Spoiler, spoiler, spoiler.
Welcome back, folks. Today we tackle “Freedom and Whiskey,” episode five of season three of Outlander. We’ll be discussing the series and the book here, so don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
Now I’m guessing there’s going to be some mixed reactions to this episode, and I’ll admit, I’m a bit mixed on it myself.
First, let’s acknowledge some lovely acting and writing here, especially on the part of Caitriona Balfe. The Claire storyline has taken a bit of a backseat to Jamie so far this season, just as it does in the book Voyager, so I appreciate that the writers decided to give her a chance to shine.
The weight of Claire’s decision to go back to Jamie is really given its full due here, more so than in the novel. The fact that she may very well never see Brianna again, that she’ll be leaving her medical practice of which she is justifiably proud, her fears that perhaps Jamie might not even remember her or still love her—all of this is beautifully fleshed out and portrayed.
Now in the novel, Claire has already decided to go back to Jamie by the time she leaves Edinburgh, so there’s quite a bit of momentum built in to this sequence. In fact, the only reason she returns to Boston in the novel at all is to settle her affairs. So why did Ron Moore and the writers decide to stretch this section out so much, especially given how much Voyager plot they still have to cover in the remaining eight episodes of this season? I mean, did we really need Boston cream pie?
Honestly, as I’m sure my long-time readers know, it’s not how I would have gone with it. After all, in my mock episodes, I bring Claire back to Jamie in episode two! So clearly, we have different approaches. And while I appreciate that this episode allowed Roger to have a more active role, and gave Brianna a chance to also be more proactive in her mother’s decision, I couldn’t help but be frustrated watching it.
I felt like they were reaching a bit to fill the whole hour with just Claire’s decision. Maybe it was Sophie Skelton’s awkward American accent, or the overuse of people staring at objects and looking sad while holding a whiskey tumbler, but by the time we got to the Batman-themed sewing montage, I couldn’t help but wish we could just get on with it a bit.
A little review here: now that Claire has finally gone through those stones, we are officially in the “Edinburgh” part of the book. Now in Voyager, “Edinburgh” begins at the 27% point and lasts to the 43% point, making it roughly 144 pages long. And in those pages, a LOT of plotlines are established and fleshed out (hello, print shop, rum smuggling, Mr. Willoughby, Ian Jr, the Edinburgh Fiend, Reverend Campbell and his crazy sister Margaret, oh, and don’t forget the Smuggers’ Moon shenanigans… I could go on, but I’m exhausting myself).
It’s the kind of stuff that would be pretty hard to simply skip over, because it all comes up again later.
So then we head back to Lallybroch, and book readers, you KNOW we ain’t skippin’ Lallybroch, not only because a very significant revelation is made there…
Exactly… but also because it contains one of everybody’s favorite sex scenes, and man, we could use some more of those right now.
So Lallybroch is another long section in the book, and it needs to be so because a lot of plot is put into action here as well (hello, penicillin). This section also took me two mock episodes to cover—MOCK FOUR and MOCK FIVE—because the whole second half of it is the Silkies’ Island escapade, where the gang heads to retrieve the money to pay Laoghaire off, and where—SPOILER ALERT—Ian Jr goes and gets himself kidnapped. Good going, Ian.
This event, which is really the inciting incident of the plot of this book, believe it or not, doesn’t happen until the 50% mark.
Now you could argue that, due to my decision to tell Jamie’s backstory in flashback, which elongated Mock Four, Ron Moore and staff could manage to smoosh these two episodes down to just one.
In my version of events, I got our fearless leaders onto the boat to the East Indies in mock EPISODE SIX, thus giving us over half a season to cover the second half of the book, which ALSO has a lot of plot that I won’t try to cover here. But trust me, it’s a lot. (Feel free to read the rest of the mock episodes to remind yourself.)
At the rate this show is going, Claire and Jamie won’t get on that boat until episode eight, minimum, and it might even be nine. As a writer, I am FASCINATED by how they’ll pull this off.
But just like everyone else, I also canna’ wait.
I’ll leave you with this look on Jamie’s face, just so we can remember what’ll happen in two weeks when he wakes up 🙂 (Yeah, sorry, there is no episode next Sunday. Don’t ask me why. I’m not STARZ.)
And if you’re looking for Outlander-themed jewelry, here’s the link: Sassenach Jewelry