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

by 
 | April 16, 2022

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": 

  • Malva lied about Jamie sleeping with her, but she's pregnant and it may be Ian's baby.
  • Malva also encouraged everyone to think Claire is a witch, more so than they did before.
  • Claire had a dream-like sequence in which she threatened Malva with a scalpel.
  • Malva is dead, with her throat cut, in Claire's garden.
  • Claire performed an emergency C-section to try and rescue Malva's baby, but it was too late.

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!

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