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‘Outlander’ Season 6 Premiere Recap: War, Love & New Stress as Claire Keeps A Secret from Jamie

Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for Outlander Season 6, Episode 1, “Echoes.”

Outlander is back. Jamie and Claire are back. Let’s just enjoy this long-awaited moment before we recap the premiere we’ve been waiting for since May 2020. That’s almost two years! Or 664 days, not that we’ve been counting. Caitríona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Sophie Skelton, Richard Rankin, Lauren Lyle, César Domboy and John Bell returned to our screens with a feature-length Outlander season 6 premiere episode. The best things do come to those who wait in a pandemic forever. With almost 30 more minutes than a regular episode, Outlander delivered a drama-filled return to the small screen with big screen vibes. The premiere picks up where the season 5 finale, “Never My Love” left off. That episode was excellent but traumatic. And season 6 promises to be filled with a new dose of drama and stress, but with the anchor love story at the center of the chaos: Jamie and Claire. A lot happened in the 90 minutes between all the core couples, from Fergus and Marsali, to Brianna and Roger and of course, Jamie and Claire. And we were introduced to the new villains of the show, the Christie family. Buckle in, we’re about to cover a lot of Outlander ground.

Back to the past with Jamie Fraser

The first 30 minutes of the episode bring us back in time via flashback to Jamie’s time spent in Ardsmuir prison in 1753. After Claire went back to the future and thought Jamie had died at Culloden, Jamie spent many years in prison. The beginning of this episode picks up a few years after season 2 ends.

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Caitríona Balfe and Sam Heughan Starz

Claire Fraser does not appear in this episode until 15 minutes in. Now, quite frankly that should be illegal. But when she does, she appears like a holographic angel, so you are forgiven, Outlander. But next time, 8 minutes is all we will wait. One note about that scene: They should have used Claire appearing to Jamie in Season 3 episode 1 “The Battle Joined,” but instead they re-filmed it with Claire a bit older. Jamie would have remembered her how she looked when she left him. Probably too difficult to have used that shot. Both shots are powerful and might make you tear up.

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Sam Heughan and Caitríona Balfe Twitter: @TinyTunney

The Ardsmuir scenes can best be summed up like this: Jamie was in prison with a man named Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) who sure loves God and is a misogynist. And also is a jerk. I didn’t really need 30 minutes to establish that. Would rather they utilized the extra time in the episode to establish a little more where Claire, Jamie, Fergus, Marsali, Brianna, and Roger are, as the relationship dynamics are what people crave, more so than the backstory to a character they barely know. Furthermore, it would have served the story better to have Tom Christie arrive at the Ridge a virtual stranger. The suspense of not knowing if he’s a friend or a foe would be better if we didn’t already know that this man is pure foe.

Jamie saves another man from a flogging, and hence takes a full-on flog on his overly flogged back while in prison. Guess who doesn’t approve of this? If you guessed annoying Tom Christie, you’d be correct. Flog off, Tom. Also, RIP Jamie’s back. Like why must people flog this man so much? And why must I have to watch it? This show needs a flog warning. Sam Heughan’s performance in these early scenes reminds us how riveting young Jamie was, and how we needed more time with young Jamie and Claire before they got Gabaldonned apart.

North Carolina, 1773 – Claire gives Jamie a mild panic attack

Jamie arrives home, walks in and sees Claire is dead… asleep? Or just dead? Um, Claire we don’t need this stress ma’am. Neither me nor Jamie. He shakes her ‘til she wakes. And Claire has the audacity to say, “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, you scared me!” He scared you? You scared all of us. But Claire is perfect, and she wakes from the dead with her perfect hair headband, to announce she has created ether. Yes, the anesthetic. Jamie looks perplexed. She Clairesplains ether to Jamie and tells him she can operate on people without pain, and no longer needs whisky – Jamie Fraser’s preferred anesthetic.

Claire tells him people won’t feel anything, and Jamie says it would be a shame not to feel anything. And then they make out. Only Claire and Jamie Fraser can turn anesthesia talk into sexy talk. They say they’d like to put everyone to sleep but each other. Aww, kind of nutty in a romantic way, but I’m actually on board with this. Ether everyone! In between all the kissing, Jamie says it would be nice to forget about everyone but them, and when he says, “Forget about the Browns,” we see a subtle wince in Claire. In one slight movement, Balfe is able to show the effects of last season are still very much there. Blink and you’ll miss it. It’s a master Balfe moment.

Jamie tells Claire that he’s been asked to be an Indian agent. They both decide he shouldn’t. As Claire and Jamie ride over to check on Marsali, she says, “I am alright, you know.” And Jamie Freaking Fraser says, “I take pleasure in the sight of you is all.” “You’ve been like my shadow ever since. Are you going to accompany me on every home visit from now to kingdom come?” she asks. He replies simply, “Long after that Sassenach.” Ugh they’re even cute riding on a horse cart. We also see a glimpse of Jamie’s guilt about what happened to Claire.

Roger and Brianna have a two-person tea party

Okay, Roger has a gigantic beard. It’s very big. He and Brianna discuss how much tea will be wasted alluding to the Boston Tea Party. There’s a comforting calmness to Roger and Brianna that we haven’t seen any time in the show. They seem truly happy to be in this time, and more so with each other. Across the Ridge, Jamie drops Claire off and then morphs into cute grandpa mode and takes Marsali and Fergus’s kids for a wagon ride. He calls them wee explorers. “Dora the Wee Explorer” by James Fraser. I’d watch that show.

Claire, Marsali & Whisky

Claire drops by to do an OB/GYN appointment with Marsali who is super pregnant with her fourth child? Claire asks if Fergus is at the whisky still. From Marsali’s reaction, all is not right between Fergus and Marsali. Claire notices a bruise on Marsali’s wrist and Marsali claims she’s just been “clumsy.” Claire doesn’t buy it and neither do we.

A new resident of the Ridge: Tom Christie

Guess who arrives on the Ridge? Tom Effing Christie. Of course, Jamie’s not home. He’s out with the wee explorers. But Roger and his friendly beard invite Tom in to wait. Roger! Tom tells them he knew Jamie from prison and he and his family want to come stay at the Ridge and work. Roger says, “Any friend of Mr. Fraser is welcome.” Doomsday music plays softly in the background because we know he is no friend. Tom then says some crap like, “Do you have a church here because a man must build a home for God before himself.” Tom! You literally just arrived, please leave.

Claire and Jamie return and Jamie’s face when he sees Tom says it all. “Sh*t. This wank.” Claire immediately sees something is wrong. Roger is all, “Tom and you were in prison together so I assumed (wrongly) that I should welcome him with a big beard hug!” It’s like a bear hug only with a gigantic beard. Jamie’s expression when Roger says he invited Tom to live with them is meme-worthy. I’m sure we will see it in gif form very soon. Too bad they didn’t have memes in 1773. Claire, Brianna and Jamie all share a look and it’s super duper uncomfortable. They seem thrilled about their new house guest. Later, Claire and Jamie go to meet the new kids on the block, Tom’s daughter Malva and son, Allan.

Brianna & Claire

Brianna tries to get her mother to open up about how she’s doing. Claire quickly dismisses her with a reassuring “I’m fine.” Anytime someone says, “I’m fine,” they’re not. It’s a scientific fact. She then asks Brianna what she’s working on.” Brianna says she has (engineering) designs on paper but is nervous to do anything given what happened to Claire. Claire tells her that their knowledge is a gift and to not live her life in fear.

Claire and Jamie reconnect

Later that night, Claire asks Jamie if it’s wise to have Tom Christie on the Ridge. No, Claire, it isn’t! You are correct, but Jamie Fraser is always nice and won’t kick Tom out which he should. Jamie tells Claire that in prison, she was there with him. “Sometimes I think you’re an angel Claire.” Then they have their first love scene of the season. It’s beautiful, as always. And it’s pretty intimate, in that these two look at each other face to face with their eyes open the whole time. But it also tells us where they are as a couple, especially after what happened to Claire. The other great part about Outlander continuing to show sex scenes between Jamie and Claire as they age, is that it shows that sexuality isn’t just something that exists when you are younger — and it should be celebrated. Balfe and Heughan’s chemistry hasn’t dwindled one bit since they shared their first love scene when Jamie and Claire got married way back in season 1.

Malva, Malva, Malva

Malva Christie pops on over to Claire’s surgery and wows Claire with her knowledge of the word “phosphorus.” Only Claire Fraser’s eyes would light up with that. If someone told me the origins of the word phosphorus, I’d be like, “Cool.” And then leave. Malva asks if Claire plans on using the phosphorus to light a fire. Okay, Malva, you petite genius. She’d crush at Wordle. Malva then grabs a loaf of bread for her dad.

Jamie Fraser turns down a job

Redcoat Major McDonald is disappointed that Jamie is declining to be an Indian agent for the Crown. Jamie, Brianna, and Roger arrive at Tom Christie’s religious bread service, and Tom tears a loaf of bread in half. Tom Christie, I have one question for you, what do you have against bread? Don’t be so rude to carbs, sir. Claire Fraser makes penicillin from that! Tom gives a sermon about building a church. Jamie lays down the law about how things are done. You tell him, JAMFF.

Fergus loves whisky

Fergus drunkenly staggers out of the woods as Jamie asks, “Are you trying new whisky?” He responds, “I’m working.” I will try this tomorrow at work. Jamie tells him to not “work” too hard and spend more time at home. While hunting, Young Ian and Allan are shot at by a group of men, including Richard Brown (brother to the late Lionel Brown who led the attack on Claire). Brown has agreed to be an Indian agent. He seems mean and dangerous. Runs in the family.

Claire, Jamie and fainting Tom Christie

Tom hurts his hand cutting something, and he goes to Claire for help. He faints and Claire gently slaps him back awake. Jamie offers Tom wine, but Tom says, “Tis the devil’s juice.” You’re the devil’s juice Tom. You. Claire notices his other hand is hurt. She says she can fix it. He declines. Claire sews his hand up, and Jamie looks like he is delighting in Tom’s pain. So am I. Jamie and I feel the same way about most people. Evil Tom says to Jamie as he leaves, “At least it will be an honorable scar, won’t it Mac Dubh?” Alluding to Jamie taking the flogging for someone else. Please leave Tom. Leave the show. I detest you. So do Jamie and Claire. Claire is pissed. Jamie calls him a, “Stiff neck bastard.” This is very satisfying to say. Try it out on your enemy next time you see them or in a Monday meeting. Whichever. Again, Claire and Jamie are too nice.

Worst party ever

The Christies arrive for dinner and Malva asks if Claire’s around. Malva loves Claire, it’s cute. Something tells me, I will regret this sentence. Drunk Fergus shows up and Marsali angrily feeds him bread since it seems he’s on a whisky diet. Roger helps calm down an upset kid, and he’s actually really sweet about it. What’s happening here? Is Roger growing on me? He’s very comforting in this scene. Like curl up next to his big beard comforting. Too far. Sorry.

The party is interrupted with the galloping horse arrival of the Browns. Claire quickly escapes into the house. Brown accuses Allan of stealing a powder horn. Tom angrily says, “Do you want to end up like your mother? Because she’s burning in the fires of hell.” Oh no. What did Tom Christie do to his wife? Allan admits to stealing it. Side note, Tom Christie and Richard Brown look a lot alike. Same hairstyle, too.

Brown makes Jamie give Allan lashes in front of Major McDonald to prove his loyalty to the Crown. We all know this is not what Jamie wants to be doing. Brown looks on like he’s enjoying it. Jamie finishes and tells Brown to blow off. Not a fun party Jamie. Jamie tells the Major he will be an Indian agent, mainly so Brown won’t be.

Jamie later reminds Tom that he’s the captain now. “My word at Fraser’s Ridge is law.” And Christie annoyingly says God is law. Kick him off the Ridge, Jamie. Still drunk Fergus pours whisky in the cup of tea Marsali gives him. She tells him the drinking is keeping him from his family. He leaves and says, “I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment.” Wow, Fergus is dark. And kind of a mean drunk. Did he do that to her wrist?!

Claire’s unhealthy coping mechanism

Claire flashes back to pretty much every bad thing that’s happened to her and Jamie — Lionel Brown, Blackjack Randall, Father Bain. She jolts awake in bed next to Jamie. He wakes immediately and tells her she looks like she’s seen a ghost and asks, “Is it the Browns? Have they unsettled you?” Claire says she’s “fine,” and just wants a cup of tea. Jamie watches her carefully as she goes downstairs. Shout out to Sam Heughan who is playing these moments perfectly. A concerned husband who wants to give his wife space but also feels helpless in making her feel better. We see Claire is not having a cup of tea. She whips up some ether, lies down in her surgery, inhales and then falls asleep. Eek. Claire Fraser made anesthesia and is using it on herself. Gurl. You need a prescription for that. The doctor is trying to heal thyself. Ladies and gentleman, Claire Fraser is not okay.

Jamie and Claire’s relationship challenge this season will be this ether situation. She’s suffering from PTSD (who wouldn’t be), and not being open with Jamie about it. The one element that sets Jamie and Claire apart from other couples is their openness, vulnerability, and honesty with each other. It will be interesting to see how he reacts when he discovers this. One of the best things about this show is how this couple handles conflict, internally and externally.

All we want is for Jamie and Claire to live happily ever after. Instead of people constantly trying to send them to the ever after. Looking at you Blackjack Randall, Stephen Bonnet, Lionel Brown, and let’s face it, Tom Christie and his fam are clearly not going to add to “happily.” Balfe also wants this happy ending, watch what she had to say — though she does warn that Diana Gabaldon definitely would not be a fan of her ending. Ah, love with a side of trauma drama, it’s why we love Outlander. Having Balfe, Heughan, and the rest of the cast back on our screens is like ether for our souls.

Before you go, check out the all-time best ‘Outlander’ episodes you need to watch.

'Outlander' cast Caitríona Balfe, Sam Heughan,

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