Outlander – Season 7 Episode 1 “A Life Well Lost” Recap & Review

A Life Well Lost

Episode 1 of Outlander season 7 titled ‘A Life Well Lost’ begins with Claire being hanged for the murder of Malva Christie while Richard Brown smiles. It turns out to be a nightmare which Jamie Fraser was having who believes Claire is alive. Young Ian calls out to him and they head to Wilmington where he recognises Brown’s horse outside an inn. 

Meanwhile, Claire is locked in prison with her chatty cellmate, Sadie Ferguson. The latter calls out for the matron, Sheriff Tolliver’s wife who is nice enough to Claire. Using Claire’s money, Sadie orders gin but due to her friendly nature, Claire isn’t put off. The cellmates get talking and Sadie reveals she is in for forgery.

The prisoners don’t mind that their trials have been postponed as the courts have gone underground out of fear of the rebels. But Claire knows that the rebellion aka the American Revolution will last a few years which means they will be stuck in prison without a trial the whole time.

As for the younger couple, pregnant Bree is to hang out with the wives of the parish while Roger is to assist Reverend McMillan. The Reverend wants them to encourage the soldiers fighting for the Crown. The prisoners of war wonder how the Bible can help them and Roger quotes Mohammed Ali. The one prisoner who recognises it is the Native American time traveller, Wendigo Donner who has been caught by the Redcoats.

Having heard from Claire how Donner was part of Brown’s squad that hurt her, Roger is indignant. But the traveller swears that he didn’t do anything to Claire. All he wanted was to help the Native Americans but his plan was ruined as he lost four of his companions and ended up in the wrong time period. He has the gemstones and all he wants is to go home as he asks for Roger’s help.

In the prison, a Lieutenant Tate shows up and asks for the healer. He wonders what Claire’s charge is but Sadie swaps their identities and claims that she is the murderess. With Claire supposedly just being a forger, Tate takes her to his master. This, however, ruins Thomas Christie and Jamie’s plans as they reach the prison too late.

Jamie is furious but Sadie offers to tell him what happened for some money. She isn’t much help as it is also revealed that murder charges can be forgiven by turning to God while forgery is capital punishment. However, Mrs. Tolliver arrives and shoos away Jamie by hinting that her husband who is at Fort Johnston will know about Claire.

However, that’s not quite right as Claire is actually aboard the Cruizer near Wilmington which is hiding the North Carolina governor, Josiah Martin. His wife is sick and pregnant. Having lost 3 out of her 6 children, Claire is called in to help. With Claire not resolving to the usual midwife solutions, Mrs. Martin gathers from the rumours that Claire is the murderess who cut out Malva’s baby after killing her.

Claire assures her that is not what happened as she is a healer. Mrs. Martin is not confident but feels more at ease as Claire promises to take care of her child. She offers to bring better medicines and Mrs. Martin promises to keep her charge a secret.

As for the MacKenzies, Roger greets a busy Bree who sees that he is hiding food and a hammer in his bag. She realises that he is trying to free Wendigo and she is upset. He tries to defend Wendigo by saying that he was just scared of Brown’s men when they ganged up on Claire.

Bree tries to appeal to his conscience saying he would never behave like Wendigo, but he reveals that he did something similar. If memory serves, Roger was desperate enough to work for Bonnet and stayed quiet when his ship threw a child and mother overboard. On recalling this and hinting that he stayed quiet because he wanted to stay alive to find her, an upset Bree walks off.

Back on another ship, Governor Martin is desperate to attack Fort Johnston. Tate tries to dissuade him as it is a suicide mission and Claire overhears. She tells him that he should stay by his wife and she should go into town to fetch supplies. He turns her request on her and says she too should stay on board and tells her to write down what she wants. At that moment, Major MacDonald barges in with news that they have lost the fort.

He is surprised to see Claire who does her best to ignore him. He keeps trying to bring up her murder charge as she interrupts him. He finally does and also reveals that she is Jamie’s wife, the same man who resigned as an Indian agent and has broken his oath to the Crown. He questions Jamie’s integrity but before Claire can argue, the Governor asks for a private audience with her.

In Wilmington, unsure about Tolliver’s information, Young Ian and Jamie split up to find news of where Claire may be. Meanwhile, Tate is told that Christie is the best man to gather Claire’s supplies and is given her list. Christie is surprised to hear from her and smiles when one of the items she has asked for is ‘vir meus’ which means ‘my husband’.

Back on the ship, the Governor is shocked to learn of Claire’s identity. She reminds him that he didn’t care who she was when his wife needed her and that should not change. She tries to play on the loss of his 3 sons.

However, it backfires as he declares that now his 3 daughters will grow up in a world where men like his sons won’t be around to protect them from chaos, anarchy and war which the likes of the rebels and Jamie indulge in. He claims that being a murderer is one thing but to be suspected of treason is worse.

As the Frasers continue their search for Claire, Christie finds and gives Jamie the letter. Jamie reaches the ship and has an emotional reunion with Claire. He is interrupted by Tate and taken to Governor Martin who is less than pleased to see him.

Jamie reminds him that since he has declared martial law, he has the authority to release Claire. Martin is difficult to negotiate with but he finally comes up with a proposition. Jamie is to gather a troop of 200 men and fight under Major MacDonald in exchange for Claire’s freedom. 

Elsewhere, Roger patches up with Bree as he tells her that he did not help Wendigo. However, he will pray for him and Bree comments that he will make a good minister. Meanwhile, both Young Ian and Jamie know that Martin’s proposition is impossible. But Jamie is not ready to back down without a fight.

However, help comes from the unlikeliest of places as Christie reveals that he has an ace up his sleeve that can guarantee Claire’s freedom. Jamie tries to stop him but Christie goes onboard regardless. Before he does what he has come to do, he meets with Claire in private and reveals that he is Malva’s murderer.

He claims his wife, Mona was a witch and seduced his brother Edgar and had Malva. And while he loved Malva as his own daughter, she too was a witch who always coveted power. She lusted after Jamie and tried to poison Christie and Claire. He murdered her because she was his responsibility and now he will confess as he loves Claire. 

A stunned Claire is freed but she still refuses to believe that Christie is the murderer. She and Jamie deduce that Brown must have killed Malva. Jamie also soothes her guilt as he tells her that like Christie, since he loves her, he would gladly give his life if it meant that it would save her. Later, while Claire is asleep, Jamie visits Brown who tries to deter him from killing him.

Brown claims that his people will not stand idle if he is hurt but Jamie simply comments that Young Ian and the Cherokee are taking care of it. Brown tries to change tactics by stating that Jamie is good and moral and won’t kill a man in cold blood. Jamie declares that he is a violent man and he is only good because of Claire who Brown tried to take away from him. Episode 1 ends with Jamie stalking up to a scared Brown.

The Episode Review

Phew, what an opening for Outlander season 7. But with the surety that we have a season 7 and season 8, it’s going to take more than a false accusation (again) to kill Claire. The premiere does well to hook in viewers who last saw Claire and Jamie being separated in 2022. The smaller obstacles are quickly resolved as the show prepares us for the main course — the bloody American Revolution.

As for the Wendigo storyline, it will definitely have viewers torn. While we understand Bree’s reservation as he did nothing to save an innocent woman, Roger empathising with him makes sense. And with Wendigo being one of the five Natives who travelled back in time to help their race, there is so much potential there.

It would be interesting to get a spin-off with a Native American traveller as the protagonist who tries to save their people from impending doom and question the age-old theme of time travel stories – can the past ever be changed?

It is also hilarious that the White settlers can accept and even forgive murder but draw the line at treason and forgery. And even then their hypocrisy is evident in the way Governor Martin negotiates with a supposed murderer and a traitor just so he can get Fort Johnston back.

As for that ending, we know Jamie is no saint but is this the era of a dark and violent Jamie emerging after almost losing Claire way too many times? While we will probably see in episode 2 if Jamie has actually killed Brown, there is not much to question as his intentions were very much clear in that last scene.

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