Sweet, sweet Outlander, the TV show that just loves to bring its audience back from a hiatus with the visual equivalent of a full bucket of cold water tossed violently in your face. That’s not a complaint!! Our favorite time-traveling historical romance returns for season seven (can you even believe it?) by reminding us exactly what Outlander is all about: The delicate balance of grisly trauma and swoony, swoony romance. Okay, sometimes it isn’t all that delicate. But season seven opens with Jamie’s horrific and very detailed dream of Claire being hanged — they show a lot of this! Too much, some might say! — followed by his voiceover assuring himself that Claire is still alive, and he knows this because she is blood of his blood and bone of his bone, and he would feel it if she were gone from this world. Then he tells Ian, “Let’s go get my wife,” and the two ride off toward Wilmington as the new (good but a little creepy) version of the Outlander opening credits begins. Did I have to stop myself from standing up and cheering because I have some dignity but not that much? Why, yes, I did. I won’t apologize for the impulse — Jamie just loves Claire so, so much, and I am into it! I think we all are. Otherwise, why are we still here? The history lessons? I doubt it!
Aside from reminding us of Outlander’s general vibe, this opening sequence is meant to, hopefully, jog your memory of where we left Jamie and Claire a little over a year ago at the end of season six. Let’s do a quick review, shall we? The horror shows known (by me) as the Clowns from Brown Town instigated a standoff on Fraser’s Ridge in an attempt to arrest Claire for the murder of Malva Christie and her unborn baby. We know that Claire found Malva already murdered and attempted to save the baby by cutting it out of Malva’s body, and honestly, Richard Brown knows it, too — he was just looking for any reason to get revenge on Claire and Jamie after Marsali killed his brother Lionel. Lionel, I doubt you can forget, was the piece of absolute shit who led the group of men in brutally raping Claire. At the end of season six, Claire and Jamie realize there’s no option but to go with Richard and his cronies and hope they can prove Claire’s innocence in a courtroom. Tom Christie made a weird move in demanding he goes with them to make sure the Browns and their Safety Committee stay true to their word of only seeking justice, and on their journey, he is … like, really nice to Claire? It’s off-putting. Because of the turmoil caused by the uprising against the British government — remember, the Revolutionary War is looming — the legal system has basically shut down. When the journey drags on and Richard begins losing control of his men, he makes a new plan: He has his men haul Jamie off to be placed on a ship headed back to Scotland and tosses Claire in a jail in Wilmington. Jamie escapes with the help of Ian and their friends from the Cherokee Nation. Meanwhile, Tom Christie vows to Claire that he will help her. Whew! It’s a lot, but it all plays into the season seven premiere’s biggest moments.
Sure, Claire is in jail, and it’s scary because (1) she has no idea where Jamie is and (2) the time-traveler knowledge that she and her jail mates are going to be waiting a long, long time for the courts to open again because of the impending revolution but, come on, this is Claire Fraser — you think she’s in this jail cell for long? This woman is always being shuttled from one dramatic situation to the next; This time, she’s taken to the ship where the Governor of North Carolina is holed up, hiding from the rebels who are, quite successfully, it seems, taking over some strongholds in the area, so that she can tend to the Governor’s very pregnant wife — because of course this is what would happen to Claire. Jail is not enough for this woman! Drag her onto a boat full of loyalists and preggos who are into leeches and using the term “murderess”! Honestly, the pregnant lady is fine and doesn’t mind Claire maybe having murdered someone — she kind of likes it? — the real problem shows up alongside one Mister Major MacDonald.
MacDonald, who you’ll remember was basically Jamie’s liaison with the crown and was none too pleased when Jamie dropped his post as Indian Agent, arrives on the ship and wastes exactly zero time letting it slip that Claire and her husband are, if not outright rebels, then definitely not loyalists. In a wild turn, the Governor is way more angry about treason than murder. Maybe it’s not that wild, boys in power, etcetera, etcetera. Regardless, he tells Claire she isn’t leaving the ship until the baby’s born, which could mean she’ll be getting a free trip to who knows where when the Governor needs to flee North Carolina. He does, however, allow her to send a note to someone in Wilmington to get the proper supplies to take care of his wife. She decides to send that note to Tom Christie. Claire once again proves she’s a smarty pants and includes on her list “vir meus” which looks like something medicinal but is just Latin for “my husband.” Tom doesn’t hesitate to find Jamie, who is now in Wilmington, and tell him to GO TO HER.
While Jamie and Claire’s reunion amidst the fog engulfing the ship is quite dreamy — not to be dramatic, but that guy who tells them to stop making out can go to hell — it, like Claire’s prison stint, is short-lived. The Governor has a proposition for Jamie: He’ll let Claire go free when Jamie is able to gather 200 men to come to fight for the crown. Jamie says yes, but come on, we all know our boy is lying!
Back in Wilmington, Jamie tells Ian that his plan is … well, no plan really, except to get back on that ship and rescue Claire. Thankfully, Jamie doesn’t have to go fight a bunch of guys on a ship by himself and most assuredly die or be imprisoned. Instead, Tom Christie comes to him with his own plan — Tom is going to confess to Malva’s murder. At first, Jamie balks at the offer. He’s very, “but I promised to always protect Claire with my clan and my name and my body!” about the whole thing, which is his way, but Tom’s way means Jamie doesn’t have to die, so personally, I vote for Tom’s way. As Tom points out, Jamie sending Tom is just another way of keeping that promise. Tom wants to do this for Claire and nothing, not even Jamie, is going to stop him. The men have a little back-and-forth that is supposed to be closure for their troubled relationship, and not once does Jamie point out the obvious that they are only in this mess because Tom brought his severely fucked up family to Fraser’s Ridge, which is nice.
If you’re like, why the hell would Tom do this for Claire, you haven’t been paying attention. Tom is in love with her, duh! It’s a wild turn for the guy who was a total a-hole when he first showed up, but she fixed his hand and is generally smart and awesome, so, you know, it tracks. All of his seemingly weird choices to stay with Claire, take care of her, help her during this ordeal, and give up his life for hers, have all come out of this love. Claire is just as shocked as anyone when he tells her as much on the ship, before he hands his confession over to the governor. Claire doesn’t for one second believe Tom killed his daughter, but he’s adamant that he’s doing this — he already sent his confession to the local paper. He takes responsibility for Malva and he wants to, for once in his life, make a sacrifice for someone who is worthy of it. He tells Claire this whole story about how Malva is actually his brother Edgar’s daughter and how Malva’s mother was executed for eventually killing Edgar and that she was a witch and it made Malva a witch, etc, you know, that old hat. The speech is said in such a heartfelt, heartbreaking tone … and yet, this dude really leans hard into the witch stuff and does not once blame himself or any of the men involved in all this turmoil, so, like, it’s hard to feel any kind of empathy here. Good riddance?
Claire’s released and she finds her way back to Jamie in Wilmington, where she still can’t wrap her head around what’s happened. Jamie, also a man in love with Claire, gets it, though: “If he feels the same as me, then you’ve done no wrong. It’s what he wanted.” Jamie would do anything to save Claire, to keep her safe. It’s enough for Claire, at least for now.
It is not enough for Jamie, though, who, unbeknownst to his wife, goes out to make good on his promise to protect and defend Claire above all else. He would do anything for her, remember? Earlier in the episode, we watched as Jamie clocked a horse outside of a place in town and now we know why he recognized it — it belongs to Richard Brown. Oh, baby, it is on! He waits for Richard in his room at the inn he’s staying at, and friends, Jamie is angry. But, like, quiet angry, which is much scarier than loud angry. Richard tries to act as if he isn’t scared and reminds Jamie that he’s got a whole clown car of Brown Towners who will come after him if he does anything to Richard, but Richard should be scared because apparently Jamie has already sent Ian and their Cherokee friends to “pay them a visit” which … does that mean … did Jamie have all the Brown Town Clowns murdered?? Is Jamie a mob boss? I mean, maybe? That gets Richard appropriately shivering, and he tries to appeal to Jamie’s goodness, reminding him that he would never kill someone in cold blood, and that he is “a good man, a moral man.” But Jamie doesn’t waver: “I’m also a violent man. Any goodness that prevails in me is because of my wife. You tried to take her from me.” AND THEN JAMIE MURDERS HIM!! I gasped. I’m still gasping. Jamie’s murdered before, but this … feels different and scarier and, yes, much more violent. Will Jamie ever tell Claire what he did in her honor? He has to, right?!
I can’t imagine Jamie will be able to keep that from Claire forever, but it might take some time before the truth comes out, mainly because it seems like the Frasers, as per usual, will have some other issues to deal with shortly. While Roger and a pregnant Bree are off on their adventure to make Roger an ordained minister, they happen to come across a prisoner of the British Army named Wendigo Donner. Wendigo, you’ll remember, is another time traveler who was with Lionel Brown’s men when they assaulted Claire. He didn’t hurt her, but he didn’t help her either; he stood by and did nothing. When Wendigo and Roger figure out who the other is, Wendigo asks for help escaping — he has a stone and just needs to get to the stones so he can travel back to his own time. Bree rightly flips out when she learns Roger has agreed to help him because, also per usual, Roger is making this all about himself. Eventually, Roger stops being a dummy for five minutes and changes his mind. He and Bree try to forget about the whole thing. It doesn’t seem like Outlander would reintroduce Wendigo for such a small storyline, so expect to see him again — and next time he’ll probably be causing more trouble than just a temporary rift between a husband and wife.