This season of Outlander promised to be slightly different from the start, with Claire and Jamie two centuries apart — and that change was great while it lasted. After five episodes, Claire finally got back to 18th century Scotland, and she shared her first moment with Jamie in the season (apart from that dreamy sequence in the premiere).
This week's episode of Outlander, "Freedom & Whisky," was also different from the rest of the season in that it contrasted heavily with the fast pace set by the producers in the previous episodes. While it certainly didn't drag and there was plenty going on in Boston, it's surprising that the show would chose this moment to slow down and center a whole episode on Claire's time traveling preparations — especially when it rushed through the Dunbonnet, Ardsmuir and Hellwater storylines. Nevertheless, here are the top three memorable moments of this mid-season finale of Outlander.
1. Brianna Randall Fraser
She might have taken that whole "your father isn't Frank; he's an 18th century Highlander" thing pretty well at first, but Bree was clearly struggling to adapt to her new reality. She was having problems at Harvard, she decided to be her own woman and moved out of her mother's house. And, on top of it all, she lost the one person who truly knew her when Claire traveled back to Jamie.
On the plus side, Roger seemed ready to stay and offer her all the support she might need. The pair have been bonding since their first meeting last season, and surely they're on the way to becoming Outlander's second power couple. Also, Brianna's relationship with her mother seemed to have taken a turn for the better after Claire came clean about Jamie and their epic love. Although Frank will always be a part of her — as we saw when she went through his things at home in this episode — she is ready to accept that she has another father who didn't have the chance to know her the way he deserved.
2. 'Bones Don't Lie'
It was an odd and seemingly irrelevant scene in the middle of an episode focusing on Claire's decision to travel back in time, but those bones Dr. Joe Abernathy was studying are more important than you'd think. They belonged to a white woman from the 1700s and they were found in a cave in the Caribbean, and Claire had a hunch that the woman had been choked to death. Of course I won't ruin it for those who haven't yet read the books, but Claire's hunch here could very well be described as a time paradox — when time traveling causes ripples that interfere with reality. Also, the fact that Joe Abernathy was the one examining the bones shouldn't go amiss either — but that's a talk for another time.
3. Alexander Malcolm
From the very beginning of Outlander, Jamie's complete name has been both a mouth-full and a convenient plot device, allowing him to become 'someone else' whenever the need arises. This time, Jamie Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser was simply Alexander Malcolm, a print shop owner in Edinburgh. Personally, I've always loved how Outlander manages its time travel and jumps and, this time, Claire's unwarranted fear of puddles kicked in as a great transition device to get her from the 20th to the 18th century again.
After spending 20 years apart from the love of her life, Claire was on an emotional rollercoaster throughout "Freedom & Whisky" that culminated when she walked into the print shop and heard Jamie's voice again. It's interesting that with all the homesickness, doubt, anticipation, surprise and relief playing a part in that scene, Outlander chose to end the first half of this third season with a dumbstruck Jamie fainting ungracefully on the floor of his print shop; an odd (and quite delightful) choice for a midseason cliffhanger.
Outlander will take a one-week break, and when it returns it'll be all about Jamie and Claire getting to know each other again after 20 years and, of course, forging a new future.
Outlander returns with its Episode 6, "A. Malcolm", on October 22nd, on Starz.