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Outlander: Echoes

Wow. That was a whole lot of plot.

Let's start with the most important thing, which for me is always Jamie and Claire. They just want peace and quiet and are clearly not going to get it. These days, Jamie won't let Claire make house calls alone, and that's probably a good idea because while Claire is putting up a good front, she's haunted by nightmares about her recent trauma and, of all things, using her newly distilled ether to block them out.

And Jamie has a couple of massive challenges that, oddly, look much alike: Richard Brown and his misnamed Committee of Safety, and an old adversary from Ardsmuir Prison named Tom Christie.

It's impossible to like Tom Christie, a "sermonizing bastard" who wears his faith like a poorly fitting coat. There was an extended flashback to Ardsmuir Prison in 1753 before the advent of Lord John, when Harry what's-his-face was the governor, Jamie was new to his shackles and Tom was the leader of the prisoners. Jamie managed to take leadership of the prisoners away from Tom just by being Jamie.

And how was Jamie just being Jamie? By caring about his fellow inmates, including comforting young James who was going blind, and taking a punishment for old Charlie who had lost his mind. Tom appeared shocked by the old scars on Jamie's back as the new ones were being inflicted. I wasn't certain what Tom meant when he said that Jamie's flogging wasn't justice. Was Tom showing that he is not completely awful?

Jamie's solution to the schism between the Catholic and Protestant prisoners was to ask Harry to make them all freemasons. I wonder if we're going to get more flashbacks to how that all worked. (If we do get more, could they include Lord John, please?)

So present day Tom Christie and his son Allan and daughter Malva arrived hat in hand and with some desperate fisherfolk in tow, hoping to settle at Fraser's Ridge. They are extremely pious and pray all the time, although it's possible they only do that because Tom wishes it. Malva Christie seemed clever and kind, except maybe for that pointed comment about the fires of Hell.

Unfortunately, Allan Christie is a thief, and during that confrontation with the Committee the Safety over the powder horn he stole from one of the many, many Browns (this episode's Most Obvious Symbolism, I suppose), Tom was harder on his own son than Jamie was. This does not bode well.

Meanwhile, Brianna was worried about suggesting ideas for improvements on the Ridge because of what just happened to Claire. And Fergus was drinking way too much, leaving all the work to the very pregnant and clearly unhappy Marsali. Who had a large bruise on her arm. No, no, no. Say it isn't so, Fergus.

Book versus series

Everything in this episode was close to events in the books except for Claire using the ether she had made. There was a lot in the book about how dangerous and difficult the stuff is to distill, so Claire dosing herself while leaving the contraption running was unlikely to happen. I'm not complaining about the ether use, though. It was a clever way to join two parts of the books together, something the series has done successfully several times before. And ether addiction is apparently a thing. I'd never heard of it.


— It is now 1773. Season five ended in autumn 1772. The big house has acquired more fencing and a good-sized stable.

— The opening rendition of "The Skye Boat Song" was sung as a male/female duet this time, with Gaelic lyrics at the end. I was okay with the season five choir version, but I liked this rendition better.

— The long flashback featured our late friends Leslie and Hayes, and it was great to see them again. There were also dead rabbits. Rabbits are a symbol of rebirth that we often see on Outlander.

— Lord John, sadly unseen this time, sent Bree some phosphorus. That's somewhat ominous.

— Tom Christie mentioned that his wife is burning in hell. That's also a bit ominous.

— Now that I'm thinking about it, nearly everything in this episode was ominous. Maybe because war is coming.

— New character Major Donald MacDonald offered Jamie the job of Indian agent. Jamie took it to keep Richard Brown from getting it. Of course, Jamie would be massively better at the job just because he's Jamie. Like leading the men at Ardsmuir.

— Blood makes Tom faint. Jamie said it was "naught but a nick. I've had worse." Major understatement there.

— Lizzie has a becoming new hairstyle. So does Josiah Beardsley. What a coincidence.

— Caitriona Balfe was pregnant while filming this season, and there were the expected (pun intended) loose clothing and camera adjustments. Although honestly, I couldn't tell. Even during the very sweet and pretty sex scene.


Claire: "New governor, same thumb."
Guess they couldn't have gotten lucky with Governor Martin, the way Jamie did at Ardmuir with Lord John.

Jamie: "Sometimes I think you're an angel, Claire."
The way she appeared to him at Culloden and in the flashback while he was being beaten did make her look angelic.

Claire: (re: Jamie and Tom) "My god, you're like wild rams butting heads to see who's strongest."

An interesting and jam-packed episode with a lot of set-up. What do you all think? Three out of four powder horns?

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. I loved it but am holding my breath as usual...we know the history, and the books, so I am a nervous watcher lol

  2. Does Freemasonry become a theme? I'm so curious to see if that goes anywhere.

  3. Cindy, I'm also a nervous watcher, same reason. :) Josie, it wasn't just a passing reference in the books. Of course, no idea what they'll do in the series.

  4. Poor Marsali, I don't want Fergus to descend into alcoholism and spousal abuse in the worst way, mostly because I love the frog and would hate to see the character so destroyed.

    Claire's Ether addiction is also troubling but understandable. That nightmare filled with all the trauma she has endured, my god anyone would have problems coping with everything that has happened to her.

    I don't like Christie, but at least he is interesting. I can't be sure if he is a potential ally or villain, maybe just a general antagonist. Brown needs to be stopped before he starts a conflict with the local tribes.

    And of course the war is coming and they all know it. That must be such a horrible thing to live with. As details are usually general even for someone who studied American history like Brianna.

    Also nervously looking forward to what is coming next.

  5. For what it's worth, Diana Gabaldon supports the ether plotline, even though it's a departure from her book.


  6. Any info on who the duet is that sang the opening theme? Somehow I assumed that it was Cat and Sam with no evidence, just cause that would be so cool.

    Still don't care much for the whole Pioneer America setting, but this show is just too damn good to miss.

    This is the only show I've ever seen that gets lovemaking between two people right. So right! In most shows it's a plot interruption while two people do the cliche Hollywood stand up speed strip. I usually go to the fridge when that happens, but in Outlander their scenes are like the peaceful center of the whole show.

  7. The new version of the Skye Boat Song is by Raya Yarbrough and Griogair Labhruidh.

    milostanfield, I hear you. I love that Jamie and Claire are growing old together even as shit keeps happening. It's like turning the happily ever after trope on its ear.

  8. Sorry I'm late with posting my review of the second episode, but it's been A Week. Hoping I'll have it up Friday or Saturday. Definitely before episode three, I promise.

  9. Finally catching up on Outlander as season 6 is available on Netflix at last. As you say, a whole lot of plot, maybe a bit too much. I was only aware of ether addiction because of having read The Ciderhouse Rules, but it's not a surprise that a powerful anaesthetic would be addictive. I'm guessing that Claire and Fergus will be facing some parallel issues this season.

    The Freemason thing from 25 years before seemed a little weird to spring out of nowhere. Isn't there an initiation process for that? It seemed odd to me that everyone in the prison could just join up.


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