The entirety of this episode of Outlander, titled “Freedom & Whisky,” is set in (yawn) 1968 Boston, in which all of the action takes a million years to unfold. Loyal fans have been slogging their way through Jamie and Claire’s separation this season, biding our time until the two can be reunited. Because, let’s face it, without this epic love on the screen, the show has lost a good bit of its romantic mojo. I can only pine for them for so long, so thank goodness this episode gives a tiny slice of the reunion pay-off, but only barely.

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Brianna’s Emotional Fall-out

As bratty as Brianna can be at times, you have to hand it to the girl for shouldering all this life-altering news like a damn champ. She finds out the father she’s always known isn’t really her bio-dad, and her actual DNA comes from an 18th century Scottish highlander. Oh, and don’t forget her mom is a time-traveling white witch that’s been living a lie for close to 20 years. It’s no big shock that the poor girl is failing out of Harvard. This seems the mildest of appropriate reactions.

After a stern talking-to from her professor and friend of her father’s, Bri decides to drop out of college and move out of her mother’s house. In the midst of a tantrum, her very own Scottish hunk turns up at her door under the ruse of having “an American Christmas.” She’s mildly glad to see him, but this doesn’t keep her from bailing on this incredibly weird interaction.

Anyone who has eyes in their head (or has ever seen a rom-com) knows Roger is smitten with Bri, and this contributes to one of the more awkward moments of the hour. He arrives in the middle of a screaming match between Bri and her mother, forcing him to watch her existential crisis unfold right in front of him.

Roger’s folks in Scotland in 1968 don’t get how rude it is to turn up at Christmas time unannounced, suitcase in hand, for an undetermined amount of time. But Roger is appropriately apologetic for his ill-timing, and him and his beard charm the Randall ladies enough to be invited in. Too bad Brianna storms out right after, box in hand, leaving him standing there, in yet another scene I have to watch through my fingers. Thankfully, Claire tries to make him feel welcome and insists that he stay. They wind up having a lovely dinner together, and we forgive Brianna for the fit she pitched. We’ll thank Claire’s very British sensibilities for her ability to recover from the evening so quickly.

Once the uncomfortableness of Claire and Bri’s argument has worn off, they drink whisky while Roger delivers news of Jamie’s post-prison life. Roger, ever the intrepid historian, has uncovered an article written, presumably by Jamie, under the name of Alexander Malcolm. This proves that Jamie was still alive as recently as a year ago, and Claire loses her shit all at once when she hears the news.

Claire is Conflicted

Although it would seem that Claire should be delighted at this bit of news, she’s decidedly not. She’s angry that Roger has the audacity to offer her hope of her great love, invoking the 20 years of pining she’s had to endure. She claims to have “shut the door on the past,” but we all know this is a giant lie. Yeah, right, Claire. She may be able to sell that load of goods to herself, but we know better.

I’m not sure why Outlander thinks we’re buying that Claire would be hesitant to return to Jamie. Sure, I’ll let her play that mom card, but come on. What have we been doing during these three seasons besides completely investing in the epic-ness of their great love story? They belong together, so stop stalling, Claire.

As Claire chews over her decision to return in light of Roger’s news, she goes with him and Brianna to a ceremony honoring Frank at Harvard. While she’s there, she bumps into Frank’s mistress. You remember the one … the pretty blonde Ph.D student whom he wanted to marry but died before he got the chance?

In a moment of knee-jerk reactionary judgment, I want to hate this woman. But I really can’t. She lays down some harsh truths to Claire about how she held Frank captive all those years. Just because Frank’s affair was tangible and available doesn’t mean Claire wasn’t just as unfaithful to him, and this exchange goes a long way to convince Claire that she must return to Jamie.

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A Sad Goodbye

The confrontation with Frank’s girlfriend, coupled with Brianna’s willingness to give her mother back to Scotland, convinces Claire she must go. They spend their last Christmas together exchanging meaningful presents and a lot of tears. Aside from giving Bri Jamie’s mother’s pearls, Claire gives Bri the deed to the house, the banking information and her resignation letter to the hospital. These are all reminders that she might never return, and the tears are really flowing now. Their fight from earlier is forgotten, and mother and daughter come to terms with what the future might bring. Sniff, sniff. 

Claire, still industrious and clever, not softened by her cushy 20th century life, makes herself a period-appropriate dress out of raincoats. It has lots of fun pockets so she can smuggle penicillin and scalpels back to the past. She packs it into her suitcase and loads herself into a cab, and then we have to endure an excruciatingly long scene of the drive, under a very dramatic (and mostly unnecessary) voiceover.

She’s Back … Finally

Next we know, Claire is stepping out of a horse-drawn buggy in bustling 18th century Edinburgh, with only six minutes left in the episode. She finds Jamie’s printing shop and, in what feels like an hour and a half, finally makes her way in to see him.

We hear him before we see him, but when he finally turns around to see Claire’s face, his incredulous disbelief turns to realization, and then it turns into him collapsing like a bag of bricks. He faints, y’all. And that is exactly all we get of their big reunion.

We don’t even get a big kiss or embrace and, frankly, I feel a little cheated I have to wait an entire week to get all the affection I’ve been waiting on.

How did their (long awaited) reunion make you feel? Do you think we got what we deserved? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Outlander season 3 airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz. Want more news? Like BuddyTV’s Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of Starz)

Sundi Rose

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

I am a freelance writer and critic, blogging about pop culture, and how it effects our shared identities. I absolutely love TV and will watch anything once, and I love to talk about TV. So, it makes sense that I am also an University professor teaching courses in, popular culture and mass media.