‘Outlander’ Season 5 Episode 3 Recap: “Free Will”

Outlander Season 5 Episode 3
A scene from ‘Outlander’ season 5 episode 3 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Claire’s busy testing her moldy bread when Starz’s Outlander season five episode three begins. Marsali (Lauren Lyle) proves once again she’s the best choice to be an assistant by asking all the right questions as she watches Claire examine the mold. Although Marsali doesn’t understand how Claire (Caitriona Balfe) knows what to look for – she guesses it’s something her mentor picked up in Boston – her quick mind catches on to exactly what they’re looking for among the various molds.

A voiceover from Claire acknowledges what’s she doing now with her hunt for penicillin is tempting fate. Still, she believes that daring history to stop her is her only course of action if she wants to save lives.

It’s nighttime and the house is lit up as Jamie (Sam Heughan) finally makes his way back to Fraser’s Ridge. Claire wakes from a sound sleep to greet Jamie with a passionate kiss. She caresses his face and he returns the gesture by clasping her hands in his and lightly kissing them. He thanks God for the sight of his lovely wife.

They discuss Lt. Knox and the murder of one of the prisoners. Jamie reveals Murtagh has an army that isn’t afraid of marching toward their deaths in support of their beliefs. He also reveals he’s been charged with gathering more men willing to fight with the militia. He hopes it doesn’t come to that, but those are his orders.

Jamie believes if he can gather a strong enough show of force, it might be enough to make the Regulators stand down. Claire’s determined to join her husband, firm in her belief he might need a physician. There’s no persuading her otherwise so Jamie doesn’t even try.

The following morning Jamie sends Fergus (César Domboy) off with a message to take to the printers. He wants a dozen notices printed requesting all able men join the militia and stand against the rebellion.

Fergus returns from town with a letter which Jamie tucks away without reading. The men are all packed and ready to go as Claire gives last-minute instructions to Marsali. Claire also says her goodbyes to Brianna (Sophie Skelton), exchanging I love yous and promising each other they’ll stay safe.

Brianna leans against Roger (Richard Rankin) as he’s preparing to saddle up and join his father-in-law. They exchange loving small talk, as well as one final kiss, and then Roger falls in line with the men behind Jamie and Claire.

Hours later as his men make camp for the night, Jamie pulls Claire aside to break the news Stephen Bonnet is alive. The letter was from Lord John and contains details on Bonnet’s whereabouts and news that he’s back in the smuggling business. Both Claire and Jamie are relieved thinking Brianna doesn’t know. (She does!)

After preparing camp, the men relax around the campfire and engage in lighthearted banter. They eventually turn in but their rest is interrupted by cries of, “Stop, thief!” Jamie and Claire are shocked to see Josiah’s been captured and brought into camp, accused of stealing supplies. Or at least Jamie and Claire think the thief is Josiah… The accused thief is missing the brand on his right hand, so this captured lad definitely isn’t Josiah.

The real Josiah is dragged forward and it’s revealed the other young man is his twin, Keziah. They were both indentured to an abusive man named Mr. Beardsley, but Josiah ran away a year ago and left his brother behind. Now that Josiah has a means of earning a living, he’s retrieved his brother. Josiah explains his brother was starving and that’s why he took some provisions. He also reveals his brother is deaf. Their master hit him when he was five and he’s been unable to hear since.

Jamie’s sympathetic and assures Josiah his brother’s welcome to the food. Claire asks to have a look at his ear and Keziah, who can read lips, allows her to. His eardrums are ruptured and can’t heal because he’s been repeatedly beaten.

Jamie decides he won’t send them back (of course that’s his decision!) and instead he’ll purchase their indenture. That way they’ll be free men and won’t need to hide out from the law.

Jamie orders Roger to take the men and continue on with their journey. Roger promises not to let him down.

Outlander Season 5 Episode 3
Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in ‘Outlander’ season 5 episode 3 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Jamie and Claire head off to find Mr. Beardsley and Jamie mentions he’d like Claire to cut Josiah’s brand off his hand so the stigma of being a thief won’t follow him. They arrive at the Beardsley place and no one answers when they call out. Claire checks the barn and finds a horse. She also spots the cat and her kittens Josiah said had made a home out of Keziah’s pants, confirming at least a part of the story he spun back at camp.

Jamie’s knock on the main house door goes unanswered. He looks through a broken window and spots a goat. When he glances in again, he sees a woman inside. She claims her husband’s dead so he asks her if he can purchase the two bondservants.

She tells Jamie to keep the boys as she slams the door in his face.

Jamie meets up with Claire and although she’s got a bad feeling about this place, he can’t leave just yet. Jamie’s determined to secure Josiah and Keziah’s papers so there won’t be any troubles later on.

This time both Jamie and Claire ask for the papers and Mrs. Beardsley – Fanny – allows them inside. The house smells to high heaven and there are goats in the living room. Fanny doesn’t know where the papers were kept, and Jamie suggests the desk. She’s looking through it when Jamie and Claire hear a pounding at a locked interior door. Someone’s trying to break out of a room that’s latched from the outside.

Jamie opens the door despite Fanny telling him to leave it alone. It turns out the pounding was the work of a very randy goat who’s being kept away from the females.

Claire, nose firmly covered, continues glancing around the house while Jamie chases the goats outside. The ceiling catches Claire’s attention and she takes off upstairs while Fanny chases after her.

Flies swarm around Claire as she spots what she assumes is a dead man on the floor. She’s shocked when he takes a gurgling breath when she reaches down to confirm he’s dead. Jamie races to Claire’s side as Claire attempts to determine what’s wrong. Mr. Beardsley’s in horrible shape and she believes he’s suffered a stroke and has probably been lying there for weeks.

They discover Fanny’s been feeding her husband just enough to keep him alive. Claire demands to know what happened, and Fanny explains he was in a rage and struck her – again – a month ago. He then followed her upstairs and fell. She couldn’t move him so he’s just been lying there since.



A quick look at what’s happening in Jamie’s absence shows Roger and the men speaking to a mother who’s very protective of her sons. It’s only after Captain Roger assures her he’ll look after them and see them safely home that she agrees to sign up her two sons.

Back inside the Beardsley home, Mr. Beardsley’s been brought downstairs where Claire cleans his wounds and bedsores. Jamie wonders why Fanny didn’t just let her husband die and Claire believes she knows the answer. She shows Jamie some injuries and it’s clear Fanny’s been seeking her revenge on her abusive husband now that he can’t fight back.

Mr. Beardsley looks like death eating a cracker and Claire wants to perform surgery to remove his gangrenous foot so it doesn’t kill him. However, Jamie reminds her they don’t have time to spare on this patient. As they talk, Fanny sneaks over to her husband and tries to take the decision away from the Frasers. They stop her and as Jamie holds her off, she confesses she wanted him to die slowly.

Jamie pushes her away as she fights to get to her husband. She hits the wall and immediately blood pours onto the floor. She’s pregnant and the baby arrives without needing much further assistance.

Once delivered, Jamie and Claire discover the baby’s father isn’t Mr. Beardsley. The baby girl’s father is black and the wife’s overjoyed to learn the baby isn’t her husband’s. She’s positively giddy as she breaks the news to her dying husband.

A short while later, Fanny’s settled down with her baby and ready to tell her story. Mr. Beardsley took her two years prior from her father’s house in Baltimore. Claire asks if those are her markings on the door, signifying each day since she’s seen her family. They’re not; they were left there by Mr. Beardsley’s fourth wife.

Each of the prior wives are buried in the woods nearby. Mr. Beardsley killed them all because they couldn’t give him a child.
The baby’s real father is a good man, unlike Mr. Beardsley. She apologizes for not being able to locate the twins’ paperwork, saying she would gladly turn it over if she could. She also confirms Mr. Beardsley beat them all.

Claire suggests that life might get better now that Mr. Beardsley will be out of the house and unable to hurt her anymore. Jamie and Claire will take him into town and she won’t have to ever see him again.

After mom and baby have settled in for the night, Jamie asks how long they’ll need to stay. Claire believes they should hang around a day or two – at least – even though Jamie needs to get back to his men.

The birth of this child has made Claire seriously consider the dangers for a baby during this time period. She tells Jamie she wants Roger, Brianna, and Jemmy to return home as soon as it’s safe to go through the stones. Jamie agrees it might be safer in their time, but they would be without their family.

Hours later while all are sleeping, Fanny rises and stands over Jamie and Claire.

The following morning Jamie wakes to the sound of a crying baby. Fanny’s nowhere to be found.

Jamie rushes outside to try and locate her while Claire picks up the fussing baby. As she lifts the baby, she finds Josiah and Keziah’s papers, along with the deed to the farm, have been placed in the baby’s bed.

When Jamie returns, Claire explains what she found and that she’s certain Fanny has no plans to return for her newborn child.

The Frasers load up a cart with goats so the baby will have goat milk while they travel. The only problem left to solve is what to do with Mr. Beardsley. Jamie asks Claire to step outside, assuring her he would perform the same service on a suffering dog. He’s going to ask the man if he wants to die and then follow his wishes.

Mr. Beardsley blinks once for yes and Jamie puts the man out of his misery with a shot to the head.

The man’s condition makes Jamie question whether his father, who suffered from the same condition (apoplexy), was in pain before he died. Claire believes his sister would have told him if that was so. Jamie makes Claire swear she’ll “give him the same mercy” he gave Mr. Beardsley if he ever suffers the same affliction.

“I’ll do what must be done,” responds Claire.