Outlander Season 6: What to Remember Before You Watch – CNET

Outlander Season 6: What to Remember Before You Watch – CNET

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Slàinte mhath! Season 6 of Outlander starts March 6.

Starz

Cue the Skye Boat Song. The longest “droughtlander” yet will soon be over, as season 6 of Outlander starts March 6 on Starz.

Thanks to COVID, it’s been nearly two years since we last saw Claire and Jamie (unless of course, like me, you discovered the show when it magically popped up in your Netflix queue late one night during the pandemic).

The show tells the story of Claire, a World War II combat nurse accidentally transported back to the 18th century by a magical ring of ancient standing stones in the highlands of Scotland. That’s where she meets Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser and falls in love. But if you’ve watched the show you at least remember that much.

The series is a little sci-fi, a little fantasy and a little historical romp. There’s no shortage of great-looking men in kilts, beautifully shot Scottish scenery and steamy sex scenes that prompt some people to unfairly pigeonhole the show as a romance.  

The show’s fifth season, which premiered just before the pandemic turned the world upside down, covered a lot. Combine that with two years of way too much quarantine TV and you might be struggling to remember where exactly we last left our favorite couple and the rest of the show’s characters.

Rewatching season 5 is still pretty doable at this point. Better yet, you could go all the way back to the beginning and marvel at how young, gorgeous and innocent everybody was before the failed Scottish uprising and the Battle of Culloden ruined everything.

But if you’re short on time, crack open a bottle of whisky and keep reading. Below is everything you need to know before setting sail on season 6. Of course, there’s no shortage of spoilers here, though nothing that will ruin season 6 for you.

Where are Claire and Jamie at the start of season 6?

It’s late in 1772 and they’re back at Fraser’s Ridge in the North Carolina backcountry, trying to heal and move on after Claire’s abduction, brutal assault and gang rape at the hands of Lionel Brown and his equally evil cohort. Obviously, that’s not going to be quick and easy.

The TV version of Outlander, true to the book series by Diana Gabaldon the show’s based on, doesn’t shy away from sexual assault or its long-term effects. Just about every major character has fallen victim at some point and is forever changed by the trauma.

Thankfully, Brown, a wife-beating hillbilly so misogynistic and violent that Darlene from Ozark would take offense, is still dead. He targeted Claire largely because she dared to try to educate the area’s women about how to avoid unwanted pregnancies. 

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Claire and Jamie end season 5 back home at Fraser’s Ridge.

Starz

While Brown initially escaped the wrath of Jamie and the other menfolk of the Fraser’s Ridge who came to Claire’s rescue at the end of season 5, it was Marsali, Jamie’s stepdaughter and wife to his foster son Fergus, who put an end to him after they brought him back to the ridge for questioning.

Brown was so awful even his brother, Richard Brown, basically admitted Lionel got what he deserved when Jamie brought the body for burial. “You did what you must,” he said to Jamie. 

But as Jamie walks out the door, he adds, “As will I, when the time comes.” That can’t bode well for Claire and Jamie this season.

What about Brianna and Roger?

Claire and Jamie’s daughter, Brianna, was raised in the 20th century by Claire and her first husband, Frank. That was after Jamie sent a pregnant Claire back through the stones just before the start of the Battle of Culloden. Later, in season 4, she herself traveled to the 18th century to find them.

She’s followed back in time by her sometime boyfriend, Roger. He’s a young Oxford professor who was raised in the Highlands by his great uncle, a Presbyterian minister and amateur historian who happened to be friends with Frank.

A lot happens to them along the way, but they end up happily married in the first episode of season 5. They’ve got a kid, too. Brianna got pregnant with young Jeremiah shortly after she and Roger became handfast after finding each other in colonial America.

The only problem is that the child, whom they call Jemmy, may have actually have been sired by the notorious pirate, smuggler and probable psychopath Stephen Bonnet, who raped Brianna the same night she consummated her relationship with Roger.

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Looks like Brianna and Roger will be staying in the 18th century, at least for a while.

Starz

Because characters in Outlander have an uncanny ability to run into each other in the strangest places, Bonnet is also responsible for attacking and robbing Jamie and Claire after they saved him from his date with a hangman’s noose.

Thankfully, like fellow bad guy Lionel Brown, Bonnet is also dead by the end of season 5. After kidnapping Brianna in an attempt to gain custody of Jemmy, who is slated to inherit a huge plantation from Jamie’s aunt Jocasta, Brianna’s family comes to her rescue and captures Bonnet.

He was sentenced to death by drowning, but Brianna put a bullet through his head before that could happen, probably more to just make sure that he’s dead than as an act of mercy.

It’s shortly after Bonnet meets his just end that Brianna and Roger discover that, like them, Jemmy has the ability to travel through the stones. After saying a whole bunch of emotional goodbyes, all three attempt to go back to the 20th century by passing through another circle of stones not far from Fraser’s Ridge.

But they don’t make it. They ask the stones to take them home and apparently that’s the 18th century, so they end up back where they started. They return to Fraser’s Ridge just in time for Roger to join Jamie and the rest of the men on their mission to rescue Claire from Lionel Brown.

Oh yeah, there’s a war coming

A sizable chunk of season 5 centered on Jamie’s efforts to raise a militia on behalf of the governor of North Carolina to put down dissent from a group calling themselves the Regulators. They opposed what they saw as hefty taxes on colonists that were being collected by corrupt officials.

While Jamie sympathizes with the plight of the struggling farmers, the land where he’s built his settlement was received in the form of a grant from the North Carolina governor. If he fails to do what the governor says is his duty, he could lose it all.

The Regulators were real people, and their revolt was put down in the real-life Battle of Alamance in May 1771. I’m guessing most Americans who grew up outside of North Carolina, like me, probably never learned about them in school.

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The Regulators may be a thing of the past, but the American Revolution is coming soon.

Starz

The battle was largely relegated to the footnotes of history, though it is seen by some historians as a notable event leading up to the start of the American Revolution.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Battle of Alamance is where the fictional character of Murtaugh, Jamie’s godfather, finally dies. This is different from what happens in the books (which I also binged during my pandemic quiet time), where Murtaugh dies during the Battle of Culloden, which would have been way back at the start of season 3. But the character was a fan favorite, so the show’s writers kept him around for a few more seasons.

By the time we get to the end of season 5, the revolution is just on the horizon. There’s a storm coming and our heroes are going to have to weather it one way or another.

What can we expect for season 6?

As mentioned before, Outlander is based on what’s currently a series of nine books. The sixth season is expected to draw from the sixth book in the series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, though a couple of key events in that book — Bonnet’s capture and death, as well as Claire’s kidnapping and rape — were already covered in season 5.

At the same time, this season’s filming was complicated by COVID and the pregnancy of Catriona Balfe, who plays Claire. It’s kind of hard to film nude sex scenes when you’ve got a blooming belly to cover up. As a result, season 6 has been shortened to eight episodes, so it’s unclear how much of the book they’ll get through.

It is clear we haven’t seen the last of the Browns and political tensions are only bound to get hairier as the revolution draws closer. Jamie has sworn an oath of allegiance to the British government, but knows the British are going to lose the war. Is this when he will turn his coat?

The season also introduces the Christie family. Jamie knows the father, Tom Christie, because they both served time in Ardsmuir Prison after Culloden, but they weren’t exactly friends. Tom’s grown children, Allan and Malva, will also be central characters and bring their own unrest to the ridge.

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Tom Christie and his kids move to Fraser’s Ridge and bring conflict with them.

Starz

And looming over all this is the specter of Claire and Jamie’s obituary, discovered by Brianna back in the 20th century. The exact date is smudged, but the text foretells their deaths in a house fire sometime in the 1770s.

If you’ve read the books, you may think you have a pretty good idea how all of this is going to play out. But the show’s writers do, at times, intentionally divert from the source material to keep fans on their toes.

So keep that whisky coming. Slàinte mhath to the return of Outlander!

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