It only took five weeks but we finally got to see a Claire and Jamie reunion! Well, sort of. But before we talk about that, we have take a closer look at what will forever be known as Roger Wakefield's No Good Very Bad (But Also King Of Great) American Christmas.
"Freedom and Whisky," opens on a bloody intestinal tract. Back in Boston after the failed Scotland trip, Claire is doing her badass lady surgeon thing. But the good news is that it's almost Christmas!
Brianna, meanwhile, is back at Harvard, listening to a lecture about Paul Revere, and the perils of lost history. The only problem is, she's failing out. Her professor, concerned, asks if anything's changed since last semester.
Well, sir, the man she thought was her father died tragically in a car crash, she recently found out that her biological father was actually an 18th century Scot who was supposed to have died in the Battle of Culloden. Oh, and she left a very hot Scot of her own behind when she returned to Boston. Could any of that be the problem?
Brianna, of course, stays mum. But when she gets home, we can see that Frank's death still weighs heavily in her heart. (Same girl, #TeamFrank)
Joe Abernathy also knows something's up. He quizzes Claire — who's giving off impressive 1960s sweater vibes — about what really happened in Scotland. She gives him a half-truth about reconnecting with a lost love from her past, which...kind of?
Then, Roger, who truly has the worst timing, shows up in Boston for Christmas right as Brianna has informed her mother that she's dropping out of school and moving out. Surprise! It's Roger's first Christmas without the Reverend, and Claire and Brianna's first without Frank, so they decide to spend the holiday together.
But first, Roger has some news: He found Jamie. (Way to bury the lede there, man!) After a relentless pursuit through history, he's found an article printed by an Alexander Malcolm that features the same line from Robert Burns' poem that Claire used to quote to Jamie. Since Robert Burns was only 6 years old in 1765, this could only have come from Jamie himself. Looks like he's taken up printing and settled down in Edinburgh. Claire can go find him now!
Her reaction is a little unexpected. Rather than tearfully thanking Roger, she lashes out, telling him she never asked him to do any of this. She just can't go through another heartbreak. And what about Brianna? Should Claire just abandon her to go see her lover? She makes Roger promise not to say a word to Brianna until she's figured it out. Poor guy, he was just trying to do something nice.
The next day, Claire and Joe have a heart to heart over the bones of an 150-year-old murder victim found in a Caribbean cave. She confesses that her former flame is Bree's real father. He tells her to stop being afraid and take a chance.
The visual of Roger splayed out on the couch binge-watching Dark Shadows is one that will be burned into my mind forever. Bree catches him in the act, teasing ensues. They're so cute. He tells her he came for "an American Christmas, and lobster rolls, and Boston cream pies." I assume that's code for "I love you Brianna let's make out now." She obviously thinks so too since she invites him on their first official date: a Harvard fellowship unveiling in memory of Frank. Hot stuff.
During a tour of the Harvard cloisters, we get a sense that Brianna only started studying history to please her father — clearly she's more interested in how things are made, than why. Maybe engineering is her calling? Roger gives her a pep talk about being able to have and honor two dads, and it looks like these two are off to a good start.
At the reception, Claire gets a dressing down from
Candy Sandy the former Ph.D candidate, aka Frank's mistress. "You should have let him go," she says. Frank was the love of her life, and she never got to have him. "You threw away 20 years with him. I would give anything to have just one more day." She's....not wrong?
Brianna asks her mother about it as they leave the ceremony. Claire confirms that Frank loved another woman, and that he was planning on marrying her before his untimely death. Bree confesses that she's nervous that her parents' resented her existence: Frank, because she reminded him of Claire's infidelity, and Claire because she had to leave Jamie. Claire reassures her that's not the case, and admits that Roger found Jamie.
Bree gives Claire her blessing to go back in time. "I'm all grown up, Mama," she says. "I can live on my own. I love you, but I don't need you. Not the way I did when I was little."
Later, Claire's medical colleagues watch footage from Apollo 8 circling the moon. Joe mentions that it must be impossible to take such a trip and come back to regular life, which is a metaphor for Claire's time travel experience! Get it?!
Claire warns Bree that going back in time could mean they never see each other ever again. Bree responds that if she's anything like her mother, she'll be fine. She wants Claire to go, and tell her real father all about her. Claire's still nervous though: what if Jamie's forgotten her? I think the more appropriate question would be "What if Jamie has lost all his teeth from 18th century malnutrition?" but cool. Seeking an objective opinion, Claire goes to Joe and asks if she's changed in the last 20 years. "You're a skinny white broad with too much hair but a great ass," is his response. Which is good, I guess?
And Roger finally gets his American Christmas! He and Bree gift Claire some antique coins, and a Scottish history book to use on her journey. Claire admits that she's stolen some scalpels and penicillin from the hospital, which seems like a good idea.
The next step is to make an outfit appropriate for 1766, which turns out to be a raincoat-like dress with lots of hidden pockets. Add in a little help from Miss Clairol to touch up her very light sprinkling of grey hair, and Claire's all set. Roger steps out, and she and Brianna share a little moment while packing: she hands her daughter the deed to the house, a letter of resignation for Joe, and her blessing to bone Roger ASAP (okay, maybe that last thing is just wishful thinking on my part.)
Claire's final parting gift is Jamie's mother's pearls. If they can't be there on her wedding day, at least Bree will have something to remember her parents by. Roger comes back with some booze, and they toast to freedom and whisky.
After Claire leaves for the airport (imagine taking an 8-hour flight to get to the place where you can time travel from — what a nightmare), Bree gives Roger her own present: a festive feast of lobster rolls and Boston cream pie. He gives her a copy of A Christmas Carol, the same book Frank and Claire used to read to her, and they seal the deal with a kiss.
I am deeply appreciative that the showrunners decided to skip Claire's third journey through the stones. Instead, she steps into a puddle, and out into 18th century Scotland, where finding Jamie turns out to be almost anti-climactic. Really, after all that, you just had to ask some random boy and he somehow knew exactly what you were talking about? Said boy sends Claire to Carfax Close, where Alexander Malcolm has his print shop.
But this is Outlander, and they're going to make us wait for this reunion, so all we get is a brief glimpse at the back of Jamie's head before he sees Claire and falls into a dead faint.
UNTIL NEXT WEEK, Y'ALL!