Outlander's 'Temperance' Takes Its Time, Sets Stage For Inevitable Conflict

The third episode of "Outlander" season 6 is here, and it's the calm before the storm of the American Revolution. 

And when I say calm, I mean calm — we get a lot of time with Fergus and his family, further confirmation that Tom Christie is The Worst, and ... not much else! It's a quiet, one could even say slow, episode. But it's also one that seems to be setting up for a lot of things, well, happen. The Revolution, of course, but also the increasing likelihood that Claire and Brianna will get accused of witchcraft sooner rather than later.

Read on for a spoiler-filled discussion about what happens in "Temperance," the third episode in season 6 of "Outlander."

A baby in a basket

We start "Temperance" with a baby in a basket floating down a river, just like Moses. Except this baby isn't Moses — it's Marsali and Fergus' new baby, Christian, who happens to be a dwarf. The Fraser's Ridge kids — including Christian's older brother! — put him in the river because they think Christian might be evil (a belief undoubtedly said by their religiously fervent parents) and wanted to see if he'll float. Luckily, Roger sees what they're doing and saves the baby before he hits the rapids.

Roger is, unsurprisingly, pissed off at the children's attempted murder. He tells them wee Christian is a Christian and shoos them away.

Marsali is obviously livid when she hears the news, and Fergus is also upset but, as usual, doesn't handle it very well. We'll get to Fergus in a minute, but the good news is Jamie convinces the children that Christian isn't a devil who will burn you if you touch him (something the kids already knew at some level, since Jamie gave them the choice of touching a hot poker or touching the baby). Here's to hoping that lesson will stick with them, though it's clear that the grownups in Christie's flock still hold ill will toward the poor bairn.

Fergus is really messed up, but hopefully coming out of it

"Temperance" also explains further why Fergus has been so messed up this season, and it has to do with toxic masculinity and fear for his new son. He started off drinking because he wasn't "man" enough to protect his wife and Claire from the Browns. And while he vows he would stop drinking, he starts up again this episode because he's afraid for what life will be like for Christian as he grows up.

We get a scene between him and Claire where he shares how one of his friends was a dwarf when he lived at the brothel as a child in Paris. That friend got his throat cut one night, and it's why Fergus in part fears for his son. It's a sad story, and it succeeds and making you feel a bit sorry for Fergus and see that he's such a mess because he cares about his family.

But Fergus starts drinking again, and when Marsali asks him how she can help his response is, "I'm the one who is supposed to help you!" Marsali then confesses that she can protect herself and her family as well, and reveals that she killed Lionel Brown. Her husband is most upset about this news, however, because he feels emasculated by it. "I don't need a woman to protect me but I do need a drink!" he exclaims before running off.

Everything is too much for Fergus. And when you view him through the lens of the time we're in, it's easier to be sympathetic toward him, especially when he tries to kill himself in the woods. Luckily, Jamie sees him and stops him from doing so by reminding Fergus that he isn't useless — he held the Fraser family together when Jamie was in jail and he is loved. Fergus seems to have finally come around, and we leave him this episode apologetic and back home with his wife and children.

Newsflash: Tom Christie still sucks

We get some more time with Christie in "Temperance." After being put out he had to wait for Claire while she was attending to her grandson who almost drowned, the preacher declares he wants the hand surgery so he can start beating his daughter again.

Christie won't use Claire's "devil potions" for the surgery, however. Who needs ether after all when you can pray? This leads to a humorous scene of Christie yelping in pain while he and Jamie read from the scripture.

Christie makes it through, and Claire has him spend the night for observation. The two have a long and awkward scene at night about his hand, among other things. It's clear that Christie respects Claire on some level, but then Claire goes and does "witchy" things like talk to the cat when she's feeding it or reading novels he thinks are trash.

"Is Tom afraid of women or is he just afraid of sinning?" Claire asks Jamie later, remarking how Christie didn't even want Claire to touch him when she was examining his wound. Jamie bafflingly replies by saying that sometimes men got it on in Ardsmiur because they were lonely, but that Christie never partook. (The conversation also sets up that Tom might not be Malva's biological father, which may explain why he seems fine with his wife burning in the pits of hell.)

Christie is still with the Frasers this episode — he apologizes to Claire at one point and stands with the Frasers when an elderly couple calls Christian an abomination. We also see him, however, back at beating his daughter, so it's clear he's still terrible, and it's clear he might be wavering in standing with Claire and Jamie. 

The Redcoats are coming

The end of the episode has a bunch of Redcoat soldiers dropping a whole lot of guns off at Fraser's Ridge for the Cherokee. It turns out that the Boston Tea Party has happened! War is coming, and now — thanks to Jamie — the Cherokee will be armed (assuming Jamie gives them the weapons) to fight against the Revolutionaries.

With all this build-up, one hopes that something will boil over next week. Whether that's the Revolution, accusations of witchcraft, or something else remains to be seen. But given the slow pace of "Temperance," it feels like something has got to give.

Other thoughts

  • It looks like Malva and Ian are sparking up a love connection. I'm sure daddy Christie will love that when he finds out.
  • This episode had no sexy times! The best we got was Claire and Jamie snuggling in bed at one point, which is all well and good, I guess.
  • In case the foreshadowing for a future witch "trial" wasn't strong enough, Malva tells Jamie at one point that her mom — Tom Christie's wife — was burned at the stake for witchcraft.
  • Richard Brown's "Committee of Safety" visited Christie and offered to "protect" them. That won't end well.

New episodes of "Outlander" premiere on Starz on Sundays.