WTF Just Happened in Outlander? S6, E7, "Sticks and Stones"

by 
 | April 30, 2022

Please, please, gather around for your regularly scheduled Outlander rant. Sticks and stones may break bones, but this episode hurt me! How are they just gonna make us sit through an entire episode of accusations plus the good ol' TV Show Avoidance Maneuver (when they refuse to answer the question they set up in the last episode)? It's like the writers conferred and went, "So should we leave them still guessing or leave them on a cliffhanger?" And they decided to do both.

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Okay, enough with my complaining. Let's jump into the recap!

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 inside the Ridge's church. Malva announces in an emotional speech to those gathered that her innocence was taken from her by someone she trusted, and she's now with child. It's unclear when this speech occurred, but the scene is shot with a tilting and fading focus, leaving viewers wrapped up in Jessica Reynolds' moving monologue. I'm assuming at the time the speech happened, Malva was still trying to lay the blame on Jamie for reasons unknown, but we're quickly reminded where things now stand. Malva lies dead in Claire's garden, her late baby on her chest, and Claire is literally covered up to her elbows in blood.

Jamie and Tom Christie argue over Malva's burial.

Malva's brother Allan (Alexander Vlahos) covers her body, and he and his father, Tom Christie, accuse Claire of the murder. She explains she only found Malva and tried to save the baby, but it was too late. Christie wants to know how long it would've taken his daughter to die, which is probably the most paternal question he asks for the whole episode. Yes, I'm throwing shade his way. Due to the nature of the wound, Claire tells him Malva's death would've been quick. He laments that she may not have had time to say a prayer before she passed and worries about her eternal fate. But then he keeps talking… and says he doesn't think she should be buried in the Ridge's cemetery because of her premarital pregnancy, which he considers sinful. This guy really wants his daughter ostracized, even in death. Just hurtful.

But Jamie basically strongarms him into the better option by saying it's his land, she'll be buried where he says, and he says she'll be laid to rest alongside the other community members who have passed on. You tell him, Jamie! Claire offers to prepare Malva for her funeral, and Jamie carries the bodies indoors. But prying eyes are everywhere, and people are already starting to talk…

Claire begins preparations by gathering her needle and thread to mend the gash on Malva's neck, but she hears Lionel Brown's voice sowing doubts in her mind. Instead of resorting to the ether, she takes a drink this time, and Jamie joins her. One of the women who helps with the Fraser's household duties enters the room, demanding to know what they'll tell everyone. There's a time and place, lady! Can't you see Claire isn't doing well? 

But there's no rest for the weary. The entire community is suspicious that Claire and Jamie killed Malva because Malva lied about her intimacy with Jamie. One resident even brings Christie's Bible to Jamie for Roger to read from during the service. It isn't a kindhearted visit; he uses the opportunity to accuse the Frasers of the crime. The audacity! Jamie, in no uncertain terms, makes it clear he won't be listening to any unfounded rumors.

Claire battles her demons.

My heart is just in pieces for Claire. Every time she tries to tend to Malva, Lionel Brown taunts her. I see now that I've been using the wrong term for these experiences. They aren't flashbacks at all. Rather, the memory of Lionel is haunting Claire's subconscious and giving voice to her worst fears about herself. She soldiers on and continues to prepare Malva's corpse even as Lionel digs up the many traumatic experiences from her past. He accuses her of being the reason for all of her family's pain. He says she abandoned Frank for Jamie and, in doing so, brought Brianna and Roger into the past. Claire is fearful that everything bad that's happened since then has been directly tied to her actions.

Speaking of Roger and Brianna, while Roger isn't the official minister, he's been acting in the capacity for a while. He visits Jamie and Claire to help, and it turns out he stops by at just the right time! The young man Roger caught Malva with in the church in episode 5 arrives at the house, spouting more questions. At this point, the Frasers are fed up with the Ridge community acting brand new, so Roger is like “What are you playing at? I know you saw me see you.” The young man gets upset, accusations and threats start flying, and the tension ratchets ever upward. Plus, we're still no closer to solving the murder! Longest whodunnit episode ever.

Jamie and Roger confront accusations.

Later that night, Claire tells Jamie she's worried that she murdered Malva. First off, again with the trust shared between these two! She very well might be confessing to murder in front of Jamie, and he ain't no snitch. They are just the definition of ride or die. Anywho! Claire finally tells him about her ether use, saying she took it at that time to keep from talking to Malva. When she shares the fuzzy dream in which she threatened to kill Malva if she continued to cause trouble for their family, Jamie comforts her. He tells Claire she wouldn't have hurt Malva, she's only doubting herself because of the situation.

Claire is worried she killed Malva.

They go to bed, but Claire doesn't sleep well. She's seeing Lionel Brown everywhere, and damn if that cinematography isn't creepy as all get out! Brown's figure huddles in the dark shadows of their bedroom, just watching Claire like something straight out of a horror movie. It's the stuff nightmares are made of! I was waiting on the jump scare, but it never happened.

In happier news, a romantic subplot has sprouted! I'll backtrack just a little to get you all caught up. Brianna's friend Lizzie (Caitlin O'Ryan) has been flirting back and forth with two twins who live on the Ridge, Josiah and Kezzie (both played by Paul Gorman). Come to find out, it's been more than just heart eyes. Lizzie, Josiah, and Kezzie are in a throuple, and Lizzie has been afraid to tell anyone because of all the outdated drama surrounding premarital sex on the Ridge right now. It's an unsafe time for anyone to find out about their relationship, so they've been keeping things on the DL.

However, Lizzie is pregnant and she's unsure which of the twins is the father. Claire has a conversation with her and explains that due to the attitudes of the time, Lizzie is in a very dangerous situation. Back then, they would stone people for fornication. Lizzie doesn't want to choose between the twins, though, because she loves them both, and they love her in return. Claire is pretty understanding, but Jamie wants to see her married to keep her safe from stoning. He makes the twins draw straws for who gets to say "I do" and pronounces Lizzie and Kezzie handfast.

Claire and Lizzie have a chat.

But Lizzie shan't be deterred from following her heart! Later in the episode, she and Josiah convince Roger to pronounce them handfast, too. It didn't take much persuasion, considering they didn't tell Roger she's already handfast to Kezzie. When the Frasers find out, they figure they'll just say she's married to Kezzie and leave it at that. Lizzie, Kezzie, and Josiah can keep doing their thing. No one on the Ridge other than the Frasers needs to know what's up. Nothing to see here, folks! Just three consenting adults living their happy life. Here's hoping the other members of the Ridge will keep their noses out of Lizzie's business.

Handfast at last!

Meanwhile, Roger is working on a sermon for the funeral, but he's having a bit of a moral crisis. He's killed someone before and is worried he lacks the moral standing to preach to the residents about “thou shalt not kill” when he has most definitely put someone 6 feet deep. He wants to step into the official shoes of minister on the Ridge, but, from what I gathered, this means he won't be actively fighting in the war. Well, he won't fight with the army, but he can take up arms to protect their home and those in need. Jamie's here for it, and we are too.

Roger is worried Brianna will think he's a coward, but Jamie tells him not to worry. And he's right! Brianna is supportive of Roger's choice, provided he keeps their family his priority. He explains he feels this is his calling and assures her he won't jeopardize their family under any circumstances. With all that settled, she agrees to go with him when he gets ordained. Nice news for them!

Claire and Jamie attend Malva's funeral.

But now we're getting back into the stuff. Claire and Jamie attend Malva's funeral service and let me tell you, it is T.E.N.S.E. They sit in the back and weather the judgmental glances as Roger gives a message on the Lord's forgiveness, reminding the community that just because Malva wasn't a mother or a wife doesn't mean she was less of a person. There aren't enough men to carry Malva's coffin, so Jamie offers his help, but Allan won't let him. The situation gets worse when Claire sees the baby's coffin and tries to carry it. She did try to save the child, after all! But Allan straight-up snatches the tiny casket away from her. I spent the whole scene hoping it wouldn't be one of those horrible movie scenes where the casket opens due to all the jostling. Thankfully, both remained firmly shut. Cue the sigh of relief.

After the funeral, Lizzie tells Claire she's the one who knocked at the door while Claire was unconscious. She'd come to tell Claire about her relationship with the twins, and Claire is so relieved. This means it wasn't Malva who knocked, as Claire originally thought. Plus, if Claire had done anything suspicious, Lizzie would've noticed. The information clears Claire's conscience, and she's confident she didn't kill Malva. Her dream was just a dream, after all. I knew it!

Lizzie gives Claire some much-needed good news.

Claire takes this opportunity to put the ether away, feeling she can trust herself again, but Lionel is right there waiting on her. He tells her she's still guilty, dredging up her past again. Jamie catches her walking out of her surgery in distress, and she finally tells him what's been going on. She expresses to Jamie that there's a part of herself she doesn't recognize. Lionel Brown is haunting her, and that's why she's been using the ether. Claire has always compartmentalized her experiences, but she can't any longer and is struggling under the fear that everything is her fault because she changed things when she time traveled. She's worried she was selfish because she wanted to be with Jamie and her choice to return to him is the reason for all the pain her family has endured over the years. Someone tell me how to jump through a screen! This wonderful woman needs support, people!

But Jamie is all the support she needs, so I'mma sit myself down and let them do their thing. He's quick to remind Claire that if she hadn't met him, Brianna wouldn't've been born. Roger wouldn't have a wife or a son. They wouldn't have met Fergus when they went to France to stop the rebellion, and Fergus wouldn't have met Marsali. Jamie helps Claire see that although there is pain, there is also so much more. She has been pivotal in bringing happiness to her family, as well. 

Even so, she's afraid she can't make Lionel's voice go away. Jamie tells her that after his abuse by Randall, he was in a dark place as well. Claire found him in that darkness and did everything she could to help him. He offers to support her in the same way. They'll face it together, but she has to let him help and not put herself to sleep. These two always choose each other, and it's a beautiful moment of love between our Frasers who have faced so many odds to be together.

The Browns arrive with their own brand of law enforcement.

At the end of the episode, there's still no solution to Malva's murder. But that doesn't mean Outlander's done wrecking us! The Browns ride up with their "Committee of Safety" (sense my sarcasm) and announce they've come for Claire. To arrest her. For Malva's murder. Because of course they are. And, because this show loves causing us pain, we're left on that cliffhanger until next week. I almost threw my iPad across the room before I realized I can't break it because I have to watch the finale. That's right, the finale is next week! Clear your schedules, 'cause shit's about to go down.

WTF

I'm going to be petty. You want to know my "WTF" moment? It's the damn cliffhanger. Why they gotta leave us with no solutions? Nothing was resolved whatsoever. In fact, let's recap all the nothing we have so far:

  • We still have a killer running around the Ridge. 
  • We still have no way to clear Claire's and Jamie's reputations. 
  • We still have no real action from the Revolution. 
  • We still have no payoff for the new time traveler reveal.
  • We still don't have enough on-screen support for Claire's trauma recovery. I hope they won’t take the whole "They had one conversation and everything is fine now" approach.
Jamie prepares to defend his wife.

And now they're trying to take Claire away! I'm not even sure if it's for an actual trial or some hastily put together “We already think you did it” kind of thing. Plus, it's the Browns and they are the last people on the face of the planet we want Claire to have to go anywhere with. I'd bolt the doors and batten down the hatches, too. They won't take our Claire!

WHAT STANDS OUT

Again, you can count on me to bring the salt, and I am salty about this ending. Two things stood out to me in this episode:

  1. How long they're making us wait to solve this murder. 
  2. How strange Malva's brother is acting. 

I get it. His sister died. I'm not a callous unfeeling human. It is sad. But he's acting even shiftier than usual. I never liked him; he gives off a weird vibe. But there's something in his eyes that's just giving me the creeps. You know that sense you get that tells you not to be in the same room as a person? Yeah, that's the one.

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I get that every time he comes on screen. He may have had something to do with all this. If he told the Browns what happened and is the reason they're coming to arrest Claire, I'm gonna have to jump through the screen and throw hands, penguin style.

WHAT'S NEXT

The next episode preview shows Claire and Jamie stuck inside their home as the Browns basically hold them under siege. I doubt the residents of the Ridge will be of any help. In fact, they may side with the Browns. 

Claire prepares to defend herself.

This whole thing just makes me sad! They've worked so hard and come so far, and whoever killed Malva undermined it all so fast. Jamie says they'll have to go together, he doesn't see any other way. I really hope he means "go" as in "go with the Browns," and not "go" as in the mortal sense of the word.

I'm usually pretty good at spotting the buildup to a finale, but I gotta say, next week's episode snuck up on me. I can't believe we only have one more Sunday to go. I've been so wrapped up in the story! I don't want to wait another year to find out who killed Malva, but if I have to, I'll put all my theories together in the meantime.

How do you think Outlander Season 6 will end? Lemme hear it!

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