Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, a lot goes down in this episode of Outlander. I mean, Claire almost dies and is healed and gets a haircut that seemingly devastates all of Fraser’s Ridge, and that’s like maybe 20 minutes into this 70-minute monster. It’s wild.
There’s a dysentery outbreak among the settlers of the Ridge! They call it “the bloody flux,” but that’s just a little too graphic for me, so I’m sticking with dysentery. Anyway, if you grew up playing the Oregon Trail, you know how serious this is. This is not just some broken wagon axle, babes. This is dysentery. Claire tells everyone that a contaminated water source most likely caused it, but after funeral upon funeral — the body count is high! — no one can seem to figure it out. And then Claire falls ill. She’s got a fever and chills and headaches and hallucinations. It’s not great. Jamie looks terrified as he watches over her. But he’s not alone in tending to Claire during her sickness. Not surprisingly, Malva Christie is all over this shit. She refuses to leave Claire’s side; she brings Jamie some tea and tells him that while other people may think Claire is a witch, Malva just thinks she’s amazing and wants to be just like her. At one point in a fever-induced haze, Claire looks over at Jamie chugging whiskey from a bottle at the window and sees Malva gently caressing his back. She does not have the strength to say what the fuck is happening, but I do. Oh, I do. Because what’s happening is suspect, guys. (On Malva’s part, not Jamie’s, bless him.)
About one week and a fever dream about her own beating heart and a snake in the house later, Claire wakes up. Unfortunately, she has to hear from Roger that Mrs. Bug and Malva thought that the way to heal someone with a bad fever is to cut their hair off, and with no supervision (and what I suspect are some ulterior motives on Malva’s part), they just cut off all of Claire’s gorgeous curls. Now let’s be clear, Caitríona Balfe could pull off any haircut, but it’s still shocking for her to see, and they’re living in the 1770s — I don’t think the pixie cut has caught on just yet. Also, Roger tells her that Jamie already saw her and he cried. He cried! I don’t know, man; Claire’s hair was great, but it’ll grow back, and dozens of people are legit dying from an intestinal infection, so grow up!!
Although a few more people died while Claire was sick, Jamie figured out that there was a dead elk in the stream where people were getting their water, and since then, the sickness has stopped spreading. Claire and Tom Christie were sort of the last to fall ill. But something isn’t sitting right with Dr. Fraser. She knows she didn’t have dysentery; her illness was something else entirely. And from what she hears, she thinks Tom had the same thing she did. She gathers enough strength to go see Tom and ask him for a sample of his shit so she can be sure. You can imagine how well this request goes over with ol’ Tom. But, at the very least, he does walk her back home. Tom seems simultaneously interested in, bemused, and angered by Claire. Alas, the mystery of why she and Tom both somehow became sick with the same thing without having seen each other in a while will not be solved today.
This episode does seem to take extra care to give us some quiet but swoony Jamie and Claire moments. Jamie, who really feared he would lose Claire to her sickness, tells her softly that without her “the sun would no longer come up or go down.” We get a whole scene of them lying in bed together, talking about that time she stepped on him when he slept outside her door, joking about how Jamie thinks Claire’s most endearing quality is that she thinks he’s funny. They tell each other that how faithful they are to one another after all this time is important and lovely. It’s all so sweet and will give you those good Jamie and Claire butterflies.
Of course, it’s all a trap, because nothing can ever be too good on this show before it blows up!! Just as Jamie is packing up to head to the Provincial Congress to declare independence from the crown and select delegates to go to the first Continental Congress — Hot Nerd Roger is tagging along and is so pumped about it — the Christies pull up to the big house, and they have something they need to discuss.
Malva is pregnant, and she says it’s Jamie’s baby. Sorry to just bluntly toss that in here, but there’s no other way to deal with it. Malva not only says it belongs to Jamie, boy oh boy, but she also puts on an incredible act, telling a story about how guilty she feels, because the first time it happened was when Claire was sick in bed and she just pitied Jamie (who was so sad) so much, she let him take her. While many of her details line up with that moment a feverish Claire caught from her bed, you know it is all lies. Claire slaps that girl upside her face and runs out of the house. Jamie is so angry that he even has to defend himself, but Malva doubles down on everything, saying she knows about scars and marks in places that only someone who has seen him naked would know about. (Remember her little lookie-loo at Jamie and Claire having sex in the stable?? It was a recon mission, apparently.) Tom wants Jamie to sign a contract that says the baby is one of his heirs. Jamie tells them to get out of his house. It’s all pretty brutal to watch, since how in the hell can Jamie really prove he isn’t the father? Maury Povich isn’t going to be born for more than 160 years.
At the moment, all Jamie cares about is what Claire believes. He finds her in the stables, fuming. She’s mad at Malva for doing this to them. She’s mad at even considering that Jamie would sleep with someone and then lie about it after all she has sacrificed to be with him. She gives a very impassioned speech about how she, Bree, and Roger don’t belong here, but they’re all here “because she loved Jamie more than the life she had. And she believed Jamie loved her in the same way.” To even entertain the idea of what Malva is saying would be to say that was all bullshit. It’s a roundabout but emotional way to say, of course, she believes Jamie didn’t do this. One, because of how much she knows they mean to one another, and two, because she knows Jamie would never forsake one of his own children. Jamie also uses this moment to confess to sleeping with Mary MacNab back when he was living in the caves near Lallybroch after Culloden, which, is this really a big deal that warranted a “confession”? Claire was literally 200 years in the future with her old husband and Jamie didn’t think she’d ever be back, like, you don’t think this man is fucking? At least once? Come on. Anyway, Jamie and Claire love each other but are concerned about how the Ridge will react once they find out, because they will find out.
It turns out the people of the Ridge treat them like trash once they know. Well, Jamie is off at the Sons of Liberty thing, leaving Claire to face the brunt of it all. People won’t talk to her or come to her for medical assistance — they all believe Malva. Claire even tries to talk sense into Malva at one point, and you can see she is so pained by what she’s done to Claire — when Claire tells Malva that she was proud to be her teacher and she knows she must be going through something to feel “desperate enough” to do this to them, that really gets Malva — but as soon as Allan walks out, there’s a shift. She slides back into that role of accusing Jamie and Claire; she calls Claire a witch. It’s cruel and awful, and Claire tells them to stay away from her family. So reasoning with Malva isn’t going to solve this problem.
Weeks pass, and Claire hopes just waiting it out might work. The news cycle was much longer back then, but maybe people will eventually move on to something else. Ian offers to help by confessing that he once had sex with Malva (!!), so it’s possible he could be the father. He could marry her and remove the blame from Jamie. Claire appreciates the offer, but since they know about Malva sleeping with Henderson, it might not be Ian’s baby either.
Two months later, Claire’s hair is a cute bob now, Jamie has returned from the meeting, we learn he wasn’t chosen as a delegate because of the Malva stuff, and people are still treating the Frasers like outcasts. One day, Claire sees Malva coming toward the surgery, locks the doors, and takes a huff of her ether so she doesn’t have to deal with it (she is still haunted by Lionel Brown, by the way). She has a horrible dream about Malva coming in and stealing her life in which Claire holds a scalpel to her throat and screams, “You come near me or my husband again and I will fucking kill you,” and it is awesome. Scary, but the kind of energy the goddamn Christies warrant.
Later, when she wakes up, she heads out to the garden. She looks over and … she finds Malva’s dead body lying there with her throat slit!! Guys!! Claire decides, welp, I should try to save this baby, so she just gives Malva’s corpse a C-section right there, but the baby is already gone!! Claire just sobs!! It is insane and will surely not end well for Claire. Like I said before: Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!
• With all the funerals happening on the Ridge, Bree makes a passing comment about where the sin-eater is. If only they knew what Malva had been up to!! This will surely come out some way, yes?
• Jamie is such an ass man, and I am really here for that. He loves Claire’s butt with all his heart, and that’s just some soul mate–level stuff, you know?
• I guess Mrs. Bug is like the Lady Whistledown of Fraser’s Ridge. Who knew?
• Dang, Roger is still out here in season six being confusingly so hot!! Now he’s telling Claire she looks beautiful no matter what, and telling Bree she’s being ridiculous if she doesn’t think Jamie is an honorable man. This season has been a real turnaround for Roger Mac!
• While the whole “Malva accuses Jamie” scene is hard to watch, the best part is how Allan Christie keeps wanting to fight Jamie and gets tossed aside by both his father and Jamie so easily. He wants to be so tough, but the guy is a joke. Also, he’s the worst. Just stay away, Allan.