Thursday, June 22, 2023

“Love, Loyalty and Lives Well Lost” - a recap of season 7 episode 1 by your Aussie blogging lass

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How much would you be prepared to sacrifice for the person you loved? What would you be prepared to do when faced with a moral dilemma? Would you wrestle with your conscience, or would pure emotion carry the day? These are just some of the questions that are explored in the opening hour of season 7.  

While the end of season 6 was determined and energetic, with Jamie, Ian, John Quincy Myers and the Cherokee all racing off to rescue Claire, the opening moments of this season seem to suggest that it all may have been for nothing. Claire is being led to the gallows, a rope around her neck and an expectant crowd waiting below. But rather than baying for blood, the crowd looks uncertain, disbelieving. So are we - surely this can’t be happening? Claire is desperately looking around for help, but her eyes find Richard Brown’s in the crowd. He is smirking back at her, enjoying her terror. Hyperventilating and sobbing, her feet dragging on the wooden boards, Claire’s last moments are upon her. She is alone. For the first time, Jamie has not arrived in time to save her. The camera switches angles and we see the push that sends Claire over the edge of the gallows, followed by the sound of a neck breaking. Claire’s feet swing. Surely the ‘life well lost’ mentioned in the episode’s title card isn’t hers?

A voice breaks through the darkened screen. It is Ian, calling out for Jamie. We see Jamie’s eyes open and his voiceover explains that he has been imagining the worst. But, he says, he can’t let his fears cripple him. He is sure that Claire must be alive, for he would feel it if she was not. The camera stays up close on Sam Heughan’s face throughout this monologue and as always, every emotion plays out to perfection. It is a beautiful emotive performance already - and he hasn’t even spoken aloud! 

Striding forward purposely, Ian sums up the situation. He has followed Jamie’s instructions and sent Myers and the Cherokee back to the Ridge to check that all is well. The horses are watered and ready, and Ian agrees that the two of them will attract less attention in town. Finally, Jamie speaks. His voice is steely, belying the emotion of his facial expression. 

“Let’s go get my wife,” he says. 

The moment is reminiscent of season 1, where, with a similar steeliness and determination, Jamie tells Randall to take his hands off his wife. But the younger Jamie had seemed surer of himself - even while balancing on a window ledge. We are left in no doubt that this older Jamie is more fearful. He cannot bear to think about a life without his Sassenach. 

Ian and Jamie gallop away, and the season’s theme song begins. Sung by Irish musician Sinead O’Connor, the Skye Boat Song is reincarnated yet again. This is a raw, distinctive version, perhaps setting up the season to come. Surely it is no accident that the rendition is sung by a powerful, solo female voice, at times strong and strident, at times slow and whispering, but always full of emotion. When this version was released weeks ahead of the season’s premiere, the reaction was mixed. Indeed, this reviewer wasn’t sure when she first heard it - but found that she had goosebumps when listening to it in context, particularly after the powerful opening scenes.

Claire is in a cell, looking around uncertainly. Her movements wake her cell mate, who brushes off the intrusion, merely asking if Claire had been given money. Chronologically, we realise that this scene follows Claire’s encounter with Tom Christie in the final episode of season 6. Claire confirms that yes, she now has a bit of money, so the other woman immediately suggests that it be put to good use. She calls for the woman in charge, Mrs Tolliver, who dutifully appears, calling the prisoner out for being a dreadful nuisance. Mrs Tolliver begins to tell Claire of the prison’s routines: one meal will be served per day, unless Claire has money to pay for extra food. Impatiently, the other prisoner interrupts. Claire does have money, so they want alcohol. Mrs Tolliver agrees, holding out her hand for a shilling and grudgingly agreeing to bring Claire some supper too, even though it is late. Claire expresses her gratitude, begging that a message be sent to her family. Mrs Tolliver apologises - this is something she cannot do. 

Left alone, the women begin to get to know one another. While Claire refuses to confirm whether or not she is “the murderess”, she smiles when the other woman introduces herself as Sadie Ferguson and suggests a game of cards called Brag. Claire asks whether Sadie’s crime was cheating at cards,  a suggestion that is met with mock horror. Rather, Sadie’s crime was one of forgery. Claire agrees to play, but not for money. With the stakes changed to a small dish of beans, the game begins. 

Sadie reveals that she has been in the cell for close to a month. Claire expresses surprise that there has been no trial yet, and another prisoner, Margit joins the conversation. There have been no trials for more than two months, because the courts have shut down and the judges have gone into hiding. Sadie sees the bright side of this: if they aren’t tried, they can’t be hanged. Claire says that she is innocent of the charges and Sadie smiles. “Course you are,” she says. “You stick to it. Don’t let them bully whack you into admitting the slightest thing.” 

Claire doesn’t want to languish in jail for a long time, but Sadie and Margit continue to paint a bleak picture of the current situation. The sheriff himself is in danger of being hanged, with unrest in the streets, courtesy of the rebels. This is depressing news for Claire, as she also knows how long the war will last and how long the courts are likely to remain closed. It is news she cannot share, but even as Claire’s voiceover speaks of there being no hope of rescue, we cut to a shot of Jamie and Ian riding desperately towards her. 

Meanwhile, Brianna and Roger are discussing his upcoming challenge - ministering to a group of soldiers, in the company of Reverend McMillan, who is obviously keen to test the trainee minister. Roger is trying to convince Brianna of his wayward youth and his past life of crime - stealing sweets from the post office. This is a light hearted scene that contrasts with the one before it, with a healthy dose of 20th century references like “Son of a preacher man” and groan-worthy expressions like “God luck”. 

The aforementioned Reverend McMillan appears, and dismisses Brianna towards the church with the other wives to help with the alms giving. He counsels Roger about the men they are about to encounter, stating that they will be in need of much prayer and supplication regardless of the side they have decided to support. But on arrival at the soldiers’ camp. the men are unimpressed with Roger’s title or past military experience. Grasping for appropriate words to change their minds, Roger turns again to a 20th century icon, advising the men to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” and is shocked when one of them immediately replies with “Ali.”

Roger moves to the man at once. He is shackled, a prisoner. Roger asks him to repeat what he had said, and is soon conversing with Wendigo Donner, who is desperate to get back to his own time. Roger is initially wary, recognising Donner’s name as being part of Lionel Brown’s group. But Wendigo is determined to prove that he is no danger. He assures Roger that he had not harmed Claire, and that he had been planning on helping her get away. He had originally come to help the Indian nations, along with 4 others, but their passage through the stones had not been smooth. Everyone had been split up and Wendigo has no idea where his friends are. He still has a gemstone to travel with, and wants Roger to help him escape, so that he can go home. 

Back at the prison, Claire, Sadie and Margit are working away, while Mrs Tolliver is snoring through an alcoholic stupor. Suddenly, two officers appear, calling for “the healer.” Claire identifies herself as fitting the title, with Sadie stepping forward to claim Claire’s supposed crime for herself. She is the murderess, she lies, while Claire is a forger. Satisfied with this, the men announce that Claire is to to accompany them, saying only that they are in a hurry.

Jamie and Ian arrive at the prison, but are met by a troubled Tom Christie, who tells them that Claire has gone. Although he had promised to keep watch, Tom had not been allowed to stay all night and by the time he returned in the morning, it was too late. He had been assured Claire would be well treated, but Jamie strides into the prison. 

Sadie tries to extract money from Jamie, telling him that she tried to help Claire, taking the charge of murder upon herself instead. But Margit casts doubts on Sadie’s motives, saying that while forgery is a capital crime with no pardon possible, murderers can be pardoned by turning to the bible and begging repentance. Jamie advances on Sadie, demanding that she tell him what she knows. This isn’t much, and Sadie suggests he talk to Mrs Tolliver instead. Again, Margit provides the truth of the situation: Mrs Tolliver had been drunk when the men came and would be unlikely to know. She adds that they weren’t even dressed as soldiers, and while Jamie is trying to find out more, Mrs Tolliver appears. She tells Jamie that Claire was taken on her husband - the sheriff’s - orders, on a matter of duty to the Crown. The sheriff had gone to quell unrest, she says, from rebels trying to take Fort Johnston and is likely to be drowning his sorrows now. With a look at each other, Jamie and Ian turn and leave. 

Once again, Claire has found herself on a ship speeding away from Jamie, unsure as to how long she will be kept onboard. This time, she has been brought to act as midwife and healer to the heavily pregnant wife of Governor Martin, who is suspicious of Claire’s qualifications. Mrs Martin is incensed that she and her husband have been forced to flee from their home, hunted by mobs of citizens. Expressing sympathy, Claire offers to examine her new patient and quickly surmises that Mrs Martin’s pregnancy isn’t in any danger, but the woman is probably suffering from food poisoning, or possibly an overuse of one of the many tonics she has at her disposal. Mrs Martin is surprised that Claire isn’t letting her blood, but suddenly realises that her healer must also be the famed murderess who cut a baby from its dead mother’s womb. Claire corrects the salacious gossip, but confirms the fact that Governor Martin is unlikely to know Claire’s history. Claire is quite notorious in the town, and despite herself, Mrs Martin is interested. She decides that Claire doesn’t look depraved , bur neither does she look respectable. Claire hands Mrs Martin a ginger tea, which the woman refuses to drink unless Claire promises not to hurt her baby. Mrs Martin confides that from her 6 children, 3 have died. She couldn’t bear to lose another, she says, and neither could her husband. Claire empathises, telling Mrs Martin that she too is a mother. The two women are fast forming a bond and Mrs Martin readily agrees with Claire’s suggestion that she should settle into the cabin and have her husband send for different medicine. She also promises not to say anything about the murder charge.

Roger farewells Brianna, but not before she notices his bag full of “snacks” along with a farrier’s hammer. She quickly realises what Roger is up to - in addition to handing out theological pamphlets, Roger plans to help Wendigo Donner escape. Brianna is incensed: why would Roger help a man who stood by and did nothing while Claire was brutally attacked and then ran and hid “like a coward”? Roger’s arguments that Donner could have done nothing without getting killed himself, that he is scared and that he had only wanted to help the Indian tribes, do not go down well with Brianna. So Roger tries a different approach, reminding Bree that when he first came through the stones, he had joined Bonnet’s crew. Again, Brianna will have none of his argument. Roger wouldn’t have stood by like the men in the tavern had done when she herself was attacked by Bonnet; or like Donner had with Claire. Closing his eyes, Roger makes a confession. Because he would have done anything to find her, he tells Bree, Roger admits to standing and doing nothing when Bonnet threw a small child overboard, or when the child’s mother jumped in after her daughter. He had been forced to fight every instinct to intervene, knowing that Bonnet and his crew would have killed him had he done so. As far as Roger is concerned, Wendigo’s situation now is similar to his own situation then. He can’t condemn the man, he tells Bree. Overcome, she shakes off his arm and walks away.

On the ship, Claire overhears Governor Martin arguing with Lieutenant Tate as to the best course of action. Martin wants to take back Fort Johnston, but Tate disagrees. Surely Martin doesn’t mean to attack in the fog? But Martin says that he can’t afford to lose the colony. If he does, hanging is assured, either by the redcoats or the rebels.  Tate counsels him to wait for more news. The rebels are more numerous and better armed that anyone had anticipated, he says. Martin should consider sailing north. This is the last thing that Claire wants, so interrupts, commenting that Governor Martin should be staying put. Martin retorts that Claire should be tending to his wife. Claire tells him that Mrs Martin is much improved and asks if she can leave the ship to buy some supplies in Wilmington for her. Martin is hardly about to allow that, but offers a compromise, telling Claire to write a list of supplies which will be delivered by messenger before they set sail. Claire is dismayed to discover that she will not be returning to shore any time soon, and is expected to remain on board for the duration of the voyage. 

Another unwelcome interruption appears, in the form of Major MacDonald, who announces that Fort Johnston has been lost. Neither MacDonald nor Claire are overly pleased to see each other and while Claire asserts her intention to prove her innocence, Martin demands that once she has written her supply letter she bring him something to ease the griping in his stomach.

In Wilmington, Jamie and Ian are trying to find out what has happened to Claire. As they make plans to question redcoats in the nearby whorehouse, Jamie sees a horse tied up outside that looks familiar.

Back on the ship, MacDonald is talking tactics when Claire returns. Under the guise of friendly conversation, he proceeds to throw Claire under the bus, telling her that he couldn’t believe his ears when she was arrested for murder. He is enjoying telling the story, adding details of how Tom Christie had accompanied her, determined to see her hanged. Claire refutes this, saying that Christie had only come to ensure that she was given a fair trial. MacDonald moves on, asking Claire whether Jamie has seen sense and declared himself for the Crown. 

Martin is interested now, asking if Jamie’s allegiance is in doubt. MacDonald now drops in the fact that Jamie resigned as Indian agent. The penny drops. Martin clarifies: Claire’s husband is James Fraser of Fraser’s Ridge? Claire confirms this, and MacDonald continues with his measured character assassination, telling the Governor that there is some doubt as to the Frasers’ integrity. 

“How dare you!” Claire responds.

Martin asks MacDonald to excuse them and the other man agrees. As he passes Claire, she whispers, “Manipulative bastard.” 

Meanwhile, the message bearing Claire’s request for supplies finds its intended recipient: none other than Tom Christie. On hearing that a Mistress Claire Fraser is in need of his assistance, Tom tears open the paper. He guarantees that he can supply the items, relieved that he now knows where Claire has been taken. He asks if the ship is in the harbour, and Tate explains that when Tom brings the supplies, they will then be taken by smaller boat to where the Cruzer is anchored. On reading the list, Tom sees Claire’s coded message: amongst the list of supplies is a Latin phrase, disguised to look like yet another ingredient. It is obvious now why Tom has been sent the letter: as an educated man, he can read the Latin words that translate as “my husband”.

Claire is now defending herself against MacDonald’s revelations. She points out that Governor Martin had had no interest in her charges when he sent for her and explains again the truth of what had happened. Cleverly, she also uses the information that she has about the Martins’ situation, telling the Governor that she knows of the losses they have suffered and can empathise with the pain of having lost a child. Martin becomes emotional at the thought of his youngest son, admitting that he sometimes imagines he can see the boy him running past. But his mood quickly changes: his daughters will have to grow up without men who would have protected them, he says bitterly, from people who choose violence and bloodshed, betraying their nation and choosing war. He dismisses Claire’s argument that no one enters war willingly, asking her about hers and Jamie’s convictions: commenting that being charged with murder might be one thing, but being suspected of treason is quite another. 

Jamie and Ian have had no luck in their search for information, when suddenly Tom Christie approaches with Claire’s letter.  He points out the Latin, “Vir Meus” and entreats Jamie to go to her. Jamie wastes no time in doing just that, and the next scene opens with a small boat approaching the Cruzer. Claire is on the deck looking for blankets for Mrs Martin, when she hears the cry, “Boat ahoy!” Watching intently, the relief on her face is palpable, as she realises that the person at the front of the boat is none other than Jamie.

Jamie asks for permission to come aboard, identifying himself as a former Indian agent and an acquaintance of Lord John Grey. Claire throws herself into his arms and they share an embrace, which is immediately disapproved of by Lieutenant Tate. Jamie demands to speak to the Governor, where he introduces himself and asks for permission take Claire home. Jamie points out that since Martin has declared martial law on North Carolina, he has control over the prisoners in his custody and can therefore release Claire if he chooses. There is no merit to the murder charge, Jamie says, adding that surely Martin must now be convinced of Claire’s good character. 

But it is Jamie’s character that Martin now queries. The pictures painted by John Grey and Major MacDonald differ. Jamie is frustrated. Surely the matter of his resignation as Indian agent is behind them now? Martin is not impressed by Jamie’s deflection and takes further offence at his offer to provide a bond against Claire’s appearance in court. He should hang them both, he says, but proposes another solution. Jamie is to return to the back country and gather as many men as he can, then commit the troops to Major MacDonald’s campaign. Two hundred men will result in Claire’s release. Jamie has no choice but to accept. He leaves Martin’s office and bids farewell to an emotional Claire, promising that he will see her in the morning. 

Brianna is watching Jemmy play, when Roger approaches. He speaks in character: as a minister wanting to talk to her about someone who loves her very much. Brianna replies that she doesn’t have time to talk about God. But it isn’t God that Roger refers to. Instead, he asks Brianna if she has time for her husband. 

“Always,” Brianna replies.  “But he’s been kinda busy ministering to some soldiers. He’s going to be ordained himself, you see.”

Roger joins the game. “And how is that going for him?” he asks. 

Bree begins to smile.

Roger seizes the moment to tell her that he hasn’t helped Wendigo to escape. He does want to do something though, and has decided to pray for him. This is acceptable to Brianna, and suggests that he do so immediately. His prayer is simple, but with a hint of humour as well. The last of Brianna’s annoyance melts away, and she grabs his hand, telling him that he will make a great minister. 

Jamie and Ian are troubled. Ian tells Jamie that he will never be able to recruit enough men. Jamie agrees. He won’t be recruiting, he says, but he does intend to return to the ship. 

“What will you do, Uncle?” Ian asks.

“Whatever I must,” Jamie replies. 

They enter the tavern and Jamie tells Ian that the younger man should return to the Ridge. Jamie doesn’t want Ian involved, but their conversation is interrupted by Tom Christie, who is uncharacteristically drinking whisky. Tom remarks that while he has wrestled with his demons, it is Jamie who is the answer to his prayers. There is something he has to do, he says, and he needs Jamie’s help. 

They walk outside. Tom remarks that over the years he has seen many people ask Jamie for help and Jamie has never turned them away. Tom wants to go to the Cruzer to tell the captain what he has done and to look Claire in the eye and confess. Jamie tells Tom that on their wedding day he had sworn to Claire that she would have the protection of his name, clan, family and body if she needed it. He intends to honour that promise and does not need Tom’s help. But Tom replies that if Jamie lets him go, he will still be keeping his promise. In contrast to Jamie, Tom has no name that carries any weight in the world, no clan of his own and a broken family. 

“Allow me to do this,” he asks. 

The two men share a long look. Jamie asks if there is nothing he can say to dissuade him.

“No,” Tom replies.

“Send Claire back to me,” Jamie replies. 

Tom remembers the day when Claire had told him what she would have said at Malva’s funeral. He will be without a eulogy, he says, and has no idea where he will be buried, but wonders what Jamie would have said about him. Jamie is reluctant, but Tom presses him. 

And so Jamie improvises a eulogy. Thomas Christie was an honourable Scot, he begins, and a leader of men in his own way, even if he didn’t know quite where to lead them. He was as stubborn as a mule, bur despite their differences, Jamie respected Tom and hopes that Tom would have respected him in return.

This was a powerful scene, beautifully acted by both Sam Heughan and Mark Lewis Jones. Christie has shown vulnerability and Jamie has shown compassion. They are acknowledging a  farewell and part in peace. 

On board the Cruzer, Claire is disappointed to see Christie appear through the fog instead of Jamie. Tom is quick to reassure her, saying that Jamie is waiting in Wilmington and that they will be reunited soon. When Claire asks what the hell is going on, Tom tells her that he has come to confess to the murder of his daughter and that he will swear to this on the Holy scriptures. Claire doesn’t believe him, and can’t understand why he would choose to do this, so Tom begins to explain.

He asks Claire to recall the time when she asked him if he thought her a witch. Claire remembers, commenting that he had replied that she wasn’t one. Tom goes on to explain that he has known some, as both “the girl” and her mother had been witches. Claire corrects him: ‘the girl’ he speaks of was his daughter, Malva. But Tom shakes his head. Malva had not been his daughter, but his niece. It was his brother, Edgar, who was Malva’s true father. The two brothers had fallen out over the Rising. While Tom had declared for the Stuarts, Edgar had refused to join the Jacobite cause. So Tom had asked Edgar to look after his wife and young son, Allan.

“And he did,” Tom says to Claire. “He certainly did.”

Yet Tom does not place the blame for the affair at Edgar’s feet, but his wife, Mona’s. His wife was an enchantress, bewitching his brother until he succumbed to her charms. Tom had caught her at it before, he says, staring at the stars, her hair flying wild in the wind. 

Suddenly Claire sees the connection. “She had hair like mine, didn’t she?” she asks, running a hand through her shortened locks. 

Tom continues. He had tried to save his wife through prayer, but it was no use. Mona was eventually hanged for murdering Edgar. He had sent for both children, but by the time they joined him, Malva was following in her mother’s footsteps, with the same slyness, charm and darkness of soul. 

“She was with child,” Claire replies.

But Tom is unrepentant. He doesn’t think it wrong, he says, to prevent another witch from entering the world. Besides, he has proof that Malva had attempted to poison both him and Claire. He had caught her with the Sin Eater’s bones, and she confessed. Armed with the knowledge of germs from her discussions with Claire, Malva had made a broth. Claire remembers the love charm that she and the other women had found and realises that Malva had wanted Jamie.

“She lusted after wealth and position,” Tom replies. 

“Or what she saw as freedom,” Claire adds. She asks Tom if he knows the true identify of the baby’s father, but he deflects the question.  He says that he could not let Malva destroy so many lives.

“So you decided to bear the cross for her?” Claire asks.

Tom argues that while Malva was not born of his loins, she was still family and he was still responsible. 

Claire remains unconvinced. “I don’t believe you, Tom,” she whispers.

Tom smiles. He knows that she doesn’t, but what follows is a beautiful justification for his decision.

“I have waited all my life,” he begins, “in the hope of a thing that I could not name but knew must exist. I was convinced it was God I sought, but the love of God alone could not sustain me. Now I know…” he hesitates, “that I love you.”

Claire cannot reply. She knows it too. After a moment, Tom smiles gently, taking out his written confession and handing it to her. It states that he killed Malva for the shame she had brought him by her wantonness. Claire begins to tear up the paper, but Tom tells her that he has another copy, which he has left with the newspaper in Wilmington. It will be published, and Claire will go free. 

“I have yearned always for love, given and returned,” he says. “I’ve spent my life in an attempt to give my love to those who are not worthy of it. Allow me this: to give my life for the sake of one who is.”

Claire tries to dissuade him. “Your life has value,” she pleads. “You can’t throw it away like this.”

“I know that,” he replies, standing. “If I did not, then this would not matter. Go to your husband.”

Claire is overcome. “There must be something we can do,” she says, but Tom’s decision is made. 

“Lieutenant Tate,” he calls. “I’m ready now.” 

With one last look, he leaves the room. Claire starts after him, but stops in the doorway, watching as he walks away.

The scenes between Claire and Christie have always been strong, with both Caitriona Balfe and Mark Lewis Jones understanding the connection between the two characters and playing out the tension, respect and chemistry with expertise. But this final tender conversation is next level brilliance, supported by a beautiful music soundtrack. Kudos to everyone!

Jamie is pacing the dock, waiting. This time it is Claire’s face emerging from the fog and the emotion on both of their faces, as the Jamie and Claire theme music plays, is beautiful. 

Later, they lie on a bed, discussing what had happened. Claire asks if Jamie had made Tom confess. Jamie replies that Tom had told him what he had intended to do, and that he had tried to dissuade him. He had planned to make another attempt of his own, but Tom was determined. 

“So you don’t think he did it either?” Claire says. 

Jamie says that Tom had told him that he only stayed silent for as long as he thought Claire would be acquitted after a fair trial. Had she been in imminent danger, he would have spoken up at once. 

Together they try to make sense of what has happened. Claire wonders why Tom didn’t speak up in front of Richard Brown, and Jamie adds that he wonders whether Brown had in fact murdered Malva for revenge. 

“I just can’t believe it was Tom,” Claire says. “Tell me he didn’t make that confession for me.”

Jamie strokes her face, tenderly. It is plain that Tom loves Claire, he tells her, adding he would have done the same thing, counting his life well lost if it had saved hers. But Claire can’t accept that Tom has sacrificed himself and will hang. 

“If he feels the same as me, then you’ve done no wrong to him,” Jamie replies. It was what Tom had wanted. 

Claire is exhausted and Jamie tells her to rest. He kisses her on the forehead and waits for her to fall asleep. As soon as she does, he stands and leaves the room. 

A drunken Richard Brown staggers into his room at the tavern, bottle still in hand. Putting his pistol on the night stand, he goes to pour another drink. 

“I saw your horse,” says a familiar voice from behind him. Brown whirls around, to see Jamie, his face half in shadow. Jamie speaks slowly, menacingly. 

Brown tries to brazen it out, commenting that Jamie mustn’t have fancied a trip back to bonnie Scotland, before holding out the bottle towards him.

“No thank you,” says Jamie, his eyes never leaving Brown’s. "I prefer to wait until after.” 

The implication is clear. Brown’s life is in danger and he knows it. His voice begins to shake, but he tries to hold his ground. If Jamie harms a hair on his head, he says, then the Brown kin will hunt Jamie down and kill everyone he holds dear. 

But Jamie replies that Ian and the Cherokee will, by now, be paying Brown’s people a visit. He stands, and moves a couple of steps closer. “We’ll have no more trouble from them,” he says. Sam Heughan plays this scene to perfection. It is like watching a cobra, ready to strike. 

Brown looks at his pistol, but it is too far away. Desperately, he tries another approach, reminding Jamie that he is a good and moral man. 

“I’m also a violent man,” Jamie responds. “Any goodness that prevails in me is because of my wife.” His voice drops to a whisper. “You tried to take her from me,” he hisses. 

“You won’t kill me,” Brown says. “Not in cold blood. You wouldn’t dare.” 

But Jamie’s response terrifies him.

“Make your peace with the Lord if you must, Mr Brown,” he replies. 

The music swells, Jamie advances and the episode ends. Another life is well lost. 

This was the perfect start to a long awaited bumper season 7. The complexities of loyalty, hard choices and sacrifice are explored, with large swathes of dialogue taken directly from the source material: Diana Gabaldon’s 6th Outlander novel, “A Breath of Snow and Ashes.” All the performances in this episode are strong, but special mention must be made of Mark Lewis Jones, whose final scenes with Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe are the perfect blend of love, sorrow and respect. The music and settings are also atmospheric, with the lighting in the final scene adding to the drama and quiet menace of the situation. With lots of drama ahead, it is obvious that we are in safe hands. Everyone is at the top of their game and things can only get better from here. Bring on episode 2!

This recap was written by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher librarian who lives in Australia. 


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