This review contains Outlander spoilers.
Outlander Season 6 returns from its Easter/Spring Break hiatus with some answers for fans regarding Malva’s tragic murder. Even though our assessment of possible suspects for Malva’s murder ranked Claire very low on the scale, the residents of the Ridge are completely convinced Claire had the motive, means, and opportunity. It’s up to the Fraser family to work together to support Claire and Jamie as they remain the target of nasty rumors and speculation.
We’ve seen Claire throughout the season have numerous hallucinations of Lionel Brown. In this episode, her hallucinations of Lionel frequently allude to witchcraft, selfish tendencies, or exploit the anger and betrayal she felt over Malva’s false accusation of Jamie.
Throughout this season Caitríona Balfe has brilliantly portrayed Claire fighting her own mind, and this episode is no exception. One of the hallucinations even had flashbacks to Dougal, Geillis, and Frank taunting her. The ether appears to be the only thing that stops these hallucinations, and weaning herself off is difficult.
The Christies are convinced Claire is indeed a witch because of her emergency caesarean section, and being the first to find the body. Tom insists that Malva be buried in the middle of nowhere as she was unmarried and pregnant. Jamie insists Malva and her baby boy are given a Christian burial. Many of the Ridge residents believe Claire killed Malva because of jealousy and or witchcraft. Hiram Crombie, the Bugs, and Obadiah Henderson all add fuel to the fanfiction and conspiracy theory fire.
Fraser’s Ridge still doesn’t have an official minister. Roger agrees to officiate Malva’s funeral but he’s also feeling doubts about whether he is the right person to do it. Jamie tells him that Roger’s killing of the man in Brownsville was not murder and he should not feel like he sinned. He’s also worried about the clash between his own feelings as a father and church doctrine on whether unborn children go to heaven. By the end of the episode, he realizes becoming a minister is indeed his calling. He tells Bree that he’s finally found something that’s just as good as how he felt teaching in the 20th Century. There’s enough time for Roger to formally train at the Presbytery in Edenton before Bree’s due date. The Ridge will just have to deal with a Presbyterian minister married to a Catholic.
Malva’s funeral itself starts off somber until Alan refuses to allow Jamie to act as a pallbearer. Ian steps in instead. Claire offers to carry the baby’s casket but then Alan grabs it from her. He blames all of the Frasers for having perfect lives while he is ruined. This is the most we’ve seen from Alan this entire season. Everyone interprets his anger like that of a grieving brother, and Jamie and Claire realize they should leave in order to deescalate the situation.
Lizzie has been exclusively hanging out with the Beardsley twins for quite some time now. It’s very obvious both of them have crushes on Lizzie, and she never managed to pick out which brother she should date. Ian is searching the woods for evidence of Malva’s killer and it’s suspicious that the Beardsley’s are now missing. There is no evidence Josiah and Keziah did more than talk to Malva during Claire’s ether practice in Episode 5 but they might have seen someone or something suspicious.
Lizzie finally reveals first to Ian, and then to Claire, that the brothers have gone missing because they are scared they’re going to get in trouble. Lizzie couldn’t decide which brother to court so she decided to sleep with both of them starting from when she fell ill with malaria earlier in the season. The Ridge was barely able to cope with Malva’s accusations of Jamie being the father of her baby, and they’re definitely not ready to understand Lizzie and the Beardsley’s forming the 18th Century equivalent of a polygamous triad. The episode avoids answering the question of Josiah and Keziah feeling attraction for each other but Lizzie’s description points toward Lizzie having two lovers.
Claire comes from the 1960s, so her main concern is if Lizzie is being mistreated or coerced in any way. Jamie has learned a lot from Claire about the future, but the 18th Century man he’s buried for a while comes back in full force with his reaction. He demands Lizzie picks one brother to be married to with straws. Jamie handfasts Keziah and orders Josiah to leave the Ridge. Jamie’s plan doesn’t quite work out, as Lizzie later asks Roger to perform the handfast ceremony with Josiah. After finding this out, Jamie half-jokingly calls this an “unholy trinity”.
Lizzie’s revelation may very well shock fans who didn’t read the novel but the script has managed to convey Lizzie’s genuine feelings towards Josiah and Keziah very well. The shame she feels is because of what society has placed upon her relationship because it’s outside the norms. This plotline feels far less played for shock value compared to the novel because seasons 5 and 6 of Outlander worked in subtle hints about Lizzie’s equal admiration for the Beardsley twins.
Claire is surprised that Lizzie didn’t initially come to her to tell her about her pregnancy. Lizzie says that she did attempt to talk to her the day Malva died, but the door to the surgery was locked. Those knocks were what Claire heard in her hallucination before she found Malva’s body. This knowledge should transform her way of thinking, but Lionel appears in the surgery.
This time around, Jamie sees a fearful Claire. She finally has to tell someone about the waking nightmares that only go away with ether. Jamie tells her that her decision to stay in the past and reunite with Jamie has brought joy to their children and grandchildren. More importantly, Claire has Jamie to help her face the darkness. The numerous ether scenes were all building up to a logical conclusion: it’s ok for emotionally strong people to admit they need help. Even though this detail was not in the book, it was an effective plot device, showing how Claire healed from the events of last season.
Just as Claire and Jamie believe they’re finally going to get some peace and quiet, they hear and see a group of men in wagons and on horseback. Claire is being arrested for Malva’s murder. Bree and Roger’s jokes about Perry Mason turn out to be a prophecy. How will Claire be able to prove she’s innocent? Who was the father of Malvas’s baby, and is he also the murderer? We’ll have to find out next week on the Season 6 finale of Outlander.