Brianna was on was undiscovered, new to her and those around her.
Claire Randall was confronted in Freedom & Whisky, yet again, about her treatment of and the untenable situation that she’d created for Frank Randall. Claire Randall asked her medical colleague in the episode for an honest assessment of her physical appeal and she received it, almost to her chagrin. Claire received the same bluntness from Frank’s former student and mistress about Frank’s lack of happiness and what he could have had if Claire had let him go. Frank’s decision to stay married to Claire was his own but it was partially built on fear, a fear of losing access to Brianna Randall. Claire never assuaged that anxiety, not really. As they say in A Song of Ice and Fire, “words are wind” but a legally-binding document giving Frank Randall full joint custody, in the case of a divorce, would have done the trick. Perspective and smart Claire Randall never saw fit to give Frank such a document.
Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin)’s appearance at Brianna Randall’s doorstep in Freedom & Whisky, under the guise of wanting to experience an “American Christmas,” brought a welcomed smile to the viewer’s face. The amount of courage it took for Roger to chase his burgeoning feelings for Brianna across an ocean bespoke of what was at stake for him and what he thought he might gain. After Brianna and Claire had left Scotland, Roger must-likely couldn’t get Brianna (or the events of her visit) out of his mind. Roger visited the Randalls in American during Freedom & Whisky for duel reasons but he could have easily mailed or called with the information that he had discovered about Jamie Fraser. The impromptu door knock was Roger Wakefield walking from hopes and dreams into reality, a reality that greeted him with a smile and open arms.
Dreams and reality played a key role in the best moment of Freedom & Whisky, a moment held till the very end of the episode – the reunion. Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall had been apart for nearly twenty years. Claire may have never given up on seeing Jamie again, in her heart if not her mind, but the same could not be said for Jamie.
Jamie still loved Claire but he never thought he would see her again and he had no way of searching for her in the future. That ink had not yet been spilled. All he could do was live in the present.
Claire’s sightless approach on Jamie, sound and what was imminent the only active elements, was like the Bear Jew’s approach on the Nazi officer in Inglourious Basterds i.e. the viewer waited with bated breath for the two to meet.
When the moment finally arrived – Claire’s journey back to Jamie at an end, Jamie heard a voice, and saw a face he thought he would never see again – Jamie’s reaction to that stimuli was absolutely hilarious. Seeing a man knocked unconscious after receiving an overdose of emotion was something that few people had seen (either in-person or on-screen) and if they had, I doubt they saw an incarnation as effective as the one in Freedom & Whisky. Bearing Jamie’s reaction in mind, I think there was little doubt in Claire’s mind that Jamie still loved her. That or Jamie Fraser believed he was seeing an apparition for the first time.
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