This season of Outlander is a short eight episodes because of Covid (though it ended up working out nicely for Caitriona Balfe, who needed maternity leave anyway, and maybe in the end that also became a factor). So the season finale ends with a cliffhanger, as opposed to wrapping up the Book 6 source material; they will have 16 episodes in season 7 to make up for it, which means plenty of time for more flarging around about the war and exchanging meaningful glances. I have no idea when season 7 will premiere, though they did recently start shooting, so I have to think it won’t be another two-eon wait and that I will not forget everything here that I already barely know.
If you like long, hopeless journeys, then this episode is for you. It’s the road trip from Hell. We pick up exactly where we left off, with Richard Brown at the house to arrest Claire, curling his lips and saying things like, “Hand over your wife and we’ll be gone. Vanished, like the morning dew.” He’s a very poetic douchebag. Claire tells Mrs. Bug to go for help, even though Mrs. Bug hates them, and Jamie sees Lizzie and one of her husbands start to leave the stables and somehow across the long long distance they read his expression and retreat. Claire scurries around inside to arm herself, which is good, because one of Brown’s minions covertly let himself in the back. He asks for her gun, and she pretends to fork it over, then pulls a second one from under her vest and shoots him in the stomach. This starts a brawl outside and Jamie gets a solid pounding before they manage to barricade themselves in the living room.
The Ridge erupts in gunfire, with Chez Fraser quickly becoming such a block of Swiss cheese that all the mice in the neighboring territories drop what they’re nibbling on and sprint to them. Claire nearly gets her arm blown off trying to close the shutters. Jamie realizes this is what they came to do — not to arrest Claire, but to have cause to kill them both, probably as revenge for Lionel’s death. Richard waves a white hanky and asks Jamie to give him “that murderous witch of yours,” and Jamie shoots at his feet a few times just to piss him off. It works. Richard says all they want is to take her to Salisbury for a fair trial, and Jamie’s answer is to blow Richard’s hat out of his hand.
Who’ll answer your questions with silence
Save the brutal crack, whiz, of a bullet?
Red Jamie’s the name
Shutting you up is his game
So he’ll cram his ammo right down your gullet.
Claire wonders aloud if this is it, the start of the fire, and clarifies that the obituary said it was “the Sabbath before the 21st of January,” but it’s May and so they thought they’d already dodged it. Jamie snickers that he, as a former printer, knows too well that the broadsheets don’t always get it right, but a four-month error is a bit much for Claire to swallow. They can’t figure out where Ian is, but more importantly, they are noticing that nobody else has shown up to rescue them either. Claire says she’d rather go with Richard then die in this foxhole, but Jamie won’t agree. He has some chiseled thinking to do.
Think with me
All the Malva gossip shall not soon pass;
Vigilante justice chaps my taut ass.
Think, or flee?
As they snack on whatever rations they can find, Claire tells Jamie that in the future, people condemned to death get a last meal, and that hers would be a cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke from a diner she used to go to with Brianna. It’s times like this when I really sit back and grieve that Jamie has never, and will never, know the simple joys of a fast-food meal and a fizzy Diet Coke. (Jamie is a man of refined tastes. Jamie would treat Pepsi like the Black Jack Randall of drink options.) Claire is super confused about why no one has come to help or save them, which is astonishing to me given how much time we’ve spent covering how thoroughly the Ridge denizens are shunning Claire, how they all think she’s a killer witch, and how they’re pretty convinced Jamie knocked up a teenager before Claire exacted bloody revenge. It would be a surprise if they HAD come. Bored and scared, Claire and Jamie snuggle up and he starts to say an Act of Contrition, just as he would on a battlefield before the fight picked up again. They half-laugh about all the times Jamie has dodged certain death: “You’re a hard man to kill, I think,” she observes, as they count out all the times he found himself in mortal peril. “I never thought hearing a litany of your near-death experiences would bring me so much peace.”
The myth of Red Jamie is potent;
Don’t waste your time digging his grave.
He’ll not slip through Death’s sieve.
This is Nine Lives to Live!
It’ll take more than THAT pompous knave.
Finally, some of the fisherfolk arrive… but with torches. Hiram Crombie — he who thinks Claire is evil and jealous, and Jamie a philanderer — may not want Jamie and Claire to hang on their own property, but he would like to mediate a truce so that Richard can take them away forever.
Jamie and Claire step outside with the promise of safety, only to withstand a verbal assault from the fisherfolk, who screech that Claire should burn at the stake. That’s all well and good, but have we established whether she weighs the same as a duck? Where is Sir Bedevere when you need him? Wait, I guess he got arrested, too, in the end.
So we’re left with even more people who want justice for Malva, and Richard Brown says again — in his slithery, smarmy way — that all his Committee of Safety wants is a fair trial: “If she be innocent, how can you refuse?” Jamie points out that he can’t just hand over Claire, because they’ll kill her at the earliest opportunity, and Allan Christie helpfully pokes his head out and says maybe they should take Jamie, too, and have him tried for debauchery. Hiram likes this compromise, which of course is not so much a compromise as a compounding of charges; Jamie is still pretty sure this will end in them being slit open from end to end, until Tom Christie steps forth and makes himself responsible for their safe passage. Lizzie arrives with a too-small handful of loyalists, and Jamie recognizes that they are as hosed as a spring lawn, so he places his trust in Tom and concedes.
He can surrender his weapons before you
But you can’t keep a stacked MacDubh down.
He’s too sturdy and grizzled
He’s 60 years chiseled
And his gun show will NEVER leave town.
Tom posts a guard out front so that they can have one last night of sleep in their own bed. You know what this means: grief sex. The shots are all of his butt and her leg wrapped around it. What a nice break this must be for Caitriona, from having her nipples be the star of the show.
The wagon train is just as miserable as you would imagine — insufferable people, no music, and not even a Motel 6 to leave the light on for you. Richard Brown is stressed because he’s learned that Salisbury has closed its court, so they have to press on 10 more days to Wilmington. The men are super cranky about this, because they expected to get about ten minutes out of Fraser’s Ridge, build a gallows, let them swing, and be home in time for lunch and a nap. Also, the kid Claire shot in the stomach seems to be along for the ride, and he eventually topples off his horse, dead of any NUMBER of things, but let’s go with “gunshot to the gut” for starters. The men want to take him home for a proper burial, because they’re pals, but Richard sucks and says no. Richard is not a popular person. Richard has also gotten a little too blab-happy. In his quest to make sure the grapevine poisons the well against Claire, he ended up getting some villagers SO het up that when they pass through, the entire wagon train gets stoned, and not in the fun Jocasta-in-a-gazebo way. Claire takes a hit — and delivers a punch that wrecks her hand — and Richard is none too pleased to get whacked in the face himself.
It takes Tom Christie screaming, “This isn’t justice,” and firing a gun in the air to get everyone so simmer down and let them pass.
Speaking of Tom, Claire and Jamie cannot figure out if he hates them or wants to help. He looks subdued and sad. He offers Claire his food at his own expense. And he absolutely tries to make sure they’re kept alive. He seems more aggrieved by the idea that Claire might die — this person who appalls and fascinates him in equal measure — than he was about Malva being killed. I wonder if he Knows Something and is trying to buy them time.
They stop in a hunting camp for the night, and when Jamie is given the chance to go relieve himself in the woods, Ian appears in the middle of a shrubbery.
HELLO UNCLE I MADE IT, I’M HERE
SALVATION IS FINALLY NEAR
JUST PLEASE DON’T TAKE A WEE
ALL OVER POOR ME
I’M NOT TARGET PRACTICE, I’M YOUR NEPHEW, AND I CAN’T SAVE YOUR LIFE IF I SMELL LIKE WHATEVER YOU ATE FOR LUNCH! IAN!!!!!
Ian says he’s not there alone, and that they’re all ready to come out and play on Jamie’s signal; Jamie says if they run now, it’s essentially an admission of guilt, so they agree that Ian and his crew will keep tracking the wagon and await the signal. They do not actually agree on what the signal will be, so I assume it’ll be something like, “IAN!!!!!!!”
By this point, we have dragged on through mud and water and sadness and bad moods, and I had hoped all the smoking guns of discontent would go off and Richard’s men would turn on him. But no. Instead, they trick Jamie into leaving Claire alone in the wagon, and while half the men beat him up, the other half take off with Claire. When Richard gets far enough away, he stops for a helpful bit of monologuing, telling Claire that he’s not doing this because of Lionel: “My brother was a lout. What he and them other men did to ye was cruel and unforgivable.” Rather, Richard simply wants a murderess to pay the piper, though he does say, “Then again, he WAS my brother…” Tom Christie rides up and reads Richard the riot act, while Claire screams that they’re going to kill Jamie. Tom pledges that this will not happen because Richard gave his word — a word that at this point is about as valuable as “irregardless” in my book — and says he’ll continue on with Claire, because when he said he was going to keep them safe he REALLY meant her.
But he won’t meet Claire’s eyes, which she interprets as, “Jamie is dead, or close to it.” I interpret it as, “My dumb son killed Malva, and I’m nervous that I’m going to go to Hell if you die.” Claire gets tossed in the clink in Wilmington, and Tom sneaks her a sack of coins “for your maintenance.” He promises that Jamie is alive and that he himself won’t leave town, and tells her to trust God “to deliver the righteous out of danger.” As she languishes, this is where the robber from Episode 5, the one whistling a modern tune — probably Wendigo, the man who abandoned Claire to her rapists — reveals himself, right? Or at least starts whistling? NO. Once again, I am foiled. So they set that up but then… left it out there, twisting in the wind, waiting for season seven.
Jamie, meanwhile, regains consciousness by the ocean. He’s tied to a pole, and after his captors malign Claire and wish her dead, they start beating on him and telling him that they’re putting him on that ship over yonder — there is, indeed, a ship over yonder — and straight back to Scotland. But right when the butt end of a rifle is about to lodge itself in Jamie’s cranium, an arrow finds its mark and kills the man. It’s IAN, the Cherokee, and John Quincy Myers.
Remember THAT guy?!? They pretended he didn’t exist for all of season six, only to pay him for 15 seconds of screen time. Wow. Jamie’s chief captor puts a gun to Jamie’s head as Chief Bird raises his rifle, and Jamie tells Ian not to kill the man because “he knows where Claire is.” Ian replies, “So do we, Uncle,” and Chief Bird fires. This next shot is EXTREMELY well done and cool: The captor’s reflex is to put his hand up to block the shot, and the shell blows a hole clean through his hand; when it drops, we see it passed straight on through his face, as well. He is really most sincerely dead. “I told you I would fight with you, Bear Killer,” Chief Bird says, and Ian unties Jamie and they gallop along the waterfront like they’re enjoying a vacation. Kidnapping, murder, blood, beatings, migraines, a dose of motion sickness, amazing ocean views, 10/10, would book again.
BRIANNA and ROGER
Brianna and Roger are off at Edenton Seminary, avoiding the main plot entirely. Brianna exposits exactly where we are in the war — the Siege of Boston, the Battles of Lexington and Concord — and Roger pretends that once upon a time he would’ve sold his soul to be there, except oh well, too bad, now his soul is called to something else.
id love to fight
i rsvp’d yes
to the lord
he turns blood into wine
and has free snacks
also my soul and stuff
Brianna wonders whether they should tell Jemmy why they know so much about the future. My question is: This child is, what, three? How is he even aware that you know about the future? His mind is probably blown enough that you make dinner appear every night. She reasons that when you tell kids they’re adopted, or that there’s a family scandal, it’s easier for them to accept if they’re young. Yes, but those are also real things that other people in the world can understand. When you start telling your little school friends that time travel exists, you get punched in the sandbox. And I ask again: WHO is chomping at the bit to tell their toddlers all about their dark family scandals? You have to wait until they’re old enough to gossip and make witty dinner-table jokes. Roger asks if Bri wishes she’d known the truth sooner, and she says yes, but then changes her mind because OBVIOUSLY — there is little to no chance she’d have been cool about it — and also Frank had specifically asked Claire not to, so. Solved. Then Roger turns a hose on the party by saying that if they tell Jemmy, he might dine and dash one day, and they don’t much like that.
Later, Roger is finishing a toy for Jemmy, and Brianna tells him he should be a woodworker. “Like Jesus,” Roger says.
who has two thumbs
and a beard
and also jesus
hes the son of god
i am dogface with a son
we are the same
The number of times Brianna suggests something ELSE Roger could do, or tried to steer him away from being a minister, really ought to ring an alarm in his head. Instead, Mr. History Fanatic decides to rewrite some. They snuggle up in bed and remember the weekend they drove to North Carolina together to the Highland Games (or whatever), and he says they almost broke up that weekend; she points out that they DID, and he gets all proud and says he subsequently pursued her through time and space and they get horny and start having sex. Really? You’re both romanticizing THAT trip? Allow me to remind you all how The Birth of Our Deepest Loathing for Roger REALLY went down, by quoting… myself. You may recall Roger and Brianna got tipsy and started to make out, and once her shirt was off, he backed away and proposed, even though this is maybe the second time they’d ever hung out. What followed:
Brianna gently and very kindly says that she’s not ready to move that fast, and Roger IMMEDIATELY tenses up and turns into a complete shithead: “You don’t want to marry me, but you’ll f*ck me,” he spits, and then later: “If you don’t care enough to marry me then I don’t care enough to have you in my bed,” before finally slut-shaming her for being willing to have extramarital sex THAT HE WAS ALSO NOT TOTALLY UNWILLING TO HAVE. Oh, AND FURTHER, Big Rog, you turd, how do you know she would’ve had sex with you? She had her shirt off and she could’ve stopped you herself at any given point. You are not psychic. You don’t know what she was willing to let happen. Instead, you just ASSUME you were going to plow her, and then you tell her she’s a terrible person for being willing to let him plow her AND THEN AND THEN he implies that said willingness means she might not even be the virgin he thought she was. […] When Brianna slaps him, Brianna is all of us.
Brianna correctly calls bullshit on that attitude, and angrily points out the hypocrisy here: While she is indeed a virgin, she knows he is not. (I had to pause the TV to allow my disbelief on that one to settle, because Roger looks at Brianna like she is the first and only woman who has ever spoken to him or even let him touch her face.) Roger the Dillhole essentially then says that it’s fine for those other useless slatterns to give it up to him, because he doesn’t want to marry them. He wants something pure and old-fashioned! And so I guess that means those other hobags’ tainted goods are someone else’s problem!!!!! You’re such a great guy, Roger! Thanks so much for devolving into one of those toxic “nice guys” who believes he is owed everything he wants, exactly the way he wants it, simply because he was polite when he asked!
Yes, let’s DEFINITELY pretend you have a sweet, romantic origin story, when really, Brianna full-on ditched him in North Carolina for being a retrograde dipshit. Appropriately, this leads to what might set a record for the least sexy pillow talk in all of human history. Roger and Brianna huff and puff and pant a bunch of moronic sex metaphors about driving fast versus going places on foot, and it is every bit as excruciating as you imagine. And then we get an impossibly long scene in which Brianna climbs on top of him and Roger does the “gotta hide Sophie’s boobs from the camera” move and it takes FOREVER and this is absolutely not the food I ordered, I EXPLICITLY told you I am desperately allergic to captions like [ROGER MOANING], please take this back to the chef and have him try again.
One more piece of intel: Fergus’s paper is out and it’s called the New Bern Onion (I believe in the books it’s the French L’Oignon), because “onions have layers, complexity,” much like this publication will. I really wish Fergus had invented our modern The Onion. Jemmy is bored of everyone, so he hugs Brianna’s belly and says adorably, “Hi baby, I love you a lot.” I want to keep this child. Brianna pats him on the head and then notices he has lice. They blame it on the fisherfolk. Man, the poor fisherfolk. They get blamed for lice, for amateur witchcraft… if Roger gets crabs, watch out, it’ll be their doing somehow. This is all just so they can shave Jemmy’s head and notice a particular mark on his skin called a nevus, which Roger reassures Brianna is harmless but also hereditary — and he shows her the one he has. It dawns on them that this means Jemmy is of Roger’s DNA, not The Dread Pirate Bonnet’s, and therefore Jemmy’s biological father’s nuts are hanging high in Roger’s trousers and not sitting pickled in a jar in a Wilmington pub. Congratulations. Roger decides he might also have lice — fair assumption — and so they cut and shave his hair, too, and friends, they both look good. Roger might look GOOD good. Since presumably we have to pick up this season where we left off, at least within a few weeks, maybe Roger will get to keep it and thoroughly confuse my emotions.