Outlander season 3 episode 5 review: The Print Shop cliffhanger

Outlander season 3 episode 5 reviewWhile Outlander season 3 episode 5 can and should be remembered for a wide array of different things, there is undoubtedly one moment that will have fans screaming at their TV, iPad, or whatever else they used to watch the show. We’re speaking of course of the concluding cliffhanger, which featured Claire Fraser finally arriving back in Scotland in the 18th century. She located Alexander Malcolm’s Print Shop ‘A. Malcolm’ — otherwise known as Jamie Fraser’s new place of business — and immediately after seeing her for the first time in two decades, Jamie fainted. The reunion will have many, many wonderful moments to it, but you will have to wait until Sunday, October 22 in order to see the continuation of that story on Starz.

As of right now, your heart is probably beating outside of your chest like many other fans out there. This reunion was pitched perfectly, from Claire’s uncertainty to the look on Jamie’s face to all of the little moments that came leading up to her making the decision once and for all to make her way back to her one true love.

Before going back to talk about earlier in the episode, we do want to say that we admire that the writers chose not to feature much of Jamie after the events of last week. It offered a sense of discovery, and for us to have at least some unanswered questions alongside Claire — even if she was clearly in the dark on so much more (see: William). The two are together, and from here there is a lot for them to catch up on.

Now, let’s rewind and touch on what we feel were a number of the most poignant moments leading up to the reunion.

Roger’s arrival and ensuing uncertainty

Roger was the catalyst for Claire finding her way back, as he was able to pinpoint the Alexander Malcolm name alongside many words that seemed to generate a very specific memory from Claire. He provided the clues, and once realizing that she had finally found Jamie, she then wrestled with the thought of leaving Brianna behind. She made so many decisions in her for the sole purpose of providing her daughter the best life possible, so the thought of leaving her was almost impossible to bear.

It was ultimately Brianna who helped push her to head back in the end, realizing that she was capable of taking care of herself and that she would find happiness in her mother getting to live the life that she was never able to before. Watching Claire struggle with this decision was effective in how she was legitimately of two minds. She almost needed permission to act selfishly since there was that part of her who still wanted to be selfless; we also loved especially the unspoken language in the conversation between her and Joe Abernathy. He was able to offer her much-needed advice without him knowing or understanding the full circumstances of Claire’s predicament. He understood where she was coming from and knew precisely what both to say and not say to get his point across — if she loved Jamie, she needed to find a way to pursue.

Honoring Frank Randall

The memorial scene at Harvard was one of the most emotional ones in the episode, largely because it served as a reminder that Claire’s story is not a perfect one — and we’re also viewing this from mostly her lens as opposed to seeing how other characters react to her. While she has an opportunity now to go back and find her true love, Sandy feels like her was taken away from her. Frank loved Claire enough to stay, which meant that Sandy never fully had him until right close to the end. She loved him so that she was even willing to accept him with another woman for years.

Did Sandy have to love Frank, a technically-married man that came with his own set of limitations? No, but sometimes you cannot help love. This show teaches us that, and we have to understand the Sandy perspective while still wanting to root for Claire to find her happiness. That level of empathy as a viewer is something that Outlander reinforced very well, and we could probably go on for another thousand or so words on the sentiments in this Sandy / Claire conversation alone.

The Roger / Brianna love story

This is clearly a slow play, but that’s also effective given that these two cannot focus solely on each other while dealing with the extraordinary circumstances around them. They need to figure out who they are as people outside of helping Claire, but that’s something to discuss in the future. This installment brought many memorable moments — whether it be another kiss, a conversation around the Harvard campus, or learning about Roger’s love for all forms of television under the sun. With his love of TV, Roger mirrors us as a human just as much as Richard Rankin does with his love of gaming.

The moment for Roger and Bree with A Christmas Carol was nice, but they better prepare for the storm that’s coming after this calm. Bree may feel fine letting her mother go now, but what happens when something goes wrong and she realizes that she cannot speak to her? She’s only human if she has tinges of regret down the road.

CarterMatt Verdict

A beautiful, stunning, and certainly painful episode at times (especially the Sandy scene). When the dust settles, it’s hard to feel anything other than joy with the Print Shop cliffhanger and Claire back where she should be. The show probably could’ve fleshed out the pre-Print Shop sequences this season if they had more time, but they were able to effectively tell a lot of story in a limited space here that still made the reunion feel absolutely worthwhile.

Now comes the part where we wait for two weeks. After an episode this outstanding it’s going to feel like two months or years instead.

What is your personal take on Outlander season 3 episode 5?

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