I write recaps, not reviews, adding my emotional responses at times… Here is Freedom and Whisky.
Sing me song…
We open with Claire painting a Christmas plaque – Christmas 1948, Brianna’s first Christmas.
The we immediately switch to Boston in December 1968, showing a very competent Claire as a surgeon operating on a patient, aided by Dr Joe Abernathy.
Claire makes a life or death decision and the patient improves.
In class, we see Brianna listening to a teacher relating the midnight ride of Paul Revere, and how that story has been romanticised and is not factual. She may be in history class, but her thoughts lie elsewhere as she draws arches in her notepad. As the class breaks for Christmas, the tutor calls her over for a chat, she is failing the class, and others. Her future at the University is in jeopardy.
She returns home to an empty house, looking thoughtfully at the Christmas tree and the plaque which adorns it. She runs her hand over her late father’s chair and sits, opening a wooden box, lifting out Frank’s pipe and smelling it. Wistful, she also looks through old family photographs.
Claire sips coffee as she looks at Brianna’s high school graduation photo, as Joe Abernathy enters the room… Joe believes she met a man. Claire confesses to “someone from her past”, Joe says “someone Scottish”. As Scottish as they come, as serious as it comes… they went their separate ways, fate had intervened. Joe (famously) says “fuck fate”… Claire is off duty and she leaves him to his reports, she says the story is to be continued.
A Yellow Cab pulls up in a wet Boston street, the door opens and Roger steps out as we get some sixties music, by Joe Tex “show me a man that’s got a good woman…” As he stands at the door and rings the bell we hear muffled sounds of raised voices from inside. Brianna opens the door abruptly, but softens when she sees Roger. He senses he has come at a bad time. Claire explains that Brianna wants to withdraw from Harvard. Brianna explains she has tried to return to her ordinary life, but it’s not working. A cab arrives and she leaves.
Claire and Roger are slightly awkward, but she insists he stays. Having a drink together they talk of how Roger is missing Reverend Wakefield, trying to make his own Christmas traditions. Claire knows he came to see Brianna, and is glad of it. He is the only person Brianna can talk with. The only person who understands what happened last summer.
Roger has news. Being an historian, he stubbornly pursues whatever he is looking for, and he has found him. Roger has found an article written 1765 in a journal called Forrester’s. It contains lines from Robert Burns which Claire had quoted to Jamie. Only someone with knowledge of the future could have written them. The printer’s name? Alexander Malcolm. Jamie’s middle names. In the parallel time structure that is only one year ago. Chances are high that Jame is still alive. Claire is struck with doubt and the pain of loss, worry over leaving Brianna. How could she do that? How can she abandon Brianna. Claire asks Roger not to tell Brianna, he agrees and heads off to bed, excusing himself due to jet lag. He leave the papers on a table. We see a thoughtful Claire, fondly handling the Scottish pearls Jamie had given her…
Next day, back at the hospital a box of bones has been delivered to Dr Joe. Claire picks up the skull, and flinches, saying the bones belong to a 150 year old murder victim. Joe asks Claire why she thinks the person, a woman, was murdered. She cannot answer, but Joe finds evidence of foul play in the bones, someone tried to cut off the woman’s head. The bones were found in a cave in the Carribean.
Joe asks Claire about her man in Scotland… she hesitates and sits… she tells Joe that the Scot is Bree’s real father and Brianna learned this while they were in Scotland, explaining this is why Bree is struggling. Joe asks if Claire still loves her Scot, she says “I never stopped.” He encourages her to take a second chance at love.
Back at the house Roger is watching a daytime soap opera on TV. Brianna arrives home, and apologises for leaving the day before. She is happy to see him. He wants an American Christmas, lobster rolls, Boston Cream pies… Brianna invites him to an event at Harvard, the naming of a fellowship after Frank, if they go early she can show him the hallowed halls of Harvard.
Roger is fascinated by the possibilities of who stood under the arches, and what they might have said, while Brianna’s interest if in how they were built, the precision involved. Roger comments that an historians daughter should prefer to know the history, but Brianna points out that her father is actually an 18th century Highlander.
In a room at Harvard the Dean speaks of the late Professor Frank Randall. Frank’s photograph oversees the room. After the offical part, the crowd mixes and chats. Claire is confronted by Frank’s mistress Sandy, they can’t agree on whether Frank would have liked the fuss.
As Claire and Brianna leave the event, Brianna tells Claire that she remembers Frank meeting Sandy at a bookstore. Brianna realises that she must look like her real father and thinks Frank must have hated her… Claire reassures her. Raising Brianna was Frank’s real life’s work, his greatest joy, and Claire also tells her that she loves Brianna for herself, not for who her father is…
Claire must tell Brianna the truth. She cannot any longer withhold what Roger found. Brianna is excited to learn of it, telling Claire she can go back. In their conversation Brianna gives Claire permission to go back. I have no idea what happened to Roger, maybe he was trapped by the Dean!
A TV screen with a live transmission from Apollo 8 is seen. Doctors and nurses are looking intently at the screen. Joe innocently asks, “How do you take a trip like that and come back to life as you knew it?” Claire looks at him, thoughtful… we get voiceover of her thoughts. As the transmission ends with a Christmas message Claire prepares to exit the room, but pauses and looks around the room contemplatively and then out the window at the moon.
Back at their home in Boston, Claire and Brianna sit by a window. Claire tells Brianna if she goes they may never see each other again. Going though the stones is unpredictable. Brianna agrees it won’t be easy for either of them, she has been thinking that she is more like Claire than either of her fathers. Brianna wants Claire to go back to Jamie, to tell him everything about her. Claire has sudden doubts… what if he’s forgotten her? What if he doesn’t love her anymore? Brianna reassures her, repeating what Claire said about her feelings for Jamie.
Next day at the hospital… Claire asks Joe for a second opinion, an honest opinion (from a friend). Is she still sexually attractive? Joe reassures her.
Jazzy Christmas music… we see Claire opening a wooden box filled with coins. Brianna and Roger have found them in an antique store. Roger gives Claire a book on Scottish history. Claire says she’s been thinking about what she’ll need. She has “borrowed” some scalpels from the hospital… Brianna’s gift to Claire is a topaz pendant on a chain – Brianna’s birthstone. Brianna knows the gemstone will be needed when Claire goes though the stones. Brianna asks how she is going to carry all the items. Claire declares she is going to make something suitable. Roger says she’ll need a utility belt – queue Batman music. Claire can handle a sewing machine after making Brianna’s costumes and pageant outfits for 15 years! Claire sews! She makes her bat-suit and other garments. We all know that Sam played Batman in a stage show don’t we?
Claire is wracked by doubts as she looks at the grey in her hair. She dyes it! Claire reveals the secret pockets in the garment she has made from raincoats. If anyone knows what kind of weather she will face in Scotland it is Claire! She has also “borrowed” Brianna’s white blouse, as Roger leaves the room to bring a last minute item, Claire alone with Brianna gives her a letter to give to Joe Abernathy (her resignation), and she also gives Brianna documents handing over the house and bank accounts to her. Claire is going back to Scotland alone, she explains to Bree the first time she went though the stones her was terrified, the second time heartbroken, this time she wants it to be peaceful. Saying goodbye there would be too difficult… Bree encourages Claire by saying “find my father”. Finally Claire gives Brianna the Scottish pearls Jamie gave to her on their wedding night, suggesting Brianna should wear them for her own wedding. Roger brings a bottle, “a wee nip for the road”. They drink to freedom and whisky.
Claire walks down the steps of her home, turning for a last look at Brianna and Roger, and steps into a Yellow Cab. Brianna, in tears, hugs Roger. Brianna breaks away and goes into the kitchen to calm herself. She pulls on a Christmas hat then picks up a tray all ready with a surprise for Roger. Lobster rolls and Boston Cream pie! Roger has a gift for her, a beautifully wrapped copy of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. She kisses him and they settle back on the sofa, as she starts reading out loud from the book.
Voiceover of Claire reciting the prologue from Voyager, as she travels in a taxi. Next we see her step into a puddle in Edinburgh… she walks up the close asking directions to Alexander Malcolm printer.
She looks around, amazed she is there, and walks on. She sees the printshop sign and smiles, reaching out to touch it, then going up the steps, hesitantly opening the door.
The bell jingles and the door shuts. Jamie is busy, out of sight, thinking it is Geordie returning. Claire walks to the edge of the balcony, looking down at Jamie who has his back turned.
She says “it isn’t Geordie, it is me, Claire”. Jamie turns, looking confused, seeing her he looks shaken and faints. The end… bring on episode 306!