Outlander season 7 (part 1) spoilers follow – including the end of episode 8.
It’s tough being an Outlander fan. Back when the first season began in 2014, viewers who had become hooked on the love story between time travelling nurse Claire Randall and 18th century Highlander Jamie Fraser had an agonising six month wait as the season was split into two halves – and the word ‘Droughtlander’ was coined to describe the long period in between.
Of course, since then there have been other Droughtlanders – most notably the two-year gap between seasons five and a shortened season six (thanks, Covid) – and now we have another one, as the current season seven has also been split into two halves, with the final eight episodes not airing until 2024.
As with the first season break – which left us with a white knuckle cliffhanger as Black Jack Randall had captured Claire at Fort William and Jamie was about to put his life at risk to come to her rescue – there are lots of plot threads left dangling and mysteries to be resolved at the end of this first half of the season.
Read on to discover just where Outlander (season seven, part one) leaves both us and the Fraser family, and what it all means for the second part of the season, which is coming soon (but not soon enough, of course).
Outlander season 7 episode 8 ending, explained: Roger and Bree in the 20th century
After spending a lot of time on Roger and Bree’s story in the previous episode – including a sex scene featuring the odd musical soundtrack of Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’ that’s probably best forgotten – we briefly catch up with the distressed parents, who have discovered that Rob Cameron has snatched their son Jemmy and disappeared into the night.
While we always thought Rob was a little suspicious when he seemed far too interested in Roger’s ‘novel’ about time travel, then got a little over-friendly with Bree and rudely turned up for dinner at Lallybroch uninvited, Roger and Bree are only now realising how horrible he truly is.
Bree thinks Rob has taken their son through the stones to the 18th century, and that his plan is to use the boy to go after the French gold hidden in a cave near Fraser’s Ridge – because he knows, having read Roger’s book, that Jemmy is the one person (aside from his grandfather Jamie) who knows its location.
Buck (Roger’s ancestor who accidentally travelled to the 20th century) volunteers to travel with Roger to get Jemmy back, despite knowing if he goes back to the past that he is destined to die within a year according to Roger’s ancestral family tree. What a nice man – we can almost forgive him for being a key part of the events that led to Roger being hanged back in season five.
The family head to the stones at Craigh Na Dun, and Roger and Buck (Roger clutching Jemmy’s scarf, complete with its Tufty Club road safety badge – awww) travel through the stones, leaving Bree and daughter Mandy behind.
But what about Claire, Jamie, Ian and William in the 18th century?
Back in 1777 at the end of episode seven, Jamie was lying on the Saratoga battlefield looking a bit, well, dead. So you can’t really blame a couple of robbers who mistake him for a corpse while looting bodies on the field, but they get quite a surprise when Claire turns up and attacks them, coming to the rescue (again) of her injured husband.
While the pair bicker (“What took you so long?” asks Jamie) and Claire dresses his wounds including a stomach-churning one to his hand, we get a few cute moments between the pair (and Outlander fans rejoice as there haven’t been that many this season) before the plot jumps ahead two weeks.
Claire tells Young Ian that there will be a battle in the future that brings the French into the war, and it is possibly her sense of impending doom that sends him to the tent of his crush, Rachel Hunter. He kisses her, she slaps him, and it is clear that both would rather go back to the kissing part, but Ian tells her she shouldn’t love him because it is too dangerous.
Of course, her being a Quaker and him not (which her brother Denzel helpfully points out) would be difficult enough, plus there is a pesky war going on, but it’s most likely Ian is concerned about Fraser’s Ridge ex-handyman Arch Bug’s threat when Ian accidentally killed his wife.
“When you’ve something worth taking, you’ll see me again. That I promise you,” Arch threatened, and no doubt that vengeful promise is what is keeping Ian from taking things further with Rachel.
Meanwhile, Claire and Jamie meet a soldier who impresses them both, and it is revealed his name is Benedict Arnold. A shocked Claire tells Jamie that Arnold will become infamous in American history, and that he will be remembered as a traitor because he defected to the British side.
We’ve now reached October 7, 1777, the date of the second battle of Saratoga.
Jamie’s hand has healed enough that he enters the battlefield as a rifleman, and he sees his cousin, Simon Fraser, on the opposing side. Arnold orders Jamie to shoot Fraser, but instead of hitting his cousin he shoots the hat off a nearby soldier – and when that soldier turns around, Jamie realises it is his son, William.
Someone else shoots Simon, and the rebels – including Jamie and Ian – advance and storm the British fort. Benedict Arnold is injured, and Claire treats him.
Arnold tells her how frustrated he is that General Gates never promotes him and other people get credit for his deeds on the battlefield (one of the reasons Arnold later switches to the British side, according to historians), and Claire attempts to console him by saying he will be remembered (which isn’t a lie, of course).
Just as Jamie tells Claire he saw William on the battlefield and nearly shot him, a British soldier arrives in the American rebel camp and asks Jamie and Claire to come to the British side as a mortally wounded Simon Fraser is asking for him.
Jamie visits with his cousin and is there as he dies, and then he follows Scottish tradition and leaves the entrance to his cousin’s tent open, so Simon’s soul can peacefully exit.
Claire and Jamie see William at the camp before they leave and Jamie admits he was the one who shot William’s hat off, and gives him his own hat as an apology.
When William has gone, Jamie reminds Claire that “for the second time in his life I’ve come within an inch of shooting my son,” referring to the day William was born and he shot the Earl of Ellesmere, who was threatening his son’s life. “What if I don’t miss a third time?” Jamie wonders.
General Gates then visits the Frasers, and asks that Jamie take Simon’s body back to Scotland to be buried – he has arranged for Claire, Jamie and Ian to have passage on a British ship that will safely take them away from the war and back home.
Before they depart, Ian visits Rachel and asks if she will look after his beloved dog, Rollo. After he leaves, she is seen heading for Valley Forge (the winter encampment of the Continental Army) with Rollo, when she encounters an old man on the road and – you guessed it – it’s Arch Bug. He recognises Rollo and takes an interest in Rachel and surmises that Ian must think a lot of her if he has left his treasured pet with her. Uh oh.
This half of the season ends with Jamie (suffering from seasickness as usual), Claire and Ian on the British ship, spotting the coast of Scotland in the distance.
How does Outlander season 7 episode 8 set up part two?
There are still eight episodes to go in season seven (coming in 2024), and a lot of ground to cover.
The most immediate cliffhanger to be solved is, of course, where (and when) is Jemmy? Will Buck and Roger rescue him from the evil clutches of Rob Cameron, and what happens to Brianna and Mandy who have been left behind?
Fans of the novels – season seven contains many of the events from Diana Gabaldon’s seventh book, An Echo In The Bone – will know that there is much more drama from Jemmy’s kidnapping to come, and also that Claire, Jamie and Ian’s arrival in 18th-century Scotland isn’t exactly plain sailing, either.
We’re pretty sure that the Frasers will end up back in America at some point – especially since Arch Bug is lurking around Rachel, waiting for Ian to return, and there’s always the chance William will find out Jamie is his dad – but in the meantime it is likely we will see some old friends as Jamie, Claire and Ian make their way to the familial home of Lallybroch.
Thanks to casting announcements, we know that Jamie will see his beloved sister Jenny once more (although the role has been recast, with Kristin Atherton taking on the part following scheduling conflicts preventing Laura Donnelly from returning), and also brother-in-law Ian (Steven Cree).
Other characters who will pop up are Jamie’s stepdaughter Joan (Layla Burns) and ex-wife Laoghaire Fraser (Nell Hudson) and – presumably in flashbacks as they are all dead – Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek), Jamie’s dad Brian (Andrew Whipp) and Jamie’s uncle Dougal (Graham McTavish).
Since nearly all of these characters have caused trouble and strife for Jamie and Claire in the past, we’re guessing that the second part of season seven could be even more dramatic than the first half (damn you, Droughtlander!).