WTF Just Happened in Outlander? S6, E4, "Hour of the Wolf"

Ah, the "Hour of the Wolf." What is this hour, you may wonder? It's the hour between night and dawn, a moment of deep darkness before the light breaks through. I tried to look up the actual meaning but got the absolute creeps, so suffice it to say that this is a scary hour where people die, babies are born, and all manner of stuff goes on. It also fits all the major themes of this episode, so let's start recapping, shall we? 

Spoiler Alert: We are recapping the episode, so there will be spoilers past this point. You've been warned! Turn back now if you wish to stay unspoiled.


The episode opens with a flashback to the ceremony where Ian is adopted by the Mohawk. After he has been welcomed into their family and named Okwaho'rohtsi'ah, or "Wolf’s Brother," he and a young woman lock eyes, and we automatically know this is the woman from his mysterious past. 'Cause, why else would they share that level of prolonged eye contact?

Fergus receives a mission from Jamie

With the central story now set up, we cut to "present-day" at the Ridge, where Jamie sends Fergus on a journey to sell goods and check on Jamie's aunt Jocasta. Fergus sees through Jamie’s plans to give him some space from his worries as a way for him to heal, and Fergus shares his gratitude that Jamie saved his life. Jamie responds that he’s simply balanced the scales. The score was as uplifting as my super sappy smile at Fergus appearing hopeful once again. 

Meanwhile, Major MacDonald is staying with the Frasers and sneezing all over the place because of his cat allergy. The Fraser clan is outside firing the newly delivered muskets, and Roger’s aim is improving (he wasn’t the best shot last season). I was happy to see Brianna (who’s a great shot, considering she shot her rapist and much-hated villain Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) in the head at a considerable distance) out there, as well. The major tells Jamie that the guns he brought for the Cherokee are tried and true, but he calls the chief by the wrong name. Ian promptly corrects him, in true clapback style, and the now-miffed major conveys that the Governor wants the chief to swear loyalty to the Crown. 

Jamie is concerned for the Cherokee

At that point, Brianna excuses herself. Jamie finds her on their porch, where she explains that the guns won’t be enough to protect the Cherokee. They discuss the cruelty that the American government would show toward the indigenous people in about 50 years, and Jamie expresses that he knows what governments are capable of. His history as a highlander in Scotland around the time of the Highland Clearances gives him a unique, personal perspective of what's coming. When Brianna shares that the removal of indigenous tribes from their homes will be known by history as the Trail of Tears, Jamie is visibly moved.

He carries this knowledge with him when he and Ian take the guns to the Cherokee. Ian sees Kaheroton (Braeden Clarke), a member of the Mohawk tribe who was pretty much a brother to him, but Ian is not–I repeat not–happy to see him. Later, he tells Jamie the full story about the woman we saw in the opening of the episode. Her name is Wahionhaweh, though he called her “Emily" while he was still learning the language. We cut to a flashback where she gives him a small amulet she had carved in the shape of a wolf’s head. While hunting in the woods, Kaheroton flicks the wolf’s head amulet, now on Ian’s necklace, explaining Wahionhaweh (Morgan Holmstrom) has chosen him as a partner. 

As is the nature of flashbacks, things progress fast. We see some glimpses of their relationship, and boom, she’s pregnant. Sadly, there are complications, and while Wahionhaweh lives, their baby does not. Ian was not able to see his daughter’s face before he buried her. Jamie and Claire lost a child as well, so Jamie sympathizes deeply with Ian’s pain. Wahionhaweh and Ian continue to have trouble conceiving, so the Mohawk tell him to return to his family, the Frasers, believing that the reason they’re having so much trouble conceiving is because his spirit isn’t Mohawk. Angry, Ian storms back to Wahionhaweh, only to see her with Kaheroton. And yikes, the betrayal is real. She sends Ian away, but she is clearly very unhappy for having to follow this cultural tradition of moving on to another partner for the sake of producing children.

Meanwhile, on the Ridge, Claire is testing her ether. She shows Malva how to administer it, and Malva gets quite excited about the prospect of being able to operate on someone without them feeling it. She still makes me a wee bit nervous, but I’m still withholding my judgment… for now. In case you can’t tell, I’m a bit back and forth about his character. Is she cool peeps, or is she suspicious? I haven’t decided yet. Whatever my feelings maybe, she and Claire are getting along well. They’re being super sneaky and aren’t telling her father all the medical stuff she does while helping Claire. 

Ian confronts Kaheroton

Back with the Cherokee, Jamie delivers the guns, and Ian confronts his Mohawk family. He learns that Kaheroton and Wahionhaweh had a son. It’s heartbreaking for Ian; his friend has a son, but he lost his daughter. Ian stalks over to Kaheroton, draws a knife on him, and a fight ensues. Jamie and another Indian agent named Alexander Cameron (Michael Geary) break up the fight, but Alexander is clearly not the type of person we want our characters hanging around. He's like that friend someone brings home who you just know is bad news. Alexander draws a knife on Kaheroton and tells him to pack and leave, but things don't stop there. Alexander is drunk and taunts the Mohawk. Just super, super disrespectful. Kaheroton is about to club him, and I was 100% here for it, but Jamie convinces him not to. Instead, Kaheroton demands an apology, and rightfully so. But Alexander pulls a gun… because he’s horrible and unfair bringing a gun to a knife fight. When Kaheroton readily accepted Alexander's challenge to a duel, my heart sank. Jamie tries to dissuade Alexander, but he refuses to reconsider. 

While they prepare for the duel, Ian shares with Jamie his concerns for his daughter’s afterlife, fearing God brought Kaheroton to the village to punish Ian for something. Jamie reminds him that God is merciful, and tells him he lost a daughter as well. Based on Ian’s reaction, he didn’t know. For some reason, I thought Jamie had told him before now, but this was good timing. It’s a very emotional moment (there are a lot of these this season), and they pray that Jamie’s daughter will find Ian’s in Heaven. This brings Ian comfort and a sense of peace. Afterward, Ian offers Kaheroton Jamie’s pistol in a moment of forgiveness. Kaheroton takes the pistol and gives Ian his war club in return. Kaheroton then expresses concern he may die. He asks Ian to look after his wife and son if that happens, and he gives Ian a beaded bracelet like the one that Wahionhaweh had originally given Ian during their time together. Ian accepts by taking the bracelet, and it's a bit of a complicated brotherhood there, but I’m here for it. 

As far as political matters go, the chief does swear loyalty to the Crown. Jamie pulls him aside, however, and, once they're in private, tells him about the Trail of Tears. He does this in a veiled way by explaining that the women in his family see the future in dreams. Pretty clever cover if you ask me! The chief agrees to tell his children and grandchildren about this warning, so when the time comes they may hope to survive the events. This is where Jamie drops his line from the Season 6 trailer, "Whoever you fight for… fight for yourselves."

Kaheroton vs. Alexander - the duel begins

They all get ready for the duel, but Alexander, the dirtbag that he is, cheats and turns early. Ian stays ready, though, and knocks the gun out of Alexander's hand with the weapon Kaheroton had given him, effectively saving Kaheroton’s life. Cue the meaningful eye contact. Jamie, once again bringing the "well damn, bruh" to the screen, says Kaheroton can return fire at will. Alexander turns into a sniveling mess real quick, and Kaheroton lets him off easy, choosing to let him live in his cowardly shame. Ian gives Kaheroton the bracelet back, and Kaheroton departs. Before leaving for the Ridge, Ian lets go of his wife’s memory by sending the wolf’s head amulet down a calm part of a nearby creek. He decides he doesn’t have to live conflicting lives but can merge them together. This ties up a long storyline, and I'm happy to see Ian has made peace with his past.

Back on the Ridge, Malva is helping Claire with some work when Jamie returns from his time with the Cherokee. Claire excuses herself, leaving Malva to stay and clean up. In the stables, Jamie drops another line from the trailer, telling Claire he’s struggling between his life as a rebel and a loyalist, an Agent for the Crown and an enemy of the King. He says he’ll resign as an Indian agent, and Claire is her lovely supportive self. They get down to their regularly scheduled roll in the hay, which I use as a euphemism because they’re in a barn so it seemed appropriate… and, wait for it: Malva is watching through a window.


Malva... what is she thinking?

Okay, we need to talk about it. 'Cause… ewww. Malva stood all up on her tiptoes just to peek through a window and watch Mr. and Mrs. Fraser knock boots… and other things. I knew it! Something was just off about her. She's got guts like I said in my other recap, but yikes. Maybe she's got a bit too many guts. Too much guts? You know what I mean! Outlander is a sex-positive show, but watching without permission is a no-no, and Malva seemed mighty interested. Creeeepyyyyy…


It's taking me considerable effort to get away from the creep factor that is Malva right now. I really want to know what her significance will be to the greater story. For her to be this much of a focus character, it must be something important. Will she be helpful somehow? Will she stir some stuff up? I haven't read the books, and we show-only peeps have yet to see what's up.

Jamie gives Alexander a piece of his mind

All the yuck aside, this episode drives home the point of "choosing a side." Tying in with the title, "The Hour of the Wolf," Ian confronts his worst fears, and his past is resolved. Loose ends are tied up. Jamie, seeing Ian's journey and hearing what Brianna has told him, has chosen his side: enemy of the Crown. After seeing how Alexander behaved, it may have even given him even more clarity that most European colonists are just in it for themselves. Even Malva's true colors showing fit the overarching theme. There's no more time for false pretenses, and the show is going to jump right into the conflict. 


Something I've been a bit suspicious about is coming to the surface and requires a bit of explanation because I haven't really focused on this side story in my previous recaps. Remember the woman that Roger “rescued” from a supposed haunting by discovering a stowaway bullfrog in her milk pail? Welp, he's been helping her out, building her house, and such. She's a widow with some kids, and they've been spending a lot of time together. Now, we aren't jumping to conclusions, but based on the next episode preview, something is afoot. Brianna expresses concern about the time Roger and the woman spend together, and this jumps us right into the theme of loyalty. Jamie is breaking his oath to the Crown and is worried about what his family might think. We get some glimpses of his aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and his friend John Grey (David Berry) presumably reacting to the news. John Grey, who I am super happy to see returning to the screen, is a ride-or-die character. I think he'll understand where Jamie's coming from. But Jocasta… we’ll see how she reacts. In short, the tide has turned, and we're probably getting some more action in the next episode. The Frasers' allegiance is to the new nation being born, and it's a rare birth that's without blood. 

How do you think Jocasta and John Grey will react to Jamie's decision? I do like some good old-fashioned fictional family drama, but Jocasta didn't look too pleased…

WTF Just Happened in Outlander? S6, E2, "Allegiance"

Outlander season six, episode two–aptly titled "Allegiance"–had more than a few uncomfortable moments. If you've been keeping up with my Outlander article series here on Couch Soup, you know what happened in the previous episode. We were introduced to Tom Christie and learned that he and Jamie don't exactly get along. The two have very different worldviews, and now that Christie is living on the Ridge, things are getting tense. Jamie has also agreed to become an Indian agent for the King so that Major MacDonald doesn't select Richard Brown (their troublesome neighbor) to do it, instead. Because let's face it, if Brown did it, it would have been horrible. Meanwhile, Marsali and Fergus are having relationship issues, and the trouble pot is starting to bubble. This week's episode jumped right in with even more information on the Christie family and what's been going on with Marsali and Fergus.

Spoiler Alert: We are recapping the episode, so there will be spoilers past this point. You've been warned! Turn back now if you wish to stay unspoiled.


Jamie meets with the Cherokee

First things first: Jamie goes to meet with their Cherokee neighbors. The chief asks Jamie to speak with the Crown on their behalf and request guns. They want to defend their land and livelihood against the colonists who are steadily encroaching on their territory–a completely rightful and understandable request. However, Jamie is hesitant because he could either be arming a potential ally or a potential enemy. Claire regrets she can't advise Jamie, unable to remember if the Cherokee side with the Crown or if they side with those who rebel during the American Revolution. Ian asks Brianna about what happens after the war, and she briefly explains how the United States of America came to be, but they don’t answer which side their neighbors fight on. According to history, at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the Cherokee actually announced their choice to support the crown (a choice that was not rewarded for them long term). Claire and Jamie talk about it for a while, but at that point in the episode, he remains undecided. 

Meanwhile, the Christies are building a church. They want to hold a funeral in the unfinished building, but they don't have a minister at the moment. So Roger, who has some experience having been raised by a Presbyterian minister, is called to stand in and conduct the service for a woman named Granny Wilson. But not so fast! Granny Wilson wakes up in the middle of her funeral! Claire rushes to her aid and diagnoses that she's had an aortic aneurysm. There's too much damage to the tissue and not enough time to do anything, so Granny Wilson will be dying soon, anyway. She has a moment to speak with her family, and she's able to get herself and her affairs in order before she passes on moments later. 

This is an opportunity for the show to explore more of the customs of the time, and also demonstrate that Tom Christie is experiencing mixed emotions. He liked Roger's preaching and how he handled the unique situation enough to invite him back to lead more services. However, because Claire happened to be in the room at the time this woman woke up… and Claire had the medical knowledge to diagnose her condition… Christie thinks she's–you guessed it–a witch. This is nothing new, of course; people have thought Claire's a witch a bazillion times since she went back in time, so Claire is unaffected. 

About mid-episode, Brianna makes an important announcement during a family dinner. She's figured out how to make matches! Historically, the invention of the first friction matches is credited to John Walker, who was an English chemist. His ledger records his first sale of the new matches in 1827, and this season of Outlander is set half a century earlier, so Brianna is quite before her current time. Before she could complete her announcement, though, everyone thought she was going to say she was pregnant, and so you know, they were a little let down. Personally, I think matches at that time would be absolutely lit (pun intended). All jokes aside, that leads to a brief discussion of women's roles at the time. Claire is supportive of Brianna's invention and happy that she's working on her goals of becoming an engineer. I’m actually worried that this invention might be a use of the writing tool and dramatic principle Chekhov’s Gun, and am worried of a potential fire or other calamity heralded by the dangerous material used to make the matches. 

Marsali goes into labor and Claire invites Malva, Christie's daughter, to help out. It appears I judged Malva too harshly too early. This episode gives us more insight into her family life, and she is living in an environment that is definitely not supportive of her interest in learning medicine. She has an absolutely badass moment with her father while they're at home; he’s about to punish her for something she didn’t do, but he has difficulty doing so due to less mobility in one of his hands. She just stares him down, clearly twisting the knife that he can’t be an ass, ironically, because of his own choice not to let Claire operate and fix his mobility. It was such a quiet display of fearlessness that I couldn’t help but give her some props. Clearly Malva is tougher than she lets on. 

Marsali goes into labor. Fergus is not there, so Roger rides off to get him. After finding Fergus, who was drunk yet again, Roger gives him a "get your act together" speech. After Fergus joins Marsali at the Fraser's house on the Ridge, the couple engage in some unexpected physical intimacy as Fergus recalls childbirth aiding techniques used in the brothel where he lived as a child. The audience is just as uncomfortable as Jamie and Brianna are as they slip away to give the two some privacy. I wish I could've done like Brianna and excused myself to go for a walk, but I had to watch the rest of the episode. Though this certainly aids in the childbirth, the state of Marsali and Fergus' relationship makes their intimate scene somewhat discomforting.

Marsali and Fergus share an intimate moment before the birth.

Anywho, the couple sort of reconciles for a moment, and you can see that their relationship is still very important to them. The love is still there, they still have that romantic chemistry, and they genuinely care for each other. Obviously, we want them to be happy together. 

…But then Marsali delivers her baby. Fergus is holding the baby, and he looks confused. Claire diagnoses the baby with dwarfism, and Fergus reacts poorly. He feels conflicted and leaves the room quickly. We don't see much of him for the rest of the episode. 

Ian goes to visit Marsali and drops an absolute bomb. During his visit, he reveals to Marsali that he's had a child with a woman from the Mohawk tribe, who I believe is his wife. Presumably, this happened during the time he was with the Mohawk during seasons 4 and 5. Jamie overhears this from outside the cabin; he came by to visit but hadn't entered yet, so he kept his presence a secret. This information informs Jamie's decision to arm the Cherokee. He realizes that the indigenous people are Ian's family, now. As the episode briefly discusses the many cruelties and injustices the Cherokee and others will face from white people, Ian wants to take a stand. With this revelation in mind, Jamie does request the weapons for his Cherokee neighbors. However, he is already on uncertain ground with the chief. Hopefully, he'll be able to make amends for his mistake and move forward with a positive relationship.


I don't expect a resolution for Marsali and Fergus's relationship struggles early in the season. However, I think their pre-birth intimacy was surprising on purpose. The writing, the pacing, the filmography, and the entire situation leads me to believe that the showrunners wanted viewers to feel slightly uncomfortable.

For starters, her labor is painful and difficult, and viewers (like myself) are genuinely worried this might be the last we see of Marsali. Claire is worried throughout the birth because the baby isn’t moving as much as it should be, and Marsali expresses her fear of dying multiple times. Fergus does get there in time to be with her, but it’s not all we’ve been hoping for for these two. We learn earlier that Marsali has a bit of a temper, and her bruises are not from abuse, but from Fergus defending himself. However, his drinking problem continues, and isn’t resolved during this scene. As a Game of Thrones fan, I've become accustomed to "Oh, you thought everything was fine, but it most definitely is not fine" moments. So when Fergus was holding the baby and looking increasingly concerned, I thought for certain their new son may have died somehow. Thankfully this was not the case; their new baby is happy and healthy, and though Fergus storms out after Claire shares her diagnosis, Marsali adores her new child and thinks he’s absolutely perfect. Crisis averted… for now.

On the one hand, viewers are rooting for Fergus and Marsali’s relationship because these two deserve to be happy. They've been through a lot, they have a family, and they're characters that we have followed for a long time. On the other hand, they are going through emotional turmoil right now. Right after the birth, Fergus is unable to process his child's diagnosis due to the ableist mindsets of the time and his own guilt. I'm keeping my hopes up for a lasting reconciliation between the two of them when neither are in pain or afraid for their life, and when both are at a point where they're able to move forward and forgive themselves and each other. 


A primary theme in this episode is the importance of being there for your loved ones. Roger's speech to Fergus highlights this: he basically tells Fergus if Fergus doesn't get his act together and be there for his wife and child he'll regret it in the future. Digging a little deeper, this episode's focus on familial ties and duty underlines the coming conflict. With the revolution on the horizon, these characters are all vitally important to each other. The Cherokee's desire to protect their land, Marsali's painful labor, and Ian's secret past all ask the same question: "How much can and will one do to protect their home?" 

How will the Frasers defend the Ridge when the homefront is in shambles?

All this ties in to Claire's speech in the Season 6 trailer, where she promises that nothing will come between Jamie and herself. The many things they have experienced have occured, in part, because of her decision to come back in time and be with her husband. Claire, Brianna, Roger, and her grandchild don't belong there in that time. And yet they find themselves on the cusp of revolution, the birth of a new country, and everything is trying to tear them apart. 


My reaction to the Episode 3 preview.

The only thing that I remember from the next episode preview is Fergus and Marsali’s newborn son Henri-Christian in a basket in a river. We see a few glimpses of a very upset Fergus. The others are chasing after the basket, obviously panicked. If he put his baby in that river…

I'm also looking forward to seeing if Malva will be more of a focus character. I'm still waiting to see which side she's actually on. She may end up being a cool character.

Have you watched "Allegiance"? What are your predictions for Episode 3?

WTF Just Happened In Outlander? S6, E1, "Echoes"

Outlander Season 6 premiered Sunday night with an extended first episode, "Echoes." I tuned in right on time and sat through about an hour and a half of shady, shifty, and salty new characters. If you haven’t watched, Jamie and Claire are starting to butt heads with new settlers on the Ridge while dealing with their own healing. These are some suspicious characters to say the least. Let's get into the recap!

SPOILER ALERT: We're recapping the episode, so there will be spoilers past this point. You've been warned! Turn back now if you wish to stay unspoiled.


We spend about a third of the episode flashing back to Ardsmuir, where we’re introduced to Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones). He and Jamie clash throughout these scenes, and his worldview differs from Jamie's considerably. Now that he’s been established as an old rival from Jamie's past, he shows up on the Ridge unexpectedly. He speaks with Roger about needing a place for him and his people to stay. Roger welcomes him, thinking that since he's an Ardsmuir man, he might be a friend of Jamie's. However, that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Mark Lewis Jones as Tom Christie in Outlander Season 6
Mark Lewis Jones as Tom Christie

In the past, Jamie and Christie had been able to reconcile their differences due to having to labor beneath common authority in Ardsmuir. Now that Christie is on the Ridge, likely to stay, Jamie faces a conundrum. On one hand, it’s annoying having someone so stubborn always second guessing you. On the other, war is afoot, and they need people ready to fight for what they believe in, which seems to be right up Christie’s alley. However, when push comes to shove, Jamie is the one who has to put his foot down. Unlike their days in prison, there’s no common authority now beyond what Jamie is able to establish. It's his land, his family, and he says what goes and what absolutely does not go. Christie isn't one to smile and nod, however, and tensions grow.

Meanwhile, Claire is trying to return to life as usual in the aftermath of her assault. She, Jamie, and Brianna share dialogue about her healing process, and how she is throughout the episode. But there's no peace to be had. Richard Brown rides up to the Ridge to address a theft, and Christie's son is found guilty of stealing. Back and forth talk of punishment occurs, and Jamie decides he'll deliver the agreed upon lashes since it's his land. This is especially triggering due Jamie’s history with lashings, and though Claire is indoors as he metes out the punishment, there’s no mistaking what's going on. The event, and the presence of the Browns, triggers flashbacks and nightmares. She's experimenting with ether as a way to treat her patients, and finds it helps her sleep. This could become a dangerous practice, and I’m concerned for her welfare, as is her family.

After delivering the lashes, Jamie agrees to become an Indian agent, only because he discovers Brown is next in line for the job if he refuses. Brown is the one who requested the lashes as punishment, and continues to be a troublesome presence overall. This puts Jamie in a very precarious situation, and we have yet to see how it plays out.

Brianna and Roger seem to be doing well enough helping the newcomers settle on the Ridge, but Fergus and his wife Marsali are not. Fergus is conflicted, and believes he's a disappointment. Presumably, there is some boiling over from Marsali being knocked unconscious during the Browns' raid on the Ridge. Fergus was not there to defend her, and he fights his guilt with drink. It's leading him down a dark road. Marsali is also expecting their next child soon, and they preview a troublesome birth in the "next episode" portion.


The…salt…levels…in…this…episode. I do so enjoy snide and snarky dialogue, and it's fun to see characters engage in some verbal sparring. But there's something very shifty about the Christie family. It could be too early to tell, but Malva in particular creeps me out. Jessica Reynolds, who portrays Malva, is doing a fantastic job giving the audience just enough reason to feel hesitation without us really being able to put our thumb on what’s off.


The dialogue in this episode is so good! While the conflict between Jamie and Christie feels a little shoehorned right now, I expect that will rectify itself as the story progresses. It certainly adds tension. The episode calls out the shortage of tea, the impending Boston Tea Party, and the escalation of tensions between those allied with the Crown and those whose allegiances lie elsewhere. Or, in our characters’ cases, with their families. Everyone is feeling the weight of the taxes, and unrest awaits.

The Christie family in Outlander Season 6
The Christies


According to the next episode preview, we can expect Marsali to have trouble going into labor. I hope Marsali and the child will be okay, and that this Christie family gets on with it. Jamie has a point: someone so stubborn may be an asset, come war times. But are they villains? Are they antagonists? Are they just salty? We'll see. 

Are you keeping up with Outlander? What do you think of the Christies?

Everything You Need to Know About Outlander (That Badass Show You've Been Missing) Before Season 6

If you're casually scrolling through your recommended shows, you may stumble across Outlander and think it's just another historical romance novel adaptation. In reality, it's a time-traveling glimpse into Scotland's history and an expertly crafted lesson in character development. Focusing on themes of love, loss, family, and conflict, the show adapts Diana Gabaldon's insanely popular book series for television. I found it after watching Game of Thrones, and the lush world and complex storytelling keeps me interested while I await House of the Dragon. If you're an Outlander skeptic, allow me to convert you over the course of this article. Trust me, this show is way more badass than you might be expecting for a show known for its steam.

Season 3 Reaction GIF by Outlander - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now that you've been introduced, let's get down to business…

Let me start off by saying this article will not be discussing Jamie Fraser's kneecaps. Yep, that's a whole thing the internet concocted and we're not going there. If you're looking to read about the more…ahem, romantic…aspects of the show, you're gonna have to go elsewhere.

Secondly, I haven't read the books, and I shan't pretend like I have. This article is going to stick to the TV show content. I shall stay in my lane.

After this point, spoilers abound!

The real-world history in the show

Historical fantasy fans, fasten your seatbelts: Outlander was inspired by real events. The show begins around the time of the Jacobite Rising of 1745. That's when supporters of James the VII of Scotland formed a rebellion in the hopes of restoring James (or his heirs) to the British throne. James had been usurped by his Protestant son-in-law, and his grandson, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, tried to regain rule. The Bonnie Prince Charlie garnered a good deal of support from the Highlanders as well as other factions, and they eventually advanced into England. However, the devastating Battle of Culloden brought his advancement to an end in 1746. We meet the Prince and experience that historic battle and its aftermath in Outlander. Expect political intrigue, betrayals, and poisonings right from the start.

The super-short summary of what happened in Seasons 1-5

Season 1

Claire Randall (played by Catriona Balfe, who's now a BAFTA Nominee for Belfast), a combat nurse in World War II, and her husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) find each other again after the end of the war. They've been through a lot of things while apart, but they're committed to rekindling their relationship. While taking a trip to the Scottish Highlands to spend some quality time, they secretly visit the standing stones called Craigh na Dun to watch a ritual. Later on, Claire returns alone to the stones in search of a certain plant she had noticed (she has an interest in botany) and finds herself pulled through time by the stones to a point two hundred years into the past. 

There, she meets Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) whose family takes her in. Also, throughout the season, they contend with Captain Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall, Frank's ancestor. To the audience's horror, he looks exactly like Frank (and is also played by Menzies). Henceforth referred to as Captain Randall in this article, he can be described as Jamie's archenemy. This man is cruel with a capital "C" and we hate him.

Fraser and Co. go to great lengths to keep Claire safe from harm and out of Randall's hands. She and Jamie marry to change Claire's legal status from English to Scottish so Captain Randall won't have jurisdiction over her as an English subject. The season ends with them trying to escape to a new home only to find themselves embroiled once again in Captain Randall's sadistic schemes. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the timeline, Frank struggles to come to terms with his wife's disappearance and finally leaves her suitcase behind in the Highlands in an attempt to move on with his life.

The concept of being flung through time two hundred years into the past, with everyone you’ve known and love now nonexistent, is fucking terrifying. Add being caught up in the underpinnings of war to the mix, and you have a real nail-biter. As if that wasn’t enough, Captain Randall sends it all straight to hell. The end of this season sees Jamie and Claire set sail, hoping to change the course of history. 

My take on Season 1: This season boldly tackles the moral dilemmas Claire faces in her new situation. One thing that really stood out to me as a viewer was the way Outlander handles the repercussions of each character’s decisions. Claire, someone who knows history and which side won, now finds herself on the side that lost. Not only that, she finds herself newly widowed (I guess?), ignorant to the way of life around her, and embroiled in politics she can now influence to some degree. How strong can newfound loyalties really be in the face of an unshakeable threat? Season 1 isn’t afraid to find out.

Season 2

Claire and Jamie go to France to infiltrate the Jacobite rebellion and hopefully prevent the Battle of Culloden. Their attempts to alter the future become increasingly desperate, and viewers feel a great sense of foreboding because it could very well be Jamie, Murtagh (Jamie's godfather, played by Duncan Lacroix), and others falling on that battlefield. While in France, they navigate French society, a world of intrigue, and lavish parties. However, Prince Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) is difficult to persuade. Changing history proves challenging, and Jamie and Claire do everything they can to stop the uprising that leads to the end of the Scottish lifestyle they hold dear. 

They are thwarted at every turn and end up back in Scotland with The Battle of Culloden rapidly approaching. Dougal MacKenzie, War Chieftain of Clan MacKenzie (played by none other than Couch Soup guest Graham McTavishUncharted fans rejoice!), overhears Jamie and Claire’s last-ditch plan to stop the Jacobite efforts before it’s too late, and he violently confronts them. Loyal to his cause until the end, in a heart-wrenching scene, he becomes one of the first casualties of the finale.

My take on Season 2: Watching this season felt like racing toward a rock wall, the end looming and seemingly inevitable. The characters don’t run from it; rather they attempt to confront the plot’s conflict head-on. They show agency, courage, and tenacity. But it's human will versus the sands of time. Is history truly unchangeable, even against our protagonists' best efforts?

Season 3

To keep Claire and their unborn child safe, Jamie had sent her back through the stones right before Culloden. Her return to her own time was heart-wrenching, to say the least. Once back in her own time, she and Frank reunite, and though their relationship is troubled and clearly never the same, Frank agrees to raise Jamie and Claire's daughter. 

Jamie survives Culloden and kills Captain Randall. Afterward, he struggles with the trauma of surviving the battle, losing Claire, and not knowing the fate of their child. They were concerned that while Claire could time travel, the baby may not be able to. This season also sees their daughter Brianna (Sophie Skelton), alive and well, and developing a relationship with a young man named Roger (Richard Rankin). By the end of the season, Claire and Jamie have reunited again after Claire journeys once more through the stones to find him. They travel across an ocean and endure disease and unrest on the voyage. Our protagonists end the season in Jamaica facing off against an old adversary (we hate her, too).

Nerd Note: Roger is related to Dougal MacKenzie from seasons 1 & 2 among others in the story.​​ Time travel and family trees…

My take on Season 3: I want to take a moment to acknowledge the villains in this show. To say they are shocking is an understatement. Randall’s death in particular has stuck with me, and I’m not sure I’ll ever forget it. There are few characters I have hated–no, loathed–more. I'd rank Captain Randall right under Joffrey and Ramsay from Game of Thrones, only because Joffrey was unpredictable as hell and Ramsay literally skinned people.

Season 4

Claire and Jamie move to colonial America and start up a new life for themselves. Claire is aware of the American Revolution that's not far down history's road. With this knowledge, they face difficulty balancing their loyalty to the British ruling class of the time. They meet a pirate named Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) (we hate him, too, too), and he goes on to do many terrible things throughout the show. Brianna and Roger, still in the 20th century, search for clues recorded throughout 18th-century history that prove Claire successfully reunited with Jamie. They do find the clues, but they also uncover something terrifying. The new information has them hurrying to follow Claire through the stones to find Brianna's parents while there's still time. 

My take on Season 4: Outlander has never been an easy show to watch. This season is no exception, and trouble follows our characters from the start. The show highlights how dangerous, complicated, and complex it would be to not only navigate the past but experience it firsthand. This season juxtaposes some of the worst attitudes of the time with Claire’s more evolved attitudes toward equality and her commitment to saving lives. Our main characters grapple with what’s right, what’s wrong, and how to act when your hands are tied by history itself.

Season 5

Claire has reunited with Brianna and Roger, Jamie has met his daughter for the first time, and disaster was staved off. The Frasers previously established a home on an acreage known as Fraser's Ridge, and, in this season, they focus on protecting their growing foundation. 

Nerd Note: You can actually get pretty close to where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be by going to Grandfather Mountain State Park (and other locations) in North Carolina. In fact, Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming 2022, a fan event celebrating the history of Outlander’s North Carolina backcountry wilderness, is hosting an exciting gathering that Graham McTavish is attending as a special guest. You can learn more about that here.

Jamie has tenuous loyalty with the British. However, Murtagh, Jamie's godfather, has no such loyalties. Murtagh has been Jamie's friend, father figure, and confidante since Season 1. Jamie is tasked with hunting down and killing Murtagh, who is part of the Regulator Rebellion. The Battle of Alamance occurs during the War of the Regulation, and I won't spoil what happens. Suffice it to say it's been about a year since I saw this episode, and I'm still not okay with it. 

Brianna and Roger are building their relationship, Roger struggles to earn Jamie's respect, and the season finale sees Jamie going on a rescue mission to save Claire from brutal captors.

My take on Season 5: The standout episode for me was "The Ballad of Roger Mac." Murtagh's death and the way it comes about was devastating. It highlighted, for me, the central theme of consequences. Jamie gave his orders, and they were followed, but damn. At what cost? This complex and visceral question has been a theme since Season 1, and, for better or for worse, it shows no signs of letting up now. I was left asking myself, "What else can they stand to lose if it all goes wrong?" I’m afraid to know the answer.

This is the most straightforward series summary I could come up with, and I'm actually surprised I was able to streamline it this much. Some of it crosses seasons, but I kept it chronological. There are many pivotal characters I've left out and many, many experiences and events I haven't mentioned for the sake of keeping this recap short (otherwise this article would be a novella). Please also be advised that this show includes many instances of violence, physical and sexual abuse, and other possibly triggering content. If you are wanting to watch but are concerned with the content, you can reference this list of trigger warnings to inform your viewing discretion.

What to expect in Season 6

Here's what we know so far: Claire and Jaime have founded their home, Fraser's Ridge, on land in North Carolina granted to them by the Crown. Their world is undergoing extreme political upheaval, and the American Revolution is rapidly approaching. Against this backdrop, the two have to navigate increasing conflict on both Fraser's Ridge and between themselves and the Crown. Lines will be drawn.

Outlander may be your new favorite show if…

Do you enjoy a lush world, complex storytelling, and romance set against a historical backdrop? How about villains you’d like to strangle, sword fights, and politics that will have you willingly picking up a history book? If you slept through it in high school, don't worry because it comes alive in this kickass show! Outlander depicts strong friendships and explores themes of loyalty, love, and loss. Some badass characters are involved, as well as some morally gray ones. (I'm looking at you, Dougal!) There are some terrible, terrible, terrible characters that pollute the screen, as well. Jamie, Claire, and their family have fought hard to be who they are "today," and it's moving to watch their stories grow. 

I learned a good deal about Scottish history while watching (though I know they take creative liberties), and I've enjoyed the show's dialogue overall. And about that violence, even if you've seen Game of Thrones or a similar show, be advised that Outlander has some scenes that were hard to watch for me even after watching GOT episodes like "The Mountain and the Viper." Viewers grow very attached to these characters, and the show is not afraid to hurt them. On that note…

A few personal thoughts

I, for one, am terrified of what's about to happen. I have no idea who lives. I have no idea who dies. I have no idea who is about to have their ass handed to them. 

These characters have overcome so much in the past five seasons. I've been rewatching from Season 1 as a refresher, and I've noticed that Claire, for one, has grown exponentially from who she was when she started out. As a viewer who hasn't read the books, I have no idea what to expect. And that’s scary as hell. 

I'm genuinely worried about the Frasers. They'll be navigating the thin ice between loyalty to the British and loyalty to their newfound home. Everyone looks to be in a great deal of danger, and many characters have recently survived exceedingly difficult situations. I'm also nervous to see how the show handles the many historical events they may possibly cover in this season. I hope they include respectful and accurate representation for all parties involved. 

To be frank (no "Frank" pun intended), this season's gonna be a nail-biter for me. I've done my best, even while researching, not to get too far into spoiler territory for Season 6 so that I can be surprised when I watch it. I may regret that… it feels like (more) tears are on the horizon. 

You can join me and watch Outlander on STARZ, with Season 6 premiering on March 6, 2022. Some past seasons are available on Netflix if you want to catch up.

Are you tuning in to watch Jamie and Claire face the Revolutionary War? If so, let me know your favorite stress management tactics. I'm gonna need them!

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