Droughtlander is over! After a very long time, our favorite show is back and we’re ready to break down everything. Outlander 6×01 “Echoes” focuses on the consequences of the season 5 finale as it opens the Ridge’s door to new problems and old enemies with the arrival of the Christie family. And, at the same time, the episode polishes some aspects that A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon left unfinished. Time for a review!
Here we go!
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room in Outlander 6×01 “Echoes”: Tom Christie and his family. The Outlander premiere took care of showing us the very complicated relationship that Jamie and Tom have through a flashback to Ardsmuir prison in which we can see the frictions between them, as well as the differences in that make them clash. And we appreciate it.
Jamie and Tom’s relationship is complicated and the two have a deep animosity. They don’t respect each other. Tom is an extremely religious and authoritarian man who allows atrocities to happen in the name of his faith and Jamie is quite the opposite and despises everything Tom stands for. So we needed to understand the core of that animosity before seeing Tom become part of the Ridge, so that the way Jamie and Tom treat each other (in a tense calm, pretending respect that neither of them feels) made sense. However, we didn’t need such a long flashback. We said what we said.
In the present, Tom and his family, along with other people who follow him, settle in the Ridge and, as expected, his relationship with Jamie and Claire is quite tense. Tom treats his children inflexibly, his word is law and others must obey it. Even so, Malva, Tom’s daughter, seems to flourish in Claire’s presence, she is fascinated with her and her work but neither her father nor her brother agrees with that fascination. They not so secretly think that women are only supposed to have children and raise them. And you have to excuse us while we throw up a little at this thought.
Tom, for his part, doesn’t trust Claire and thinks that she is a kind of blasphemous witch but, at the same time, the way he looks at her… makes us think that that apparent contempt hides something else, something he is ashamed of.
The Christie family means problems. And the problems begin to arrive in Outlander 6×01 “Echoes.” Allen makes a mistake that he pays dearly for. The brother of the bastard who planned Claire’s rape returns to try to make Jamie and Claire pay for the death of his brother. And Allen seems the perfect way to humiliate Jamie and take away his authority in his land. Tom, above all people, is willing to publicly punish and humiliate his son. But not Jamie.
He is not like that and he is not going to allow Brown to come into his land to take away his authority…but he has to punish Allen. He must do it to prevent Brown or Tom from taking it into their own hands and to prove that he is the laird of the Ridge and his word is the law. So Allen must suffer a lashing, accused of being a thief, while Jamie breaks a little with each one. Knowing that he is doing what he should but hating every second of it.
Brown’s intrusion in Outlander 6×01 “Echoes” has another consequence: Jamie decides to be an Indian Agent. At first he refused the post, but if the alternative is Brown… he will have to play on both sides for a while. Again, doing what he should and hating every second of it.
It’s clear that Brown and the Christie family haven’t finished giving us problems… this is just the beginning.
Outlander 6×01 “Echoes” deals with the consequences of the season 5 finale. While apparently, everything is fine with Claire… nothing is fine. Her physical wounds have been healed for a long time but her trauma is still there. Claire tries to avoid thinking about it, she keeps from telling anyone how she’s feeling because then it would become too real. And while she’s busy, while she’s taking care of her patients and performing daily tasks in the Ridge, for the most part, she can suppress the memories and bury them in the back of her mind.
But then, something happens or someone says something and those memories come back to her with all their strength. So, she is no longer in the Ridge, she is back in the forest, bloody, with the nightgown torn and her body and spirit tainted, broken. As Caitriona Balfe confessed to us, Claire usually compartmentalizes what she is experiencing to overcome trauma, that is her usual method. But her usual method is not working, so she must look for something new, new ways to avoid thinking about it. Especially at night because, if during the day those memories return to her unexpectedly, at night, when she is sleeping in bed next to Jamie, she can’t escape from them.
Claire’s way to get through is ether. A powerful sedative that has not yet been discovered but that can make life easier for everyone on the Ridge. And Claire immerses herself in it. The creation of the ether is both a way to stay busy and a way to escape when the memories and trauma that come with them are being too real for her, when she’s back there even while at the Ridge and Jamie, and everything that makes her feel safe blurs at the edges.
It’s all Claire can do to stay safe and strong, to remain the same as she was before. Because she wants to remain the same for herself and the world. The healer. And not only of the body but also of the soul. Claire is the person on whom everyone leans, the one who is always there for others and she wants it to stay that way, she doesn’t want others to be worried about her or move carefully around her. Claire needs to be the same as she was before, for them.
But trauma inevitably changes you, nothing is the same anymore, it can’t be. But what happened didn’t break her. She survived. That’s the important thing. Claire feels weak right now. She blames herself for not being able to prevent it and believes that everyone else, in the depths of their minds, thinks the same. It’s a normal reaction after what happened to her, but there is nothing further from the truth. She couldn’t prevent it more than Jamie or Brianna could, she survived and she must hang onto that. And her whole family wants to help her and they still see her just as they saw her before. She remains the same for them.
That’s why we love what Claire says to Brianna, “you can’t let what happened to me limit you. You must be what you want to be.” That shows that those bastards didn’t take her or her fighting and combative spirit off. She is still here, with us. She just needs to be reminded of that.
The whole family turns to Claire. They leave her space but they also let her know that they are there for her in case she needs to talk, especially Brianna and Jamie. They understand it because they went through the same thing – seriously, Outlander, we have to talk about the excess of rape – and they know that she isn’t right but she also needs her space. Claire will talk when she’s ready.
Jamie is the closest to her. He is the one who is there, with his arms ready to hold her if she falls. And worried, terribly worried. He knows that Claire is in a very dark place right now and fears that the ether is a danger… a weapon for Claire. So Jamie struggles between the need to find out how she’s feeling and the decision to leave Claire her space so as not to pressure her in any way.
But he knows it. That’s why he runs, terrified, next to Claire every time he feels that something is wrong. However, Jamie doesn’t know the depth of what is happening… and when that comes to light it will be intense, VERY intense if what Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe shared with us is an indication.
What is happening has inevitably caused the relationship between Jamie and Claire to change. It’s not a bad change but it’s different. It’s in the small details. Jamie was always protective of Claire but now he is terrified of losing her at every moment and doesn’t know exactly how to help her, although he desperately wants to. Claire has been on Jamie’s mind since he met her but now, he needs to be in the same room as her, see her, make sure she is still there.
Jamie has never been so scared, as terrified of losing her as he is now because it’s the first time he has felt her more spiritually fragile. Jamie fears that the fire he loves from her will go out, he fears that she will go out. And he is willing to do anything to preve t it, although he doesn’t know-how.
In any case, we are glad that Outlander 6×01 “Echoes” focuses on Claire’s trauma. This fact makes us explore a different, more tormented side of Claire, which may not be to the liking of all fans, but it’s the most logical thing. A Breath of Snow and Ashes didn’t allow Claire to explore and overcome her trauma. Outlander is here to solve that and we like it because it opens up new and incredible possibilities while continuing to develop the story logically, in a way in which the fandom will not feel that something was lost in the middle. We’re here for this.
In another order of things, Outlander 6×01 “Echoes” shows us a Fergus so different that we can’t help thinking “who is this person and where is our Fergus”? This change is something that the readers of A Breath of Snow and Ashes will recognize, but it will surely be a surprise to fans who didn’t read the books.
Although we don’t recognize Fergus in this way, alcoholic, bad father, and… abuser?, although we think that Marsali and her children deserve something much better than him, we appreciate Outlander‘s attempt to give Fergus’s radical change a deeper reason than A Breath of Snow and Ashes presents to us. That is, Fergus changed completely and it still feels strange because we know that he is not like that, but we can understand where this change comes from.
We can see the way guilt of not having been there to help Marsali and Claire accentuated the feeling of futility that has always been in Fergus’ mind since his hand was cut off so many years ago. We still don’t like it and it feels weird but it’s clear that Outlander attempted to make this twist of the character credible and plausible. And most of it works.
Now we just need Milady and Milord to talk to Fergus and put the dots on the i’s.
PS: Give Cesar and Lauren all the awards and more time on screen! Please and thank you.
Outlander season 6 airs Sundays at 9PM ET on STARZ.