The Return of Kenobi Review, Part I

This article contains spoilers for the first episode of the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The anticipation for this series has been electric. The excitement has grown exponentially as the weekend of the premiere has finally arrived. The recent Vanity Fair article features four of the main characters from upcoming Star Wars projects to whet our appetite for all the exciting projects ahead. Leading up to the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim California, there have been numerous video clips of brief commentary on what a historic time it is for Star Wars. Star Wars Celebration was perfectly scheduled the same weekend as the Obi-Wan Kenobi series premiere. Fans have worked themselves into a frenzied fervor over Kenobi excited to see Obi-Wan once again.

The fervor is contagious. Hayden Christensen's simple line of "This is where the fun begins" awoke twelve-year-old me’s nostalgia for Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and the beginning of the Prequels. Boy, nostalgia is one heck of a drug. 

I was curious as to how they were going to approach Kenobi in terms of the story. The Prequels, the Original Trilogy, and the Sequels all have their unique tone as they tell the ongoing dramatic story of the Skywalkers. Where was Kenobi going to fit in bridging the gap in tone between the Prequels and the Original Trilogy? 

Prior to the episode, there was a four-minute recap of what had transpired in the prequels. No other live-action Star Wars series has done this. This was a unique choice because we all know why we are here. We don’t need this reminder. It left me wondering if this exposition was going to be a continuous theme throughout Kenobi’s story. 

Meet the Inquisitors. They are high-ranking members of the Empire under the command of Darth Vader tasked with hunting any remaining Jedi in the galaxy and eliminating any potential threats to the Empire. When the Inquisitors find you, you have two choices: submit or die. 

The initial scene of their introduction seemed to over-explain this. The storytellers want us to know exactly who they are without any creative interpretation from us. The scene reminded me of the exchanges between Anakin and Obi-Wan in the Prequels: over-explaining, talking too much for the audience's sake, quick quips, and scoldingly reproaching a comrade for their differing tactical approach to a situation. It ends up leaving the scene with an apparent stalemate of opinions with lingering dissent under the surface of the interpersonal dynamics.

Kenobi's storytelling tone leans heavily into Prequel territory. Now that we know where we are on the spectrum, and what kind of Star Wars fans they are pandering to, let’s settle in for the ride.

Man... It is good to see Ewan McGregor again as Obi-Wan, or his new alias, Ben. Ten years have passed since the events of Episode III, and Obi-Wan still bears the weight of the war that was lost. He is depressed and seems to be content with a stagnant quiet life in hiding. However, he suffers from nightmares from losing his friend, his brother, Anakin.

Obi-Wan is still seeking guidance from Qui-Gon Jinn from beyond the grave. Will we get to see the legendary Jedi Master in his spectral form? It seems he has not yet mastered the technique to communicate with Qui-Gon, but maybe it’s because he is lacking faith in the Force. Obi-Wan is haunted by his past mistakes.

Watchfully keeping an eye from afar on Luke growing up a farm boy in the Tatooine desert, we get to see a softer side of Obi-Wan as he purchases a T-16 Skyhopper toy from a Jawa as a present for the boy.
This is the same ship Luke plays with when he meets C-3PO and R2-D2 in Episode IV: A New Hope. He wants to subtly let Luke know there's more to life than the Lars family farm. There’s a whole galaxy out there and he wants to help the boy aspire to more.

Enter Owen Lars. Owen confronts Obi-Wan about the gift. Obi-Wan’s presence in Luke’s life is not welcomed, even from a distance. Joel Edgerton does a phenomenal job at capturing the original actor Phill Brown's presence, perfectly mimicking his speech patterns, inflections, stance, and facial expressions. Joel even nails yelling for Luke around the farm. Edgerton must have watched those scenes with Uncle Owen in A New Hope over and over to achieve this performance.

I wasn't sure where the story was going to lead us, but I was not expecting to revisit a planet we briefly got to see in Episode III. Alderaan with her majestic mountainous peaks, pristine seas, and lush greenery, she is a sleek sophisticated utopia of peace. Alderaan is beautiful and the weight of her destruction seems to take on a heavier meaning even after all of these years being immersed in the Star Wars universe.

Little Leia steals the show. Her wardrobe is perfect for a young princess, (the booties!) with her biological mother's fiery sense of justice and being wise beyond her years we see a glimpse of the woman she will grow up to be. She's not the quintessential princess yet, but she is learning. There were tender moments between her and her adoptive parents. I loved seeing Little Leia and Bail together. It's clear the Organas view Leia as their own.

Later in the episode, the princess gets kidnapped. The kidnappers, the leader being none other than the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea, are hired by one of the Inquisitors: Reva, the Third Sister. Reva is focused on bringing Obi-Wan in.

Her personal vendetta against Kenobi has not been expounded upon or explained yet. Somehow she knows kidnapping the princess will lure Kenobi out of hiding. That's a pretty large assumption about someone whose trail has gone cold over ten years ago.

Bail Organa reached out to Obi-Wan for help. He doesn't want to trust Leia's safety to anyone else and does not want the news to go public. The Star Wars universe sure does love its secrets. Bail has to resort to paying Obi-Wan a visit in person to move him to action. 

Obi-Wan is hesitant and reluctant to take on this mission because he realizes his limitations and has started to doubt his abilities to succeed. Seeing Obi-Wan reluctant to take on a difficult mission was hard. What had happened in the Clone Wars had definitely changed him, and all these years later he is crippled by the fear of failing once again.

Obi-Wan's hesitation to get involved reminded me of Luke's reservation of jumping into the fight once again in the Sequels. Would it be so far-fetched that someone would want to live out the rest of their life quietly in hiding after so much betrayal and defeat? 

Obi-Wan journeys out to the desert to a seemingly random location and exhumes a box that contains his lightsaber and Anakin's. It's a heavy moment for him, but he takes up his saber once again.

Dressed in the brown robes similar to a Jedi, with the lightsaber on his belt, and after a significant hesitation, he boards a shuttle off-world leaving the sands of Tatooine behind.

I have a major gripe with how two significant scenes were filmed within Part I. The initial scene shows a group of younglings escaping the Jedi Temple during Order 66. The shaky-cam effect was used during this first scene and its unstable camera work rivaled Cloverfield.

Going for a documentary-style, realistic portrayal of Star Wars history felt… off. Any footage we've seen of Order 66 was not filmed in this style before. This technique can be used to help with immersion, but it took me out of the scene because I was trying to not get nauseous.

The second scene was where a Jedi tried to confront Obi-Wan in the desert. The scene was filmed in a way that was reminiscent of when R2-D2 got jumped by the Jawas in A New Hope. The slanted peering through the rocks and hiding techniques remained in effect during parts of the scene that should have been static. Not a fan of the cinematography choice of these scenes and I hope they don't resort back to it frequently. 
Kenobi does heavy fan service for those who grew up on the Prequels, yet sprinkles many Original Trilogy references to try to bridge the timelines. I am intrigued about where Obi-Wan’s story will lead us and, I will admit, I was not expecting his fate to be intertwined with Leia's during his exile. What were some of your favorite or least favorite moments from Part I?

Get Ready to Survive the Korean Horror All Of Us Are Dead

What an absolutely glorious time to be a horror/zombie fan! I've already showcased my love for Korean TV and cinema before, so I don’t think there’s any surprise in this article. 

All Of Us Are Dead appeared so suddenly that I didn’t even have to count too many days till its premiere on Netflix. I saw the short teaser 2 weeks before the initial launch date, and I fell in love with the show even before I had a chance to turn on Episode 1. You see, you put Korean, zombie, horror, and series/film in one sentence, and I am immediately on board. No questions asked.

In this series, Hyosan High School becomes ground zero for an infectious disease spreading quicker than anything before. We follow three storylines:

It all starts when one of the teachers, Lee Byeong-chan (Byeong-cheol Kim), creates the Jones virus to provide protection to his son who’s brutally bullied at school. After that, events quickly spiral out of control. 

The idea behind the virus itself was to transmute fear into rage and aggression. However, Byeong-chan himself could not comprehend what he created until it was too late. After a girl in the school finds one of the infected hamsters in the science lab and gets bitten, the students' fight for their life begins.

It’s definitely not one of those slow-burner shows; they get into the action pretty fast after introducing our main characters. It starts off as a teen drama where love, fighting for popularity, and (sadly) bullying are part of everyday life. There’s a difference between lower and upper-class students from the beginning, and it plays an important part throughout the story. It is the big gap between the classes and the actions of the bullies that inspired Byeong-chan to create the virus. Byeong-chan's son attempts suicide, driven by the depression from the bullies' constant harassment. Byeong-chan finds out and realizes that the bullies are completely getting away with it. Byeong-chan hopes the virus will give his only child a fighting chance.

This series sheds a light on how schools still struggle to handle bullying. The schools often do not step up when it's needed, afraid of what the public might think. As a result, many bullies get away with the horrible things they do to their schoolmates day to day. In this “what if” scenario, it’s interesting to think about what would have happened if the bullies got an actual punishment instead of being able to terrorize their schoolmates like nothing ever happened.

All Of Us Are Dead is based on a webtoon created by Joo Dong-Geun. The great thing about this is that you can actually read the whole thing here for free. I am predicting that it will eventually come out in physical form now that the series is doing so well on Netflix. 

The cast includes names who may be familiar to international viewers, too, like Lee Yoo-mi who played Ji-Yeong in Squid Game, and Jeon Bae-soo who had roles in movies like The Wailing and another Netflix original, Stranger

There are many things I absolutely loved in this series, including the new direction it dares to take.

The characters—even the minor ones—all have a story behind them. They are not just the usual zombie troop expendable people. I loved the backstories they managed to pull in, and, to be fair, they had even more time to tell those stories than other lately popular shows. See, All Of Us Are Dead got 12 episodes instead of the 6 or 8 episodes of some other shows. In addition, each episode is 50 minutes to an hour-long. The first two episodes do drag out a bit, but not in a way that it becomes too boring. Then, once the rise of the zombies begins, there’s no stop to the adrenaline rush. 

Let’s stop here for a second.

This series does something that I just LOVE (yes with capital letters): they don’t refer to the infected people as walkers, runners, whisperers, or whatever else… They said it right from the start, clear as day, that these are zombies. Done. It is as easy as that. They even addressed the absolute smash hit (and one of my all-time favorite movies) Train to Busan. When the kids talk about what’s been happening in their school, and they start to bring up the obvious, I literally had tears in my eyes because they call them what they are. No need to give them some clever(ish) name, they are zombies. End of story. Beautiful. Thank you.

I need to also mention that the balance they are able to keep between teen drama and zombie series is something pretty admirable. The kids felt like the embodiment of hope whenever they talk about love interests, worries about school, and what comes after, all while the world is falling apart. The kids are keeping their faith in surviving and getting to see another day. I especially liked a repeating conversation between two of the main characters On-jo (Ji-hu Park) and Cheong-san (Chan-Young Yoon) where they said:

"Why don’t we talk about this later? Tomorrow or the day after. Or next week, maybe."

Teenage worries also come back in another form, and that’s where we need to talk about the "new thing" they introduced in this series. Lee Byeong-chan, who created the virus, addresses a very interesting possibility where the virus can mutate in such a way that it creates evolved humans. 

What does it mean?

In some cases, those who get infected would still desire raw meat, but they would be able to keep their consciousness while also becoming stronger and able to heal themselves. Most importantly though, they can walk among the zombies. Now, in other scenarios, I despise it when they try to introduce "smart zombies" like they tried to do in Land of the Dead. However, here, it is different enough that I was able to get on board with it. It didn’t have an overbearing effect on the whole story. 

They introduce three students who became these evolved humans. It was interesting to see how it was different with each kid and how it evolved their desires and teenage worries. First, Eun-ji (Hye-Soo Park) left the safety of the roof because she needed to destroy all the phones before an embarrassing video of her could reach anyone. Even though the world was thrown into chaos, the most important thing for her was to escape humiliation that would have been caused by her bullies. So, after she gets bitten and doesn’t turn, her whole idea of being the outcast becomes stronger. Sure, she was concerned before, but now no longer cares about the consequences.

The other two students show this evolution differently. The main antagonist, and one of the bullies of the series, Gwi-Nam (Yoo In-Soo), is driven by his vengeance and his fear to face the consequences of his actions. Once he realizes that he can walk among the zombies, he even says his belief out loud: "I am a god!". And Nam-Ra (Yi-Hyun Cho) becomes a protector of her newly found friends, fighting with everything she has to push down the urge (and hunger) to attack them as long as she is able. 

The whole idea behind the evolved humans reminded me of Sweet Home, another Netflix original. I liked that this idea never became too exaggerated. The main enemy was still the horde of zombies that they had to face.

The series never lost its focus on the struggles of the kids, and yet it was still able to shed light on how the world would react: closing down borders, creating quarantine centers, and, of course, not even believing what’s been happening in the Hyosan region. The story introduces a YouTuber at the beginning of Episode 4 who goes straight into Hyosan so he can show his followers the truth. We see the Livestream comments, and even when he is chased by zombies there are the ones like "This is so fake." and "The CGI is bad." It’s a great reflection on the world we actually live in. They even pull a Logan Paul kind of prank where they fake a zombie attack on the subway and the big "apology" video afterward is hilarious. 

As the story progresses, the government decides to declare martial law in Hyosan. This kind of seals the deal on the kids’ fate going forward and makes their escape even more difficult. They discover from Byeong-chan's video journals that there's no cure for the Jonas virus and that the only solution is burning the bodies, and that's the moment the bombing started.

All of us are Dead Cr. Yang Hae-sung/Netflix © 2021

The finale is heartbreaking, to say the least. They definitely didn’t shy away from anything during the series, but what I appreciated a lot was the fact that it didn’t end on a cliffhanger. It definitely left the door open for a possible season 2, but, at the same time, even if that won’t happen, we are left with a bittersweet but complete series. 

Altogether, I really loved the entire season. Train to Busan and Kingdom are definitely still sitting on the top of my favorite zombie movie and TV series list, but All Of Us Are Dead landed itself in third place easily. Koreans can’t seem to misfire when it comes to this genre, and that makes me incredibly happy.
Now… Can we get Kingdom Season 3 next, please?

RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 7: Bring Back My Winners!

Even if you're late to the runway, you're still just in time for something amazing! I've loved RuPaul since the "Supermodel (You Better Work)" phenomenon in 1992, but only recently have I caught up on the modern reality TV sensation RuPaul's Drag Race that launched in 2009. The original series, the complimentary Untucked! episodes, and RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars are available for your binging delight on Paramount+ and other VH1 streaming partners.

I just finished drinking all that tea just in time for All Stars 7! Episodes drop on Paramount+ each Friday starting May 20, 2022!

The trailer and pre-season interviews are giving me life, hunny! It's a race of all races: past winners of Drag Race and All Stars face off for a whopping $200K prize and the title of "Queen of All Queens." Let's take a look at what to expect, starting with the trailer itself:

Watching this trailer, I had to ask myself, "Why you gagging', she bring it to you every season?!" These are some of my favorite queens, and the teases we're getting for their new runway looks have me in awe. Let's step through this roster of competitors and kiki on what we might be looking forward to. Okurrr?!

Gotta start with Raja, the longest-running Drag Race veteran in this competition. I fell in love with my fellow Gen Xer Raja during her 2011 run to the Season 3 crown. Raja channeled her first-hand experience working with Tyra Banks on America's Next Top Model into her memorable "smizing" in the Snatch Game challenge. Raja also used her self-proclaimed "master's degree in FIERCE" to set a high bar for bringing distinctive high fashion to the Drag Race runway. Raja's unique mix of energy, humor, and glam made her one of my all-time favorites, and I'm looking forward to seeing her more than anyone in All Stars 7. She will top what she did 11 years ago and show us what it means to have a full-on Ph.D. in fierce!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJFtRzm1FQE

Next up, the beloved, neurotic narcoleptic Jinkx Monsoon is back! I adore Jinkx! She's made guest appearances since her Season 5 win, including giving advice to newer Drag Race contestants. Her sense of humor is a perfect balance between camp and charm, and her quick wit makes her near perfection in improv challenges. It's going to be tough for any other All Stars 7 queen to cross comedy swords with Jinkx. Add in her professional voice experience, and it may very well be Monsoon season again!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCaqg-p0xXY

Drag Race Season 9 is represented twice in All Stars 7. First, Shea Couleé is bringing her Naomi Campbell stomp and avant-garde looks to the runway, returning from her All Stars 5 win in 2020. I enjoyed watching Shea in Season 9, but I really became a fan of hers during All Stars. She's a force to be reckoned with, and she'll be in a group that's on par with her level artistry. And y'all, I can't wait to see Shea get the praise she deserves straight from the legendary Naomi Campbell herself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fty-Ull3RRY

Also representing Season 9 is All Stars 4 co-winner Trinity the Tuck. Trinity is consistently beautiful on the runway and humorous in acting challenges. At the same time, she is notorious for the shade she throws toward other competitors. Trinity may be the most controversial queen in All Stars 7 after a 2021 scandal that played out on social media. The trailer and interviews suggest that Trinity has moved on from the controversy, but I still vote Trinity as most likely to throw shade.

Speaking of All Stars 4, I'm so excited to see Trinity's co-winner Monét X Change back in the house! While Raja is the queen I most look forward to seeing, I want Monét to take this crown. Monét showed in Drag Race Season 10 that she has amazing energy and is a fierce competitor across the board. But she also keeps it real with her drag sisters, and they awarded her for that, making her Miss Congeniality. Later, in All Stars 4, she brought all her effervescence to a new level of polish that got her into the Drag Race Hall of Fame. I'm ready to see what looks, performances, and workroom mischief Monét is up to now!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUHvqu9xO0I

I'm also excited to see consecutive Drag Race winners Yvie Oddly (Season 11) and Jaida Essence Hall (Season 12). Yvie is one of a kind with an iconic, endearing laugh, insane acrobatic skills, and over-the-top expressiveness. I've always thought of her as having a combination of Raja's creative energy, Shea's attention to artistic details, and Monét's warmth and authenticity. I know the girls of All Stars 7 are going to love working with Yvie, and I am sure she'll inspire them in return.

Jaida brings beauty and confidence to the runway and a strong, no-nonsense work ethic to the workroom. She's the personification of Jinkx's famous mantra "water off a duck's back": when something is not going her way, she faces it head-on and works past it. Though Jaida has proven herself as an all-around drag powerhouse, she was criticized for her 2020 win during the pandemic lockdown. That might make her feel like she has something to prove with this group of veterans. I hope her tearful moment in the trailer is something positive and that she quickly moves past any insecurities. She could definitely slay All Stars 7.

Now let's look at the wild card of the bunch: The Vivienne, winner of RuPaul's Drag Race UK Season 1. Not only has Viv not competed against any of these other queens, but she's not competed against any American queens. Will that be to her disadvantage? I think she's going to surprise us! Her closest competition in All Stars is probably Jinkx: Viv shares Jinkx's beauty and quick wit, and they're equally versatile, changing things up to perfectly fit the needs of each challenge. If Viv can deliver her humor in a way that keeps American judges laughing, she'll be the dark horse in this competition.

Looking over the whole roster, there isn't anyone here that I wouldn't appreciate winning All Stars 7 (Monét being just slightly ahead of the others for me). But the real question is: how did these girls mix on set? We know that Drag Race is more than sick runway looks and iconic challenges.

Well, we got a taste of what to expect from Entertainment Weekly's Around the Table interview with Joey Nolfi in April. There, I see a group of confident queens who just want to have fun, support each other, and show how their drag has evolved.

Raja, Monét X Change, The Vivienne, and Shea Couleé during Entertainment Weekly's Around the Table (April 2022).

Sure, there's always the potential for shade and sparks, and the new set of competition rules could stir up drama. But it's like Mama Ru says, "She done already done had herses." Each of these queens is a past winner already, so all we have to do is enjoy watching them have fun and show off their best selves. I think the highlights of this season will be heart-warming moments and amazing artistic energy. No doubt, the true winners will be the audience!

Now, let's get hyped with a video introducing all the queens of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 7:

What are you looking forward to seeing? What other past winners would you love to see in a competition like this? 

Editor's note: Many of the queens listed here identify as non-binary, some both in and out of drag. However, I have used the pronoun "she" throughout this article in reference to drag's tradition as a female illusion art.

WTF Just Happened in Outlander? S6, E8, "I Am Not Alone"

We made it! The Outlander season 6 finale has arrived! The "Committee of Safety" is stirring up trouble, the Frasers are under fire, and we have our popcorn (or whatever your favorite TV-watching snack is) at the ready! Let's dive into the happenings. 

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.

WHAT HAPPENED

The episode begins with a very quick scene of Claire and Brianna (I'm assuming, since we couldn't see her face) back in Claire's original time at a diner. I have two theories for this! First, this is reminiscent of the scenes Claire imagined when she was kidnapped by Lionel Brown, and she was envisioning herself and her family (Jamie and Co.) back in her own time, safe and at home sharing a 1970s Thanksgiving. Second, it could be a reference to Claire's love for cheeseburgers at her and Brianna's favorite diner, which she discusses later in the episode. Either way, I assume it's included for a reason, and it could be one theory, both, or neither.

Jamie's not having it.

We're quickly thrown back into the 1700s, though, and Richard Brown's "Committee of Safety" has arrived at the Ridge and is demanding Claire's arrest for Malva's murder. Claire, still inside their house, discreetly sends the nearest woman she can find to go get help. Jamie, who's walked out to meet the Browns, exchanges some "you know what's about to go down, be ready" eye contact with Lizzie across the yard. Richard, the fabulous ray of sunshine that he is, says he doesn't expect Jamie to just give Claire up. Of course, he came prepared. Like we expect anything less from this guy. Ugh. 

Mr. and Mrs. Fraser.

Claire rushes to grab the nearest gun for self-defense, but one of Richard's men snuck around the back of their house. He holds Claire at gunpoint, but she quick-draws and shoots him in the stomach with her pistol. Jamie panics, thinking she's been shot, and Brown's men take the opportunity to seize him. He takes a beating but holds his own well enough until Claire starts scaring everyone off with her rifle. This gives Jamie an opening to run toward the house, and they both make it inside before bullets start flying through their windows. I got strangely upset watching all that nice fictional furniture be destroyed. Maybe this means I'm successfully adulting? Who knows! Regardless, the Frasers barricade themselves inside their home. I was definitely getting some Mr. & Mrs. Smith vibes in the first part of this episode. They even have an armory in their basement and waste no time loading up on ammo. 

Considering that Richard arrived with wagons and a bunch of men, it's no surprise he's ready to stick around for a while. They prepare for an overnight stay by putting wagons at ideal locations around the house in order to use them for cover. Claire and Jamie station themselves next to the windows and hope for the best. Their communication is really highlighted here, and you can tell they've been through a lot of wild stuff together because of how they work together like a well-oiled machine. Whatever oily puns you're thinking of, maybe grab a glass of water, ‘cause you're just thirsty.

I gotta admit, all this gunfire had me feeling like Jack Sparrow: "Quit blowing holes in my ship!" But the Browns also just so happen to have stormtrooper aim, which is really good news for our Frasers. 

Scared Johnny Depp GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

During a break in the gunfire, Jamie gives us a quick exposition dump by mentioning Brianna and Roger have already left for the seminary so Roger can be ordained. He also tells Claire (okay, the audience) that Richard Brown found out Marsali killed his brother Lionel, so they're using Malva's death as an excuse to exact revenge. 

Speaking of that asshole, Richard approaches the house. Though he's out of range, he's close enough that Jamie can hear him promise that they won't hurt Claire. Yeah, right. He says they're going to take her to the nearest town (Salisbury) for a trial. Jamie answers by returning fire, and the Browns get ready to wait them out.

Roger and Brianna are traveling.

I'm gonna go ahead and sum all the Roger and Brianna stuff up in one place because this episode went back and forth a lot. These two are traveling and are just living their best lives venturing through woods like all manner of dangerous animals can't eat them alive at a moment's notice. They do the whole "let's forget we're in the woods and get stark naked without a lookout because that's not how horror movies start at all" thing. 

Later on in their travels, they discover their son Jeremiah has picked up some lice. When they cut his hair, they find a mark on his scalp similar to one that Roger has. When Roger states that it's a hereditary condition, he realizes that he is, in fact, Jeremiah's biological father. There had been understandable fear he may have been Stephen Bonnet's son (the pirate who raped Brianna), so I'm overjoyed they resolved this and that Brianna and Roger finally know for sure. This is a really wonderful moment, and they deserve that happiness. That pretty much sums up the Mackenzie family's screen time in this episode.  

We leave them meandering through wooded scenery and return to the Ridge where all the action is. Jamie is afraid the Browns will fire the house as soon as it gets dark in order to smoke them out in their makeshift siege, which… is a good plan for the siege-ers, but not so much for the siege-ees. The writers take this chance to remind the audience that Brianna and Roger originally came back in time to warn Claire they'd read in an obituary that she and Jamie died in a house fire. But the time that was supposed to have happened has passed, so we're left wondering if this is really it for the Frasers or if it's a fake-out.

Richard Brown holds the Frasers under siege.

Despite the assailants milling around outside, Jamie and Claire eat dinner while the Browns wait for nightfall. In a bout of morbid humor, Claire tells Jamie about the tradition of prisoners condemned to death requesting a last meal. They both share their pick for final meals, and while Claire goes for the classic cheeseburger and fries, Jamie's the more romantic of the two this time and says he'd choose the meal he and Claire are sharing at that moment. You know, just in case we forgot the show was based on the heavily romantic best-selling novels.

They eventually figure no one is coming to help them, considering Ian is out hunting and the people from the Ridge haven't shown up yet. It's time to prepare for whatever's coming, so they pray together for forgiveness just in case it's their last chance. Then they count all the times Jamie almost died. Let me tell you, he's had quite a few near misses! We learn that an old fortune-teller once told Jamie he had nine lives, so I guess they were checking to see if he'd made it to eight. I guess he hasn't, ‘cause Claire says hearing the count gives her peace. I wish I'd been counting! If I'd been keeping track, I'd have known if I should actually get nervous or not…

The fisher folk bring torches and pitchforks.

Later on that night, the "fisher folk" from Christie's camp arrive. They call Claire a witch and a murderer, and Allan is acting super shifty as always. It's time to reach some sort of decision without getting burned to death, so Jamie and Claire agree to come outside under the promise they won't be harmed. Richard says they'll take Claire to trial. If she's innocent, there's technically no reason to refuse. Jamie turns the tables, though, and accuses Richard of wanting to kill Claire to get revenge on Lionel Brown's death. Allan also wants them to try Jamie for debauching and killing Malva, which leads to them all agreeing that Jamie and Claire should go to trial together. Phew, that was a lot of back and forth.

Right before they cement the decision, Lizzie arrives with the members of the Ridge to help. I almost started cheering before I realized the Browns still greatly outnumber them. Jamie doesn't see another way to resolve the situation without him and Claire dying, so he thinks they should go. Christie decides he will travel with them to ensure no further evil is done. Richard agrees. Christie, who now apparently has decision-making power with the "Committee of Safety," tells the Frasers they can leave in the morning. They get to sleep in their own bed one more night, but there will be guards posted. 

Claire and Jamie face the Browns.

At any rate, Jamie and Claire get a last night in their lovely home, and I get time to fume. If they go to trial, there are no witnesses and no one there to testify that Claire didn't do it. How is it supposed to be fair and just considering these circumstances?

So far, "I Am Not Alone" has a bottle episode feel that I wasn't expecting when I saw the episode preview. I thought we'd get more edge-of-your-seat moments, and though we certainly saw some action (cue the eyebrow wiggle), it wasn't the kind I was expecting. 

The next morning, the Browns load the Frasers into a wagon and begin their journey to the trial. Christie is strangely nice to Claire on the way. Maybe he knows who the actual murderer is and doesn't want to say anything because it might besmirch the family name. Maybe he's actually going with so he can testify in court and not out in the open where it can be stricken from the known record or he could be killed for whatever he has to say. He'll have to keep quiet a little longer, though, because the nearest court in Salisbury is closed due to politics. They have to go on to Wilmington, which is 200 miles away (that's a hell of a walk). During the trip, Richard spreads the tale in every town they pass through that Claire is guilty of murder, muddying the waters for her trial wherever they go. He also starts to lose control of his men who aren't ready for the lengthy march ahead.

Tom Christie knows something.

The longer they're on the road, the more uncomfortable Christie looks. I sense guilt. He knows something! But he's not speaking up. While stuck in the back of the wagon, Jamie and Claire speculate on Christie's purpose in all this mess. Is he protecting them just to see her killed? I want answers, too!

Farther along their trail, Jamie leaves the wagon to relieve himself and spots Ian in the trees. Lizzie told Ian what happened when he returned from hunting, so he found help and caught up. Jamie doesn't want to escape, though, because it'd be seen as an admission of guilt. Is it too late for him and Claire to run off together and live in the woods for the next fifty years? Much to my chagrin, they decide to wait for the right timing. After exchanging a heartfelt "God go with you," Ian departs and Jamie returns to the wagon. 

Claire and Jamie are separated.

The right timing arrives soon enough. The group stops for a drink. Jamie is the only one allowed out of the wagon. They seize him. We all definitely saw it coming. They seize Claire in the wagon, too, because what else would they do after such an obvious setup? With her subdued, they drive away just as Jamie is knocked unconscious. Claire's first concern is for her husband, but Richard tells her that he isn't trying to get revenge. All this drama isn't because of his brother, it's because she committed murder. Except she didn't, so this is extra frustrating. 

After they're a short distance down the road, Christie rides up. Claire, panicking, tells him she's afraid the Browns are going to kill Jamie. Christie pulls Richard aside for a hushed conversation, and, afterward, he tells Claire that Richard gave his word he wouldn't kill Jamie. Christie must believe him for some reason because he won't go back to protect Jamie despite Claire's pleas. He wants to stay and make sure she remains safe as they travel the rest of the way to Wilmington. Why? Why, why, why?

They arrive to find Wilmington in complete disarray. I'm seriously hoping John Grey is somewhere nearby. He'd be super helpful right about now. Richard locks Claire in the prison where we saw that time traveler guy, but they don't meet. Because why would they? It's not like they set that up a couple episodes ago and haven't delivered.

Richard bribes the sheriff for something unknown, and Christie gives Claire money for her maintenance. He tells her Jamie is alive, and asks her to trust in God to deliver the righteous out of danger. Christie's also gonna stick around in town and make sure she's okay. Maybe he's staying to testify about who actually did it like I speculated earlier. Before leaving, Richard tells Claire he'll see her at the gallows. Cue the villainousness. 

Chief Bird to the rescue!

The next time we see Jamie, he's tied to a stake at low tide. I was afraid they were going to let him die as the tide rolled in, but they're plotting to put him aboard a ship that's going back to Scotland and away from Claire. They say he'll never see his "witch of a wife again." Rude! But Ian and the Cherokee show up and kill the small crew that was holding Jamie hostage. Aha! At least the good guys don't have stormtrooper aim! 

They know where Claire is, and Chief Bird (Glen Gould) tells Jamie he promised he'd fight with him. Yay! That's my favorite moment in the whole episode, right there. Ian frees Jamie from his bonds, and I'm guessing in Season 7 they're gonna go rescue Claire. No surprise there. 

Season 4 Reaction GIF by Outlander - Find & Share on GIPHY

WTF

We have a special guest for the "WTF" section of this recap! Couch Soup's own Drewseph J Drewsephine weighs in on what he thought about this season (and of course, this episode): 

WTF is a pretty good summary for this entire season. I'm going on record here and saying this is by and far the worst season of Outlander so far. I'm sure Liz will point out all the reasons why this season should get a pass (COVID, the production cut short, it's true to the books). Whatever, I was bored to tears this season. 

The writers spent so much time setting up chess pieces with absolutely no payoff whatsoever. Why give us 5 episodes of Malva learning to be a healer under Claire when she ultimately doesn't use any of those skills or defend Claire in the end? Are we to believe she was just truly broken and evil? We never got an explanation for why Malva was making those love spells or whatever with finger bones. Did they work? Is that why she slept with half the Ridge? Also, did we really need an entire 7 episode story arc on Roger becoming a minister? While it makes sense from Roger's background and what he's gone through (we shan't forget the time he almost died by a hanging), it still feels random considering he knows time travel is possible and Brianna is all about science like her mom (she made matches this season…which had no damn point or pay off, either!!!). 

Let's talk about the whole episode dedicated to Ian and his Mohawk wife that he couldn't get pregnant… Which, myself and I'm sure others thought, "Okay so that's a good reason to put Ian and Malva together as a couple and to explain why she's making weird bone charms…" But no, that went nowhere as a plot point. Just more character development. While I enjoy the moments in between the action, suspense, and danger, it felt egregious this season. I won't even get into the major episode cliffhanger they pulled mid-season by not showing what was hinted at as another time traveler with no reveal in the next episode or this entire season. That's not how cliffhangers work Outlander! 

This last episode did deliver some great action, and we get to see Jamie channeling some John Wick shot accuracy. But the episode quickly slows down again and resolves what could've been an epic showdown at the Fraser house into another "let's go to trial to prove our innocence" plot. I was seriously hoping for a big shake-up on the story this season. We've been doing the Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman reboot for a while now and I, for one, miss the seasons where there was a sense of adventure and suspense for our characters. I miss Scotland and Paris and pirates and, oh yeah, fucking time travel!!! Nope, now we are stuck in the little house on the prairie and it's dull. What's the point, Outlander? I'll watch the first few episodes of next season but honestly, if this season is indicative of how the show will be moving forward, there are better shows on TV to give my time to. 

Thanks for adding your Outlander fan plot skeptic passion, Drew!

WHAT STANDS OUT

This season just felt different. More character-focused. I'm going to chalk it up to them having to film this season during the pandemic, which may have made scheduling and logistics even more complicated than usual. It's been a whole season of build-up, but I'm not giving up hope! If they're planning on giving us pay off in Season 7, there's probably a lot of action awaiting us. 

As for what stood out, it's more of what didn't stand out. We didn't get much Revolutionary War action or any payoff for several of the plotlines they started. I was really hoping for some super juicy conflicts with Jamie on one side of the war and a few friends or family on the other. Instead, we have to wait a year for the next steps. I don't want to be overly critical, though, because the pandemic shook the world, so I think losing a few episodes or events is a minor inconvenience, all things considered. Season 7 will have to have the final say, in my opinion. 

Also, Tom Christie knows something! He's been keeping his mouth shut, and I want to know why. If he knows who did this and is waiting until court to testify, he better live long enough to do so.

Season 7 is filming!

WHAT'S NEXT

Season 7 is already in production, so we should hear more soon!

What did you think of Outlander's sixth season? How do you think Season 7 will start off? I'm going to refrain from making a "the bang heard 'round the world" pun…

WTF Just Happened in Outlander? S6, E6, "The World Turned Upside Down"

Last week's episode was titled "Give Me Liberty," and this new one followed up with a whole bunch of death. Were they trying to give a nod to Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech? If so, they sure delivered. With that said, I think it's only fair to start this recap out with a warning, ‘cause I could've used one going in! This episode was death and deceit all the way through, so please proceed with caution. 

Trigger Warning: Discussion of suspected murder or suicide, and the death of a child. A few graphic images appear throughout the article. 

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.

WHAT HAPPENED

This harrowing episode starts off with a deceptively calm yet clever shot of the trees outside the Ridge's church. The camera frames them upside down for the viewer before slowly panning across the ceiling, eventually landing on Roger leading a service. After the service closes, he notes the absence of a family that never misses attending. Claire offers to stop by and check on them, and they talk for a bit about missing Fergus and his family. We miss ‘em, too, but it's a good thing they weren't around for this!

Claire and Co. check on the missing family.

Claire and Co. arrive at the family's residence and discover that all the family members are deathly ill. Being the heroine Claire and Co. arrive at the family's residence and discover that all the family members are deathly ill. Being the heroine that she is, Claire flies into action. But the illness has progressed too far… Several of the family members die before Claire is able to help them. The mother, unwilling to part with her late infant, dies shortly after her child, leaving Claire and the audience heartbroken and distraught.

Determined to find out what's going on, Claire investigates and discovers that the mysterious illness is dysentery, which is very serious and can be passed through tainted food or water. It sweeps through the Ridge's population quickly. They can't find what's polluting the water, and without being able to clean the supply, people keep getting sick. Claire falls ill as well, and her family tends to her as best they can. They all love Claire dearly, so the idea of losing her is unthinkable. But wouldn't ya know it, Malva stays close by, as well…

Malva getting too cozy with Jamie

Which brings us to the suspicious stuff. Jamie's downstairs staring at the fire (probably worried about his wife Claire) when Malva brings him tea and starts up a conversation. She says that some people on the Ridge still think Claire's a witch, which is worrisome. I suppose if magic is just science we don't understand, the same would be true in reverse. Malva shares her admiration of Claire, but it's weird because she's… flirting? Which brings us to the suspicious stuff. Jamie's downstairs staring at the fire (probably worried about his wife Claire) when Malva brings him tea and starts up a conversation. She says that some people on the Ridge still think Claire's a witch, which is worrisome. I suppose if magic is just science we don't understand, the same would be true in reverse. Malva shares her admiration of Claire, but it's weird because she's… flirting? With Jamie? Who isn't as oblivious as he once would have been. In fact, he makes a face that suggests he knows what she's up to and is none too pleased. But Malva has never lacked gall. Amidst Claire's fever dreams, we see a hazy vision of her trying to make a move on Jamie. He appears to turn around and presumably reprimand her, but that's all we see before the vision fades.

Not long after, Claire wakes up to find that Malva has cut Claire's hair, reportedly to help alleviate her fNot long after, Claire wakes up to find that Malva has cut Claire's hair, reportedly to help alleviate her fever. Mhmm. All this was done when Jamie, Roger, and Brianna weren't around to stop her, of course. I'm of the opinion that Malva cut Claire's hair out of spite. Much to Jamie's (and our) relief, though the Ridge suffered many casualties, Claire wasn't among them. She recovers slowly from the illness and learns that dysentery has stopped spreading.

Jamie by Claire's side

Now that Claire's awake, Brianna wastes no time telling her mother that she's pregnant! Claire, though exhausted, is overjoyed. Brianna cleans up Claire's haircut, and though Claire is concerned about her new look (short hair wouldn't become popular for women until the 1920s and, until then, was just short of scandalous), everyone close to her reassures her she's absolutely beautiful. Claire learns the water was corrupted due to a dead elk upriver and that it was cleared. She tells Jamie about her fever dreams but leaves out what we saw about Malva. Instead, she tells him about blurry images of a snake in their house… and if it isn't Malva then clearly I don't know how to watch television, peeps!

Claire speaks with Christie

Though still recovering, Claire visits Tom Christie, who's surprised to see her new hair. He kind-of-sort-of jokes with her for walking all the way down there to check on his health. But Claire tells him that she wasn't sick with the same illness the rest of the Ridge suffered from. She and Christie had similar symptoms that don't match up with dysentery. They haven't seen each other for a while, so it isn't likely they infected each other… I'd bet every penny that Malva somehow tried to poison both of them. She has every reason to hate her father, and she's looking mighty covetous of Claire. But alas, I have no concrete proof.

Once Claire gets home, Jamie fusses about her putting herself in danger walking to visit Christie while she's still recovering her health. They share a couple cute moments, and he tells her that if she wasn't around, it'd be as if the sun didn't come up or go down. Life wouldn't go on. Just adorable, these two!
They reminisce about events from the Season 1 episode "Rent" when he'd sleep on the floor outside her door as they traveled to collect… you guessed it, rent. Jamie tells her he's been asked to attend the Provincial Congress and work on declaring independence. They don't linger on the topic long, though, ‘cause Jamie's busy telling her all the many reasons he loves her. They banter for a while, and it's just gosh darn adorable. But then, as per usual, Jamie gets serious, and (somewhat ironically considering the rest of the episode) they tell each other they appreciate the other remaining faithful over all these years.

They reminisce about events from the Season 1 episode "Rent" when he'd sleep on the floor outside her door as they traveled to collect… you guessed it, rent. Jamie tells her he's been asked to attend the Provincial Congress and work on declaring independence. They don't linger on the topic long, though, ‘cause Jamie's busy telling her all the many reasons he loves her. They banter for a while, and it's just gosh darn adorable. But then, as per usual, Jamie gets serious, and (somewhat ironically considering the rest of the episode) they tell each other they appreciate the other remaining faithful over all these years.

Jamie and Roger prepare to go to the Provincial Congress

After that, Jamie's off to the Provincial Congress. Roger's Once Claire gets home, Jamie fusses about her putting herself in danger walking to visit Christie while she's still recovering her health. They share a couple of cute moments, and he tells her that if she wasn't around, it'd be as if the sun didn't come up or go down. Life wouldn't go on. Just adorable, these two!

It turns out Malva has spun a nasty web of lies. She's pregnant and is telling everyone it's Jamie's child. According to her, in his great sadness during Claire's illness, Jamie turned to Malva for some… ahem… personal comfort. Her older brother tries to hit Jamie, and he lands one! But then Jamie throws him off like it's nothing. He thought he was so big and bad and then boom, he got his feelings hurt real quick. I'm quite the cynical show watcher, so this cracked me up.

But seriously, how does Malva think she'll get away with this? Jamie tells his side of the story, saying that Malva made her move, he said no, and she left. But obviously, no one believes Jamie because society has issues. Claire smacks the ever-loving shit out of Malva's face, and I was here for it. (Well done to Malva's actress, Jessica Reynolds, for such a stellar performance!) But then Claire leaves, overwhelmed, and Malva attempts to prove her story by describing Jamie's scars. She no doubt peeped them when she was creeping on Jamie and Claire getting busy in the barn. Her father suggests they draw up a contract that will include maintenance for Malva and the child and acknowledgment of the child as a legitimate heir. But Jamie isn't having any of this nonsense. He sends the Christies away, furious.

Malva is quite the character.

Obviously, Claire knows Jamie didn't do it, and that Malva is to blame for her scheming. But Claire's been under a great deal of stress and is overwhelmed by the situation. Jamie does tell her he slept with Mary MacNab while Claire was back in her own time with Frank, but we all knew that. It's just a good way for them to show both Claire and the audience that Jamie would come clean about something like this if he had done it, which he didn't. It also gives Claire a chance to see he's not out here trying to sleep around on her. He takes that stuff seriously, just like she does. Claire believes Jamie's innocent, not just because of their relationship but because Jamie wouldn't abandon any child that was his.

But now they've got lies and rumors to deal with on top of everything else. Plus, Jamie's leaving soon, so Claire will be a little more alone on the Ridge. During a walk in the woods, Brianna laments that the gossip spread through the Ridge like fire. She tells Roger about a woman her non-biological father Frank (Claire's first husband) was in love with outside of her parent's marriage. She's worried Jamie may have done the same thing. Roger reminds Brianna that it was a totally different situation. Claire loved Jamie for 20 years, and Frank knew it. But Brianna still isn't 100% certain Jamie's free from blame.

Malva isn't backing down.

Claire confronts Malva at the Christie's residence, offering to listen and find a solution. Malva still tries to pin it on Jamie, but Claire comes to her husband's defense. She believes Jamie completely; nothing's coming between the Frasers! While Malva is in a difficult and complicated situation, her lies are only making it worse. When her brother comes outside, Malva extends her web of deceit and starts saying she knows Claire is a witch. The betrayal is real. Claire tells her to stay the hell away from her family, but this situation is deteriorating fast.

Ian and Malva have secrets.

Back at Fraser HQ, Claire is in her garden trying to find some peace when Ian shows up to tell Claire that Malva's child might be his. Ahh, Ian. He and Malva have been sharing more than long walks in the woods, but after things got intimate, he told her he still loved another (his wife from Episode 4). He's worried that's why she accused Jamie. Problem is, all the people Malva has slept with look pretty similar, and there's no scientific way at that time to prove exactly who the biological father is. He offers to marry Malva, but they don't follow up with his idea for the rest of the episode.

Meanwhile, the residents are treating the Frasers like pariahs. It's to the point that they wait for Claire to exit the church before they enter. When Jamie returns two months later, he says that while he got to make a bold speech, the gossip about his alleged indiscretion preceded his arrival. He wasn't picked as a delegate for the Continental Congress. Malva's damage has been done. 

Now that everyone's suspicious she's a witch, Claire has no one to treat. She's left alone in her surgery with her thoughts and flashbacks. After a particularly haunting flashback, she prepares to take some ether. (Can someone help Claire, please?!) Peeking out the window, she sees Malva coming from the stables and locks the door. By the time Malva knocks, Claire is out cold.

Claire threatens to kill Malva.

Claire then has a hazy dream (I think?) where Malva finds her way inside Claire's surgery and wakes Claire up. She goes on a very villainous tirade where she confesses she's trying to steal away everything that Claire holds dear, including Jamie. Claire grabs a scalpel and threatens to kill Malva, but the dream fades away before we see her do anything.

Was it a dream? I am certainly no doctor, but I thought in Claire's case that was the whole point–that Claire would not be able to dream when she took the ether.

Claire tries to save Malva's unborn baby.

After the ether wears off, Claire wakes up and goes about her business… and finds Malva dead near her garden! Like, very, very dead with her throat cut. By this time, she's also farther along in her pregnancy, so Claire cuts open Malva's belly to try and save the baby. In both a super sad and super traumatizing scene, Claire removes the baby from Malva's womb and attempts to perform CPR. But in the end, the baby is gone. 

Did Malva kill herself in a last-ditch effort to escape her situation and frame Claire? Is there a killer on the loose? Or did Claire actually do it? We may never know. Claire may never know.

WTF

Literally, where TF do I start?! I don't know how to unpack any of this. Maybe I should just do bullet points? It's been days and I'm still reeling from this episode.

Here's the short—but decidedly unsweet—rundown of every WTF moment in "The World Turned Upside Down": 

What in all hell will happen next?

What happened to Malva?

WHAT STANDS OUT

Outlander is a show that's not afraid to go there. And in this case, they just dove headfirst into the pool of "Oh dear shite, they actually did that…." 

I stress-watched this entire episode. There are just too many emotions. For starters, I'm happy they're bringing attention to people slandering others out of greed and malice, or to cover up their own mistakes. Second, while I'm outraged Malva caused this much trouble for the Fraser's, her situation no doubt felt suffocating. Sympathetic villains are the best kind! But while I do understand her motives, they don't excuse her behavior. 

I'm terrified of what's going to happen now that Malva has not only woven these lies, but now lies dead near Claire's garden with her stomach cut open and her baby dead as well. I highly doubt the residents of the Ridge will see the emergency C-section for what it was: a desperate attempt to save the unborn child. Claire's been on trial for witchcraft before, also under false information. But a good reputation can only protect you so long.

As for what stands out, this is the first time I can actually say the whole damn episode stands out.

WHAT'S NEXT

In the Episode 7 preview, everyone is obviously suspicious of Claire. But she can't confirm or deny her guilt, so they're on the search for the perpetrator. I have to be honest, I didn't see this coming. Here I am thinking the most drama we're going to get this season is the Revolution brewing… I suppose I should've seen it coming; every season has a main villain and Season 6 hadn't landed on one until this episode just blew my expectations out of the water.

Who do you think killed Malva? I have to know!

WTF Just Happened in Outlander? S6, E5, "Give Me Liberty"

The time has come! The revolution is picking up speed, and we actually get some action in this episode. Much like the colonists of the era, we don't have time to wait around, so let's jump right in!

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.

WHAT HAPPENED

"Give Me Liberty" starts with a flashback to Scotland in June 1746. Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) is escaping Scotland after his defeat at Culloden, aided by the real-life historical figure Flora Macdonald (played by Shauna Macdonald, who isn’t a direct relation as far as we know). Flora is a Jacobite heroine later immortalized in legends and ballads for helping the Stuart claimant to the throne. Notably, the entire opening song (the Skye Boat Song) is in Gaelic, and it's so well-timed.

In what will soon be America, Jamie stirs the pot by resigning as Indian agent. He sends a letter to the Governor, and we see Lord John Grey (David Berry) telling the Governor that Jamie's letter is merely one of resignation, not revolt. He's charged by the Governor to check up on Jamie and make sure he isn't getting into anything rebellious. Ha. But as Jamie's long-time friend, he's the man for the job.

Jamie and Claire are at a gathering in Wilmington about to meet with Flora Macdonald. She's speaking to the colonists on behalf of the Crown in hopes of keeping things peaceful. Jamie and Claire muse about how a Jacobite could now be a loyalist. Jamie reminds her that they fought for a dream once and lost, and most aren't keen to try it again so soon. Then again, the Frasers' aren't "most." Jamie admits he'd be a loyalist, too, if he didn't know what Claire and Brianna told him about the future. There's a lot of trust between these two lovebirds, and it's moments like this–where they're making literal life-or-death decisions based on nothing but each other's word–that reminds me of that level of trust.

Jamie meets with Sons of Liberty Chairman Cornelius Harnett, a key figure in North Carolina's history during the American Revolution.

Speaking of life-or-death decisions, Jamie is meeting with the Sons of Liberty (another piece of real-life history), a group of rebels and provocateurs that's partly responsible for thwarting the enforcement of the Stamp Act. After their meeting, Jamie spies a suspicious jar on a fireplace mantle. Upon further inspection, he sees that the contents of the jar are Stephen Bonnet’s balls. You might remember him as the notorious pirate and villain from two seasons ago. Justice, best served pickled! 

On the topic of balls, someone's been giving Roger the eyeballs. (Terrible segue, I know, but that's what I'm here for.) He's helping a woman named Amy McCallum (Joanne Thomson) fix her chimney. Amy is the widow with two kids that I mentioned in my last recap, and she is 1000% into Brianna's husband. She's none too discreet about trying to glue him into her family.

Brianna searches for the perfect spot.

While Roger's working on Amy's chimney (no pun intended), Brianna is out looking for a place to build a water wheel to provide water for the settlements. Marsali, Malva, and Lizzie (Brianna's friend) aren't too happy about having to trek through the woods. They come across a design on the ground that Marsali ascertains it to be a love spell. It sparks a small debate that Amy may have made it for Roger, but Lizzie nearly faints and they discover she's feverish. 

There's no Claire to go to for medical help, though, because Mr. and Mrs. Fraser are at the gathering in Wilmington where they see…dun dun dunnnn! John Grey! How long's it been? The answer: forever. John sees Jamie from across the room, because of course he would, and they greet and catch up. He's come to hear Flora and quips he has a particular fondness for reformed Jacobites. Aw. Claire asks if it's business or pleasure that brings him to Wilmington, and I might've imagined the pointed look, but thankfully they came to terms regarding John's romantic affections for Jamie in Season 4 and are all good now. They talk for a moment about supporting the loyalist cause, and Jamie is just the absolute definition of suspicious. 

As the gathering wears on, they meet with Jamie's Aunt Jocasta, who apparently bought Fergus a print shop? Fergus has since taken up work there. There are salt levels rising between Jamie and Jocasta because printing is anything but a safe profession pre-revolution. Everyone at the gathering, including Major MacDonald, is surprised about Jamie's resignation. Claire also speaks with Mary (Mercy Ojelade), a young woman who's enslaved on River Run and is accompanying Jocasta, as it's been quite a while since they last saw each other.

Flora Macdonald (Shauna Macdonald)

Flora arrives and meets our main characters. We learn she and Jamie have childhood history, and Jamie may have even had a little crush on the famed heroine. We also find out that, prior to her arrival, a thief had tried to make off with her necklace. The camera makes a marked camera shot of the necklace with a single gemstone missing. Curiously, Jocasta then appears to feel faint. Flora, Claire, and Jocasta leave for a moment to get Jocasta some air because she's experiencing pain due to her glaucoma and they… uh… enjoy some good old-fashioned medicinal Maryjane? Courtesy of Claire's ever-abundant doctor's supplies, of course….

Back on the Ridge, Brianna and Roger talk about the time he's been spending time with Amy. Roger admits he feels more needed working on Amy's house because Brianna is doing very well with her inventions. He obviously loves Brianna, and she reminds him that he doesn't need to fill Amy's "man of the house" shoes. She makes it clear that he's needed at home with his own family.

While passing around some hemp flower, Flora confesses that she wasn't aligned with Charles politically, but people thought they were in love. Based on her reaction to Charles' rumored self-destructive behavior overseas, I wonder if it was true. The conversation about affiliation with royalty triggers Claire, who flashes back to Season 2 when they were in Versailles trying to sabotage the war efforts that led to Culloden. While there, she had intercourse with King Louis XV in order to free Jamie from his imprisonment in the Bastille, but it was a horrible experience. After the other two ladies dismiss themselves, Claire, shaken, uses the ether she brought with her while the others meet to hear Flora address the crowd. Claire arrives late, citing she needed a rest when Jamie questions her absence. This is breaking my heart. Her trauma is going under the radar, and it's very dangerous being unconscious around so many strangers.

John and Jamie protect a printing shop.

After Flora's address, John Grey questions Jamie about his affiliation with the Sons of Liberty. John expresses his concerns and asks Jamie to disassociate himself from them. When Jamie declines to share more information, Mary comes to get John, telling him there's trouble in town. Protesters are rioting at a print shop that's printing a picture of Flora in the boat with Prince Charles. The material requests Flora's fellow countrymen not be led astray by schemes of rebellion. Jamie sends Mary away for her safety as the crowd continues to grow more riotous. They want to tar and feather the printer, and John is defending the shop with a broom. Jamie is struck with hot tar, and the printer is shot in the arm—the first blood spilled in the revolution (as far as the show goes, anyways). Soldiers break up the mob, and Major MacDonald gives Jamie a nod of respect. At least they still view him as allied to some degree, which should make for a good cover.

Claire tends to Jamie's wounds from the tar.

Back in their room at an inn, Claire tends to Jamie's injury from the tar. He laments having to lie to John and shares his worries that he'll have to fight friends and kin on the Ridge. He's never lived without allegiance, and it weighs on him. Claire reminds him their allegiance is to the new nation now that the tide has turned.

Viewers are either pleasantly surprised or somewhat disappointed that Tom Christie drops his "send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee" line from the Season 6 trailer while moving a bell uphill to the church on the Ridge. I gotta say, I was hoping that line would be dropped at some super dramatic moment where it could have a lot of weight. As it stands, it's really more of just a bell reference… but I'm sure it's foreshadowing! We'll see. 

An uphill battle

Roger enters the church to get more materials… and catches Malva with some guy from the Ridge very nearly getting down to business. Malva blackmails Roger into not saying anything about her risque behavior to her father, leveraging the time he's spending with Amy over the time he's spending with his wife. Damn, girl. fRoger doesn't have much of a choice at that point. He covers for her while Malva sneaks out the back, but I have a feeling the damage has been done. The next time Roger works at Amy's house, she seats him at the head of her table for dinner, which is enough to shock him into a change of heart. After that, he finds someone else to look out for Amy while he returns home to support his own lovely lady. 

Meanwhile, Jamie learns Jocasta paid for Flora Macdonald's gathering to foster peace amidst the turmoil. Jamie accuses her of buying the print shop for Fergus so he can print her political views and expresses fear for Fergus' well-being. He's wise to her game, as he and Fergus printed seditious materials in Edinburgh while smuggling liquor under the table. If I'm not mistaken, Jamie issues a light threat, and Jocasta excuses herself. Mary stays, though, and tells Jamie that Jocasta is suffering from grief after losing Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix), who was her lover. I'm suffering from grief, too, for different reasons. Namely, the fact that Murtagh's death was sad as all hell.

Roger and Brianna have some good news.

On happier topics, Jamie and Claire are in for a nice surprise when they get home! After Roger tells Brianna he asked someone else to look after Amy; he explains he feels compelled to look after young mothers who are struggling after losing his own mother while he was very young. He was blind to the fact he was going down the wrong path, and he wants to spend time with his family. This is when Brianna tells him she's pregnant! They're both super excited, and I can't wait until Brianna tells her parents. 

Meanwhile, Malvaaaaa is up to no good. She's in an isolated cabin on the Ridge, sawing the finger off a man who appears to be dead. I say he "appears dead" because she's watching him like she's half afraid, half excited he might wake up and catch her slicing off a digit. She must've been the one making the love spell they found earlier using the finger bones, but for who? Conflict, fear, and sick excitement gleam in her eyes while she mutilates the corpse.

John expresses concern for Jamie's safety.

In Wilmington, Jamie meets with John again and speaks to him in private. John has learned where the Sons of Liberty will be meeting, and Jamie tells him he's going to the meeting, too. Jamie (and the audience!) waits to see what John will say. John loves the hell out of Jamie, and he's always admired his conviction. But it's admiration, understanding, and sadness in his eyes as he understands the rumors about Jamie's sympathies for independence are true. Is he really a ride-or-die?

John's terrified of Jamie dying. You can see it all over his face. Jamie asserts that he may die, or he may gain freedom… not only his but the nations. John faces a choice: stay loyal to the Crown and put Jamie in danger, or look out for Jamie. He ultimately agrees to delay his men so Jamie will be safe while they meet. Ride or die! I am here for it. Who was worried? Not me!

The Sons of Liberty meet as planned, but Jamie is no longer welcome. They're suspicious that his defense of the printing shop is a defense of the loyalist material the owner was printing. Jamie then defends his actions protecting the printer and freedom of the press, holding that freedom of speech is what they're fighting for, after all. To earn their trust, he warns them that soldiers are coming. Jamie has an inside source now and is basically a spy of sorts, alerting them to the enemy's positions. In one sweep of the board, the rebels have an advantage. The soldier's approach and the Sons of Liberty pretend to be playing billiards. It's all very, "Oh, what a surprise! Nothing suspicious going on here. Go on about your business…."

Before the episode ends, Brianna looks in on Marsali and Henri-Christian. Marsali guesses Brianna is pregnant because of her behavior, and she shares her happiness. But Brianna wants to tell Claire in her own time, so Marsali agrees not to spoil the surprise. Marsali and her family are leaving to join Fergus at the print shop. She promises to visit, but you can tell she's going to miss the Ridge. I hope they're safe with all the rioting going on.

A mysterious time traveler appears.

Jamie and Claire leave the inn they've been staying at, and there's a change in the wind. Claire hears someone whistling "Colonel Bogey March," a song no one in the past should know. They cut to who's whistling, and that's when we find out why Flora's necklace was missing a gem. The thief is currently behind bars, holding a matching green gemstone. People need precious gems to travel through the standing stones that Claire traveled through to get back in time, so my first thought was that the person who stole it must be another time traveler. WHAT!!! But they're about to turn around… and the camera cuts before we see their face.

WTF

The biggest "WTF" moment for me is by far the introduction (or re-introduction?) of this time traveler. Most online think it's Wendigo Donner (Brennan Martin), the time traveler Claire met while the Browns had kidnapped her last season. How is he going to affect the story moving forward? Is he a villain? An antagonist? A protagonist? We'll have to wait and see.

WHAT STANDS OUT

John Grey is back!

John Grey is back, peeps! They took my previous favorite side character (Murtagh) away because they're heartless, so John is my only fave left outside of the main cast. David Berry's performance brings a ton of nuance and emotion to the show, and he and Jamie's relationship is so lit. Besides, Jamie needs all the backup he can get.

And we need to talk about Malva. She's over here slicing fingers off dead corpses trying to love-spell-trap people. I need to know who she's trying to steal away. If it's Jamie or Roger, she needs to go somewhere else… far, far away, 'cause she'll have no luck there. If it's Ian, she doesn't need love spells for that. He already looked pretty smitten. Now, I think he'd better watch out. This young lady has "dangerous" written all over her, and not in a good way.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Our lovely leading lady

Okay, I didn't see the next episode preview the first time I watched, and I even waited around for it. I have no idea how I missed it, but I found it online, and it shows that there's a mysterious illness striking the Ridge. Claire falls ill, and I'm thinking Malva has had something to do with this, considering she's been around a corpse and was near Lizzie when she nearly fainted. It also looks like she's getting ready to make her move.

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.

WHAT HAPPENED

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.

WTF

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…

WHAT STANDS OUT

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. 

WHAT'S NEXT?

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, E3, "Temperance"

Can we talk about how well each episode of Outlander is titled? We've had "Echoes," "Allegiance," and now "Temperance," the title of Outlander Season 6’s third episode. This episode builds on the previous themes of loyalty and commitment, and it examines the effects of deep-rooted fears. Which, of course, echoes this season’s sense of foreboding. Echoes…see what I did there?

Let's jump into it!

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.

Trigger Warning: This recap will discuss attempted suicide.

WHAT HAPPENED

Roger rescues Henri-Christian

Where do I begin!? The episode starts off answering my question from the end of last week about the baby in the river. Henri-Christian, Fergus and Marsali’s new baby boy, is in a basket in a river heading toward dangerous waters. Viewers are launched into the action as Roger, terrified for the baby’s safety, swims after him. After rescuing the child, he learns the residents of Fraser’s Ridge are harboring superstitions, and their children put Henri-Christian in the river to test whether he could float. So, to cure their unfounded religious misgivings about the dwarf baby being a demon, Roger baptizes the child in the river and firmly reminds them the child belongs to the Lord and they have nothing to be afraid of. Having been raised by a Presbyterian minister, he’s stepping into his new ministerial duties on the Ridge (including rescuing one woman from a very peculiar bullfrog haunting her milk pail). Jamie later teaches the kids a lesson, giving them the option to touch either a hot iron poker or the baby. Their choice is clear: the baby. This both disciplines and educates the kids that touching the baby won’t harm them, as their superstitions had them believing.

Fergus shares his fears with Claire

So yay, Fergus isn’t the one who put his son in danger as I was worried about in my last recap. If I could apologize to a fictional character for thinking such terrible things about them, I would. When he finds out what’s happened, though, he’s distraught and worried about the life ahead for Henri-Christian. Fergus and Claire have an emotional heart-to-heart about the matter, and she attempts to comfort him. But the mindsets of the time are cruel and unaccepting of anyone with differences, and Fergus tells Claire a story about a dwarf friend from his childhood that confirms that he's all too familiar with this reality. Overcome by emotion, he walks off, and Claire returns to her home. 

There, she finds Christie waiting for her. He’s ready for her to operate on his hand, but opts to go into the surgery without sedation. The pain is excruciating (of course it is… she’s slicing his hand open!). But he weathers it, and Jamie helps by reading Christie Biblical scriptures and keeping him steady. Basically, Jamie isn’t so salty that he won’t support Christie when necessary, and Christie–though confused–accepts his aid. I interpret it as a bit of a bonding moment between characters, with Christie developing some newfound respect for both Jamie and Claire. He even tells her in a later conversation that he doesn’t think she’s a witch, and I suppose he’d know the difference…

Ian and Malva get flirty

Because, speaking of witches, Ian catches Malva (Christie’s daughter) watching the surgery through a window and walks her home. We don’t exactly talk about the fact that she watched her father get his hand sliced open without so much as blinking. Just gonna skirt right past that... Anywho, she shares that her mother was tried and executed as a witch when Malva was very young. This explains some of her father’s behavior, though it doesn’t justify it. He’s clearly afraid she’ll repeat her mother’s choices and is scared for her spiritual well being, but his overly disciplinarian behavior is pushing her away. Regardless of her father’s attitude on the topic, Malva and Ian are getting mighty flirty, and their walk turns into more time spent together.

About halfway through the episode, Marsali finds Fergus at their kitchen table, drinking again even though he had promised her he’d stop. She shares her concerns for their relationship, and he explains his emotional turmoil over not being there to protect his family. She calls him out, telling him he can’t expect to protect them if he’s drunk. This hits home, and Fergus agrees she’s right. 

Marsali then spills the tea that she murdered Lionel Brown. She said she was doing her own part to look out for their family after Lionel and his folk kidnapped and assaulted Claire after leaving Marsali knocked unconscious. Her secret wounds Fergus, who becomes angry, projecting his own guilt despite Marsali’s assurances that he isn’t at fault. They share strong words, and she pours a drink over his head and gives him an ultimatum: he either comes back home when he’s ready to step up, or he doesn’t come back at all. Marsali doesn’t mess around, but this is breaking my heart. 

Back at the Fraser’s residence, Claire is haunted by visions of Lionel. Jamie notices she’s acting strange, but she won’t tell him what’s happening. Instead, she goes downstairs. She says it's to see how Christie is doing post-operation, but it's clear she's thinking of escaping into the ether to avoid the flashbacks. When she finds Christie awake, she checks in and redresses the wound and teaches him some physical therapy.  Their conversation takes Claire’s mind off the ether, and she returns upstairs where she and Jamie discuss life after Ardsmuir—the journey of readjusting to accepting kindness and affection after imprisonment. Jamie had Claire to help him through in his memories and dreams of her, but he explains that Christie turned inward during those times. Without that balance, Christie has become more closed off. 

Jamie gives Malva a good ol’ fashioned (subtle) Fraser interrogation

That's when Jamie and Claire came to suspect that Malva and her brother aren’t Christie’s children because of how their ages coincide with the time he spent in Ardsmuir. Jamie comes across Malva in the woods foraging, and after some small talk he asks about her parentage, in the Fraser’s usual brand of not-quite-subtle interrogation. James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser has never rhymed with “sneaky,” and I definitely had to Google his full name just then. Nothing is 100% confirmed, though, and they talk about how the forest scenery reminds them of Scotland. This is actually kind of clever and funny, because some of the show is filmed in Scotland, even parts of the “American” episodes.

Closer to the end of the episode, there’s a gathering at the Fraser’s house where the residents pay their rents and enjoy some food and fun. Fergus is intoxicated (again), and people are staring at him. Unsettled, he calls out an older woman who’s been giving him some severe side-eye. When he does, the woman makes a vicious remark about his child, and Fergus throws his drink in her face. (I, for one, hope some of it went up straight up her nose.) When her husband defends her, Fergus hits him. But the woman clearly started it, as everyone watching can see, and Christie (surprise!) comes to Fergus’ defense. This is a big step for Christie, considering he’s been pretty antagonistic toward the Frasers since the start of the season. It looks like it’s becoming a more united homefront… at least for now. I’m certainly not holding my breath about it, though.

Fergus grapples with his fears

Later, Roger delivers a sermon at the church about loving thy neighbor as thyself. He then cleverly discusses the recent events with Henri-Christian by recalling the Biblical story of Moses, who was floated down a river for different reasons. The scene changes to Fergus walking into the woods and Jamie, noticing his unusual behavior, follows him. He sees Fergus begin to put a deep gash into his arm as he's sitting beneath a tree by the river. Jamie then rushes to stop him and, to the audience’s overwhelming relief, Jamie convinces Fergus to let him help and makes an emergency tourniquet. They have a heart-wrenching conversation about the pressure and anguish Fergus is experiencing. Jamie vehemently reminds Fergus that he is important and vital, not because of his physical abilities, but because of what he can offer as a human being. For a moment, I was terrified that Fergus was going to die in Jamie’s arms. Instead, they embraced, and Jamie told Fergus that he can show his son the strength of resilience. Thankfully, Jamie gets Fergus to Claire to patch up the wound, and Jamie and Claire escort Fergus home to Marsali. This time, they truly reconcile. He’s able to come home to his family, and truly be home.

There’s a teeny, tiny shred of my brain that’s scared the writers are gonna get their GRRM on and take Fergus from us even after all he’s been through, in some completely unrelated way because writers are cruel, heartless people who like torturing all our favorite characters… It’s quite possible I haven’t recovered from how they took Murtagh from us last season, and I may or may not watch way too much gritty television. Needless to say if Fergus doesn’t make it through Season 6 after he finally made it home for real, someone will be getting a very strongly worded letter from me with a bunch of words that autocorrect will promptly change to “duck.”

The episode ends with Major MacDonald arriving with guns for the Cherokee. He also brings news that the Boston Tea Party just happened, the first sparks of a soon-to-be-roaring fire. Claire knows what’s up and tells Jamie the war is almost upon them. Dun, dun, dunnn….

WTF

Fergus and Marsali from a past season

This episode was an emotional roller coaster! When the content warnings appeared on the screen, I was certain we were losing Fergus. But Jamie made it to Fergus in time. Plus, as the past episode with Brianna touched on the expectations 18th century society put on women, we get a similar–though much more high stakes–conversation regarding the societal pressures for men. 

Fergus is genuinely in anguish over his belief that he can’t be the man Marsali deserves. Because of his inner turmoil, he’s blind to the fact that he’s been a valuable member of their family the entire time. Jamie promptly reminds Fergus that other people’s opinions do not determine his worth; who he is is measured by being there for his loved ones. A house can be built, but it's the people that make it a home. “Conversation” is far too light a word for what these two share in the emotional scene where Fergus attempts to take his own life. But Jamie’s fatherly support bolsters Fergus. After all, Fergus is the son of Claire and Jamie’s heart–almost like their firstborn. Jamie’s encouragement helps Fergus rekindle his purpose, and he finally makes it home to be with his family. 

Talk about a sigh of relief! I swear, this show just rips your heart out then puts a bandage on it as if to say, "Don’t worry, you’re fine! It’s Sunday night? Tomorrow’s a work day! You can conceivably function and not think about this all day, right?"

WHAT STANDS OUT

Jamie and Fergus

This episode reminded me of why I enjoy Outlander so much. Stereotypical emotional expectations are thrown out the window with this show, and I love it. The female characters express wrath and take vengeance, the male characters express grief, sorrow, and affection in realistic ways, and there’s everything in between. All members of society have their own pressures and responsibilities that weigh on them regardless of their place in history, gender identity, age, or other factors. But Outlander episodes like this one shed light on the human experience. Even if we don't share a specific experience with these characters, the emotions portrayed are very real, very universal, and very moving. Good fiction gives us all a chance to see life through another’s point of view and feel some of the love, joy, and pain that comes with that.

"Temperance" focuses on how harbored fears can affect us and how support from loved ones can bolster us in times of need. There is fear, yes. But by fighting through their inner demons and choosing to stand with their family, the Frasers might stand a chance in the war to come.

WHAT'S NEXT?

The next episode preview leads me to believe we’ll see a stronger focus on the Cherokee. Brianna and Jamie briefly discuss the Trail of Tears, and while Jamie plans to be on the rebel side of the Revolutionary War, we know from last week’s recap the Cherokee ally themselves with the Crown. If Ian fights with the Cherokee, Ian and Jamie could be on opposing sides. And if last season is any indication, that won’t be good. Ian has also been getting kinda cozy with Malva, lately, so it’s yet to be seen how this will affect his allegiances.

Have you seen "Temperance"? Do you think Ian will fight with the Cherokee against Jamie and the revolutionaries, or will they find another way?

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.

WHAT HAPPENED

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.

WTF

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. 

WHAT STANDS OUT

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. 

WHAT'S NEXT?

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?

Boobs, Booze, and Reviews: The Woman Across the Street from the Girl in the Window

I have the boobs, I bring the booze, and I review shit.

How this new review series works: This will be a series unlike any you’ve read before. At the end of each review, I will be giving my rating of a series or movie in the form of wine bottles. The number of bottles will depend on how many I had to drain to get through the series or movie. Thus, like in golf, the lower the number of bottles, the better the show.  A larger number of bottles means I had to suffer through it, chugging my way along.  My scale will be 1-5. There will be no spoilers through these, just an opinionated asshole with an unhealthy fascination for wine letting you know if you should dedicate your time to whatever I'm reviewing.

Let's get started!

What I watched: The Woman Across the Street from the Girl in the Window, series

Where to find it: Netflix

Number of episodes: 8

Length of episodes: 22-25 mins

Wine type: Red to fit in with the narrative

Wine brand: Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon (to complete the parody narrative.  Get it?  10 points to Gryffindor!)

Wine, casseroles, suburbia, and murder.  The perfect recipe for a story, right? If you're an author of a female-led mystery psychological thriller, the answer is YES.  When I first saw the trailer for this show, I was unsure of its purpose.  I couldn't tell from the preview whether it was a parody, a comedy, or an actual thriller. It wasn't until I was a couple episodes in that I realized what it was ALL OF THE ABOVE!

Let me just say that the episode length already won me over. I really enjoy shorter episodes. I don’t have to dedicate an entire weekend to binge watch only to get through half a series. Come on, people! I'm a new mom, with a ton of other things to do. My days are looking forward to the evening when my little monster goes to sleep for the night and I get a few hours of quiet time to myself. Then the anxiety of what to do happens. Do I play PlayStation? Do I watch something new? Do I start a movie? My time is PRECIOUS! So, when I saw the beautiful Kristen Bell chugging wine out of a glass that held a whole bottle, I first double-checked and made sure there was no camera in my house that this show was getting ideas from, then settled in to get into the series.

It still took me 2 evenings to finish, because ADD, but boy was I happy to sit down and watch it at the end of my day! This series was beautifully done. It absolutely is a parody of all the female-led mystery psychological thriller books that have been made into movies. This one specifically was mirrored after The Girl on the Train, and The Woman in the Window. Now, I've read both books and watched both movies. This series nailed it! It included beautiful homes (and we have no idea what the main characters do to afford them), beautiful people, all the wine, so many casseroles, annoying neighbors, tragic backstories, intriguing handy-men, fun and ridiculous sex, children selling chocolate, and MURDER. What else is needed? Add in some cheesy narration from the main character, and you have a basic-white-girl hit.

The main character of the series is Anna, played by Kristen Bell. Anna has a unique fear that petrifies her and causes her to faint a couple of times throughout the show. (The fainting is pretty ridiculous, but it's brought on by a legitimate reason.) Neil (Tom Riley) is the sexy single dad who moves in across the street and who, of course, has a British accent. It wouldn’t be a successful drama if there weren’t any British accents!  

The show carries more huge names such as Michael Ealy as the ex-husband, Brenda Koo as the nosy, self-righteous neighbor (think Petunia Dursley from Harry Potter), Christina Anthony as the badass detective. Plus, this show is directed by Michael Lehman, who's known for American Horror Story, Californication, True Blood, a couple of episodes of Dexter, and much more. It’s a perfect line-up.

Throughout the episodes, I was curious about what would happen next, the story behind specific characters, and the cliches that brought them all together. Even though it was a parody, there was a cohesive storyline throughout. The ending had a surprise that kept my wine in the bottle a little longer, making it a pleasant reward for watching all of the episodes. The sense of parody vs. an actual story walked the delicate line of being too cliché and boring, and actually enjoyable. It was brilliant! I really hope the crew behind this series dives into more parodies for my enjoyment.

With that being said, I think it’s obvious, but my review rating is: (drum roll please)

1 out of 5! My highest mark! These reviews are off to a heck of a start!

Have you watched The Woman Across the Street from the Girl in the Window?  What were your thoughts? Let's share a glass in the comments!

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