The time has come! The revolution is picking up speed, and we actually get some action in this episode. Much like the colonists of the era, we don’t have time to wait around, so let’s jump right in!
Spoiler Alert: We are recapping the episode, so there will be spoilers past this point. You’ve been warned! Turn back now if you wish to stay unspoiled.
“Give Me Liberty” starts with a flashback to Scotland in June 1746. Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) is escaping Scotland after his defeat at Culloden, aided by the real-life historical figure Flora Macdonald (played by Shauna Macdonald, who isn’t a direct relation as far as we know). Flora is a Jacobite heroine later immortalized in legends and ballads for helping the Stuart claimant to the throne. Notably, the entire opening song (the Skye Boat Song) is in Gaelic, and it’s so well-timed.
In what will soon be America, Jamie stirs the pot by resigning as Indian agent. He sends a letter to the Governor, and we see Lord John Grey (David Berry) telling the Governor that Jamie’s letter is merely one of resignation, not revolt. He’s charged by the Governor to check up on Jamie and make sure he isn’t getting into anything rebellious. Ha. But as Jamie’s long-time friend, he’s the man for the job.
Jamie and Claire are at a gathering in Wilmington about to meet with Flora Macdonald. She’s speaking to the colonists on behalf of the Crown in hopes of keeping things peaceful. Jamie and Claire muse about how a Jacobite could now be a loyalist. Jamie reminds her that they fought for a dream once and lost, and most aren’t keen to try it again so soon. Then again, the Frasers’ aren’t “most.” Jamie admits he’d be a loyalist, too, if he didn’t know what Claire and Brianna told him about the future. There’s a lot of trust between these two lovebirds, and it’s moments like this–where they’re making literal life-or-death decisions based on nothing but each other’s word–that reminds me of that level of trust.
Speaking of life-or-death decisions, Jamie is meeting with the Sons of Liberty (another piece of real-life history), a group of rebels and provocateurs that’s partly responsible for thwarting the enforcement of the Stamp Act. After their meeting, Jamie spies a suspicious jar on a fireplace mantle. Upon further inspection, he sees that the contents of the jar are Stephen Bonnet’s balls. You might remember him as the notorious pirate and villain from two seasons ago. Justice, best served pickled!
On the topic of balls, someone’s been giving Roger the eyeballs. (Terrible segue, I know, but that’s what I’m here for.) He’s helping a woman named Amy McCallum (Joanne Thomson) fix her chimney. Amy is the widow with two kids that I mentioned in my last recap, and she is 1000% into Brianna’s husband. She’s none too discreet about trying to glue him into her family.
While Roger’s working on Amy’s chimney (no pun intended), Brianna is out looking for a place to build a water wheel to provide water for the settlements. Marsali, Malva, and Lizzie (Brianna’s friend) aren’t too happy about having to trek through the woods. They come across a design on the ground that Marsali ascertains it to be a love spell. It sparks a small debate that Amy may have made it for Roger, but Lizzie nearly faints and they discover she’s feverish.
There’s no Claire to go to for medical help, though, because Mr. and Mrs. Fraser are at the gathering in Wilmington where they see…dun dun dunnnn! John Grey! How long’s it been? The answer: forever. John sees Jamie from across the room, because of course he would, and they greet and catch up. He’s come to hear Flora and quips he has a particular fondness for reformed Jacobites. Aw. Claire asks if it’s business or pleasure that brings him to Wilmington, and I might’ve imagined the pointed look, but thankfully they came to terms regarding John’s romantic affections for Jamie in Season 4 and are all good now. They talk for a moment about supporting the loyalist cause, and Jamie is just the absolute definition of suspicious.
As the gathering wears on, they meet with Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta, who apparently bought Fergus a print shop? Fergus has since taken up work there. There are salt levels rising between Jamie and Jocasta because printing is anything but a safe profession pre-revolution. Everyone at the gathering, including Major MacDonald, is surprised about Jamie’s resignation. Claire also speaks with Mary (Mercy Ojelade), a young woman who’s enslaved on River Run and is accompanying Jocasta, as it’s been quite a while since they last saw each other.
Flora arrives and meets our main characters. We learn she and Jamie have childhood history, and Jamie may have even had a little crush on the famed heroine. We also find out that, prior to her arrival, a thief had tried to make off with her necklace. The camera makes a marked camera shot of the necklace with a single gemstone missing. Curiously, Jocasta then appears to feel faint. Flora, Claire, and Jocasta leave for a moment to get Jocasta some air because she’s experiencing pain due to her glaucoma and they… uh… enjoy some good old-fashioned medicinal Maryjane? Courtesy of Claire’s ever-abundant doctor’s supplies, of course….
Back on the Ridge, Brianna and Roger talk about the time he’s been spending time with Amy. Roger admits he feels more needed working on Amy’s house because Brianna is doing very well with her inventions. He obviously loves Brianna, and she reminds him that he doesn’t need to fill Amy’s “man of the house” shoes. She makes it clear that he’s needed at home with his own family.
While passing around some hemp flower, Flora confesses that she wasn’t aligned with Charles politically, but people thought they were in love. Based on her reaction to Charles’ rumored self-destructive behavior overseas, I wonder if it was true. The conversation about affiliation with royalty triggers Claire, who flashes back to Season 2 when they were in Versailles trying to sabotage the war efforts that led to Culloden. While there, she had intercourse with King Louis XV in order to free Jamie from his imprisonment in the Bastille, but it was a horrible experience. After the other two ladies dismiss themselves, Claire, shaken, uses the ether she brought with her while the others meet to hear Flora address the crowd. Claire arrives late, citing she needed a rest when Jamie questions her absence. This is breaking my heart. Her trauma is going under the radar, and it’s very dangerous being unconscious around so many strangers.
After Flora’s address, John Grey questions Jamie about his affiliation with the Sons of Liberty. John expresses his concerns and asks Jamie to disassociate himself from them. When Jamie declines to share more information, Mary comes to get John, telling him there’s trouble in town. Protesters are rioting at a print shop that’s printing a picture of Flora in the boat with Prince Charles. The material requests Flora’s fellow countrymen not be led astray by schemes of rebellion. Jamie sends Mary away for her safety as the crowd continues to grow more riotous. They want to tar and feather the printer, and John is defending the shop with a broom. Jamie is struck with hot tar, and the printer is shot in the arm—the first blood spilled in the revolution (as far as the show goes, anyways). Soldiers break up the mob, and Major MacDonald gives Jamie a nod of respect. At least they still view him as allied to some degree, which should make for a good cover.
Back in their room at an inn, Claire tends to Jamie’s injury from the tar. He laments having to lie to John and shares his worries that he’ll have to fight friends and kin on the Ridge. He’s never lived without allegiance, and it weighs on him. Claire reminds him their allegiance is to the new nation now that the tide has turned.
Viewers are either pleasantly surprised or somewhat disappointed that Tom Christie drops his “send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee” line from the Season 6 trailer while moving a bell uphill to the church on the Ridge. I gotta say, I was hoping that line would be dropped at some super dramatic moment where it could have a lot of weight. As it stands, it’s really more of just a bell reference… but I’m sure it’s foreshadowing! We’ll see.
Roger enters the church to get more materials… and catches Malva with some guy from the Ridge very nearly getting down to business. Malva blackmails Roger into not saying anything about her risque behavior to her father, leveraging the time he’s spending with Amy over the time he’s spending with his wife. Damn, girl. fRoger doesn’t have much of a choice at that point. He covers for her while Malva sneaks out the back, but I have a feeling the damage has been done. The next time Roger works at Amy’s house, she seats him at the head of her table for dinner, which is enough to shock him into a change of heart. After that, he finds someone else to look out for Amy while he returns home to support his own lovely lady.
Meanwhile, Jamie learns Jocasta paid for Flora Macdonald’s gathering to foster peace amidst the turmoil. Jamie accuses her of buying the print shop for Fergus so he can print her political views and expresses fear for Fergus’ well-being. He’s wise to her game, as he and Fergus printed seditious materials in Edinburgh while smuggling liquor under the table. If I’m not mistaken, Jamie issues a light threat, and Jocasta excuses herself. Mary stays, though, and tells Jamie that Jocasta is suffering from grief after losing Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix), who was her lover. I’m suffering from grief, too, for different reasons. Namely, the fact that Murtagh’s death was sad as all hell.
On happier topics, Jamie and Claire are in for a nice surprise when they get home! After Roger tells Brianna he asked someone else to look after Amy; he explains he feels compelled to look after young mothers who are struggling after losing his own mother while he was very young. He was blind to the fact he was going down the wrong path, and he wants to spend time with his family. This is when Brianna tells him she’s pregnant! They’re both super excited, and I can’t wait until Brianna tells her parents.
Meanwhile, Malvaaaaa is up to no good. She’s in an isolated cabin on the Ridge, sawing the finger off a man who appears to be dead. I say he “appears dead” because she’s watching him like she’s half afraid, half excited he might wake up and catch her slicing off a digit. She must’ve been the one making the love spell they found earlier using the finger bones, but for who? Conflict, fear, and sick excitement gleam in her eyes while she mutilates the corpse.
In Wilmington, Jamie meets with John again and speaks to him in private. John has learned where the Sons of Liberty will be meeting, and Jamie tells him he’s going to the meeting, too. Jamie (and the audience!) waits to see what John will say. John loves the hell out of Jamie, and he’s always admired his conviction. But it’s admiration, understanding, and sadness in his eyes as he understands the rumors about Jamie’s sympathies for independence are true. Is he really a ride-or-die?
John’s terrified of Jamie dying. You can see it all over his face. Jamie asserts that he may die, or he may gain freedom… not only his but the nations. John faces a choice: stay loyal to the Crown and put Jamie in danger, or look out for Jamie. He ultimately agrees to delay his men so Jamie will be safe while they meet. Ride or die! I am here for it. Who was worried? Not me!
The Sons of Liberty meet as planned, but Jamie is no longer welcome. They’re suspicious that his defense of the printing shop is a defense of the loyalist material the owner was printing. Jamie then defends his actions protecting the printer and freedom of the press, holding that freedom of speech is what they’re fighting for, after all. To earn their trust, he warns them that soldiers are coming. Jamie has an inside source now and is basically a spy of sorts, alerting them to the enemy’s positions. In one sweep of the board, the rebels have an advantage. The soldier’s approach and the Sons of Liberty pretend to be playing billiards. It’s all very, “Oh, what a surprise! Nothing suspicious going on here. Go on about your business….”
Before the episode ends, Brianna looks in on Marsali and Henri-Christian. Marsali guesses Brianna is pregnant because of her behavior, and she shares her happiness. But Brianna wants to tell Claire in her own time, so Marsali agrees not to spoil the surprise. Marsali and her family are leaving to join Fergus at the print shop. She promises to visit, but you can tell she’s going to miss the Ridge. I hope they’re safe with all the rioting going on.
Jamie and Claire leave the inn they’ve been staying at, and there’s a change in the wind. Claire hears someone whistling “Colonel Bogey March,” a song no one in the past should know. They cut to who’s whistling, and that’s when we find out why Flora’s necklace was missing a gem. The thief is currently behind bars, holding a matching green gemstone. People need precious gems to travel through the standing stones that Claire traveled through to get back in time, so my first thought was that the person who stole it must be another time traveler. WHAT!!! But they’re about to turn around… and the camera cuts before we see their face.
The biggest “WTF” moment for me is by far the introduction (or re-introduction?) of this time traveler. Most online think it’s Wendigo Donner (Brennan Martin), the time traveler Claire met while the Browns had kidnapped her last season. How is he going to affect the story moving forward? Is he a villain? An antagonist? A protagonist? We’ll have to wait and see.
John Grey is back, peeps! They took my previous favorite side character (Murtagh) away because they’re heartless, so John is my only fave left outside of the main cast. David Berry’s performance brings a ton of nuance and emotion to the show, and he and Jamie’s relationship is so lit. Besides, Jamie needs all the backup he can get.
And we need to talk about Malva. She’s over here slicing fingers off dead corpses trying to love-spell-trap people. I need to know who she’s trying to steal away. If it’s Jamie or Roger, she needs to go somewhere else… far, far away, ’cause she’ll have no luck there. If it’s Ian, she doesn’t need love spells for that. He already looked pretty smitten. Now, I think he’d better watch out. This young lady has “dangerous” written all over her, and not in a good way.
Okay, I didn’t see the next episode preview the first time I watched, and I even waited around for it. I have no idea how I missed it, but I found it online, and it shows that there’s a mysterious illness striking the Ridge. Claire falls ill, and I’m thinking Malva has had something to do with this, considering she’s been around a corpse and was near Lizzie when she nearly fainted. It also looks like she’s getting ready to make her move.