Was it worth the wait? Nearly a year, lots of teases? After seeing the first episode of Season 7, I hope you’re all saying YES! While I’m going to say that there WERE some misses (cough cough Brianna), this was a worthy opener for the first half.
When we saw her last, Claire was being dragged to Wilmington to stand trial for murdering Malva, trailed by an increasingly ragged Tom Christie. The Brown gang, foiled in their attempt to ship Jamie off to Scotland and thus get rid of a major cramp in their style, discovered that rebellion had caused judges to flee and courts to close – so what else do you do with someone you’re just a bit too afraid to kill outright? That’s right, you dump her in a dirty, unsavory jail. Her stay in jail, however, was short and seemingly not so rough – plucked out to attend the North Carolina Governor’s wife, stranded at sea.
The first scene though – Claire wasn’t really hanged, was she? Her accuser, Richard Brown, was in the crowd to finally get satisfaction for the death of his brother. So will Jamie come riding in to save her, like he did at the witch trial in S1? Will she be rescued and cut down, like Roger? The parallels to past peril were well done. Whose nightmare was that, Claire or Jamie’s? But coming as it did before we saw her, currently safe and sound and locked up, it gave me a jolt!
I do understand the pressures of trying to move the story through, especially since we learned from executive producer Maril Davis that at the time the episode was written, they didn’t know if this would be their last season, and they had a lot to get through if that were to be the case. While someone unfamiliar with the book text might not feel like something was missing, this did seem slightly rushed – wrapping up this part of Claire’s journey in just one episode. But we deal with what we’re given, right? It seemed like Jamie was hitting the wall, no luck in trying to find his errant wife. Said wife was clever, though – in being granted her request to send a note for supplies, she knew that Tom Christie would still be in Wilmington as long as she was there, and that he would understand her cryptic note in her last item – “Vir Meus,” my husband. Bring these things, and bring Jamie. (Oil of Porcupine???)
And Tom Christie delivers. Unarguably the best part of this episode, Mark Lewis Jones once again turns a small but vital role into a tour de force. Every expression on his face throughout the episode was exquisite, detailing a tortured man who knows that the love he’s found can never be his, but he is decent, and honest, and understands that this grace he’s been given has a sharp and fatal edge. He can’t bear the thought of Claire being accused of a murder he knows she didn’t do – and that he knows he also did not commit, but is willing to confess if it will save her. Like Jamie, the love of this woman has become more than most of us will ever have.
I have wasted all my life in search of … in hope of a thing I could not name, but I knew must exist. I was convinced it was God I sought, but the love of God alone could not sustain me. No, now I know, that I am… I love you. I have yearned always for love given and returned. I’ve spent my life in the attempt to give love to those who were not worthy of it. Allow me this, to give my life for the sake of one who is.
Jamie recognizes this, since he knows that Claire is his soul. And as much has he has disliked Tom in the past, for valid reasons, he can’t help but see the transformation Tom has gone through. So when Tom asks him what Jamie would say in a eulogy, Jamie offers the highest praise he can. “Thomas Christie was an honorable Scot, a leader of men. In his own way, tho he didna know quite where to lead them. Stubborn as a mule, but despite our differences, a man I respected. And one whose respect I hope I had in return.”
Where Jamie is sure of his feelings, sure of the rightness of his actions, and sure of his assessment of Tom’s motives, Claire is troubled. She doesn’t understand why Tom loves her and why he would sacrifice himself for her. “Did you make him confess?” she asks. “No, he told me what he intended to do, but I told him bide. I would have done the same, counted my life well lost if it saved you. If he feels the same as me, then you’ve done no wrong to him, to take your life from his hand. That’s what he wanted.”
Switching gears – I was nowhere near as impressed, or interested, in the Roger/Brianna storyline. Why do these women never look pregnant? Brianna has not yet had her baby, in case you were forgetting…. But I digress. If you are a Sophie Skelton fan, I’ll just say I’m happy for you, but there’s our line of disagreement. Where Tom Christie was expressive, and Jamie was determined, Bri was…. weak. And flat. And the lines she was given didn’t help in any way. “God luck,” she tries to joke with Roger – nope.
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) June 1, 2023
Of course, there had to be some reason we went back to the Reverend Roger – it was to get Wendigo Donner back into the story. Roger, asked to counsel some Rebel prisoners, is caught off-guard, and tells them “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee… and God will surely go with thee.” What made THAT pop into his head? But it means something to one of the prisoners, and now we know who the whistling thief at the end of one of the Season 6 episodes was. “Ali!” he says to Roger, surprised to hear a familiar quote. “You’re a traveler, aren’t you, like me?” While he had planned to try to help Claire during the Brown gang’s attack, Jamie et al arrived before he could, and Donner ran off to avoid what he was sure was coming.
Claire had told her family about coming across the fellow time traveler, and Roger knew the story, but was convinced that Donner was not dangerous, merely stranded. “I don’t want to hurt anybody,” he says, “I just want to go home. Please – help me.” And Roger’s attempt to help, with a full sack of food and some tools, sparks an argument between the Mackenzies, which ends in a lame “prayer” that includes a question of helping those who help themselves to the last slice of cake…
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) May 30, 2023
And The Well-Deserved Ugly
The final scene, though, showed Jamie once again at his most chilling, when he’s hunting those who have hurt his loved ones. Richard Brown has made a fatal error and stayed in Wilmington, obviously hoping for the opportunity to actually see Claire hanged. He can’t appeal to Jamie’s moral center, because in this situation, Jamie’s center is dark and cold. “You’re a good man, a moral man,” Brown pleads. Jamie answers, “I’m also a violent man. Any goodness that prevails in me is because of my wife. You tried to take her from me.” Brown tries again, “You won’t kill me. Not in cold blood. You wouldn’t dare.” But we know he’s wrong, and we don’t need to see it onscreen to know what’s happened – Jamie’s dark heart, driven by his love of Claire, takes care of the problem.
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