As I watched the Outlander episode, “Both Sides Now,” I came away with the feeling that Frank Randall was sending mixed messages regarding Claire’s disappearance. She’s his wife; I think he loves her and is desperate to find her. At the same time, I think it’s more complicated than that, and I wanted to dig a little deeper into this painful time in Frank’s life.
He complains about the incompetence of the Inverness police, but it seems like he’s more interested in protecting his own ego and reputation. At the final meeting with the detective, Frank slams his fist on the desk, declaring with certainty that his wife is not with another man. He seems determined to prove that she has not been unfaithful to him, as if to bolster his reputation as a loving husband that no woman would dream of leaving. What about Claire? She doesn’t seem to be the focus of Frank’s meeting. That’s disheartening.
Reverend Wakefield has gone to great lengths to try and find an answer to Claire’s disappearance. It seems he’s put more time and effort into trying to find her than Frank, evidenced by the huge board covered in maps and notes. I’ll admit, living on frogs and fish for seven weeks doesn’t seem likely, but I gave him credit for trying, which is more than Frank is doing.
As Frank drinks himself into oblivion at a nearby pub, “Sally” approaches him with Jamie’s wanted poster and tells Frank she knows where he is. Instead of asking about Claire, he asks, “Is he with her?” His focus seems to be on Jamie (the Highlander) rather than Claire. Shouldn’t he be asking, “Is she with him?” When he meets “Sally” at the appointed place and time, he immediately realizes he’s been tricked. After he beats the two men and is in the process of choking “Sally,” he asks her, “There is no Highlander, is there?” Frank! What about Claire? Your wife! Frank seems more intent on exacting revenge on the man who supposedly stole his wife away than he is about rescuing his wife, the woman he professes to love.
Reverend Wakefield pleads with Frank to turn away from the darkness that threatens to envelop him and for him to, “let her go as she has let you go.” Frank decides to leave Inverness and return to Oxford, but after opening Claire’s suitcase and gazing at their wedding photo, he leaves her suitcase behind. Does he think at some point she will return? Does leaving the suitcase behind symbolize him leaving her behind?
He doesn’t share Mrs. Graham’s beliefs about travelers piercing the veil of time, but he drives to Craigh na Dun and returns to the stones. Here, he finally lets the tears flow, and I got the feeling that he truly loves Claire and is devastated by her disappearance. He calls out to her, and we see that Claire hears him and answers. Frank stops short. Did he hear Claire, or do the squawking ravens sound eerily like they are saying his name? One detail I noted that may or may not have made a difference… when Claire went through the stones, her shawl was left behind at the base of the “major” stone. Wouldn’t Frank have seen it, or was it gone by the time he visited – removed by someone or something? I thought that if he’d seen it, it might have reinforced Mrs. Graham’s argument that Claire went through the stones accidentally and did not intentionally leave him. Did he leave Claire’s suitcase behind because Mrs. Graham told him that the travelers often return?
Is Frank allowing a small part of him to believe Mrs. Graham’s story? It goes against all of his factual and practical sensibilities that make him who he is. And yet, for the briefest moment, Frank seems to reach out and grab on to the possibility that his wife has traveled to some other time.