Outlander Season 6 Premiere Review – "Echoes"

Outlander's Season 6 premiere arrives Sunday, March 6 on Starz. This is a spoiler-free review of "Echoes."

The "Droughtlander" is finally over as Claire, Jamie, and the dutiful denizens of Fraser's Ridge are back for more Colonial American adventures and heartache (presumably a ton of the latter), with one of the immediate bummers being that this sixth season of Outlander is only eight episodes due to pandemic production delays. This premiere, however, clocks in at a nice, solid 90 minutes, so while the season might be shorter than we're accustomed to, we at least get to settle in with a firm, grounded look at life for the Frasers a few years out from the Revolutionary War.

And what an intriguing look it is as "Echoes" draws from Jaime's past to bring a new wild card into the Ridge in the form of Mark Lewis Jones' Thomas Christie, a former Ardsmuir-er who had a rather competitive, contemptuous relationship with Jamie decades prior when they were both prisoners. And Mr. Christie's arrival upon the Ridge also brings his grown children, son Allan (Alexander Vlahos) and daughter Malva (Jessica Reynolds). I'm not going to sort through the various Outlander book happenings here except to say that those who've read Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes know that it's incredibly long, and that Season 6 still has much it can mine from it.

Outlander: Season 6 Gallery

"Echoes" does was an Outlander premiere should do, which is give us peace while signaling dread. The Frasers are always on the precipice of some extraordinary crisis. There's always calamity right around the corner, so it's important for the series to provide the proper counterweight for it. And though it's been a while since the Season 5 finale, we're still coming off of a savagely dark time for Claire, and an extremely difficult episode to watch for viewers, so we still need a pause put on any new pressing dangers.

"Echoes" was about rebuilding, readjusting, and reassessing. There are a few things I can't divulge here in this review, but this feature-length Season 6 starter gave us a lot to chew on when it comes to all the things that will cause enormous problems for our frontier family in due time, ones that you wish could be nipped in the bud right now, of course, but that's not how any of this works. Fraser's Ridge is indeed beset on all sides, and while the new addition of Christie surely foreshadows turbulent times, there are other enemies lurking within: namely addiction. While Claire continues to minorly morph medical history with her untimely tinkering she can't change the fatal flaws of human nature and the measures we take to assuage fear, guilt, and the fog of trauma.

"Echoes" drops us back into Claire and Jamie's lives, post-abduction and rape, and sounds various alarms that Claire, as strong in spirit as she is, is not okay. Bree sees it. Jamie knows it well enough though his methods of aid involve shadowing and shielding, to perhaps and over-protective degree. Claire and Jamie's relationship is still as sweet and otherworldly as ever but it's good that we're shown the aftereffects of Season 5's harrowing ordeal. Because it was tremendously difficult to absorb, to the point where one wonders if there should have been even bigger changes made to the book material for the show.

The main outside threat here in Season 6 — aside from the war on the horizon — was established back in Season 5. Yes indeed, Richard Brown (Chris Larkin) and his slovenly brigade of Brownstown miscreants are on their usual tear, as part of a self-appointed "Committee of Safety" and not only are they crass, cruel, and bigoted but their looming presence only works to prevent Claire from being able to emotionally distance herself from her attack.

This is an offbeat time for Outlander since, previous to these past two seasons, the show was quite fluid and mobile, in both location and time. Now we're entering a brand new season, still in North Carolina, still pre-war, and so it makes sense that there be a restlessness and a fear of repetition. Are we in for yet another run of Jamie and Claire butting heads with monsterous locals? if so, then how do they make it feel fresh and inviting and not like a mud-stuck wheel?

The Skye Boat Song intro is once again switched up. This time composer Bear McCreary steers us away from the Season 5 chorus and into a male/female duet, seemingly pointing toward a much-needed coming together of the various couples on the series — Claire and Jamie, Bree and Roger, Marsali and Fergus — to overcome their mounting obstacles.


Outlander gives us a gentle, suspenseful “calm before the storm” opener for Season 6, though to know the show is to know there’s always a storm coming. It nicely caught us up with everyone on the Ridge after the anguish of Season 5’s finale while also introducing a big new element to the series in the form of Mr. Christie and his clan. Dangers are ever-present, and seemingly everywhere, and one can sort of see how the dominoes will eventually fall, but the biggest hurdle right now from a pure show standpoint is how to make a number of elements of this season not feel like a retread. Does that mean zigging where the story in the book zags? We’ll have to find out.

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