I mean, don’t they always? In episode 5, just when Claire thinks she has resigned herself to staying in the ‘60s with Brianna, good ol’ Roger shows up with a last surprise.
If this had been me, I would have stayed in Boston for the rest of my days, my lover lost to the past, because I couldn’t leave anachronistic clues to be published in pamphlets. Unless maybe it was song lyrics... “Yea though we are young, with aching hearts together we stand, no oaths nor implorements, for love is a moor upon which we fight, oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOooooo.”
Fortunately Claire is both well read and well memorized, AND Roger is persistent, because he finds the clue that tells us where Jamie is. Jamie printed the “freedom and whisky” phrase, and quoted the Robert Burns poem, roughly 20 years before it was written.
“I’ve come for Christmas, oh also, take a look at this sheet of paper I happened to bring along.” - Roger
That bit of business out of the way, the show spends a good deal of time stewing in Claire’s decision to go back. (Much to my pleasure, and hopefully to other fans who thought things were going a bit fast.)
First, how could Claire leave Brianna? Then, if she does, what if Jamie doesn’t want her? What if he’s forgotten her? What if he thinks her two grey hairs are ugly and he rejects her? (I hate that she dyed her hair, but actually it’s an interesting statement about how nervous she is.) But finally, Brianna convinces her that this is the right thing to do and relieves her of some of the guilt she feels. It’s quite touching, too, when Brianna notes that Claire needs to go back to tell Jamie what became of his child. Claire can look through records to see what became of Jamie; he has no such luxury, and has been living 20 years with uncertainty and a lot of faith.
So, Claire gets ready to go, with an awesome and entertaining dressmaking montage featuring the Batman theme. I love when the show uses music in these clever ways! h/t Bear McCreary. I also love that Claire made her own clothes. In the book she buys a gown from a store that is clearly all flash, no substance. In this version, she is using a waterproof material dang it! And building lots of secret pockets to stash penicillin and handy 20th century tools. She also gets some 18th century currency, and a book to read on the plane about Scotland. (This is funny, but only book readers know why! Also, book readers - she is bringing penicillin, you know what’s coming!! Also also - bones!)
Claire also gets a topaz necklace from Brianna, which is a convenient opportunity to dump some time travel exposition: According to Gillian/Geillis, and based on Claire’s experience, a gemstone is useful when traveling through the stones. (The ones that Claire uses all end up destroyed, so it’s not clear whether the stones are a requirement, or help protect the traveler, or help the traveler target a specific destination...details!) Claire didn’t kill anyone last time, though, so she’s skipping that part of Geillis’ guidance. (Or so we assume...muahahaha.)
We also get a lot of Brianna time this episode, which I thought did a great job at fleshing out her character more. Her rejection of history (as a major/profession) made more sense to me in this hour of TV than in the whole book series. Brianna dislikes the ambiguity of history, that what you thought was true could be completely turned on its head with such ease. With Roger as a foil, it’s clear as well that what drives a historian doesn’t come naturally to Brianna. Or at least, it doesn’t anymore after the summer.
Pulling myself out of book reader mode for a moment, did anyone think they should have addressed the possibility of Brianna going back too? It’s assumed that Claire must choose between Jamie and Brianna, but not sure if it’s ever explained.
Another sidenote: I kind of wish we had a reveal to Brianna of Claire all dressed up for the past, curly hair, new duds, and all. It would have brought the “Brianna is finally seeing the real Claire” theme full circle, methinks.
Finally, at the end, we see Claire back in the 1700s, having successfully traveled back through the stones to Edinburgh, to the printshop of one A. Malcolm. Balfe’s performance in this scene, breathless and excited and expectant and scared and nervous and tearful all at once, is wonderful. Heughan’s is even better - he faints dead away. I rewatched this scene and it only made me laugh more on repeat viewing.
And finally, FINALLY next week we get a special extended episode, I assume to make up for the 15 months + 5 episodes we have had to wait for Claire and Jamie sexy times.
Enough of my ramblings, what did you think?