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Outlander: A Life Well Lost

How I wish they'd been able to tack this episode onto the end of last season, where it belonged. But it was still a powerful episode.

Claire found herself in prison with several dangerous-looking ladies who seemed genuinely friendly, especially if you had money for gin. I thought it interesting that Sadie Ferguson preferred to take on Claire's chances of getting off as a murderer to certain hanging as a forger, not something someone from the twentieth century would expect. Also interesting that with the colonies in a state of revolution, the courts would be closed for business for years to come, not a great state of affairs.

Fortunately, Claire's skills as a healer were needed on the HMS Cruizer for the first lady of North Carolina, where Governor Martin, a refugee from his "palace," was hiding from both the redcoats and the rebels. I got the impression that Mrs. Martin was a bit thrilled by Claire's notoriety, and then impressed with her obvious competence.

Governor Martin may have also realized that Claire didn't act like a murderous lowlife, but he was more than willing to use her skills until they were no longer needed and then possibly hang her from the yardarm. I liked that Claire literally handed Major McDonald his hat and called him a "manipulative bastard" before sending a deceptive note to Tom Christie with a list of things she needed:

— oil of porcupine
— camphor
— potassium nitrate
— vir meus (Latin for "my husband")

Governor Martin was willing to trade Claire for a Jamie-led militia of 200 soldiers loyal to the Crown. Which would have taken weeks, if not months, if Jamie could manage it at all.

And this is when the episode got heavy.

When they first married, Jamie promised Claire the protection of his body, a vow that already cost him dearly in Wentworth Prison. Jamie was about to take it even further by confessing to Malva's murder and letting the Governor hang him in Claire's place.

At the Red Falcon, as Jamie and Tom Christie were discussing the situation, this was the point where Tom's face changed. He had that calmness about him of someone who has made a momentous decision and is at peace with it. Allow me to do this, Tom asked Jamie. Give me the privilege of trusting me to die for Claire.

The final scenes of this episode made me sob for Tom Christie, a character I outright disliked; Mark Lewis Jones gave an exceptional performance. Tom told Claire that he had been waiting his entire life for what he thought was God, but that instead, it was love, and that he loved her. He wasn't pleading for sympathy, or in any way asking her to respond. How difficult would it be to just accept a gift like that?

We don't know what happened to Tom after Claire was freed and returned to Jamie in Wilmington. With martial law and the state of misogyny in the 18th century, Tom Christie might actually get away with killing his supposedly evil and morally bankrupt daughter. Or the Governor could have hung him immediately. I assume we'll find out.

Tom told Claire some other intriguing facts to accompany his confession: that Malva was his brother's child, not his own; that his wife Mona killed that brother and was hanged for it; that Malva had confessed in church to trying to kill Tom and Claire with a potion. Claire asked Tom outright who the baby's father was, and Tom didn't reply at all. Tom did see a difference between Malva and Claire, and he never believed Claire was a witch. Again, I assume we'll eventually find out what happened to Malva.

We won't have to wait to find out what happened to last season's bad guy, though. Jamie waited until Claire was asleep before making certain that Richard Brown would never make another attempt to kill her. I thought it was pretty funny that Brown tried to convince Jamie that he was too virtuous to kill Brown in cold blood. Nope.

The Roger and Bree in Edenton B-plot was almost comic relief. Completely unaware of the major drama happening to Bree's parents, Roger stumbled onto time traveler Wendigo Donner by quoting Mohammed Ali. Laugh out loud. And I particularly liked Bree teasing Roger about stealing sweeties from the post office because it was such a fun contrast to Claire in jail for murder.

After arguing with Bree about Wendigo's guilt or innocence (Wendigo did leave Claire at Lionel's mercy), Roger finally decided to just pray for him. I think that's wise, considering what happened to Roger the last time he got involved in a dispute in a war zone. It was also good for Roger to finally unburden himself for not trying to save that mother and daughter on Bonnet's ship.

Maybe Roger will make a diplomatic and effective minister after all. Not that I ever doubted him.

Book versus series

This was pretty much what happened in the wind-up of book six, although it took a lot longer and had more plot shenanigans. Claire spent a long time as Governor Martin's amanuensis. I think Wendigo Donner showed up at River Run, not at Edenton, but he was indeed trying to find a way home.

And Richard Brown simply went back to Brownsville and was never heard from again. I'm glad Jamie put a period at the end of that particular sentence.


— This season's version of "The Skye Boat Song" was by Sinéad O'Connor. I didn't like it the first time through, but I enjoyed it the second time. And there was a different title card of the stones; that was new.

— The opening, with Claire being hanged, was a waking nightmare of Jamie's. It reminded me of the season four premiere.

— The post-credit scene was of Jamie walking through town at night to visit Richard Brown's hotel room. I think. Correct me if I'm wrong.

— Jamie told Brown that Ian and Chief Bird's warriors took care of Brown's so-called Committee of Safety. Although we didn't see it.

— Wendigo Bonner still has Flora's emerald and just wants to go home. He told Roger that he came with four other members of the Indian Nations through the stones in Okracoke, but something went wrong and they didn't arrive together.

— Governor Martin had just lost Fort Johnston. Here is the trusty Wikipedia for your Revolutionary War background.


Jamie: "Let's go get my wife."

Roger: "I'm tough. I had my wayward youth. Smoking, drinking beer..."
Bree: "Wow."
Roger: "... stealing sweeties from the post office. Quite the wee criminal for awhile."
Bree: "The terror of Inverness."
Roger: "The son of a preacher man."

Soldier: "What advice can these devil-dodgers give us, eh?"
Roger: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. And God will surely go with thee."
Wendigo: "Ali."

Claire: "Tell me he didn't make that confession for me."
Jamie: "He loves you. It's plain to see, Sassenach. I'd have done the same, counted my life well lost if it saved you."

Any episode that makes me sob uncontrollably gets four out of four stolen sweeties from the post office,

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


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this episode & agree it should have been included in last season's finale. Mark Lewis Jones was wonderful as Tom Christie. He pretty much stole every scene for me even while intensely disliking the character. My guess is Allen killed stepsister Malva. Another reason for Tom to sacrifice himself to save his son & why he didn't answer Claire (other than keeping the narrative mystery going). Would enjoy seeing more of Tom, but his arc is probably over.

    Loved Roger's "Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee." Howled. Yes, good comic relief.

    The ending with Jamie in darkness in Brown's room was perfectly filmed. More fine acting from Sam.

    Hope Marsali & Fergus show up soon. Love them.

    Thanks for your insightful reviews.

  2. Your review made me appreciate this episode more than I did while watching it, Billie. I was a bit underwhelmed, although also of course very glad that nobody is getting hanged as a witch.

    (Thank you, also, for the trigger warning about Jamie's daymare!)

    I do think Tom's son killed Malva. I assume that will be cleared up at some point?

    I absolutely loved Claire and Jamie's kiss being interrupted by the officer's "This is not permitted" on board the ship.

    So: we're finally heading into the Revolutionary War. I think I've mentioned before in one of my comments (maybe in Season One) that the 18th century is my least favorite century. I will now add that I also really, really don't like Revolutionary War stuff, since it just reminds me of how much I disliked the teachers I had in junior year of high school, when we covered it in depth.

    (Hamilton is the exception, obviously.)

    I trust Outlander, though to make me care! Maybe this season will give me a patriotic thrill. The first few seasons made me care deeply about the plight of the Highlanders, which I never would have expected.

    I kept meaning to mention this when I was watching last season, so I'll throw it in here: I know they film in Scotland, but the show is now set in the American South. People should not be wearing so many layers in summer in the South.

    1. Josie, you can trust Outlander to make you care. I'm no fan of Revolutionary War stories, either. Just like with the Scottish rebellion, though, it's more about our characters.

      There's a lot of talk in the books about how hot it is. :)

  3. I originally misread your last line of the comment as there being a lot of talk in the books about how hot the Revolutionary War was. 😃


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