Things Take A Very Sharp, Very Harsh Turn In The Latest Outlander Episode

If last week was mostly about the upcoming revolution, this week's "Outlander" keeps us at Fraser's Ridge the entire time, and things get rough there. Real rough. 

There's a lot of death (including more than one baby dying, so be warned); someone who turns on the Frasers (though maybe not who you think); and a haircut of "Felicity" level proportions.

Read on for a breakdown of "The World Turned Upside Down," an "Outlander" episode that brings you amoebic dysentery, only one shot of Adso the cat, and no sexy times. As I said, it's a rough one!

There's an illness at Fraser's Ridge

We start off "The World Turned Upside Down" with Roger preaching in the local meeting house, with Jamie and Claire lovingly in attendance as well as the Christies. Things are well and good, but that only lasts until Claire, Bree, Lizzie, and Malva head off to check in with the MacNeills, who missed the service.

The MacNeills are not good. They're all sick and dying, including young children and a wee baby. The women try to save them but fail, and it's here we get our first dead baby of the episode, with the MacNeill mother dying immediately after. It's awful, and it's going to get worse.

Back in her lab, Claire identifies the sickness as amoebic dysentery. More people get sick, and a lot of people die. At another funeral, Claire feels woozy and Jamie carries her home. We then get a long sequence of Claire being deliriously ill, interspersed with a scene of Malva talking with Jamie about Jamie getting bit by a snake and Malva saying some people think Claire is a witch. We also see a trippy hallucination that Claire has that includes a snake, someone holding a bloody, beating heart in their hands, and a blurry image of Malva touching Jamie's back while he looks out of the window in her room.

Finally, Claire wakes up, with Roger at her bedside. She finds all her hair gone — Malva and Mrs. Bug cut it off, believing they were helping with the fever. Claire is as mortified as she could be while still feeling half-dead, and Roger says that nothing could make her not beautiful, which is actually very sweet and not as creepy as it sounds. 

Things are still bad even after the sickness clears

Everyone is of course happy to see Claire is alive. Bree finally tells her mom that she'll be a grandmother once again and gives her a pixie cut that Claire still hates. Jamie comes in and asks if Claire will wear a cap when she goes outside. Claire is a little like, "Eff you, husband," but in a nice way. Jamie takes it in stride and serves us some exposition — we learn that it was a dead elk in the river upstream that was making people sick and he's removed the decaying animal, so folks shouldn't get sick anymore.

Jamie also lists the people who have gotten sick or died. On the sick list was Tom Christie. For some reason, Claire decides to leave the company of Adso the cat and travel to his house to check on him. The two talk and Claire realizes they were both sick with something that wasn't dysentery, and Claire wants to figure out what made them both ill since they haven't been in contact much beforehand. She asks Mr. Christie for a piece of his poop to analyze, and Mr. Christie unsurprisingly replies with a no thank you.

When she gets home, Jamie is upset that she went out — she's still so weak and thin! The two have another loving moment where Jamie says that if Claire were no longer there, the sun would no longer go up or come down. He also calls her as fierce as a badger and says her short hair is sexy, though he's clearly fudging a little bit there. But they love each other, and it's nice.

It turns out that Malva is the worst

Meanwhile, there's a revolution brewing. Roger and Jamie are getting ready to head to New Bern to talk with others about no longer buying British goods, a precursor to the Continental Congress. Right before they leave, however, the Christies show up and none of them look happy.

It turns out that Malva is pregnant, and she's saying that Jamie is the father. She's clearly lying, but she is lying very, very well and with great detail and great passion. Claire, shocked, slaps Malva and leaves. Mr. Christie believes Malva and asks Jamie to care for her and the baby and recognize the child as an heir. Jamie refuses and goes off to see Claire.

The two meet up in the barn, and Claire has doubts about Jamie's faithfulness, more about the fact he would lie about it than the fact he might have banged a teenager. She saw in her fever dream what Malva described about touching Jamie's back, and she is shook. Jamie swears he didn't touch Malva but then confesses to having sex with Mary MacNab one night decades ago when he was hiding in a cave and Claire was back in the future. Claire believes Jamie and doesn't care about one night decades ago when they were separated by time, and I'm so glad that they didn't drag out the two of them fighting. This show is largely loved because it's about these characters facing challenges together; we don't want or need any strife between them — things are dramatic enough, thank you.

Others are not so sure, however, that Malva is lying. Even Bree has doubts. News of Malva's accusations has spread across the Ridge, and Ian even gets in a tussle with some of the men when they make jokes about Jamie sleeping with Malva. 

I told you this episode was rough

Claire goes to Malva and is shockingly empathetic to her. Claire makes it clear that she knows Jamie isn't the father, and that she can help Malva if she'd only let her. For a moment, it looks like Malva is going to break, but then her brother comes out and she flips again and implies that she'll spread rumors that Claire is a witch.

It's then that Claire realizes Malva is in full-on Single White Female mode here and tells Malva to stay away from her family. Later on, she's gardening and Ian comes up to her and confesses that he slept with Malva once and might be the father. Claire says he might, but he also might not be since Malva had dallied with more than one man (remember Mr. Henderson last episode?), and that they should wait for Jamie to get back before they do anything.

We then get a flash-forward to two months later. Jamie and Roger were in New Bern to talk about revolution but have now returned. Things are still bad — Claire is effectively a pariah in town — and she is still hearing and seeing Lionel Brown, the man who raped her at the end of season 5.

The last scene has Claire in her lab hearing Lionel. She looks outside and sees Malva walking toward the house, and she panics and locks the door before inhaling some ether. When she wakes up (or we think she wakes up), Malva is there calling her ugly and telling her that she's there to replace Claire. Claire grabs a scalpel and says she'll kill Malva if she comes by her house again. Things fade to black, and we open up on Claire back in the cot with the ether. 

It looks like that whole encounter was just a dream. And so Claire goes outside, where things are eerily quiet, with no background music even for the audience. While there, she sees Malva dead in the garden, her throat cut. Claire cries out in distress and cuts open Malva's belly in an attempt to save the baby. She pulls out the baby and gives CPR but it's no use — the baby is also dead.

And that's where we leave things. Claire crying over the dead body of Malva and holding Malva's dead child in her arms. It's awful, not just for Malva and the baby, but for Claire as well — what are the settlers on the ridge going to think, after all, when they see Claire, Malva, and the baby like this?

Other thoughts

  • Claire asking Mr. Christie for a sample of his poop was a moment of levity in a grim episode. The bar was low for him, but I was also impressed Mr. Christie didn't flip out too much and escorted Claire home.
  • Turns out that Malva might be the worst Christie? Mr. Christie still sucks, of course, but what Malva is doing seems much worse. I also think the brother is slimier than what we've seen so far, so there's a chance he could earn the prize for Worst Christie before the season ends.
  • At the funeral where Claire fell ill, Bree wonders where the Sin Eater is. The answer, Bree, is that he's dead in the woods with Malva cutting off his fingers to cast love charms.
  • No more babies dying, please.