Episode 601: "Echoes" (SPOILERS!)

Jamie and Claire Episode 601

Here are my reactions to Episode 601 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Echoes".


There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.









The opening montage was an effective way to recap Season 5, for the benefit of viewers who are new to the show or have forgotten some of the details. I was very pleased to see the Prologue from ABOSAA quoted here:

Give anything enough time, and everything is taken care of: all pain encompassed, all hardship erased, all loss subsumed. [....] And if Time is anything akin to God, I suppose that Memory must be the Devil.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, "Prologue". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I definitely did not expect the long opening sequence at Ardsmuir, but I thought it was an effective and dramatically interesting way to convey the backstory of Tom Christie's relationship with Jamie.

The opening shot of Ardsmuir, with the mist and the mountains in the background, is really beautiful. My first thought was: after so long away, it's good to see Scotland again!

Jamie and the other prisoners are carrying rocks to build a wall. Tom Christie holds up some rabbits he has killed, addressing "my Protestant friends", completely ignoring the fact that many of the prisoners, like Jamie, are Catholic.

"Why would he listen to me?" Jamie asks.
"Because you're Mac Dubh. If anyone can put him in his place, it's you."

Easier said than done, especially when Christie says inflammatory things like, "Accept that Scotland's fate lies in the hands of a Protestant King!" A fight breaks out, but Jamie stays back, out of the way.

The next scene, with the Governor of Ardsmuir Prison, clearly demonstrates that Tom Christie is the Governor's favorite. He gives Christie a plate of food similar to his own, while Jamie gets only some scraps of meat.

"You are educated, Mr. Christie, a man I can reason with." And yet he doesn't even consider that Jamie might be as well.

As Christie turns to leave, notice that he and the Governor exchange some sort of secret handshake. Jamie notices as well, and it will be important later.

The next scene, with Jamie and the young prisoner, James McCready, is not in the book, but I liked it, as a way to remind us of how much Jamie still grieved for Claire.

"If she loves you as you love her, she's always wi' ye, lad. Bring her to mind. She'll come." I liked that.

The men singing "Hey, Johnnie Cope" (lyrics here) seems a deliberate provocation of Christie and his Protestants, but I really thought the Redcoat guards would be more upset by it than Christie, considering that the song is about the Jacobite victory over the English forces at Prestonpans.

Another fight breaks out, and again, Jamie stays out of it, until someone hurls a stone, accidentally killing the young James McCready. The old man places a scrap of tartan on his body, "for your journey onwards", and walks away just as the guards arrive.

"One of you had better speak up, or I'll flog the lot of you myself!" I thought the actor playing the guard here was very good. He sounds very much the way I've always heard Sgt. Murchison in my head.

Tom Christie opens his mouth, but before he can say a word, Jamie speaks up: "It's mine." This is exactly as described in VOYAGER:

“It’s mine.” The voice was calm, almost bored, and spoke with such flat indifference that neither MacKenzie nor Grey registered it at once. They stood locked in each other’s eyes, until a large hand reached over Angus MacKenzie’s shoulder and gently plucked the scrap of cloth from the officer’s hand.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 12, "Sacrifice". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I liked the way Claire appears in Jamie's mind during the flogging, looking just as she did in Episode 301, "The Battle Joined". Focusing on her helped him get through it.

Notice the shocked look on Tom Christie's face, watching this. Clearly it's a scene that stayed with him all those years later, when he described it to Claire as "an act of extra … extraordinary … nobility and--and courage.” (ABOSAA chapter 24, "Touch Me Not")

The next morning, the guard comes to unlock the cell, but Jamie announces that "no one will be working today" because of the young man's death. (My thought was, the prisoners announce that they're going on strike and the guard just does nothing??) As Jamie stands up, you can see in his body language, the way he carries himself, that he's visibly assuming the role of leader of the men, possibly for the first time.

And so Jamie proposes that the Governor make him a Freemason, because it's the only way to bring the men together, to make them listen to him. This is based on the account Kenny Lindsay gave Roger in THE FIERY CROSS chapter 95, "The Summer Dim", and I thought the way they incorporated it here made a lot of sense. It's critical to understanding the relationship between Jamie and Tom Christie.

The scene shifts to a view of the North Carolina mountains, and suddenly we're back on Fraser's Ridge in 1773, watching Tom Christie steel himself to face Jamie for the first time in twenty years.

I like the new opening credit sequence very much! It's much better than Season 5's, in my opinion, and making it a male/female duet is an interesting and creative choice.

The title card gives us a good look at Claire's ether-making apparatus. 

We open the main part of the episode with a montage of daily life on the Ridge, including Ian coming home from a hunting trip.

Jamie finds Claire lying on the cot in her surgery, apparently unconscious. She wakes up and is elated to find that her experiment with ether was successful.

"Is it safe?" Jamie asks.
"Well, it's safer than dying in agony with a ruptured appendix."

Book-readers will recognize this as foreshadowing of later events.

Major MacDonald has arrived, bringing with him an invitation from Governor Martin for Jamie to become an Indian Agent. But Jamie says to Claire, "I'll tell him no", which I wasn't expecting.

Jamie accompanies Claire to Fergus and Marsali's cabin, to look in on the very pregnant Marsali. 

"You've been like my shadow ever since...." Ever since her return home from her ordeal in Episode 512 ("Never My Love"), she means. But she doesn't really protest. I thought that was out of character for Claire, who is usually so independent and self-sufficient.

Meanwhile, Bree and Roger are talking about the upcoming Revolution, but I'm distracted by the sight of Roger in that full beard! I don't care for that look at all, personally, but tastes differ. I guess I'll get used to it over time.

Back at Marsali's cabin, Jamie has taken the little kids (Germain, Joanie, and Félicité) for a ride in the wagon, to let Claire have some privacy in which to examine Marsali. The dialogue in this scene comes almost word-for-word from ABOSAA chapter 35, "Laminaria".

Claire notices bruises on Marsali's arm. Marsali tries to shrug it off, saying she's been "clumsy".

Back on the Ridge, Tom Christie knocks on the door of the Big House. Roger greets him, acting as head of household in Jamie's absence. Again, most of the dialogue is based on a scene from the books, in this case, FIERY CROSS chapter 94, "New Blood".

Christie shows Roger an advertisement circulated by Jamie, "inviting those who have come to these parts from ARDSMUIR to settle on his land."

"Any friend of Mr. Fraser's is welcome," Roger says, and I laughed a little. Well, not a friend exactly....

Christie tells Roger he was a schoolmaster, and asks if there is a school on the Ridge. No, not yet. What about a church? Roger looks a little embarrassed, but says "Aye, well, we don't have a church yet, either."

As Jamie and Claire come into the house, Jamie is telling her that the little kids were asking him awkward questions about the new baby. Jamie takes one look at Tom Christie sitting in his kitchen, and stops dead.

"I stand before you in humble gratitude," Christie says, smiling. He's saying all the right things, but...

I love the look on Jamie's face as Roger says, "To stay. To settle here."  Jamie looks very much as though he's exerting all his self-control to keep from turning to Roger and demanding, "You did WHAT?!?"

We get a brief glimpse of the Bugs, fading into the background in this episode as they did in Season 5. I hope that changes as the season proceeds, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

I liked the scene between Claire and Bree, especially this part:

"I hope you are taking care of yourself."
"I'm fine, darling."
"You know, there was a time when, [if] someone asked me, I'd say 'I'm fine', too."

Claire quickly changes the subject, but the point has been made. 

In the next scene, Jamie and Claire visit the Christies and the fisher-folk, who are camping nearby. Claire tells Malva, "I'm a healer," and Malva smiles back at her. And Tom and Jamie manage to have a civil, pleasant conversation. All seems to be going well so far, and yet....

That night, alone in their room, Claire asks, "Do you really think the Ridge is the best place for him to settle?"

"When I sent out word to all Ardsmuir men, I couldn't very well say, all of them but one." Good point!

"You were there with me, in the prison. I saw you. That's what got me through it. Ye were always wi' me." Awwww!

I liked the sex scene here. It felt intimate and sensual and not at all rushed. Well done!

The next scene, between Malva and Claire, is not in the book, but it helps establish the relationship between Claire and Malva. We learn that Malva is educated, that she knows Latin and Greek.

"Are you going to use the phosphorus to light a fire?" Malva catches on quickly! Her intelligence shouldn't be underestimated.

Meanwhile, Jamie informs Major MacDonald that he does not want to be an Indian Agent. MacDonald tries without success to get him to change his mind. I liked the actor playing Major MacDonald. His accent is rather soothing to listen to.

I was glad to see Amy McCallum (especially after BEES!), and to see Roger taking an interest in her and her two young children. That will be important later.

The work of clearing the land to build new cabins is proceeding when Fergus shows up, obviously drunk. He's more disheveled in this episode than we have ever seen him. Jamie tells him he should spend more time at home.

In the next scene, Ian and Allan Christie are out hunting. Ian shoots some small animal with a bow and arrow. Allan says he prefers his rifle, and shows Ian a powder horn with carvings incised on it. When Ian asks where he got it, Allan says, "Made it myself". Oh, really?

They are startled by a gunshot, and moments later, Richard Brown and his men from the Committee of Safety have them surrounded at gunpoint.

When Brown says, "I'm sure your uncle wouldn't disapprove", notice Allan touching the powder horn he carries at his belt. One of Brown's men brings this to Brown's attention. They turn and leave, but on re-watching, it's clear that this is what sets up the confrontation at the end of the episode.

I liked the scene with Claire mending Tom's injured hand very much! It's very, very close to the book, which I always appreciate.

“Shall I fetch ye a dram, Tom?” Jamie said, eyeing the patient warily. “I ken ye dinna hold wi’ strong drink, but there’s a time for it, surely?”

Christie’s mouth worked a little, but he shook his head.

“I … no. Perhaps … a little wine?”

Take a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, eh? Aye, fine. Take heart, man, I’ll fetch it.” Jamie clapped him encouragingly on the shoulder, and went briskly off, taking Jemmy by the hand as he went out.

Christie’s mouth tightened in a grimace. I had noticed before that like some Protestants, Tom Christie regarded the Bible as being a document addressed specifically to himself and confided to his personal care for prudent distribution to the masses. Thus, he quite disliked hearing Catholics--i.e., Jamie--quoting casually from it. I had also noticed that Jamie was aware of this, and took every opportunity to make such quotes.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "We Have Ignition". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Notice the way Tom holds the glass awkwardly with his right hand, the fingers bent and twisted. In the book, we learn this is a result of a condition known as Dupuytren's contracture.

I love the fact that they're using so much of the original dialogue here!  Two more examples from ABOSAA chapter 21:

"At least it will be an honorable scar, won't it, Mac Dubh?"

"He’d let ye thrust red-hot needles through his eyeballs before he’d squeal in front of me."

I don't quite understand what difference it makes to anyone how the food is arranged on the table. Are they hosting a banquet, or just setting out a buffet table to welcome their new neighbors?

Major MacDonald has returned with the news that he offered Richard Brown the position of Indian Agent.

The Christies arrive for the party. Allan looks around and says, "You live like a king, Mr. Fraser."  And looking at that unbelievably grand, opulent mansion that they live in, I really can't disagree. It's much too fancy, inside and out. The doors and windows alone seem much too ornate and expensive for a house in the backcountry.

Fergus and Marsali arrive, without the children. Fergus is obviously drunk, again.

"Two hands would be more useful," Lizzie says. She's thinking of the Beardsley twins, but Fergus takes it as an insult, considering that he only has one hand.

Allan shows off his new powder horn to Amy McCallum's young son Aidan, who is not at all interested. He stomps up the stairs, sulking, and eventually Roger goes up to talk to him, offering to let the boy help build the family's new cabin.

I liked this bit. In just a few brief words, they accomplished several important things: getting Roger involved in helping Amy and her children, making it clear her family will be provided for, and establishing a relationship between Roger and Aidan.

Suddenly a group of riders come galloping down the path toward the house. Richard Brown and his Committee of Safety. Brown announces that Allan Christie is a thief, who stole a powder horn from one of his men.

I like the way Jamie reacts very calmly, as Brown and Tom Christie are glaring at each other.  "Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention," he says, just as if he's a manager in a business in our own time.

Brown: "You aren't harboring one of those rebels, are you, Mr. Fraser?"
Tom Christie: "We're loyal to our King."

I'm not quite sure what they're talking about here. It's 1773, two years before Lexington and Concord. The war hasn't actually started yet!

Brown insisted on ten lashes as a punishment, but Jamie surprises him by administering the punishment with his belt rather than a whip. Still, it's a public humiliation, not something that Allan will ever forget. When it's over, Allan stays in position, whimpering and crying a bit, as though he's not used to being beaten. That surprised me, given what we know from the books about Tom Christie's methods of punishment.

"I'll do it," Jamie tells Major MacDonald. "I'll be your Indian Agent."

So, just as in the book, Jamie is reluctantly forced to accept the job because the alternative, having Richard Brown in that position, would be much worse. But in the process, has he made an enemy of Allan Christie? I guess we'll see.

I liked the last exchange between Jamie and Tom Christie:

"If you're to stay, then my word at Fraser's Ridge is law."
"God's word is law. We put Him first, do we not, Mr. Fraser? 'Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.' "
"You should see to your son."

I can't help but think that Tom won that one. The tension between these men is palpable, and I can't wait to see how their relationship develops as the season continues! Terrific performances from both of them.

Meanwhile, Marsali and Fergus's marriage appears to be falling apart. Fergus won't stop drinking.

"I'm sorry I'm such a disappointment," Fergus says, and walks out. What is Marsali going to do, with three little kids and another one on the way soon? I really, really hope this drinking is a temporary thing and Fergus comes to his senses soon, before the writers completely destroy his character.

Later that night, Claire wakes from a nightmare. The brief flashes of memory feature a variety of characters from past seasons: Lionel Brown, of course, but also Black Jack Randall, Geillis, Dougal, Philip Wylie, and maybe more I didn't notice. Claire gets up and goes down to her surgery.

She lights a candle, and as she busies herself with the ether-making equipment, I thought, isn't this incredibly dangerous, to have candles in the same room when she's using it? Ether is "hideously inflammable", as Claire herself observed in ABOSAA chapter 35, "Laminaria".

Claire's voiceover here is a slightly condensed and rearranged version of the Prologue from DRUMS OF AUTUMN. I suppose the reference to ghosts is meant to be to people she sees in memories and in nightmares, like Lionel Brown.

I really hope that Claire doesn't keep using ether to self-medicate! It's dangerous and it seems out of character for her to do that.

Overall, I thought this was a strong start to the season. They did a good job of introducing all of the major characters and plotlines that will be the focus of this season, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes, and please come back next week for my recap of Episode 602.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out TheLitForum.com, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. You have to sign up in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.


Anonymous said...

I got a kick out of the table setting scene because it seemed to be a bit of a face off between Lizzie and Mrs. Bug as to how things should be arranged.

Anonymous said...

Very good summary. Thanks Getting ready to watch for a 2nd time.

Adrienne said...

Even though I know about your blog this is the first time commenting. I had some thoughts myself about last night's episode and I said to myself, I wonder what that blog has to say about it, lol. I pretty much agree with your recap. I too thought the Ardsmuir opening was long too but I think you're right they had to show the history with Jamie and Tom Christie.

I thought the same thing about the table setting scene, I was thinking what's the big deal but then I thought maybe it's showing Ms. Bug's way of showing how her character is the boss of the keeping of the house and her exerting her way of doing things. Kinda like I'm the boss of the kitchen and how things are done stay out of my way, lol!

The one thing I didn't like was at the end when Claire went to use the ether on herself again, I was like wait this wasn't in the book and are they making her out to be an addict now. I didn't like that.

Looking forward to all your recaps!


EasyDiverChris said...

I half-expected to see Murtaugh in the Ardsmuir scenes. Wasn't he there too?

Rebecca said...

Great recap--thanks! My response to the new episode is very similar to your own. I find the Big House jarring. As you say, it's much too fancy. But it was wonderful to see the episode unfold after the long Droughtlander we've endured. I know the story must one day end as all stories do, but while it lasts, I will enjoy it in both its forms.

Fed Up with Weeds said...

Thank You Karen, very astute of you! You "ken" the books well! I think the house is very beautiful - grand but beautiful! The carpenters did a lovely job on it!
Claire taking the ether at the end was a shock to me also - did not like that... Looking forward to seeing the rest of the series and reading more of your blog! Carol "Gooch!" (for Diana) ;)

Anonymous said...

Great recap, and agree with most. I must be in the minority though, as I loved the Ardsmuir section and thought it was a great introduction to series six, and why Tom Christie and Jamie have such a prickly relationship. (Although Rodger is told the reason further on in the story). I thought it could have been made clearer at this point in Jamie's explanation to Quarry, that if the prisoners were made Freemasons none of them could discuss either Politics or Religion, thus silencing Christie to a certain degree. Although Jamie does say this to the men. Nice to see Leslie and Hayes again. Although, I'm not sure why singing Johnny Cope would upset the Protestants and not the British soldiers.
I loved this first episode, acting exceptional by Sam and Caitriona as usual, and I hope to see more of Fergus and Marsali, it's a great cast.
I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series. Well done to everyone involved, it cannot have been easy filming this during Covid.

tuffy said...

For the first few episodes:

I agree on the house- I’ve thought it too much for the time and place, since season 5. But of course it’s still beautiful.
The smaller, original cabin is more rustic, and comfortable, as well as more realistic, IMO. It would just need to be bigger if ‘cast’ as the main house.

I totally agree on the discomfort with Claire’s ether addiction.
While I understand many folks’ comments about “even heroes get addicted to substances”, “it’s normal”, etc, and I don’t disagree, I also feel that different people react differently to stress and trauma, and not everyone takes substances to deal with it. (As a Doctor myself, who has also experienced significant and long lasting trauma, I have never been tempted in this way either. Escapism takes many forms- not just substance abuse).
Claire’s character as written by Gabaldon deals with stress differently; in the books she is quieter, closed, more aggressively sexual, and works harder, as I recall. Jamie susses her out as well in the books and is a great help and support to her; after all he has experienced similar trauma and understands some of what she might be going through. I think that taking the approach in the books is more realistic for Claire’s, and Jamie’s characters (he actually seems a bit lost in this regard in the series- totally unrealistic too), and, it wouldn’t feel as “sensationalist” and as “cheap”, as her ether addiction in the TV series does.

Also, and this may just be me and completely erroneous, but I don’t feel Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe are as connected emotionally in this series. And that includes the sex scenes, sadly. It seems more “acting” and less true, heartfelt, in the bone, etc, as I’m accustomed to with these two actors. I hope that changes, as I said it could just be me😢

As a contrast, Lauren Lyle (Marsali) and Cesar Domboy (Fergus) are just doing a smashing job. I’ve always loved their acting, and their characters, but Lauren in particular, really, really shines this season.
She’s SO believable and so in character that I don’t ever “see” Lauren at all (actually I never have in the entire series- she’s always fantastic). She has really come to the fore here in season 6 though. Well done Lauren Lyle!!👏

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