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Review: ‘Outlander’ Premiere Sets the Stage for a Revolutionary Season 7

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The Droughtlander is over. Last Friday, season 7 of the time-traveling historical romance Outlander returned to STARZ after an exceedingly long hiatus. The first episode, “A Life Well Lost,” is a thrilling, romantic, and unforgettable return to the world of Claire and Jamie. There’s chaos, drama, and the tidying of loose ends, but Outlander never loses its heart. 

The first episode hints at a ton to come for the season. We visit the key moments for “A Life Well Lost” because they appear to set the stage for some big things in the future. 

[Warning: This article contains spoilers for Outlander. Proceed at your own risk.]

A horrifying beginning to Outlander season 7

There’s been a ton of promo for the show – from ATX TV Festival in Austin to Tribeca in NY recently, but none prepared me for the opening. 

Jamie (Sam Heughan) is having (maybe) prophetic dreams again, and we get to see his extremely realistic and shocking dream of Claire (Caitriona Balfe) being hanged for the murder of Malva Christie (Jessica Reynolds.) It’s traumatic and grisly and immediately brings viewers back to the core of what Outlander is about – this is a show about Jamie and Claire. And the Outlander folks waste no time showing us that the stakes for this season for them and their relationship are extremely high. 

Outlander Season 7
Caitriona Balfe as Claire in Outlander season 7 (STARZ)

Claire is no stranger to danger – and as an audience, we’ve experienced it all with her. She’s traveled history, continents, and more throughout the past six seasons. But the visual of Balfe’s anguished face with the noose around her neck in colonial America is striking.

And it leads into the new season 7 opening titles, done by Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor. Multi-talented Bear McCreary and singer Raya Yarbrough first did the “Skye Boat Song” for Outlander. With O’Connor’s version, the song is still soulful but with an emotional rawness, too. Together they set the tone for the season. It’s clear we’re in for an emotional journey that will test us.

Outlander’s fab 4 are not alone

If you’ve read the books or seen the show’s other seasons, then you know Jamie, Claire, Roger, and Brianna are not the only time travelers out there. There’s Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek), Master Raymond (Dominique Pino), and Otter Tooth (Trevor Carroll. ) Now, some of these folks have intentionally gone back in time, but others, like Claire, have stumbled into this not quite Whovian endeavor. 

There’s no Outlander temporal prime directive, and our main cast frequently sets out to change things. (Hello, Culloden!) But they generally don’t broadcast their status to the world around them. Sometimes accidents happen, though, and that’s how Roger meets another potentially important time traveler in this first episode. 

While Bree’s husband is off preaching to the prisoners of war at the behest of Reverend McMillan, he quotes Muhammad Ali. The other denizens of the 18th century don’t clock the quote as being out of time, but one prisoner, Wendigo Donner (Brennan Martin), does.  

Time travel isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

If you’ve watched season 5 of Outlander, then you might recognize Donner. Claire met him as one of Lionel Brown’s men. He’s from 1968 and part of the Native American activist group, the Montauk 5. Donner traveled back in time too, and Roger knows about Donner and how he stood by as Claire was brutally attacked. Despite standing by for Claire’s attack, Donner promises he didn’t hurt Claire and begs Roger for help going home.

Outlander season 7
Richard Rankin as Roger and Sophie Skelton as Bree in Outlander season 7 (STARZ)

After going back and forth with Bree, Roger’s solution is to pray for him instead of physically helping him. It’s a compromise borne out of complicated feelings from both Roger and Bree. Like Donner claims to possess, Roger also carries guilt over what he’s been a part of in the past.

The writers of this episode make these parallels clear. Roger’s guilt flashes us back to earlier seasons, where he was a bystander because of his single-minded effort to get to Briana. A woman and child were thrown overboard on Stephen Bonnet’s (Ed Speleers) ship as Roger made the difficult passage to the Americas. Roger’s Donner decision is fitting, and he is morally square with himself. Because it’s Outlander, you know this isn’t the last time we’ll see Donner. (Insert dramatic dun dun dun here…) It’s a safe bet to assume we’ll see him again as he tries to get back to his own time. 

Who killed Malva Christie?

Claire is a strong plot driver for Outlander and is not a wilting daisy. This episode sets up a return to this. She’s a strong woman with her own mind, a soldier and a healer unafraid to get her hands dirty. Her sense of right and wrong and her love for Jamie also anchor her.

Although Jamie and Ian come to her rescue, we see Claire brilliantly almost talk herself out of a murder charge for Malva. (Recall that at the end of the last season, a bloody Claire was found with Malva’s dead body.) In the 18th century, once again, there is no shortage of people who need medical skills, and the prisoner Claire leverages that all the way to Governor Josiah Martin’s (Eugene O’Hare) ship. 

Outlander season 7
Sam Heughan as Jamie in Outlander season 7 (STARZ)

Ultimately, a wiggly confession from Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) frees her. It’s striking that another man’s love and sacrifice for Claire allows her to continue. What this confession and Claire’s release sets up is an eventual to Fraser’s Ridge. Malva’s killer is still out there, and there’s a good chance that Claire, as she and Jamie navigate the Revolutionary War, will try to find out who did it. 

Richard Brown and the fade to black

Richard Brown (Chris Larkin) is a villain through and through, and it’s not surprising when Jamie and Claire deduce that Brown is likely Malva’s killer. When Brown shows up drunk to confront Jamie, the Highlander has the perfect opportunity for revenge for everything. But Brown is emboldened by his position with his Committee of Safety. Through this episode, he threatens that men will never stand for it if something happens to him. 

The bone-chilling showdown between Jamie and Richard Brown is tense. And coupled Ian’s Cherokee foreshadowing, it promises escalating tension and violence. The episode’s abrupt ending, with Jamie lunging at Brown before the screen cuts to black, leaves us hanging. Did Jamie exacted his violent revenge on the man who put everything he cares about in danger? Did Jamie kill Richard?

Outlander has never been afraid to depict brutality and violence when it serves the story, so it’s all the more interesting for the episode to end there. We’ll just have to wait and see to find out. And I bet we’ll get the answer sooner rather than later. 

Sing me a song of Outlander

The first episode of Outlander promises an exciting and dangerous season, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Jamie and Claire. New episodes are available Fridays on the STARZ app and linear TV channel. 

Outlander stars Caitriona Balfe, who returns as Claire Fraser, a 20th-century woman who travels back to the 18th century. Her husband, Jamie Fraser, the Scottish Highlander, is played by Sam Heughan. Sophie Skelton returns as Brianna Randall, Claire and Jamie’s 20th-century daughter, who traveled back in time to find her parents in previous seasons. Richard Rankin is Roger MacKenzie, her husband and a scholar from 1968. And John Bell rounds out the cast as (not so) Young Ian Murray.

Season 7 of the time-traveling romance takes place against he backdrop of American colonies during the Revolutionary War. Are you excited about season 7 of Outlander  now on STARZ? What did you think of the premiere episode? Join the conversation with us on Twitter or our Discord. 


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Ayla Ruby

I am a writer and interviewer based somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant. I love all things nerdy - but Star Trek and Spiderman have special places in my heart. Find me at @TulinWrites on Twitter. And visit my other website for more reviews and interviews: movieswetextedabout.com

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