Her father’s daughter…but which one?
We open back in Boston, 1968. Claire is back into her life full-swing, but Brianna is struggling. Claire is proving to be a daring, competent surgeon. Brianna is having trouble concentrating on her college history classes when she’s just learned that her own is so different than she always thought. We learn that Brianna is failing out of Harvard. She misses Frank.
Claire and Joe Abernathy talk in her office, and he grills her about Scotland. She tells him a little about Jamie, and how she had hoped they could be together again, but “fate had other ideas.” Claire escapes when they are interrupted by a colleague, but Joe warns her that they’re not done talking.
Roger arrives in Boston for a surprise visit with Bree and Claire. He knocks in the midst of an argument – Brianna wants to withdraw from Harvard and move out of their house, and Claire is not pleased. Brianna disappears abruptly with a “let’s hang out tomorrow” for Roger. Claire insists that Roger stay and chat with her, as uncomfortable as his arrival has been.
“Can I pour you a whisky?”
It’s Roger’s first Christmas without his father, too, so he has a special understanding of what Brianna is gong through. He’d like to try an American Christmas this year; maybe start some new traditions. Claire mentions that they used to read Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” to Brianna every year. The two share dinner and a wee dram by the fire.
“I’m like a dog with a bone.”
Roger has what he believes is good news. He has found proof that Jamie was alive and living as a printer in Edinburgh, some 20 years after Culloden. Which means, it’s likely that Claire can go back to him now. Claire can hardly believe what she’s hearing, but doesn’t exactly react with joy. Roger is aghast that she doesn’t want to know.
“This isn’t just hope, this is real! You can go to Jamie!”
Roger isn’t easily dissuaded from his revelations about Jamie. He is convincing, but Claire realizes the gravity of actually leaving, and doesn’t think she can leave Brianna and her life in Boston. Roger asks what he can do to help, and Claire asks him not to tell Brianna what he’s found. Roger is disappointed, but agrees and retires to bed.
Dem bones, dem bones…
Back at the hospital, Joe is inspecting some mystery bones at the behest of a colleague and asks Claire to help. Claire immediately has a sixth sense about who it was, and what might have happened. The victim was found in a cave in the Caribbean, and was indeed a murder victim, like Claire thought. Even more surprising – she was white.
“Nobody thought you and Frank were Ozzie and Harriet.”
Claire confides to Joe that the man in Scotland was Brianna’s real father, and that she never stopped loving him. Joe tells her that if she has a chance at real love, she should take it, and that Brianna will understand.
“An American Christmas, with Lobster Rolls and Boston Cream Pies…”
Brianna and Roger hang out watching television and Bree invites him to Frank’s memorial fellowship dedication. They admire the cloisters, both with different takes on what they represent. Bree snarks about her two fathers, but Roger understands. He has very few memories of his real father, and was raised by Reverend Wakefield. The fact that he had a different biological father doesn’t make him less the Reverend Wakefield’s son; likewise Bree being the daughter of an 18th-century highlander doesn’t make her less Frank’s daughter, either. Brianna points out that history can’t be trusted – it changes according to who is telling it. Roger, the historian, looks aggrieved at this.
“You threw away twenty years with him. I would give anything to have just one more day.”
At Frank’s honorific, the Dean introduces Claire to Frank’s prize student, as if Claire doesn’t know that she was also his longtime mistress. Claire tries to excuse herself, but the mistress insists on scolding her for never letting Frank go; for never allowing him happiness. It’s fairly clear that the mistress is just jealous that part of Frank always loved Claire.
“Raising you was his life’s work; his greatest joy.”
Brianna wonders to Claire who Sandy was, and asks for the truth. Claire is, well, frank. “Frank loved her, it went on for many years, and he was planning to marry her.” Brianna nods sadly, and remarks that Frank must have hated her for looking so much like Jamie. Claire reassures her that Frank adored her. Bree asks if Claire resented her. Claire says absolutely not; never. “I love you for YOU, Brianna. Not for the man who fathered you.”
“There’s something else I need to be honest about…”
Claire shows Brianna the printout from Roger. Brianna says she can go back, now, but Claire balks. “I’m all grown up now, mama!” Bree encourages her to go. “I love you, but I don’t NEED you now.” “I know,” Claire says, sadly.
Might as well be on Mars…
Claire and her colleagues watch the moon landing. “How do you come back to your life after a journey like that?” Joe asks nobody in particular. Claire knows exactly how it feels.
“Tell him everything!”
Claire’s coming around to the idea of leaving, but is afraid she may never come back; never see Brianna again. She doesn’t know if she can be okay with that. She talks of all she will miss. Brianna reassures her. “It won’t be easy. But I have been trying to figure out if I was more Randall or Fraser. And what I realized is that…I’m more YOU than I am either of my fathers. And if I can turn out to be half the woman you are, then I’ll be fine.”
“Am I an attractive woman?”
Back at the office, Claire seeks a second opinion from Joe, and asks if she is sexually attractive. Joe is shocked, but grins. “Is this about your man?” Claire says she’s thinking of giving it a go. “You’re a skinny white broad with too much hair, but a great ass,” Joe says. “He’ll be in heaven when he sees you.”
Fortifying for the trip
Christmas consists of giving Claire gifts she can take back through the stones – old coins, etc. Handy trinkets. Claire has “borrowed” some items from the hospital as well. She’s really going to do this! Brianna presents Claire with a topaz she knows she’ll lose on her way through. She has lost jewels each time she has gone through the stones, but they are necessary to make the journey.
“You really DO watch a lot of TV!”
Brianna asks how Claire will carry all of her treasures, and Claire remarks that she’ll have to make something. “Your very own utility belt, just like the caped crusader himself!” Roger exclaims. We are treated to a sewing montage set over the original “Batman” theme of Claire sewing her own time-traveling costume out of old raincoats.
“With a little help from Miss Clairol!”
Claire inspects herself in the mirror. Does she look too old for Jamie? She picks at her grey hairs and ultimately touches them up. She packs up her few things. Roger excuses himself to fetch a drink for the three of them and Claire remarks to Bree “He’s a good one.” “I know,” she replies. Claire hands Bree a letter for Joe Abernathy and the deed to the house. The three say their goodbyes, toast freedom and whisky, and Claire departs for Scotland. I feel better knowing Roger is there to take care of Brianna, and I’m sure that Claire does, too.
Once back inside, Brianna puts on a Christmas hat and a brave face for Roger. The show must go on, of course. Roger presents Brianna with a copy of “A Christmas Carol,” and she reads it to him by the fire as he eats her lobster rolls and Boston cream pie.
“Geordie, is that you?”
Claire lands in Edinburgh and finds Jamie’s print shop much more quickly than she expected to. As she enters the shop, her nervousness and relief show on her face as Jamie’s voice calls out. “It isn’t Geordie,” Claire ventures. We can practically see the hairs on the back of Jamie’s neck stand on end as he stiffens in response; his back to her. “It’s me. Claire.” Jamie turns slowly, his face aghast. As Claire smiles excitedly, Jamie faints dead away on the floor.
- Roger has found Jamie by way of a Robert Burns poem that Claire used to quote to him, and which he quoted himself, some 21 years before Burns wrote it, proving that it must have been Jamie. The poem itself – “The Author’s Earnest Cry & Prayer” – was a very lengthy satire on the government’s taxation of whisky at the time.
- I won’t spoil it here, but book readers will know who Joe’s bones belonged to!
- I could have done without Claire being scolded by Frank’s mistress at his memorial. That just seems like bad form, and I don’t specifically recall it from the book. Anyone? I may have blocked it out of memory, since it clearly annoyed me.
- Topaz being Brianna’s birthstone means that she was born in November.
- Claire making rather than buying her time-traveling suit was a departure from the novels as well. I’m not sure why, other than the idea of Claire sewing her own Batman costume was amusing.
- Anyone else hoping that Claire’s letter to Joe Abernathy isn’t just a letter of resignation from the hospital, but explains the whole crazy story? Joe would understand, wouldn’t he?
Join us for an very special extended Episode 6 after a two-week break, “A. Malcolm.”
Image Credits: Sweatpants & Coffee.