Warning: This episode of Outlander, “Temperance,” features depictions of attempted suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. Call or visit: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for Outlander Season 6, Episode 3, “Temperance.”
Tonight’s episode of Outlander was one of the strongest in its history, and also one of the most devastating. It’s beautiful. It’s heartbreaking. And it will make you weep. Sam Heughan, Caitríona Balfe, César Domboy, and Lauren Lyle each deserve Emmy nominations for their performances in this episode. Outlander has done what most long-running shows have not. It has reinvented and reinvigorated itself in its sixth season.
Grab your tissues and your weighted blanket, you will need both. If you don’t have a weighted blanket, just grab a blanket and any of the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon, they’re quite…. weighted! After you’re done reading about the episode, make sure to watch our new exclusive video interview below with Lauren Lyle, César Domboy, and Richard Rankin talking about tonight’s episode and some of their favorite moments of season 6. There are no words for how good this episode is, but let’s try.
Roger saves the day
Outlander does not even give you one second to breathe normally in this episode. It begins with Roger chopping wood. And suddenly he hears a group of kids yelling. They are watching something floating in a basket in the river. Without even thinking, Roger dives into the river. (Actually, he sort of bellyflop dives, it looks painful, but I get it, Roger, no time for form). He quickly realizes there is a baby in the basket! He saves the baby just in time. All the kids watch and then Roger cradles the baby, who turns out to be Henri-Christian, as the kids try to run away. “Right you wee bastards! Who’s idea was this?!” Wee bastards! Give him an Oscar for this line! Delivered with Scottish perfection! Roger learns that the boys believe the baby is a devil and they were testing to see if he floats. Roger baptizes Henri-Christian to show the boys there is nothing wrong with him. They run away, and Roger screams, “Germain!” Roger’s dad-voice will send shudders. Don’t upset Uncle Roger, Germain! He will not read you a book or he will lecture you on the origin of words. (He’s a librarian at heart). Also, don’t put your newborn brother in a raging river to see if he floats.
Germain is in trouble
Roger brings Germain and Henri-Christian home. And the family meeting that takes place, let’s just say if your parents and grandparents gave you the look that Germain got, you’d probably want to be floating down that river or anywhere else. Lauren Lyle’s performance as an angry and panicked mother whose son was almost drowned — and worse yet by her other son — is perfection. When Germain explains the other kids wanted to test if the baby floats, Roger adds their parents told them the baby is a demon. Cesar Domboy’s broken Fergus says, “You believed your brother was a demon?” Fergus runs out. Claire and Jamie exchange a look as Claire goes after Fergus. Before she leaves, check out Claire’s look at Germain. It’s fast and furious. Do not blink or you’ll miss it. And when you see it, you’ll know it. Every single mom has shot that look at least once in history.
Jamie looks at Germain and sternly says, “Find your associates, tell them they’re expected in my parlor before supper to receive punishment.” Um hello, Grandpère. Adorably frightening. Germain probably is quaking in his little breeches. Roger looks at Germain sympathetically and says, “I’ll go with you.” Season 6 is the redemption of Roger. This is the writing Richard Rankin’s Roger has deserved all along. He’s comforting, funny, strong — everything the character was when he first appeared and then sadly disappeared once he told Brianna she must marry him before they go any further. (She should have known he was a time-traveler then because that’s some old antiquated gobbly gook man).
Mi’Lady and her son, Fergus
Fergus and Claire’s scene is standout. Domboy indicated this is his favorite episode because he “got to play tennis” with Balfe. And wow. They volley back and forth and you forget they’re playing. Domboy matches Balfe line for line. Claire goes to sit with Fergus. “Dwarf children are left for the wolves,” he tells her. Claire quickly assures him Henri-Christian will always be surrounded by love. Fergus worries that when he is grown he won’t have a happy life. He tells Claire she hasn’t seen how dwarves were treated like he has. In the brothel Fergus grew up in, some clients had “exotic tastes” and would request dwarfs. Fergus recalls his friend Luc, who was a dwarf, was found dead in an alley. He painfully recalls how the Madame had his friend’s body cut up and sold for parts. Balfe, as usual, conveys in one look the pain of a thousand years. “When I met you and Milord, I found a world beyond a brothel,” Fergus explains that his son might not be so lucky. Claire assures him that she and Jamie will not allow that to happen. And Fergus says, “But you will not live forever.” I feel like she could, to be honest. Fergus doesn’t know that Mi’lady is Mi’time traveler. Fergus blames himself for his son being a dwarf and says it’s because he couldn’t protect Marsali from being attacked when Claire was abducted. Claire assures him it was not his fault. Despondent, Fergus walks away. When Claire realizes she can’t help her son, Balfe conveys this devastation in one look as she holds back tears watching him go.
Claire and Jamie comforting the son of their hearts is quite possibly the most heart-wrenching thing in existence.#Outlander pic.twitter.com/o9dtzwVKMf
— Elle 🍀 (@displaceintime) March 20, 2022
Tom Christie prefers Bible verses over whisky
Tom arrives for his hand surgery. He tells Claire he will not let her “employ her potions” on him. In other words, he refuses the ether and says he prefers reading Bible verses. LOL. Okay, Tom, good luck with that. Jamie arrives and Claire calls Christie a “masochist” and tells him Tom is refusing the ether. Tom is all, “A maso-what?!” And we’re reminded of how Claire loves to use words that are from the future, like that time she called Jamie a “sadist.” But he was spanking her and she was not wrong. Anyway, our spelling bee queen Claire quickly covers and explains what it means.
Jamie gives Tom some whisky and a Bible. Claire offers Tom a stick to bite down on for the pain. He says he’d rather say his prayers, and Claire and Jamie exchange the best look. Claire begins the surgery and Jamie is her trusty assistant. Shockerspaniel, Tom screams as she starts cutting. Regretting that “no ether for me” yet Tom? This scene with Claire, Jamie, and Tom Christie doing surgery is by far the funniest scene this season. Release the bloopers, Outlander. We know you have them. There’s no way Caitríona Balfe and Sam Heughan did this in one take.
As Claire works, Tom and Jamie read Bible verses back and forth. Jamie reading the prayer book and plying Tom with whisky and not-so-secretly enjoying Tom being in pain is must-watch TV. Jamie is smiling, actually smiling. Snitches get stitches, Tom, Jamie basically whispers into his ear between Bible verses. Claire puts the stitches in and fixes evil Christie’s hand. Bet she wouldn’t have if she knew he tried to beat his daughter with it. It’s fun to imagine what Claire would have done had she known this. And by fun, terrifying, do not piss off your local surgeon. Claire tells Tom he should spend the night in the surgery room so she can monitor him.
Malva and Ian sitting in a cornfield…
Young Ian catches Malva peeping in Claire’s window watching her father. Immediately, we see there’s a little chemistry between Ian and Malva. In fact, when they walk off together with Rollo, they kind of give off Little House on the Ridge happy couple vibes But, I feel Malva is destined for evil things. Something is amiss there. Malva reveals to young Ian her mother was hanged for being a witch. Kudos to newcomer Jessica Reynolds for a very nuanced performance. She somehow is able to show the duplicity of her character in a single smile or look. One minute you feel for Malva, the next you want to scream to Young Ian to run. Run very fast and far. Little witch on the Ridge cannot be up to anything good….
Brianna gives her sister a large wheel
Brianna is back on her inventing bullsh*t again. This time she makes a huge weaving wheel thingy and gifts it to Marsali. Awww. She was like, “Hey sis, you gotta lot kids to cloth, have this giant wheel. Ikea instructions not included.” Marsali’s new wheel and her joy about it is how I felt when I got my Peloton. Also incidentally, the same size and takes up the same amount of room. Marsali reveals to Brianna that Fergus promised to stop drinking.
Jamie Fraser, Grandpere extraordinaire
Jamie Fraser would have been the best dad. He decides to teach the “wee bastards” who almost killed Henri-Christian, that they have a choice: touch the bairn or the hot poker. Genius grandparent move, James — for the 1700s. Of course, all the boys touch the baby and Jamie says the sweetest things each time. Let’s take this moment to again mourn the fact that Jamie Fraser never got to be a dad to young children (RIP, Faith). Then he reminds all the boys to stay the Fraser away from the baby. And reminds them that Henri-Christian is his grandson. Then he bids them adieu, “Help yourself to bread and honey and be on your way.” This scene should be in a parenting book. When your children float a newborn baby down a river, give them the option to touch a very hot object or the cute baby, then offer them tea and biscuits. All the boys are dismissed, except Germain. Jamie and his grandson’s scene will make your heart hurt a bit and your eyes leak. I’m fine. Leave me alone.
Fergus & Marsali fight
Later, Fergus is drunk again. Marsali arrives home and hears one of their kids asking Fergus for food. He ignores the child’s pleas. She asks him if he’s been neglecting the children. Fergus takes another sip. And then he and Marsali have a huge fight. (Lyle reveals that this is her favorite scene of the season below). Marsali begs him to stop drinking. She says her mother had to deal with it and she and her sister suffered because of it. She tells Fergus she will not put up with it. Yes, girl! Marsali screams, “You can’t protect anyone when you’re drunk!” Fergus’s guilt over Lionel Brown resurfaces. She says, “I can protect us too.” She tells Fergus she killed Lionel. “I was worried it would haunt me, but it does not,” she says in the most badass way. And Fergus says words that punk should never say: “I don’t need a woman to protect me.” And then Marsali asks if he’s thirsty, then pours the whisky on his head. Gosh, she’s so good. “I hope that’s quenched. Now leave!” She pushes Fergus out. He screams he’s the “man of the house,” and she tells him to come back when he’s acting like one. He storms out. She yells, “I will have a whole man, or none at all.” Now we know what Marsali’s tinder profile would say. Also: “will inject you with water hemlock if you hurt my family.” Hope you’re not resting in peace, Lionel. Domboy and Lyle’s performance is best summed up by Twitter fan @TinyTunney: “We’ve said for years that they should get more screen time and look what they do when they finally get it. BRA-FREAKING-VO!!!” Not sure “bra-freaking-vo” is a word, but it is now.
Tom Christie: “The Annoying Patient”
Grandmère and Grandpère compare notes, as Jamie tells Claire about his grand-parenting ways. She doesn’t seem as impressed as I was, but also she is having PTSD flashbacks of Lionel calling her the devil. She sees him in the mirror. Oh no, Claire’s about to hit that ether. She claims she’s going to look in on Tom. Claire Bear, do not do ether while Tom is sleeping — he’s clearly going to wake up. Yup, he wakes up thankfully before our little ether bear hits it.
Claire checks on Tom’s hand and this jerk says, “Why don’t you wear a head wrap? Because every proper, pious married woman should.” Says who?! Tom. Claire pushes down hard on his hand. Don’t bite the hand that fixes you, Tom. Also, men judging and telling women what to wear is a tale as old as time, it seems. Heavy eye roll to you, Tom. Then he quotes St. Paul and says something about a head being shaven. She tells him St. Paul clearly hated women and to zip it. She puts it a little more delicately, though, and says, “St. Paul sure had a bee in his bonnet about women.” Then he comments on how much hair she has. What is happening, what is this man going to do to Claire’s hair? Has Claire Fraser not been through enough?! Stay away, Tom Christie, or I will fly through the screen and end you. Most likely I’ll hit my TV screen like a bird. But still, you get the sentiment.
Claire goes to get Tom something to eat and runs into Adso. “Hello cat,” she says. Adso responds, “Hello human.” Claire clearly wants to take ether. He tells Claire he doesn’t think she’s a witch and apologizes to her. But for something stupid: That he moved during surgery. He tells her Jamie probably didn’t move. Everything Tom Christie says is calculated and wrapped in his jealousy of Jamie. He emanates evil. Pure evil. He asks Claire if she knows that Jamie bears the marks of flogging. Yes, Tom. She’s his wife. She’s seen him in like the altogether, none together, the whatever. Naked. “But do you know why?” he asks. Claire retorts, “Yes I do, but you don’t.” Claire and Jamie need to learn how to tell people, “No room at the Ridge.” And not let this fool stay on their property. Tom then tells Claire Jamie was flogged in Ardsmuir. Claire says, “Yes he protects his men.” Tom asks if that’s why Jamie stayed by his side during the surgery, “Does he think I’m one of his men, because I’m not.” Why is this man saying all this out loud? Claire replies, “It was simply an act of kindness.” The truth is Jamie was staying with Claire. She knows it, we know it.
Claire & Jamie
Claire comes back to bed and asks Jamie, “Is Tom afraid of women?” Yup he hates them. Claire notes how Tom seemed very uncomfortable with her touching his hand. Jamie reveals that prison had that effect on him too. Claire looks tired, like season 5 killed her spirit tired. Balfe is playing Claire’s internal downward spiral so subtly, you can almost see why everyone, especially Jamie, is missing it.
Jamie tells Claire how lonely prison was. Tom turned inward, other men would reach out to each other. “I was lucky, you helped to pull me back from the darkness.” Claire also does the math and realizes that when Malva was conceived, Tom would have still been at Ardsmuir. You’re a math wizard, Claire. Is Malva not Tom Christie’s kid? This might explain his not-so-subtle disdain for her and more so for her late mother.
Claire asks Jamie if any of the men touched him. He says no, he was their chief. She asks did you ever want them to? Claire and Jamie Fraser: showing what a strong marriage is all about, being open and honest. Jamie holds Claire’s hand and says, “I hungered for the touch of a hand. I longed for it. More than food, more than sleep. I longed most desperately for sleep… when I slept, I dreamt of you.” Swoon, Jamie. Gosh, these two were apart a long time. 20 years. Claire and Jamie’s marriage is bar none, one of the best portrayals of marriage on television. It covers what we never get a chance to see: how a marriage lasts, endures, grows, struggles, breaks, and is put back together again. This scene, in particular, stands out because it does not lead to a love scene — they just hold hands and fall asleep. It’s one of those simple, benign moments and somehow it’s hotter than most love scenes we see.
What Tom’s taught Malva…
Back to “Little House on the Ridge,” Malva tells Young Ian more about the hateful stuff about women her father has said to her. Tom seems like a “great” dad. Ooh, Malva touches young Ian’s face to ask if his face tattoos mean anything. Are they going to kissy-face in the fields?!? Nope, but there’s something there.
Claire’s book club
As Claire checks Tom’s hand, he sees her pile of books. “My wife read novels and I did not approve of it. I threw them all away.” Um. Claire, he is not a member of your book club and also he has real Lionel Brown vibes. Then Tom reveals that Jamie telling stories from books he read in prison is what changed his mind about books. Claire smiles hearing this. Balfe and Heughan are so good at relaying Jamie and Claire’s love for each other even when the other is not in the room. Claire’s face when she hears this is proof. How can Claire tolerate listening to this man yammer on? She tells him to take the Tom Jones book. What did I just say?! Do not recruit him to your book club. The most enjoyable part of Claire and Christie’s scenes is Claire’s smirk. You can tell she knows she’s one hundred times smarter than him and enjoys hearing this fool talk. But Claire and Jamie are just too nice. It’s their downfall, really. Tom proves this and tells Claire Richard Brown came by to offer his protection. Claire’s demeanor changes. Tom, get out. You’re going to make her ether herself, you jerk, get out.
Jamie & Malva’s mushroom hunt
Jamie finds Malva looking for mushrooms for her father. He jokes once you get married how is Tom going to find his own mushrooms? Malva says she isn’t getting married. Jamie chuckles and says in the most Dad way ever, “I’ve seen the way the lads look at you.” She freaks out and says please don’t say that to my father. Okay, something is weird about the Christie family. Jamie offers to take Malva near the green spring to find more shrooms. (Not psychedelic, think button. Great for a salad). Again, like Claire, I feel this kindness, is going to come back and bite them. Let her find her own damn mushrooms! Then Jamie goes Dora the Explorer with Malva and starts looking for info about if Malva and Allan have the same mother. Malva is immediately suspicious of his curiosity.
Party on the Ridge
Tom is reading Claire’s book and he reads a line over and over. All I see is the word “fuch.” Also, it looks like Tom stole Jamie’s tiny glasses. Either way, Tom looks pretty scandalized by what he’s reading. I’m sure he’ll use this book as proof Claire’s a witch. Jamie and Claire seem to be having a party to collect the rent. A drunk Fergus sees Marsali talking to Evan and looks jealous. He stumbles outside. Roger tells Bree there’s something up with Lizzie and the Beardsley twinzzies. Bree’s like give me the tea.
Fergus is super wasted and starts yelling at people. An older lady calls baby Henri-Christian “grotesque.” He throws his drink in her face, then her husband rushes Fergus and Fergus punches him. Claire yells, “Fergus!” in the most “holy sh*t you’re in trouble with your mom” way. Everyone rushes to stop Fergus. Pretty sure he punched the man with his wooden hand! Um, concussed. Sir. The old lady screams, “Surely it’s a curse for a child to look that way.” Claire fumes, “How dare you?!” Then Tom Christie steps in and admonishes the woman and her husband. He reminds them how generous the Frasers have been. Fergus stumbles off and Marsali runs to Claire wondering what’s happened.
Roger’s Ted Talk
Roger is giving a sermon at the church. This is kind of his dream. He loves long speeches. But this one is good. He tells the story of a child floating down the river and all of those young boys collectively crap their pants. I like Roger. I mean, truly genuinely like Roger. Roger’s speech plays over the next few scenes and what he says connects to each of them. Claire picks up the book that Tom borrowed. There’s a note in it. “This is filth. I thought better of you.” Okay, I thought it said, “Faith.” Turns out “fuch” means exactly what I thought it meant. Claire laughs. And then we see Tom beating Malva. God damn it, I told you not to fix his hand! Roger’s voiceover says, “Fear made him do it.” Allan cries outside listening to his sister being beaten.
Fergus Fraser — “Son of our heart”
Jamie’s walking through the woods and sees Fergus in the distance. Roger’s voiceover says, “To what lengths would you go to protect your innocent children? You never know what you will be willing to do until –” Jamie sees Fergus slit his wrist and screams, “Fergus!” I’m crying. So are you. Jamie runs to him. When I say this is one of the strongest episodes in Outlander history, believe me. This scene is why.
Jamie lunges at Fergus and knocks the knife out of his hand. He wraps his bleeding wrist as Fergus begs him to let him die. Fergus says, “Roger saved him. I’m nothing. I’m useless.” Jamie reminds him of all the great things Fergus has done including keeping the family together while Jamie was in prison. “You’re the only one who can show your son what a “useless” man like you can achieve. It’s not what you can give and provide, it’s you we need.” Again, Jamie Fraser is the best dad. Period. Jamie once told Fergus he was the “son of our hearts” and Claire told him, “We love you like our own son.” He was Jamie and Claire’s first child.
“Tu comprend? Mon enfant. Mon fils?” Jamie says to Fergus in French. “You understand, my child, my son? These scenes show what we’ve been missing. Heughan is able to portray emotional scenes in a way we haven’t seen enough of in a few seasons. Not just as a laird, but as a father. It is a scene that will make you cry just thinking about it. Heughan beautifully conveys the panic and pain of a father. Some of the strongest scenes in earlier seasons were of Jamie, Claire, and Fergus. A hint of the family they deserved, and then a reminder of what they lost. Season 6 is delivering all the intimate and familial moments that the audience craves with Jamie and Claire. The bedroom scene where they just talk is almost 7 minutes. Rarely do shows allow this long of a scene. But with Balfe and Heughan, you don’t even realize how much time has passed, and when you do, you can’t believe it’s over. It is impossible to recap the Fergus and Jamie scene in a way that does it justice, watching it is the only option.
Jamie and Claire bring him back to Marsali. Fergus hugs Marsali and Henri-Christian, as his parents look on. There’s something very bittersweet about this scene and reminiscent of when Claire and Jamie said goodbye to Fergus before Culloden, which was the last time Claire would see Fergus in 20 years. Gabaldon said recently she feels this is the strongest season since season 1 and now we see why. This episode will rip your heart out and remind you why Outlander is so bloody good. Pretend Claire is saying that sentence.
Excuse me while I weep 🥺😭 pic.twitter.com/hxV2nSWo4Q
— Sasha (@New_Sasha) March 20, 2022
In the exclusive video below, Domboy reveals the lesson he’s learned from co-star Caitríona Balfe. Lyle tells us exactly who she looked to for realism when Marsali gave birth to Henri-Christian. And Rankin light-heartedly tells us what Roger is better at than Jamie Fraser. And he’s not wrong.
Then the annoying Redcoats arrive with guns and they show Claire and Jamie a newspaper. Claire says, “The Boston Tea Party.” Oh crap. Jamie asks, “What does it mean Sassenach?” And she says, “It’s starting.” She tells Jamie the war is almost here.
Before you go, check out the all-time best ‘Outlander’ episodes you need to watch.
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