Villans come in all forms, and none seemingly so innocent as Malva Christie, played by Jessica Reynolds. However, for those that are wise to such things Outlander, a darkly pretty smile can hide many things. Is Malva Christie a Geillis Duncan in the making? Does she pose a future Laoghaire? I say a combination or conflagration of these characters comes to mind. For what turns a young woman into such a foe? Women had very little power in the 18th century, as Claire and Brianna are constantly up against, trying to not draw attention to themselves, but they just cannot shake off their 20th-century selves. So how does a poor young woman gain power and status in these times? Just watch Malva’s moves.
When I first read “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” by Diana Gabaldon, my first reflection on Malva is that she reminded me of some of the young girls from the Salem Witch Trials, the young girls who acted as if they saw spirits and familiars, devils, and pointed a finger at older women. However, much of this was put down to mold in the rye as a hallucinogen, along with other political colonial issues. Note: Political Colonial Issues and superstition. If you are familiar with the stories, it was the one side of the river pointing at another, it was sanctioned land grabs in others, it was superstition and fears. But what it really was, was a situation where a much younger girl, with very little power in the household, could control someone else’s fate. The young girls felt their power over adults, manipulating them into doing their bidding by acting possessed.
Whether it was a combination of all things, Outlander is always dealing with superstitions and fear in the fact that the Scottish are always a superstitious lot.
Malva lives with her self-righteous father, which as the Fraser’s noted, there was some question as to Malva being Tom’s child, and a brother already known to be a thief and harboring a grudge against Jamie Fraser. She is interested, starving for something of a better life. She latches on to Claire’s knowledge of healing and plants, and in becoming an apprentice to Claire, she can be in defiance of Tom, who takes a strap to her for being wicked, daily.
Malva notices her growing power over men, her beauty and guile soon have many men of Fraser’s Ridges who do not have wives, and some that do, very interested in taking a stroll with Malva. She is also learning about herbs and medicinals from Claire, and as we see, she wants to be Claire. Watch out for Malva to see just how much more power she will grab. We see her walking with Young Ian, and giving clues to her past. We also see Jamie taking a walk with her. How many more men will Malva wrap around her fingers before she strikes?
Find out in Episodes 4 “Hour of the Wolf” and 5 “Give Me Liberty” of Outlander Season 6. Now on the Starz® App and at 9pm CST on Starz®.
Episode 3, Season 6 has so many themes, but what it all comes down to is fear. There is a war brewing and the Fraser’s know it. The people of Fraser’s Ridge have been in conflicts in their homelands, fear the new world and fear and superstitions came with the fisher folk. It is an episode that sets up the story archs for several characters on Fraser’s Ridge, Marsali and Fergus, The Christies, The Fraser’s Ridge Gang (The Weeans), The Cherokee, and of course Jamie and Claire.
Our episode opens with a view of a wide river and a tiny basket carrying a crying baby heads to the rough waters and a sudden drop at the falls. The Fraser Ridge Gang, including young Germain , are rushing down the riverside trying to catch up with the basket. Roger MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) hears and sees the basket carrying the baby, and charges into the waters to retrieve the baby. When the lads think all is lost and the basket goes over the falls, Roger shames them and reveals he has rescued baby Henri-Christian. He quickly begins to Baptise the infant, even though he is not ordained, as his 20th century mind knows this is about superstions and fear. The boys admit that their parents have told them that the child, born a dwarf, is a demon. If they touch it they will burn in Hell. Roger uses the baptism, and uses Henri-Christian’s name, emphasizing the Christian part. He then singles out Germain after telling the boys to go home and that Mr. Fraser will deal with them all later at the big house. He points out that Germain should be protecting his brother, how did this all happen. Germain, shamed a bit, admits that he did not defend his brother due to peer pressure.
Later, Roger decides to aid in protecting baby Henri-Christian in reminding the people of The Ridge in the Bible story of Moses, the child in the basket found and raised by Egyptians. Good job, Roger.
Later, after Henri-Christian is brought to safety to be with his family again and there is much discussion about how could this happen on The Ridge. Marsali (Lauren Lyle) comes home to find her bairns asking their father for food, and Fergus (César Domboy) continues to drink. After weeks of Fergus pulling away from he and the family, Marsali finally has it out with him. She will not have a husband unless Fergus is really there with them. Fergus, fuming, tries in vain to discuss what is wrong, but it all comes out wrong, as in making excuses. Having had enough, Marsali tells him to leave.
The family has not been able to reach Fergus, truly, since Marsali and Claire were attacked. He was in charge of the Ridge at that time, and should have been able to protect them. When Claire, his adoptive mother, tries to reason with him later, he opens up at last about what his life was like in the brothel in Paris, how Dwarf children were mistreated, sold as objects. In France, dwarf children were often left for the wolves. Domboy has truly grown as an actor in this series, and makes the audience really see the real, deep Fergus. He doesn’t want that sort of life for his son. Fergus has been dealing with his own short comings with missing a hand, a very severe handicap in a world filled with labor intensive work and providing for his family has been difficult. He refuses to go back with Claire.
Later, Jamie comes upon him trying to suicide by the creek. He cuts a gash in his arm and Jamie tells him he is a man of worth, he would be lost with out Fergus, that Fergus is his, of his family. Not to mention the damnation of his soul. He drags Fergus back with him for Claire to treat, and eventually they bring Fergus back to Marsali, where they are reconciled and must discuss how to keep baby Henri-Christian safe with the fearful people of The Ridge pointing fingers at the child and ready to blame him for crop failures or any other bad circumstances at Fraser’s Ridge.
Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) is a very difficult man. Claire finds herself pushing back at Tom’s blows of self righteousness, the blustering he furls out to protect himself from sins, in every conversation they have. What it really is, and what Claire recognises, that it is fear of loss of control that is really bein dealt with. Tom wants to be the leader, and is often outshined by Jamie, an truly struggles with it. We see the angry side of Tom, as he takes the strap to Malva. In his failed attempt, he realizes he would have better use of his hand to administer the strap if it did work properly. So this is what drives him to Claire for the operation, or so we think, his only motive is to be able to punish the wicked girl.
What is really happening, and if you haven’t seen it, look again, is that Tom Christie is a moth to a flame. He wants what Jamie (Sam Heughan) has, and despite himself and his blusterings, begins to soften towards Claire (Caitriona Balfe). While Jamie tries to encourage him to take the ether for surgery, and Tom refusing on his high moral ground, Jamie discusses his hand surgery and explains to Tom it is no easy matter. Tom of course refuses, saying it’s the Devils work (ether) it is not natural. Claire explains, as if talking to a brick wall, that he needs to hold still while she performs the surgery the ether will make it so. Tom agrees but only with whisky and Jamie must hold him down. She calls him a masochist out of frustration, and has to explain the term to both men. With a few drams more and Jamie holding Tom in the surgery chair, and some great surgery FX from the crew, Claire manages to do some fine surgery work. Claire then talks Tom into staying in the surgery for the night to keep an eye on him. Tom gives in, but as we see him softening, we must realize that the man is becoming absolutely besotted with Claire. Watch out for the brewing of sin in this little drama, the man has fallen under her spell.
Watch all the drama and kettle boiling while we slowly head towards war. Next up, Episode 4 “Hour of The Wolf”.
It’s another episode filled with conflicts. The Fraser’s, MacKenzies, and people of Fraser’s Ridge, keep bumping up against traditions, religion, customs, superstitions, and of course, loyalties. Families mean kinship, and all that comes with it.
Are You Not My Kin?
And so begins the job of Indian Agent for Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). Jamie and Ian meet with the local Cherokee Nation as Jamie takes on his new role as Indian Agent for the Crown. Ian is helpful trying to translate, while he mostly knows the Mohawk language. Chief Bird (Glen Gould) and Still Water (Simon R. Baker) tell Jamie that the Cherokee people have fought with the king before, and won. Why would they aid the king now? The settlers are pushing at the treaty lines. How will they defend their own people? They point out they could have killed the settlers if they wanted to, they don’t need guns for that. Jamie is hesitant and refuses to request guns for the Cherokee, questioning where their loyalties lie. Ian asks him why, and Jamie reminds him that Claire and Brianna have told him of what happens in the future to the Cherokee and other nations. Ian asks to know more. It isn’t good.
At the heart of this conflict, Jamie and Ian are the remaining kinsmen. Jamie has lost his Godfather, Murtagh, and must continue his turn as a father figure for Young Ian, who is not so young anymore. Young Ian identifies greatly with his adopted Mohawk family and the Cherokee people he wishes to protect. One of the reasons he identifies with the tribes, is that they are very much a clan, an extended family and honor is important. A rift starts to form as Ian cannot understand why Jamie will not agree to seek guns for the Cherokee. He feels they are family to him. Jamie questions him, is he not a kinsman to Jamie? How can Jamie just give them guns, and hope they don’t use them on the people of the Ridge? Jamie asks Ian to think about it, would giving the Cherokee guns mean they could be used on the people of The Ridge.
Of course, we have a few scenes right out of the book, and there is a good one. One of them is the night that Jamie and Ian spend in a Long House, where suddenly Jamie finds not one, but two naked Cherokee women, Walela (Blair Lamora) and Selu (Barbara Patrick), are under the skins with him. The scene is well played by Sam Heughan, finding himself at the mercy of these two women, not wishing to offend, and Ian (John Bell) enjoying the situation far too much. It adds some much needed humor in an episode filled with doubts. It also makes Jamie head for home and into the arms of Claire.
Roger seems to have the worst of luck, always, before he gets something. He has found himself drawn to helping officiate as a clerical leader on The Ridge, since he was raised by a Protestant Clergyman. He has tried to help a recent widow with her small son, and Tom Christie asks him to officiate at Grannie Wilson’s wake at the meeting house/church.
Sam Heughan and Robin Scott
Roger sees it as a honor to help, he hasn’t had it easy since coming to the past and sufering as a slave, hung, and losing much of his singing voice after surviving that ordeal. However, as he seeks a purpose, perhaps he can use his speaking voice in helping the fisher folk who have come. So this opportunity of giving a service at the wake, and he hopes it will help unify the newcomers with the Catholic presence on The Ridge. Of course, while Roger is saying words for Grannie Wilson, a stiring of the corpse to sitting upright and demanding to know what is going on spooks everyone and lends more fear and superstition to what will in later episodes become a powder keg situation. After Grannie has her say, and the Sin Eater has had his bread, Grannie does finally have her last breath, after Claire of course checks her over to be sure.
Roger does get the upper hand later when he comes to the aid of Marsali. She is having a very difficult birth, and Fergus is no where to be found. He knows she needs Fergus and seeks him out. Roger confronts Fergus and tells him to man up, be the man Marsali needs right now. Fergus has been dealing with the aftermath of feeling helpless when Marsali was attacked, and has been drinking heavily. In counseling Fergus, and seeing Fergus go to Marsali’s aid, is Roger finally feeling his calling, to be of good counsel to others in need?
Jessica Reynolds and Caitriona Balfe
Claire’s PTSD symptoms continue to plague her, as other memories from the past come to haunt her. Alan Christie discouraging Malva from her adoration of Claire’s skills as a surgeon/healer, doesn’t help when he brings up that such women may be suspected of witchcraft. Allan is still smarting from the lashing he took. With that and Claire’s haunted surgery where her attacker was silenced by Marsali, and his ghost seems to be haunting Claire, not Marsali. Claire has been using ether to deal with her stress, collapsing into a motionless heap when she feels overwelmed. What will the people on The Ridge think when she begins to use ether in surgeries? To make people as if dead, then bring them back to life?
Lauren Lyle and Caitlin O’Ryan
Claire is on cue when Marsali suddenly goes into a long and difficult labor. With Jamie yelling “Where the hell is Fergus?”, and Marsali’s only comfort being wee Adso, Claire uses the labor as a teachable momment with young Malva, which just makes you want to cringe. Claire begins to soften and bring down her guard, encouraging Malva who has no support from her family, to learn healing. Of course we start seeing that Malva covets Claire’s standing and independence, and the power she wields as a healer. Claire is becoming too trusting of the seemingly innocent lass.
And speaking of surgery, the devout Tom Christie comes calling to a frosty Claire, suggesting he may want the surgery he had refused earlier. Claire suggests he comes back when he has full use of his newly injured hand. It seems that Christie is drawn to Claire like a moth to the forbidden flame. Hold that thought for later in the season.
Jamie is walking on the property in the evening and overhears Young Ian talking about his bairn he had with his Mohawk wife while holding Marsali’s baby, Henri-Christian. He confides that he lost the child, and when Jamie overhears this, he makes a decision on writing to the Governor to request guns for the Cherokee. He realizes that the Cherokee people have fears for their families just as he does. They should have the right to defend their own people. Wouldn’t it be better to work on an allyship with them?
Should I also mention the rumor going around that Laoghaire may make an appearance? Because the Christie’s and Brown’s presence is not enough to deal with.
Here’s a Wee Adso making a nuisance on the Majors’s tunic to cheer you up.
Major Donald MacDonald (Robin Laing), a half-pay ( allowance to a soldier not actually in service, a stipend), resurfaces after Jocasta’s wedding, to visit the Fraser’s with a proposition. A Brittish soldier who is looking to keep on the good side of the Governor as it means more oportunity may come his way, he dangles the job of Indian Agent in front of Jamie, who doesn’t have enough to contend with now that the Christies have arrived.
Major MacDonald runs ground somewhere between a friend of Fraser’s Ridge, and Jamie Fraser, and that constant reminder of the debt to The Crown that the Fraser’s and settlers owe to the Governor. While initially Jamie refuses the offering of yet another responsibility, Major MacDonald uses his wiles to take the role to the Brown’s, with their Committee of Safety damages already being seen on The Ridge and surrounding areas. With roles like this, there can always be those that will abuse such power, as we will see in the next few episodes.
MacDonald is a bit of a “better to have as a ally”, or keep the appearances of such, character. He is at least a Scotsman and can appreciate what Jamie is doing for the settlers. He is also quite a bit jealous of Jamie and the land that he has been given, and hopes to have some of that luck roll off on himself. When he tells Jamie that he will offer the job as Indian Agent to the Brown’s, he is trying to lure Jamie in. Is it because he must do his duty, gain his coin, or is he baiting Jamie a bit. We’d like to think he knows Jamie to be the steadier and more reliable man for the job.
After the confrontation with the Committee of Safety and the Christies at the end of 601 Echoes, Jamie changes his mind and tells Major MacDonald that he will take on the role of Indian Agent. It’s better he save the Indians and the peace that has been brokered than allowing the Brown’s to continue to blame the Indians for burnt homesteads that the Brown’s have been the actual perpetrators of.
Major Macdonald loves to visit with the Fraser’s as a safe haven for his travels in the back country. However, a particular grey feline finds his wig to be the most enticing of prey. Pounce.
Watch tonight’s episode, 602 Alligiance, to see how Jamie fares as Indian Agent, learns new languages, get’s in a bit of a tight spot with sharing, and creates an estrangement with Young Ian. And Claire must save Marsali’s baby. And where the hell is Fergus?Available on Starz® at 9PM EST and Starz® App.
Go behind the scenes as the cast gives us some insight into what it was like filming the Ardsmuir scene from the first episode of the season. Matt B. Roberts, Writer, and Showrunner of the episode takes you to Glencoe, Scotland, where the scenes were filmed.
Outlander Season 6 Episode 601 Echoes, Written by Mathew B. Roberts, Directed by Kate Cheeseman
We begin the break from the longest Droughlanders on record with a back story after a long intro by Claire (Caitriona Balfe) talking of echoes, and how they always come back, memories are like echos, and usually interchangable in discription. A long “previously on” montage opens the episode, ending with a backstory of when Jamie first arrived, broken, at Ardsmuir prison.
Freedom of Religion and Politics
And now we have one of the most contentious and bizarre conflicts of the Outlander Universe, the Jamie Fraser v. Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) for the control of Frazer’s Ridge. After waiting nearly two years for a new Outlander season, we get a wam, bam, backstory to this contentious pairing from the Aurdsmuir prison days for Jamie (Sam Heughan). While we get some welcome characters back from Ardsmuir days, echos being as they are, Hayes (James Allenby-Kirk) and Lesley (Keith Fleming) butting heads with the Protestants, Tom Christie is a whole other kettle of fish.
Freemasonry is one of author Diana Gabaldon’s ways of dealing with the obvious frictions of so many people coming together with so many political and religious beliefs, in the confines of a prison, and later the powder keg of the American Colonies. Jamie, being the clever man he is, always adept at learning new languages and cultures of any kind, sees the creation of a lodge in the prison as a way to get the Governor of the prison on side, who has shown masonic signs when communicating with Tom Christie in his chambers that Jamie picked up on, and the prisoners all as equals to stop the feuding. Jamie uses this knowledge later after a conflict between the work gangs of opposing Catholics and Protestants ends with the death of one of the prisoners. Jamie claims he will make a lodge of all prisoners regardless of politics or religion, and challenges Tom to join in, with the consent of the Governor. This is also his way of having an upper hand with Christie over his power with the Governor. By uniting all under a brotherhood where cooperation instead of conflict could happen, Jamie sees a may to managing the mayhem. We see that Tom Christie is seeing Jamie as out smarting him, and using his ways to have the upper hand. A sort of truce is brokered with the men. Of course Jamie get’s flogged again, taking the blame for something he did not do at the prison. Winning the praise of many prisoners. Tom just can’t win.
Can I just say this now, where the heck is Murtagh? This is a flashback to Ardsmuir, and in TV Outlander, Murtagh was there with Jamie after Culloden. Just saying what we were all thinking. Maybe there will be another flashback. I can only assume that the writers did not want to detract from the conflict of Jamie and Tom at the prison. Maybe Murtagh shows up later?
Bad Pennies Turn Up
Unknowingly Roger and Brianna receive Tom Christie in 1773 on Fraser’s Ridge while Jamie is away. Tom Christie turns up with one of the posters that Fergus had printed inviting men from Ardsmuir Prison to settle the Ridge with the Frasers. Unknowingly and in their usual youthful exuberance, Roger and Brianna welcome Tom, his family Alan (Alexander Vlahos) and Malva, and the fisher folk that are his flock, to settle on the Ridge. Later Jamie and Claire return and Jamie is shocked to find Tom Christie in the parlor with the MacKenzies. There is some clipped and not so suble animosity between the two, and Jamie reluctantly welcomes the newcomers. Roger appologizes to Jamie, he did not know that Christie was atrouble maker, as Jamie had never mentioned the man. Jamie makes the best of the situation and rounds up the men of Frasers Ridge to make a cabin building party for the new fisher folk who are obviously used to shoreline living, not deep woods with winter snows beginning.
Pride Before Sense
Later they are invited to meet with Christie’s flock. When the MacKenzies and Fraser’s arrive to hear Tom’s breaking of the bread speech, where Tom rallies the bedraggled fisher flock with a symbolic loaf, quoting scriptures and declaring that they will build a church. Jamie takes acception right away, stating that is not how we do things on the Ridge. While being a fact of necessity, the folk must have cabins to live in before they begin building any large structures that they have no experience with building. But as often is with religious fervor, it’s about being seen to be giving and giving big to the community, before helping the community to actually survive the winter. And there is a bit of ego involved. Jamie rightly puts Tom in his place in a matter of fact pragmatism. We can see Tom processing this deflating of his pride.
Tom Christie later comes injured to Claire’s surgery and in helping to address his wounds, notices some disfigurement. Tom, the ever conflicted man, has his sense of propriety, no alcohol shall pass his lips, bettered by Jamie factual praticality. Take a dram or something while she fixes your wounds. Tom gives in a bit and we see some softening when Claire matter of factly takes charge, tossing two male egos aside to do her work. She mentions that she can also see to the other long term injury of his hand, and make Tom’s hand work better at a later date. There are a few more Snapping Turtle bites, but Christie leaves possibly falling under Claire’s spell.
And of course why have one conflict when you can have two bad echos at once? Latter the Brown boys show up, Richard Brown (Chris Larkin) as you will remember as being the head of Clan Brown, is now head of a Committee of Safety, which is the colonial version of The Watch from Season 1. Earlier his men had spotted Alan Christie with Young Ian hunting and noticed a particular stolen powder horn. When confronting Jamie about this, who is annoyed that they have come to the Ridge as it sets Claire on edge as she goes in the house.
Tom finally steps up and states that if the horn has been stolen, young Alan will punished for this. A whole lot of testosterone is flying about and finally Jamie, in aserting his leadership bargains with Brown, that he will lash the boy himself. All Jamie can do is try to control a situation that can get well out of hand. And one that get’s young Alan, who was obviously petrified of his father, beaten publicly and humiliated. We’ll see how he get’s his revenge on Jamie, later.
So begins the long awaited and quiet contentious introduction to The Christies and the havoc they will bring to the Ridge.
Watch a preview of Episode 602 “Allegience”, where Jamie struggles with his Indian Agent Role and Marsali survives a dificult birth. And where the heck is that drunk, Fergus. Sundays at 9 pm EST on Starz®
The Fraser’s School the Christie’s and their flock on the realities of the life on the Ridge. Cabins before churches are built, or the people will not survive the winter. Just goes to show you what damage Zealots can do from the get-go. Join us tonight as Jamie and Roger try to educate the newcomers that you can’t worship or serve your lord if you are not able to survive to do so. Religion will be a big force of conflict, just goes to show what our founding fathers pointed out at the beginning of this nation. Tolerance is best.
Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser
For some of us, it will be one more sleep, for some overseas, it will be two. Of course, that depends on your time zone. And if you have the Starz App it’s a mere 10 hours away, dropping at midnight.
Where ever you are, it’s a day to catch up, plan your viewing parties, finish rereading that last bit. Pull out that copy of ETs Outlander special edition, which has turned back up everywhere, including my local checkout counters.
So, there have been many interviews, premieres, and fun events around the globe to celebrate.
Have fun with Sam mixing up where the Eiffel Tower is, and his seeing Val Kilmer.
Caitriona Balfe talks about Belfast and the SAG awards, Outlander, her screen son geeking at the awards. And also, her very younger rabble-rouser years.