Outlander Season 6 premiered Sunday night with an extended first episode, "Echoes." I tuned in right on time and sat through about an hour and a half of shady, shifty, and salty new characters. If you haven’t watched, Jamie and Claire are starting to butt heads with new settlers on the Ridge while dealing with their own healing. These are some suspicious characters to say the least. Let's get into the recap!
SPOILER ALERT: We're recapping the episode, so there will be spoilers past this point. You've been warned! Turn back now if you wish to stay unspoiled.
We spend about a third of the episode flashing back to Ardsmuir, where we’re introduced to Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones). He and Jamie clash throughout these scenes, and his worldview differs from Jamie's considerably. Now that he’s been established as an old rival from Jamie's past, he shows up on the Ridge unexpectedly. He speaks with Roger about needing a place for him and his people to stay. Roger welcomes him, thinking that since he's an Ardsmuir man, he might be a friend of Jamie's. However, that couldn't be farther from the truth.
In the past, Jamie and Christie had been able to reconcile their differences due to having to labor beneath common authority in Ardsmuir. Now that Christie is on the Ridge, likely to stay, Jamie faces a conundrum. On one hand, it’s annoying having someone so stubborn always second guessing you. On the other, war is afoot, and they need people ready to fight for what they believe in, which seems to be right up Christie’s alley. However, when push comes to shove, Jamie is the one who has to put his foot down. Unlike their days in prison, there’s no common authority now beyond what Jamie is able to establish. It's his land, his family, and he says what goes and what absolutely does not go. Christie isn't one to smile and nod, however, and tensions grow.
Meanwhile, Claire is trying to return to life as usual in the aftermath of her assault. She, Jamie, and Brianna share dialogue about her healing process, and how she is throughout the episode. But there's no peace to be had. Richard Brown rides up to the Ridge to address a theft, and Christie's son is found guilty of stealing. Back and forth talk of punishment occurs, and Jamie decides he'll deliver the agreed upon lashes since it's his land. This is especially triggering due Jamie’s history with lashings, and though Claire is indoors as he metes out the punishment, there’s no mistaking what's going on. The event, and the presence of the Browns, triggers flashbacks and nightmares. She's experimenting with ether as a way to treat her patients, and finds it helps her sleep. This could become a dangerous practice, and I’m concerned for her welfare, as is her family.
After delivering the lashes, Jamie agrees to become an Indian agent, only because he discovers Brown is next in line for the job if he refuses. Brown is the one who requested the lashes as punishment, and continues to be a troublesome presence overall. This puts Jamie in a very precarious situation, and we have yet to see how it plays out.
Brianna and Roger seem to be doing well enough helping the newcomers settle on the Ridge, but Fergus and his wife Marsali are not. Fergus is conflicted, and believes he's a disappointment. Presumably, there is some boiling over from Marsali being knocked unconscious during the Browns' raid on the Ridge. Fergus was not there to defend her, and he fights his guilt with drink. It's leading him down a dark road. Marsali is also expecting their next child soon, and they preview a troublesome birth in the "next episode" portion.
The…salt…levels…in…this…episode. I do so enjoy snide and snarky dialogue, and it's fun to see characters engage in some verbal sparring. But there's something very shifty about the Christie family. It could be too early to tell, but Malva in particular creeps me out. Jessica Reynolds, who portrays Malva, is doing a fantastic job giving the audience just enough reason to feel hesitation without us really being able to put our thumb on what’s off.
The dialogue in this episode is so good! While the conflict between Jamie and Christie feels a little shoehorned right now, I expect that will rectify itself as the story progresses. It certainly adds tension. The episode calls out the shortage of tea, the impending Boston Tea Party, and the escalation of tensions between those allied with the Crown and those whose allegiances lie elsewhere. Or, in our characters’ cases, with their families. Everyone is feeling the weight of the taxes, and unrest awaits.
According to the next episode preview, we can expect Marsali to have trouble going into labor. I hope Marsali and the child will be okay, and that this Christie family gets on with it. Jamie has a point: someone so stubborn may be an asset, come war times. But are they villains? Are they antagonists? Are they just salty? We'll see.
Are you keeping up with Outlander? What do you think of the Christies?