When times get so tough that even the stalwart Claire Beauchamp strikes Randall Fraser hard stuff in an attempt to treat yourself you are really, really bad.
And that’s where we start stranger‘s season 6 premiere, which spends much of its time flashback to Jamie’s prison days before bringing us to Fraser’s Ridge around 1773. In the present, Claire is having a hard time following the rape and trauma she survived at the end of Season 5… and Jamie deals with a pain-stricken former cellmate from Ardsmuir Prison.
And before the oversized episode ends, we get a flogging, some Claire-Jamie love, and confirmation that the show is going to a dark place for Fergus and Marsali this season. Read on for the highlights of “Echoes,” then be sure to stop by what Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan had to say about the episode’s disturbing ending.
MEET TOM CHRISTIE | I didn’t think Ardsmuir could be any less fun, but we look back at Jamie’s time there from 1753, when there was no Lord John Gray and no Murtagh. Gray did not assume the governorship of the facility until 1755 (this is when the Ardsmuir scenes are set in season three’s “All Debts Paid”); I’m less clear on when Murtagh arrived, but it’s also possible that at the time of this flashback he’s still too ill on the premises to be out with the men while they work.
Anyway, this whole section goes on for a loooong Time, but the basics are these: Tom Christie is a holier than you Protestant Christian who doesn’t get along with most other (Catholic) prisoners, but shares a kinship with the prison’s governor because they are both Freemasons. One day, while doing forced labor, a fight breaks out between Protestant and Catholic prisoners; Jamie stays out most of the time and only rushes in at the end when one of the men gets hit in the head with a heavy rock and dies. An elderly prisoner puts a piece of tartan on the dead man, which was forbidden at the time; To protect the man, Jamie lies and says the piece of cloth is his.
For this he is undressed – oh, hello scarred back prosthesis! Haven’t seen you in ages! – and flogged in front of everyone. During the punishment, Jamie imagines seeing Claire walking towards him dressed in white. But before she can say, “Damn baby what have you done to your hair?”, the ordeal is over and the Sassenach disappears.
The governor calls Jamie to a meeting and asks why he isn’t doing what he’s told. MacDubh replies that the men are divided. They need food, medicine and a little rest – and Jamie has a plan for how to do it. He asks the governor to make him a Freemason as well; all that is required is for Freemasons to believe in a supreme being, “like me,” Jamie assures him.
Returning to the cell, Jamie proclaims, “From now on the prison will be a lodge and we will be Freemasons united in the faith of the great Architect of the Universe.” It is not an immediate solution – Tom Christie and his allies are not coming forward immediately – but it’s a start.
ETHER? I BARELY KNOW YOU! | Then we skip ahead to 1773 and Fraser’s Ridge, where Tom and a group of fishermen from Scotland just showed up. Is this a good time to tell you that reading the books, I always pictured Tom Christie as more like the Rev. Johnson? dr Quinn, medicine woman, and I’m having a hard time reconciling that now? Uh, it will pass.
First, let’s talk about life on the Ridge. Jamie finds Claire passed out on the bed in her office and it takes some effort to wake her up. But when he does, she’s excited: she’s dosed herself with the Aether she made, and the anesthetic seems to have worked! (He’s less impressed.) They’re quick to review all the horrors that may be in store for them in the near future: the Browns, the war, the vigilante group calling itself the Safety Committee. Also, the British still want Jamie to become an Indian agent for the Crown, a job he absolutely doesn’t want and is determined to turn down.
On the wagon ride down to Fergus and Marsali, they talk about how Jamie might have floated a little since Claire was kidnapped and raped. But the conversation doesn’t get far before they arrive so Claire can check on her heavily pregnant daughter-in-law. Marsali is exhausted and she has a bruise on her wrist that I’m sure looks like a finger mark. When Claire mentions that Fergus should help around the house and take care of the kids, Marsali looks mischievous.
Much later, we’ll see Fergus show up drunk at a family party. When Marsali takes him aside and they talk about him drinking too much, he replies, “I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment.” Oh book readers, it certainly seems like they’re leaving there this season, no?
BLAST FROM THE PAST | While Claire and Jamie are gone, Tom approaches the house and Brianna and Roger invite him over. He’s there because he’s heard that Jamie is offering his Ardsmuir men land, and he and his group need a place to live. It quickly becomes clear that Tom has had zero colds religiously in the past few years. And when he and she come back, Jamie has to put a smile on his face to say hello to Tom. Then Roger says, “PSST, I TOLD HIM HE CAN STAY,” and the smile fades a little.
That evening, at bedtime, Claire wonders if the Ridge is the best place for Tom to settle down. Jamie admits he’s not thrilled, but what can you do? He remembers that Tom’s wife died while they were in prison; The memory makes Jamie think of how Claire would have seemed to him during the decades they were apart, when he needed her the most. “Sometimes I think you’re an angel,” he says softly. “Would an angel do that?” she wonders and climbs onto him. Guys and gals, we’re only 45 minutes into the new season and they’re already playing each other’s bagpipes! On a related note: I know they probably shot the scene sitting down to hide Caitriona Balfe’s then-pregnant belly, but GOD BLESS Jamie and his 50-year-old back. With everything he’s been through you know this thing must creak like the hull of a wooden ship and lying down would probably have been a better idea, but you’ll hear him whine!
MISTAKES OF DIFFERENT STRIPS | Tom has a daughter, Malva, and a son, Allan. Malva is bright and intrigued by Claire’s work. Allan is… just kinda weird. I won’t lie to you: This episode felt like it was six hours long so I’m going to condense a lot here, cool? Among the fishermen there is a woman named Amy who has a few children and no husband, and when Roger volunteers to help her build a shack for her new family, she is overwhelmed… As Claire sews up a wound in Tom’s hand, she remarks the other suffers from Dupuytren’s contracture, a painful and debilitating condition that she is able to correct with surgery. But he won’t let her do that…
Which brings us to Richard Brown, the brother of the man who kidnapped and raped Claire. Richard is the head of a security committee bent on bringing Native Americans close. And ironically, he was offered the role of Indian agent, which Jamie left out. Brown and his men ride to the Big House while the Frasers throw a welcome party for the Christies and their group. Richard announces they are there for Allan Christie, who he claims stole a powder horn. And, um, he did.
“Do you want to end up like your mother?” Tom yells at his son in front of everyone and grabs him roughly. “Good, ’cause she’s burning in Hellfire!” Tom tells Brown not to take the young man with him, saying he will punish Allan for his crime. Jamie intervenes and makes it abundantly clear hell pronounce the punishment. “My country, my money,” he says. So he leads Allan to the side, makes him take off his jacket and then whips him with his belt while everyone watches and Allan screams in pain. Jamie then orders Brown to leave, and he does — but not before implying that Jamie is harboring a rebel on his property. Tom says, “We are true to our king!” and HOLD HOLD UP, TOM
Faced with this reminder of Richard Brown’s cruelty, Jamie finds Major MacDonald and says he will step up and be the Indian agent – if only to stop Brown. And then Jamie finds Tom and drives home a point: “If you are to stay, then my word at Fraser’s Ridge is law.”
DOCTOR, STEAL YOURSELF | The night Brown unsettles her, Claire has a nightmare that wakes her and Jamie up. She rebuffs his attempts to comfort her, telling him she’ll go downstairs and make a cup of tea instead. But in fact she still lights the ether in her practice, puts a few drops of the medicine in the mask. Then she sits on the bed, takes a deep breath and falls backwards in a daze. Uh-oh, are we in a Cider House Rules location here?
Now it is your turn. What do you think of the episode? Rate the premiere via the poll below, then post your thoughts in the comments!
https://tvline.com/2022/03/06/outlander-premiere-recap-season-6-episode-1-echoes/ Outlander Premiere Recap: Season 6 Episode 1 – “Echoes”