Warning: This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS from the Outlander book series
Outlander returned this week with an episode that finally gave fans what they had been waiting for since the first episode of this season – Claire’s (Caitriona Balfe) return to the past, and the first moments of her reunion with Jamie (Sam Hueghan). It was an epic moment made all the sweeter by the fact that fans have had to wait nearly six full episodes to get there; and that episode 5 gave only a tiny taste of what’s to come when these two lovers are properly reunited next week.
However, while the biggest moment of the episode was undoubtedly those few seconds in the printshop, there were plenty of other major scenes in ‘Freedom and Whisky’. Claire and Brianna (Sophie Skelton) said a tearful goodbye when Claire decided to return to Jamie, and of course, a fairly hilarious Batman-themed montage as Claire made herself some appropriate travelling clothes. But a much bigger moment, especially for fans of the books, was her discussion with Joe (Wil Johnson) about a mysterious skeleton.
The Mystery Woman
The skeleton appears early on in the episode, as Claire visits Joe in his office, and finds him unpacking a skeleton from a box. Joe explains that it’s been sent to him for a second opinion, and as he describes the bones, he and Claire have an… interesting conversation:
Joe: Pretty lady, full grown, mature, maybe late 40s….
Claire: He sent you over a 150 year old murder victim?
J: You’re only off by about 50 years. Harris is an athropologist. He’s looking for a cause of death – what makes you think she was murdered?
C: I don’t know.
J: She’s from a cave in the Caribbean, there were artifacts found with her. Aha, look here. You were right.
C: Broken neck?
J: More than that – bones aren’t just cracked. Fracture planes right through the center. Somebody tried to cut this lady’s head clean off, with a dull blade. How did you know?
C: She just… felt like it.
Joe then goes on to say that she was originally thought to be a slave burial, but that the bones show that the mystery woman was white. The two then go on to talk about Claire’s relationship in Scotland, and the bones are forgotten. However, it’s clear that these bones mean something in the series. Not only are they given a lot of attention in a show that doesn’t waste time on the unecessary, but the soundtrack makes it clear that there is something spooky going on here. Claire’s uncanny ability to pinpoint the age and cause of death is also clearly something to do with her time-travel abilities – but who do these bones belong to?
Could They Be Claire’s?
A logical theory would be that Claire is breaking all kinds of rules of time travel and fondling her own bones, from a death that will take place after she has returned to live her life 200 years in the past. It’s a theory that would fit in many ways; the bones match Claire’s own physical descriptions, and we know that she is going to return to approximately the same point in time that the bones are from. She also seems very connected to the bones, and seems to get a sense of how the woman died just by touching them. Given that she’s returning to a dangerous time, it’s possible that she may well come to a brutal end – a possibility that the viewer is reminded of a few scenes later, when her past escape from the stake is brought up.
The only part of this that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense is that the bones are found in a cave in the Caribbean, while Claire is planning on heading back to Scotland. There’s a considerable distance between the two, and no reason to travel from one to the other – but if they are not Claire’s, then who could the bones belong to? Which middle-aged woman from two hundred years ago would be important enough to warrant this kind of attention in the series?
Geillis Duncan, of course.
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