Outlander 5×03 “Free Will” is a better, more compelling episode than “Between Two Fires,” there’s no doubt about that. And yet it still feels like the show is running on fumes, like they’re saving all the good, emotional stuff for the later half of the season, and we’re left with a lot of build-up that feels, well …a little boring.
Five seasons in, however, Outlander can slow down a tad and do character exploration – the characters have earned that – but it cannot spend episode after episode exploring characters we barely care about. If we’re going heavy on character exploration it has to be about Jamie or Claire, Brianna or Roger. Even Murtagh. The rest, well, they don’t matter enough.
All that being said, this episode works better than the last one because at least Jamie and Claire are together, and we can forgive a lot (even the lack of any type of goodbye between Brianna and Jamie, what was that about?!) when those two get to share the screen.
So let’s talk about that, and about Roger and Brianna’s impending decision as we discuss “Free Will”:
SAFE, BUT ALONE
This week’s episode was meant to contrast physical safety with emotional well-being. Yes, Roger and Brianna would be physically safer in the future, where there’s modern medicine and no wars, but would they be emotionally better off back there, alone?
Claire seems to think the answer is yes, because Claire is a doctor, and she can’t help but imagine the worst case scenario when it comes to diseases or illnesses. Jamie, on the other hand, though part of him is being selfish, understands that sending them to the future might be physically safer, but they would all be worse off for it.
Him and Claire, because they’d lose their daughter, again, and also their grandson. Brianna because she would be forced to walk away from them, from the loving familial support she craves. The baby because he wouldn’t get to really know them. And even Roger, who thinks he has nothing in the past, would lose the possibility of a family, something he can’t have in the future.
It’s a catch-22. Both choices are complicated, and brings their own perils. The question is, what’s more important to Roger and Brianna: physical safety or being together, as a family.
THANK GOD YOU’RE HERE
For Jamie and Claire, however, there’s no choice but each other, no life to be led when they’re not together. They tried it, for so many years, more than they would have chosen, and they walked this life like shells of what they could be, always missing the other part of themselves that lived in the other person.
Love isn’t belonging, and love isn’t anything but choice. It doesn’t, it can’t be, if it’s real. But being together is a choice Jamie and Claire have made, over and over again, and one they’re prepared to continue making, together, as they do everything.
That was really the point of this episode, to showcase their partnership. They live in a dangerous time, and every second they’ve spent together has been about making decisions that could mean life or death, but they’ve never made those decisions any way other than together. And in this regard, in their relationship, Outlander is as modern as any show on TV.
Jamie and Claire are the standard, make no mistake about it. And they will continue to be.
Things I think I think:
- Look, I think it might be time to tell Marsali and Fergus.
- Why not?
- I love Marsali a whole lot, okay?
- “Daring history to try and stop me”
- Well, that doesn’t bode well. History HAS done that before.
- Fine, the theme song is growing on me.
- Jamie’s face when he gets back and sees Claire? Wow. Awards for Sam Heughan, please.
- “You can’t feel responsible for the choices others make.”
- Easier said than done, Claire. Easier said than done.
- Have shows of force ever prevented war?
- Claire has me HER choice, Jamie. You.
- “I always have and I always will.”
- Yeah, that paper Fergus took is gonna be trouble.
- Jamie telling Fergus to “Hurry home” is my aesthetic. It just makes my heart grow three sizes how this orphan boy from France found home with Jamie all those years ago, and so many years later it still holds true.
- Oh joy, Roger is going.
- This goodbye between Roger and Brianna is almost, almost heartfelt.
- I like Jamie not keeping secrets.
- Sending Roger on alone is the DUMBEST IDEA EVER.
- Jamie and Claire in the scary movie setup is also not a good idea.
- DON’T MAKE PROMISES YOU CAN’T KEEP, ROGER.
- “So far as it lies in my power.”
- That’s still a promise.
- Jamie is a good second to Claire.
- “And you’re Sassenach”/ “Only to my husband.”
- This dude doesn’t deserve to live, that much is clear.
- “Having a baby doesn’t make me a mother.”
- So she’s leaving, right?
- Would she have told you, though, Jamie? I don’t think she would have.
- I wouldn’t want to live like that either.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Outlander 5×03 “Free Will”? Share with us in the comments below!
Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.