“Freedom & Whisky”
October 8, 2017
A big yellow taxi pulls to a stop, a shockingly vivid pop of color on an otherwise gray and listless street. Handsome Roger steps out of the cab. I assume his balls will be delivered by truck later, because it takes a massive pair to fly 3,000 miles and show up unannounced and unexpected on someone’s doorstep.
He rings the bell and then rings it again, realizing with a sinking feeling that Claire and Brianna probably can’t hear it over the unholy row they’re having. Brianna is still struggling with the knowledge that sexy time travel is real and that her biological father was a hot Scot. Claire is struggling with her daughter’s decision to drop out of Harvard and move out on her own.
A car honks outside and Brianna grabs a box of belongings. She’s like, hey Roger good to see you, let’s hang out tomorrow, maybe call next time.
Handsome Roger asks Claire if he can pour her a whisky, because he’s a man who believes that it’s never too early or too late for a wee dram.
Also, she might need it after the new information he’s about to reveal.
“I found him.”
Handsome Roger is a historian, and knows you don’t stop digging until you exhaust all possible avenues of inquiry. He shows Claire a photocopy of an article published in 1765 in a journal called Foresters. He’s certain that Jamie wrote it.
He points out a line in the text: “For as has been known for ages past, freedom and whisky gang together.” He reminds Claire that she told him she quoted that line – freedom and whisky – to Jamie.
He turns back to the first page and says Jamie quotes the poem again – a poem that Robert Burns won’t write for another 21 years. Finally, he tells Claire to look at the printer’s name. Alexander Malcolm. It’s proof that Jamie was alive and living in Edinburgh only a year previous in their parallel timelines.
Roger twinkles at Claire like a big ol’ handsome Santa. Claire is like, STAY OUT OF IT NICK LACHEY!
Claire chokes back tears. She says she could have lived the rest of her life not knowing. That shutting the door on her life with Jamie was the hardest thing she’s ever done. When she learned he survived Culloden, she began to hope; she says she can’t go through that again. Handsome Roger insists it’s not just hope he’s offering. They know when and where Jamie is. Claire can go to him.
And leave Brianna? Claire asks how she could do that, now when her daughter needs her most? She tells Handsome Roger that she knows he meant well, but
Claire goes into the hospital for a random scene with Joe Abernathy where she magically dates and IDs the bones of an 18th century murder victim exhumed from a dig site in the Caribbean, and then she tells him Frank isn’t Brianna’s biological father. Wait, what? They couldn’t have had this conversation over coffee? I assume the remains are meant to be foreshadowing for future seasons’ plot developments, but it’s just weird.
Anyhoo, Joe is less than surprised to learn the truth. He says it explains a lot. He tells Claire he’s watched her live a half life for 15 years. If she has a second chance at love, she should take it.
Brianna comes home to find Handsome Roger watching Dark Shadows. She snarks and he shushes her, as you do when you’re trying to watch your stories. She apologies for being a pill the day before. He says he shouldn’t have just dropped in. What he doesn’t say is that he just lost his father too, BRIANNA. This is his first Christmas without Rev. Wakefield and he was hoping to make some new memories.
Instead, Roger says he came for an American Christmas. He wants to eat lobster roll and Boston cream pies. He’s the most adorable ever. Instead of mauling his face off, Brianna invites him to a thing at Harvard that afternoon.
She starts with a tour of the Robinson Cloisters, telling him it’s one of the only examples of Gothic revival architecture on Harvard’s campus. Roger the historian is taken with the thought of the people who have passed through and the secrets “etched in its nooks and crannies.”
Brianna says its the engineering of the place that’s always fired her mind. The calculations and precision that went into its building. There’s a truth to the building – in contrast to her own life. She says that history is just a story that changes depending on who’s telling it.
“History can’t be trusted.”
Roger looks like she just stabbed him in the heart and put her knee to the groin of his life’s work.
And on that cheerful note, Brianna drags Handsome Roger to a reception naming a fellowship in Frank’s honor. As Claire is chatting with the dean, he stops a passing professor and makes introductions. Claire and Frank’s fancy woman Sandy look like they want to scratch each other’s eye out, but pretend that they’ve never met.
When they’re alone, Sandy tries to play the “who knew Frank better” game before telling Claire that she should have let him go. Her eyes well up with tears. She says Frank was the love of her life. That she would give anything for just one more day with him. Sandy calls Claire selfish and says she threw away twenty years with a man who still loved her.
And Sandy’s not wrong, but Frank knew the score from the jump and chose to stay, so that’s on him. And Sandy’s choice to live a half life is on her. In conclusion, everyone is terrible except Handsome Roger and the absolutely cunning tartan cape that Brianna is wearing.
We will not speak though of her puffy blouse.
After the reception, Brianna and Claire walk through the cloisters. Claire tells her the truth about Sandy. Brianna wonders what it must have been like for Frank to be confronted with the truth of Jamie every day. When Frank looked at her, was he seeing another man? The man Claire really loved?
Brianna thinks Frank must have hated her for it.
Claire looks like she’s been kicked in the chest by Brianna’s new take of her own life’s story. She says Brianna was the one thing that was truly important to Frank. Raising her was his life’s work and his greatest joy. Just as she is her mother’s joy. “I love you for you, Brianna. Not for the man who fathered you.”
Claire admits though that she still thinks about Jamie. She shows Brianna the article that Handsome Roger found. Brianna understands instantly what she’s looking at – and what it means.
Back at the hospital, Claire gathers with Joe and their colleagues to watch the broadcast of the Apollo 8 space mission. She’s wearing a gorgeous Sarah Coventry style pin on the lapel of her lab coat. I’m pretty sure I have a similar piece I inherited from my grandmother – who was not a sexy time traveler, as far as I know. [Ed. note: As far as you know.]
Joe wonders aloud how you take a trip like that and come back to life as you knew it? An anvil thuds quietly in the back of the room. Claire stands at the window and stares up at the moon, wondering if having taken the trip once could ever be enough.
Later, she discusses the possibility of going back with Brianna. Claire says there’s the chance she might never be able to return. She doesn’t think she can live with the thought of never seeing her daughter again. Of not being there to celebrate the milestones of Brianna’s life.
Brianna agrees that it won’t be easy, but says her mother owes it to Jamie to go back, and to trust that his feelings haven’t faded. She gives her blessing by telling Claire she’s giving Jamie back to her, after Claire gave him up for Brianna.
But before Claire can commit to going back, she needs to check in with the male gaze. She walks into Joe’s office and asks him if she’s attractive. He laughs and tells her she’s a skinny white broad with too much hair but a great ass. He says her man will be in heaven when he sees her.
Christmas is celebrated, and Brianna gives Claire a collection of old coins – walking around money for 18th century Edinburgh. Brianna says she wanted to get Claire a flashlight, but Roger said she might be tried as a witch.
Roger gives her a small volume of Scottish history, with a warning not to let Bif get his hands on it or he’ll destroy the time line. Brianna gives her mother a final gift, a topaz pendant, to aid her journey through the stones.
To the strains of a jazzy, swinging version of the Batman theme, Claire sets out to make her own utility belt. Or in this case, a period appropriate dress and cloak with enough pockets to carry everything she’ll need. Tim Gunn comes in to check in with her and warns Claire not to go too costume-y.
Brianna and Handsome Roger admire the “bat suit.” Bree comments that it’s made out of raincoats. The first waterproof fabric won’t be invented until 1824, so I have to wonder what the reaction will be to Claire’s outfit. Let’s see, what else sheds water off its back …
Handsome Roger slips off to get the whisky, because that’s just what Handsome Roger does. Claire tells her daughter to hurry up and hit that already. Then she gives her the deed to the house, her letter of resignation from the hospital, and the Fraser wedding pearls.
Brianna sends Claire off with a kiss for her father and a toast to freedom and whisky.
Claire steps into a yellow cab in Boston in 1968 and steps out of a carriage in Edinburgh in 1766.
She stops a boy on the street who directs her to Carfax Close and the printing shop of Mr. Alexander Malcolm. She climbs the stairs and hesitates a moment before pushing open the door. A familiar voice calls to ask if that’s Geordie. Claire gasps. The breath catches in her throat. She walks across the room and looks down onto the printing room floor.
She says it isn’t Geordie … ” … It’s me. Claire.” Jaimie slowly turns and looks up at her. The scowl he’s been wearing for 20 years melts away. He looks thunderstruck. He reaches back to steady himself. And then he faints dead away.
COOL COOL BUT WHAT ABOUT THE KNITWEAR
No MVPs this week, but a good effort by the brown and green marled sweater dress with an interesting neckline that Claire wears when she first tells Joe about Jamie and her hopes of finding him again, and Brianna’s oversized fisherman’s sweater, perfect for a cozy afternoon of bad TV.