a spoiler in the bone

What to Expect in Outlander Season 7, According to the Books

Claire’s troubles are just beginning … (Just kidding, they never end!) Photo: Robert Wilson/Starz

If a season of Outlander doesn’t end with resourceful time traveler Claire Fraser (Caitríona Balfe) and/or her broad-shouldered Highlander husband, Jamie (Sam Heughan), in a precarious situation, is it even a season of Outlander? Someone’s life has to be left dangling at some point on the danger scale; otherwise, what are we doing here? Season six follows the tradition: We left Claire in prison, wrongfully accused of murder (and of being a witch, but like, when isn’t she being accused of that?), and Jamie racing to find her. What will happen next? Will Claire hang for a crime she didn’t commit?

Good news, Outlander friends: The answers are already tucked away in Diana Gabaldon’s novel series. We don’t have to wait to find out what happens! While Outlander the TV series doesn’t strictly adhere to the novels it’s based on, sometimes moving story lines around or changing them completely, the show has thus far mostly followed the events of each novel in order. This most recent season pulled the majority of its plot from book six, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, which means the upcoming season seven will be based mostly on book seven, An Echo in the Bone.

Now, if you look at that stack of very long Outlander novels and are turned off because you subscribe to famed philosopher and Happy Endings character Penny Hartz’s school of thought that “reading’s stupid, TV rules!,” you’re in the right place! Below, find some predictions as to what Claire and Jamie might get up to in season seven based on all the intel we have from the seventh novel. You don’t have to read a thing! Except for this post. Sorry, we can’t do everything for you. Obviously, all of the spoilers to follow.

First, we have to wrap up the events of book six.

Ah, yes. Because of the pandemic and some other scheduling issues, Outlander’s sixth season was a truncated one with just eight episodes. While the series left Claire alone in a jail cell facing a possible execution for a crime she didn’t commit, all of the Malva Christie stuff gets wrapped up in A Breath of Snow and Ashes, and it seems likely the TV series will start season seven by finishing that story line. And, uh, it’s a doozy, folks. Tom Christie admits to having feelings for Claire and knows she’s innocent, so he confesses to killing his daughter in order to spare Claire’s life. But Tom isn’t guilty either — eventually Allan Christie confesses to Claire that he is both the father of his sister’s child and that he murdered her to stop her from telling anyone. Yeah, it gets pretty dark. But unsettling as it all is, that should (mostly) be a wrap on the Christies, and honestly, good riddance.

Then we time travel.

Again, this will include some plot points that take place in book six that have yet to happen on the show: Once Bree has her daughter, Amanda, Claire realizes she has a heart murmur, and nothing can be done about it in 1776. Bree, Roger, and their two children return to the future and wind up in 1980, where they move into — surprise! — Lallybroch. Book seven, An Echo in the Bone, finds the MacKenzies rebuilding their lives in their new (old) time, but that doesn’t mean the time travel hijinks end. They end up getting a visitor from the past: William Buccleigh MacKenzie. You know, the secret son of Dougal MacKenzie and Geillis Duncan, Roger’s ancestor, who … had him sorta hanged that one time? That’s not awkward at all, right? Well, that guy accidentally goes through some stones, ends up in 1980, and makes his way to Roger and Bree for help. I’m crossing my fingers for this to happen in season seven for two reasons: One, it’ll be fun to see a dude from the 1770s try to make sense of the 1980s, and two, you might recall that when we met Buck in season five, he was played by Graham McTavish (who also played Dougal), and it’s always a delight when he pops up on Outlander. Give us the Buck!

But that’s not the only time travel happening in 1980: One of Bree’s colleagues, Rob Cameron, decides to kidnap Jemmy, and they believe he’s taken him back in time. Toward the end of An Echo in the Bone, Roger and Buck travel back through the stones in an effort to save Jemmy. Sorry to say, but Jem’s not there — still, it sounds as though those two distant relatives will be going on a real adventure.

Speaking of Lallybroch, we’ll get a long-awaited (and bittersweet) family reunion.

At the end of A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Wendigo Donner ransacks the Fraser house looking for gems in order to travel, a fight ensues, and the house burns down. Jamie and Claire don’t die in that fire, but it does answer most of the questions about that pesky obituary. This hasn’t happened in the show yet, but in season six we did get a peek at someone who looks like Donner at the jail in Wilmington, where, conveniently, Claire is being held. In the show, it looks as if Donner already has a gem, but regardless, it seems things are aligning for some version of this fire to happen soon. The fire is important because it is the impetus for Jamie, Claire, and Young Ian to travel back to Scotland so Jamie can get his printing press and bring it back to America. The trip to Scotland and the Frasers’ time in their homeland is a major part of the book, so I suspect we’ll get some Scotland time within season seven’s 16 episodes. Their time there is bittersweet, though: Yes, they get to have a long-(so long!)awaited reunion with Jenny and (old) Ian at Lallybroch, but they also learn that Ian is dying from consumption. Timing is everything, especially in Outlander, right?

And there’s that other kind of family reunion, in which one participant doesn’t realize he’s a part of the family.

I’m talking about Jamie’s son William, of course. There’s a lot of William in An Echo in the Bone. We haven’t seen him on the show since that time he and Lord John Grey visited and John got the measles in season four, but here we find him grown and a loyal member of the British Army. Does that make things confusing for our resident rebel Jamie Fraser? You bet. While William has his own adventures to go off on, the crux of his story has always been the secret about his true biological father. You knew eventually that secret would get out, right? Well, it’s not until the end of book seven that William learns the truth. Who knows if we’ll get that far in William’s story just yet, but Jamie’s secret son should at least begin to play a bigger role in the overall narrative.

Then something really wild happens …

Seriously, if you want some surprises regarding Claire and Jamie’s future, stop reading right here. You’ve made your choice!

So Claire and Ian leave Scotland without Jamie and later receive word that the boat Jamie was supposed to be traveling on to America sank, and they believe Jamie to be dead. Everyone’s really sad about it. Then, when Claire is about to be arrested for being a spy (she is constantly getting into trouble — we know this), someone offers to marry her in order to give her protection. Did you guess Lord John Grey? Because yes, Claire and Lord John end up married in book seven, and yes, they drunkenly (and full of grief for the loss of Jamie, whom they both love with all of their heart) consummate that marriage. And then Jamie shows up alive and well! It’s a wild turn of events, so best start preparing yourself now in anticipation of what’s sure to be a controversial story line come season seven.

What to Expect in Outlander Season 7, According to the Books