Outlander Season 6 Episode 1 Review: Echoes

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Well, Outlander Season 6 Episode 1 was much longer than it needed to be, and by the end, there isn’t much to cheer about.

Ghosts of the past are always with us, long after you’d hoped they would take their leave.

Claire and Jamie are both faced with demons who continuously haunt them, whether real or imagined.

Given the number of terrors this family has tried to outrun over the years, it’s no surprise that even a fresh start at Fraser’s Ridge leaves them vulnerable.

Claire’s attack from Outlander Season 5 is really messing with our heroine, and she’s using her medical expertise to deal with it on a very worrying level.

The voiceover at the beginning of the episode was a perfect prelude to the Outlander Season 6 premiere.

First, we were thrust back in time to Jamie’s time in Ardsmuir prison, which was head-scratching in its timing until Tom Christie appeared on Fraser’s Ridge seeking a new life.

Unfortunately, Tom isn’t interested in a new life. He’s interesting in dragging his old life to Fraser’s Ridge.

It took everything Tom had to remain as civil as a man as he can be. Frankly, he failed miserably.

You’d think a man like him would arrive on the ridge with his tail between his legs. He treated Jamie terribly and seemed to take a strange pleasure in doing so.

But he was obstinate from the moment he set foot on the porch and knocked on the door. His saving grace was that Roger and Brianna intercepted his initial visit. They’ve got an unparalleled capacity to care for others, but doing their best still lent to an uncomfortable conversation.

Tom: Is there a schoolhouse on the ridge?
Roger: No, not yet. But we do intend to build one. For now, I’ve been teachin’ the wee lad his letters.
Tom: As long as there’s a church. A man must surely build a house for God before building a home for himself.
Roger: Aye, well, we don’t have a church yet, either. But that sounds like something my father would have said. He was a minister. Of course, he was Presbyterian. My side of the family was Protestant.
Tom: I’m not Catholic. There were some of us at Ardsmuir who merely wanted Scotland’s interests best served rather than the Pope’s.

Scots, in particular, don’t relate well to religious fanaticism. The scuffles in Ardsmuir reminded us of that. Catholics and Protestants turned on each other, making their already hellish situation even worse.

Jamie’s desire back then to become a freemason with a belief in God but no particular religious affiliation changed the tides. Tom bringing his grueling religious beliefs to the ridge during a growth phase is dangerous business.

They’ve got enough on their plates with Claire’s understanding of our history and the impending war to have to deal with warring religious factions, too.

Tom’s kids are interesting. Malva and Allan have already discovered outside interests. Malva with Claire’s science — which could be disastrous for Claire with the family’s religious zealotry — and Allan, who has already gotten a bad start stealing from Brown’s posse.

The name Lucifer brings to mind the burning fires of hell. Are you going to use the phosphorous to light the fire?

Malva

Robert’s brother Lionel did a lot of damage when they inflicted the violent, violent trauma on Claire, so seeing Robert traipsing across the land with his “committee of safety.” Safety doesn’t go hand-in-hand with the Brown family, so the committee seems farcical.

Well, they did find a little something to investigate after spotting Allan hunting with Ian. Thank goodness they are out there to rid the world of a scourge like Allan, a troubled young man who swiped a powderhorn.

Jamie was already on edge with the Indian agent position looming in the back of his mind and Tom’s arrival, but for Robert’s safety committee to storm his land and demand retribution for Allan’s offense nearly sent him over the edge.

The way he intervened with Allan’s punishment, saving him from flesh-mutilating lashings with a whip should have been well received by his father, but Tom preferred his son pay for his indiscretions as Brown indicated.

Jamie: Time to go now, Tom. It’s not but a knick. I’ve had worse.
Claire: There.
Tom: Thank you. [to Jamie] At least it will be an honorable scar, won’t it, McDou?
Jamie: [closes the door behind him] My God. He’s a stiff-necked bastard.
Claire: Why on earth would he say that? Those are honorable scars.
Jamie: The flogging at Ardsmuir. He saw my back. Must have thought I’d done something to deserve them. And he didn’t like me watching him sweat, I expect.

Tom knows what Jamie has suffered, partially at his doing, but he was still willing to let Allan suffer a similar fate for a silly teenage prank. Using a belt instead of a whip was still humiliating and painful, but it doesn’t tear the flesh, leaving a lasting memory of a one-time event.

It’s not difficult to imagine that Tom might cozy up to Brown and his committee, which would mean he learned absolutely nothing from his Ardsmuir ordeal, and since he’s brought quite a contingent to the ridge, it’s would be quite distressing.

Because the very last thing anyone needs right now is to add to Claire’s very fragile mental state.

She’s got a leg up on everyone else of the time to soothe herself. But it could have disastrous consequences.

Claire and Jamie have supported each other through some of the very worst of times. To do that, their lines of communication have had to be open. Honesty is the only thing that can save them when their minds take them back to the darkest places.

It’s fantastic that Claire developed ether to help her medical practice. But given her need to disappear from her trauma without sharing how deeply she’s suffering from those she loves makes me wonder if she developed it for the right reasons.

If you watch Outlander online, you know she has always been interested in making surgical procedures as painless as possible, so she would have eventually gotten around to introducing ether in the wrong time period.

But since she’s using herself as a guinea pig and for solace, her motivation to address it now is suspect.

Jamie was scared to death when he thought she had died. With Tom’s presence, he needs her more than ever. She needs him, as well, but she’s holding back.

Maybe it’s too painful for her to discuss. Maybe she thinks her family and the ridge need her more than she needs to be well. Whatever it is, she’s on a harrowing course that could end badly.

But there was still even more pain and suffering to be had, as Fergus has taken to drowning his sorrows in drink and added a dash of infidelity for good measure.

Marsali is ready to burst with her next child, so it makes the situation even worse. She’s a sweetheart on every level, and what Fergus is doing to her is despicable.

There are too many damned secrets on the ridge, and before the family is faced with the Revolutionary War, they need to get their shit together. He didn’t want to do it, but maybe Jamie being on the inside with the Crown will ultimately be beneficial.

I’ll do it. If it’s between me and him, I canna let him do it. I’ll be your Indian agent.

Jamie

Only time will tell, and we have a relatively short amount of it this season to get it all done — stupid COVID.

While I don’t think we needed a supersized version showing how pain and suffering have permeated the ridge again, it was so wonderful to reconnect with the Fraser family again.

This season promised to tear at our heartstrings once again, and we are so ready to dive in headfirst.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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