This article contains no Outlander book spoilers, and no spoilers past episode 6 of the current season
Outlander fans are still in shock over episode 6’s cliffhanger. Malva was first introduced at the beginning of the season as a new resident of the Ridge who admired Claire’s medical skills. Behind her admiration was a darker side of blackmail, betraying Claire’s trust, and stalking. She falsely claimed Jamie was the father of her unborn child. At the end of episode 6, Claire found her dead outside the big house. Those who haven’t read the book have another few days to wait to find out who killed Malva and why.
Using only the clues from Season 6 and a little imagination, let’s figure out who would be the prime suspects and why on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being least likely!
Ian first met Malva in episode 3. She flirted with him a bit but it didn’t seem to go anywhere at first. In episode 6, Ian confesses to Claire that he had a one-night stand with Malva off-screen sometime after episode 4’s revelation that his ex-wife Wahionhaweh married Kaheroton.
Although Ian’s confession may point to a possible motive, the rest of his conversation with Claire casts huge doubts over his potential to be the murderer. Ian’s moral compass urged him to tell Claire he would marry Malva. He wasn’t entirely dissuaded when Claire told him Malva may have had more lovers after him either. Ian’s guilt for betraying his lingering feelings for Wahionhaweh are nowhere near enough motive for violence.
Until episode 6 Jamie did not have that many interactions with Malva. Those he did have centered around Malva’s duties as Claire’s apprentice. She was for the most part deferential yet curious which didn’t ring any alarm bells. As far as the audience knows, Jamie does not know Malva spied on his lovemaking session with Claire in episode 3. Later on, Malva clearly used Claire’s illness to try to get closer to Jamie which he clearly said no to. His rejection was followed up by the accusation that Jamie was the father of her child.
The Residents of Frasier’s Ridge would rate Jamie a 12 on the guilt scale regardless of the actual facts! Jamie’s leadership experience paired with his sense of honor makes him far less likely than others to murder Malva. Jamie already accepted the social ostracization as a result of the Christie’s rumor spreading. Claire already knows his side of the story so there is no reason to cover anything up. In addition, Jamie had legal recourse as an option to limit Malva’s ability to collect child support.
Malva’s main interaction with Roger was when he interrupted her hookup session with Obadiah Henderson. Malva threatened to tell everyone that his frequent visits to Amy McCallum’s house were more than roof repairs.
Roger can be ruled out as a suspect for two key reasons. First of all, Roger never had any flirting or sexual interaction with Malva so he can’t be on the possible paternity list. Secondly, Malva never revealed her gossip about Roger because everyone was too busy focusing on her pregnancy. Bree already knew about Roger’s do-gooding gone awry so revenge or covering up misdeed can also be eliminated as a motive.
Malva at first clearly admired Claire’s medical expertise and may have early on even seen Claire as a mother figure. Claire saw a young woman struggling to find her place in the world and under the thumb of a very controlling father. Malva crosses the line from being naturally curious to creepy and manipulative at the end of episode 3 when she spies on Claire and Jamie. Malva makes moves to undermine Claire’s trust in her just as Claire believes she’s making good progress at the apprenticeship. Malva’s false accusations of Jamie being the father of her child permanently damaged their relationship.
Claire’s ether and illness-induced hallucinations have a fair bit of fear and anger behind them. She was right to suspect Malva had some ill intentions during her mystery illness. Thanks to her false claims Jamie was the father of her child, their reputation is ruined. We still don’t know if Malva slipped something in her honey water. However, Claire finding the body and attempting to save her life and the baby rules her out as a suspect.
Tom and Alan Christie: 5
Tom is Malva’s physically and emotionally abusive father. Alan is her distant but still creepy brother. While both have “sus vibes” as the kids would say, there’s still a lot to cast doubt on either of them being the suspect. One would have to rely on the imagination to come up with possible motives.
The audience did see Tom spank Malva but only Alan may have known it. There’s very little evidence of sexual abuse. Being creepy and misogynistic isn’t enough on screen evidence. Tom’s extremist religious views could suggest a motive for erasing witchcraft or sin. However, Tom and Alan want Jamie or the real father to pay child support which would be undermined by her death or the death of the child.
Obadiah Henderson: 6
Roger broke up his hookup with Malva so he is definitely a potential candidate for being the father. Although he wasn’t in this episode, we know that he was starting to talk to Amy McCallum. If he’s serious about marrying, a pregnant ex-girlfriend demanding child support would be very inconvenient. What if Malva dumped him or cheated on him and he’s now angry? There are plenty of motives, but it’s also a mystery how he reacted to Malva’s pregnancy or if he even knew.
Mystery Man: 10
If Ian and Obadiah Henderson were not identified as the father in episode 7, this still leaves plenty of motive for the unknown suspect. He could have been already married and Malva turning up pregnant would cause problems. Malva could have been raped or in an abusive relationship which she covered up from her father. This does not excuse her betrayal of Claire and Jamie’s trust by falsely claiming Jamie was the father but it is a possible explanation.
While this list of suspects and/or potential paternity candidates is complete as of episode 6, there’s also nothing stopping the Outlander screenwriters from revealing information in the next episode that undermines this article. If you don’t want to pick up A Breath of Snow and Ashes, you’ll have to wait until at least Sunday, April 24th to find out the answer to the mystery!