OutlanderBTS The Discussion, Episode 503 – Free Will

Here it is! Our discussion of Outlander Episode 503, Free Will. We had a great loooong talk, and I was able to shave it down to a short 1:43:50:10. What can I say? We have a lot to say about Outlander! 


To catch up on our Episode Discussions you may have missed, go to Episode Discussions

I will also start a discussion thread on Twitter about Ep 503 with the #BTS503 – that’s useful, because you can search that term and find the different conversation threads. If you missed the #BTS501 or #BTS502 convos, put those terms into the search field on Twitter and check out those threads. The one on Episode 501 was extensive and went on for more than a week. 

As mentioned in our discussion, Karmen did a lesson on trees falling 😉– not really – it’s on ears and sound waves, and how they work together, and I’ve shared it here:

If A Tree Falls, by Karmen Schmidt, aka Outlander Anatomy.

Catherine also participates in the Blacklanderz convos sometimes, and did Episode 503 with them. Here’s a link to that: Blacklanderz Convos! Outlander S5 Epi3 – Free Will.

Let us know what you thought of the episode, here in the comments, or on TwitterFacebook, or wherever you like. Ep 503 was a doozy! 

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23 comments on “OutlanderBTS The Discussion, Episode 503 – Free Will

  1. Great job, Ladies! Listened to you and laughed with you while I was paying bills and doing housework. Outlander as well as Outlander BTS make the depressing, dreariness and drudgery of life melt away!
    I agree with all of you as well as Herself. When the words are Diana’s the show is richer, better acted and more fulfilling.

  2. Again, a great discussion!! You make me see the episode differently after I hear all your comments. I just want to note the discussion between J&C about C’s concerns that this time is dangerous and Bree&Roger should go back. I like that J comforts her and tells her to put the worry aside and she accepts it. He’s acting more like the Jamie who’s a protector rather than just a dependent. Their dynamic is much better now. Also like that Claire’s voice over is being used again, so you get her interior thoughts as she tells their story. Thanks again for these discussions!!

    • You’re welcome Felice, thanks for watching 😊. I liked that scene too. Strong ppl need comfort too, it’s silly to pretend that makes Claire weak or subservient. Happy to see them back in character ❤️.

  3. Oops, I forgot to thank you for your marvelous discussion. So lovely to have multiple women discussing from multiple points of view. One other thing.
    And I know there is time limitations BUT I still felt odd that we didn’t see a burial. They just seemed to leave. I suppose the producers assumed that we would assume that they had buried him. However, there was time to cut to them putting final dirt and/or stones TOGETHER and to have them beside a grave – the ultimate reminder of mortality – would have beautifully framed the subsequent exchange when Jamie wonders about his father’s suffering, Claire tries to reassure him and then he asks her to promise to do for him what he just did for Beardsley and Claire responds with so much fullness “I will do what has to be done”.

    • I think we are two Dianes! I can’t change my name before, but I’ll add a digit to distinguish us (or we can sign comments together 😉 I certainly agree with this one!)

    • I agree with you Dianne – that would’ve reinforced the theme of mortality – I’ve read that there was burial footage (at least a grave shown) edited out, so they must’ve decided against it for some reason. It’s possible we’ll get a flashback or a mention of it in a future Ep, I suppose…

  4. Fantastic – again! I’ve been writing to you gals (and apparently the world) on Twitter – as Belee. It’s not a frequently used medium for me and I’m so happy to remember this space. You hit the nail on the head on so many points this week. Here’s more on a big one:

    My tweets included the sweeping changes in Jamie and Claire and their relationship this season, as you mentioned. I use the word sweeping because there was some out with old to get it done. It feels like we picked J&C up from S1 to see them as I would have imagined them developing until now. I’m not saying there weren’t fantastic scenes and episodes in between, but the (to me) shocking switch to a generally – again with stunning exceptions over 3 seasons – diminished Jamie and a generally (see exceptions note) dominating Claire was a painful twist. In that guise the writing suffered most, in part bc the use of a (one hoped buried) throwback TV trope of what defines a strong, aka cranky, woman was uncomfortably contrived and just not them. I obviously didna like that 😂.

    So, imagine me during these first episodes, with a Claire and Jamie each effortlessly confident in their own skin and abilities, mutually respectful/appreciative of each others, interested in and supportive of each other’s work and responsibilities, sharing decisions and tasks like it’s a habit, companions and lovers with undimished passion – who have obviously been mmmphing on the regular (it takes serious motivation and talent to do it during a new babysitting job, excelling through interruptions #skilz.) All so book.

    Show Jamie’s expressions of devotion to Claire had been a wee bit out of balance for a few seasons and it’s delightful to see Show Claire allowed to be equally unreservedly in love and show it day to day (something I’ve sensed from interviews that means a lot to Cait.) I’ve been complaining about missing her day to day laughter – and love the return of general glow and the twinkle. Jamie also brings his once-again-permitted strength and charisma to their relationship and the whole thing shines.

    They are wholly the Claire and Jamie that are the essence of the book series to me, again, as I felt the about S1. I’m happy to savor wonderful moments of the middle seasons and absolutely delighted to move back into the show this season with the couple I love – hoping they’re in for good.

    That was long, in part bc it’s me and largely because I wanted to emphasize why there is no doubt in my mind that this was a production/all interested parties reboot – a committed decision. In planning S5, someone(s) insisted that they were going back to the story’s roots. One way to achieve that was to bring in more that comes straight from the books, not shoehorned in quotes but characterizations once again intrinsic to the arc of the story. The dialogue is smarter, the production more lush – that may be due to an influx of $ from Netflix – but some thought and, I suspect, serious negotiation, was at work regarding the identity of the main characters and their relationships.

    Finally (for now anyway, you guys covered so much), allowing Jamie’s faith into the forefront was another clear choice. The producers had talked about the need to ratchet that back so as not to offend any viewers. But it’s part of Jamie’s strength and helps describe his moral path and emotional confidence, and worked beautifully in this episode both of times it was central to a scene. Very powerful.

    • Diane, you’ve pretty much said how I feel about Jamie and Claire in this season. I’ve also felt they are more like the Season 1 Claire and Jamie. I’m so happy to see that. I agree with Courtney that I think it is better writing and in addition I think they may have taken a long look at worked so well in Season 1. Sam and Catriona, as producers, also may have had a hand in the changes.
      The other thing about this episode that I loved was that Claire and Jamie were together throughout the whole episode, like they were in all of Seasons 1, 2, and mostly 3. I remember the talk after “The Search” in Season 1 was that Jamie wasn’t in the episode and it felt strange for him to be absent from Claire. Or when they were separated by centuries for several episodes, and viewers missed them (though these are some of my favorite episodes). Then Season 4 came. At the time I thought, where is the Claire from the shaving scene with Jamie? (near the end of Season 3), or the playfulness of passion of the Turtle Soup scene? There were exceptions in Season 4, as you say.
      I’m also so happy they are the central characters once again.

      • Yes! I agree Lauren, they are the core from which all else grows. Their love is a foundation that has supported them for all these years, and everyone they love or care for. (Sorry if that got too corny.)

    • Thank you Diane, for your eloquent comments. I agree wholeheartedly.

      There’s a new couple dynamic in charge, and it shows. 👍😘

    • Cait and Sam are producers now, and as such, have a greater say in their nghngcharacters’ development. I think it was Cait who said that they do attend production meetings. I think we’ll see a return to the ‘proper’ characterisations from here on out. They can now fight (if need be) from a greater position of strength .

    • Great comment. I agree with your perspective regarding Jamie’s and Claire’s relationship. So glad to see that they are in tune with each other. It seems they are again faced with life changing decisions once again.

  5. Great banter between all of you on the various topics. You covered all the things that I picked up on like Fergus taking a vital piece of paper from Claire’s surgery to write on as Jamie dictated. (I didn’t notice the part about him not using ink or that he put it in his pocket after he was finished). The one thing that touched me was the way Jamie pronounces Germain’s name with the proper French accent. I just loved that. And you all liked the title of the episode and I agree and I thought the birds at the end was so symbolic of that because when the gun went off, they had free will to fly and flee. So glad they are showing things like the passenger pigeons and something that was so prevalent back in those days and don’t exist anymore. I live on the coast in Northern California and the history books state that there was abundant wildlife in our area before man came along and changed all of that. From what Luke said, they will be showing lots of other things from that time that aren’t anymore in upcoming episodes. As usual, I just love hearing you all chat and discuss every aspect of the episodes and more! Karmen, I’m going to check out your tree in the forest bit!

    • Hi Suzie, I’m glad you love our chats (we do too!) and I look forward to seeing the animals and things from the past. What care and thought went into this season! It shows.

  6. It was interesting to listen to all of your thoughts on this episode. I’ve watched the episode five times, which I haven’t done for a long time. I just love seeing Jamie and Claire together throughout a whole episode. The direction and writing was very good. As I mentioned to Diane, I agree with you Courtney that it’s better writing that accounts for this change back to the Claire and Jamie I feel we knew in Season 1 (and at times in other seasons).

    The cinematography took my breath away, from the shots of the trees in the wind, the creaks, groans of the old house, and the stunning flock of passenger pigeons.

    The cinematography took my breath away, from the shots of the trees in the wind, the creaks, groans of the old house, and the stunning flock of passenger pigeons. And it was interspersed really well with the actors’ movements and lines.

    That scene around the campfire and Roger’s comment about scaring Fergus really seemed like a line that fell flat and that perhaps another take was needed, but they decided to go with it. One of you (I’ve forgotten who) said that perhaps it was meant to show he was an odd man out. But if so, reaction shots from others and perhaps a closeup of Roger looking embarrassed would have made that more apparent. Instead Roger just looks to his left and smiles as if, oops, that was a mistake. It took me out of the scene a bit, but not so much that I didn’t enjoy the banter of the others and Claire and Jamie with their whiskey and teasing.

    I see your point Courtney that Claire didn’t take Black Jack’s brand off Jamie. I noticed that too. But I do think the intent was more general (as some of you suggested), that she organized its removal. In “To Ransom a Man’s Soul,” Claire said, “we can remove it.” Maybe that’s what they were going for.

    I agree with Antoinette about Bree’s line referencing Gone with the Wind. It was strange.

  7. I came back to join the discussion about Fergus ❤️ but I have to take a second to tell Lauren that your double paragraph was worth it. The cinematography was everything you said, and the way you described it being interspersed with the actors and lines was a new way to look at it for me that is just stunning.

  8. The BTS gang discussion about Fergus was music to my heart. I am with you all the way (unless I forgot something this contradicts 😅.)

    Fergus is one of my favorite book characters. When César Domboy was cast, I was thrilled. His entire manner was my book Fergus. In various Fergus descriptions from Claire, he is Parisian to the core, handsome with a slightly piratical look aided by his hook, and a “surpassing sweet smile”…I could add more but I’ll leave it at Fergus’ wholly irreverent sense of humor. (It might have been Ian with a surpassing sweet smile and Fergus a beautiful one, but I won’t quibble 😉.)

    Here we have an actor who fits the bill to a T and he, as much as his character, had been underused since we arrived in the colonies. Fergus doesn’t have to have his own major storylines to elevate circumstance with his keen eye and charm. We have been reminded about how he and Jamie trust each other but not much else. Leading the pistol brigade to bust Murtagh out of jail was hot, but that was it.

    My first sense that something was very wrong was when I saw the BTS shot of the green glove and found out it wasn’t a hook. I’ve been grumbling ever since. The hook gave a dash of danger and allure. It was also functional, while a wooden hand is completely passive. Which is where we are with his character now. I’m hoping some of the scenes coming up, now that he’s not babysitting, will animate him again.

    He had more to do and be in Edinburgh – especially with Young Ian – great scenes. Even aboard ship when he was opposing Jamie.

    The oddest thing is how little the writers would have to change to make his character more distinct. Have him speak words of French now and then, scold Germaine in French… It’s a big problem that it just now occurred to me that Jamie sending Fergus with a message was a call back to what he was doing for Jamie when they first bonded. It shouldn’t have taken me this long to put that together, although that might be just me. When we first met adult Fergus in S3 the sparkle of the savvy Paris street kid was all there.

    All I’m asking right now, NBD, is for Fergus to have accidentally dropped his wooden hand in the fireplace and had to get a hook to replace it (been eps of course) which he uses to charming effect – is that too much?

    • Note: I consider Fergus a secondary character, possibly not in the family’s hearts, certainly in story involvement. I have no problem with that, but he adds the personality I described, as well as the only link to Claire and Jamie’s early marriage and experiences pre Culloden, and to Lallybroch/Murray family even before Ian was born. It comes to the fore now and then, but at least readers know him through those times and viewers once saw him through that lense. TV can only get so many individual stories in, and personal development of just so many characters, but we could have a wee bit of reference to why he’s hanging around. 🤦🏻‍♀️ now I’m sure EP 504 will negate everything I just wrote. Oh well, take it that I would be very happy!

  9. I just wanted to add one thought about Fergus. In the premiere, “Son of my name and of my heart” was the moment that just made my heart a burst . . . emblematic of how much Fergus has meant to Jamie and Claire. What a longed for in the wedding – to have Fergus escort Claire down the aisle. It would NOT have taken away from Jamie’s moving paternal moment – only enhanced it. BUT to ensure that – the moment would need to have been a spontaneous gesture on Fergus’ part not orchestrated. It might have been fun to see a quick shot of Marsali encouraging Fergus and as the guests stand – just a glimpse of Fergus making his way, then a TOTAL surprise to Claire when he suddenly greets her at the bottom of the stairs. Fergus escorting Claire down the aisle would have echoed the devastating scene when he escorts her into the house after losing Faith. Truly the embodiment of “the deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” Kahlil Gibran

  10. Cait and Sam are producers now, and as such, have a greater say in their nghngcharacters’ development. I think it was Cait who said that they do attend production meetings. I think we’ll see a return to the ‘proper’ characterisations from here on out. They can now fight (if need be) from a greater position of strength .

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