The Show-only Sassenach: ‘Outlander’ Review: Episode 701, “A Life Well Lost ” (Season Premiere)

**This is not a spoiler-free review of this episode. This review is also from a non-reader, and any comments revealing spoilers from the books will be deleted.**

With Apologies to Tom Christie

No, seriously 

Episode 701: “A Life Well Lost”

Written by Danielle Berrow, Directed by Lisa Clarke

Last year I had the pleasure of speaking at the Outlander fan panel at San Diego Comic-Con, where I was asked who I thought killed Malva Christie.

‘Adso,’ I joked, thinking to myself that maybe, just maybe, the show would return to some lighthearted fun after Jamie saved Claire from being punished as Malva’s murderer.

In other words, time may pass, but I remain blissfully unaware of the PAIN that continually lies AHEAD OF ME in the world of Outlander.

How could I have possibly anticipated that TOM CHRISTIE (Mark Lewis Jones) would DO THAT? 

But let’s backtrack a bit, shall we, Outlander fans? The episode starts with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) dying.

Because we can’t have nice things in this show.

Thankfully, Claire didn’t break her neck — Jamie (Sam Heughan, on absolute fire in this episode) was just reassuring himself that his beloved wife with a medical degree couldn’t possibly be dead.

He’d know.

“Let’s go get my wife,” Jamie practically growls to Young Ian (John Bell), who is like, “HELL YEAH UNCLE JAMIE; LET’S GO KILL SOME BASTARDS. IT’LL BE OUR WAY OF BONDING.”

Meanwhile, Claire is having the time of her life bonding with her fellow inmates as she awaits the very real possibility that she might be hanged for a crime she didn’t commit.

As someone who hasn’t read the books, the episode overall still doesn’t make it very clear who killed Malva. I still honestly have no idea.

One of Claire’s new prison besties tries to take credit for being a murderer, basically conducting a crime swap with Claire.

Oh, look, it’s our favorite curly-haired criminal.

Initially, it seems like Claire’s fellow prison-mate is being selfless by trying to take the blame for Claire’s murder charge. However, one of the other lady inmates explains later that by doing so, she might’ve made things worse for Claire.

In other words, Claire experienced Mean Girls: Prison Edition.

Meanwhile, Jamie is PISSED that he hasn’t been able to rescue Claire yet (patience, sir! We still have many episodes left to go!) It felt like Sam Heughan went full Christian Bale Dark Knight in this episode, and I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF ANGRY JAMIE (just in time for Father’s Day!)

Thankfully, Claire has a literal get-out-of-jail-free card — her medical degree. She’s let out of her cell to help the pregnant wife of one of the British officers in town.

Naturally, the pregnant wife is like, ‘Wait, you’re having a literal murderer GIVE ME A CHECKUP?”

Oh hey! Remember us? Were we in the episode too? Remember? Anybody?

Yes, our favorite B Plot couple was off being cute while Claire was on death row. Don’t get me wrong, I think Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton are fantastic together as Roger and Bri, but I didn’t care enough about them in this episode while CLAIRE WAS LITERALLY ON DEATH’S DOOR.

However, Roger does discover that Wendigo Donner (Brennan Martin) is, in fact, that guy that was whistling a very modern tune in many episodes past. Wendigo wanted to return to the past to help warn the Native American people of the INCREDIBLE DANGER they were in, and he got stuck in the past, leaving himself in incredible danger as well.

Roger wants to help Wendigo, but Bri reminds him that Wendigo was part of the contingent that assaulted Claire. However, Roger points out that Wendigo didn’t partake in the heinous acts against Claire and that he did genuinely try to help Claire escape.

Did it make Wendigo a coward for ultimately choosing survival over Claire’s safety? You decide, Outlander fans.

Well, well, well, if it isn’t scum and his crony, villainy 

Jamie continues his hunt for Claire, interrogating the lady prisoners who are like, “We totally weren’t mean to your wife, hot Scottish guy! By the way, if she hangs, you’ll be single, so…HMU?”

Thankfully our hero is a loyal man to the end. He attempts to negotiate Claire’s freedom with the British officer with the pregnant wife in Claire’s care.

However, he’s met with staunch refusals.

Tom Christie saves the day in a HUGE plot twist that I didn’t see coming.

Can we talk about this?


My red flag radar must be broken because this guy is top-tier man material.

In a move that had me in tears, Tom sacrifices himself so Claire can be set free.

It’s glaringly apparent that Tom didn’t kill Malva, and I’m still genuinely wondering who managed to get away with murder.

Tom admits to Claire that his wife had an affair with his brother, and Malva resulted from their union.

While Tom’s ‘confession’ to killing Malva was obviously a lie, it was clear that his feelings for Claire were 100 percent genuine.



I know I judged Tom hard last season. To see him evolve from the stoic, religious zealot to a man finally at peace with himself, ironically when he was at death’s door, was incredible.

Mark Lewis Jones absolutely knocked it out of the acting PARK with his confession scene, earning him the rightful title of this episode’s MVP.

Not all heroes wear capes.

Claire understandably rejects Tom’s offer to take the blame for Malva’s murder. However, Tom’s already beaten her to the punch, turning in a letter confessing to the crime.

His fate is sealed.

For the first time since we’ve met Tom in Outlander, he genuinely looks happy, and I am in tears and SEND HELP PLEASE.

Claire finally reunites with Jamie (it’s not a season of Outlander without an emotional Jamie/Claire reunion, they’re practically mandatory at this point), but their embrace is bittersweet this time.

After all, Claire lives and dies by her oath to do no harm. How could she let a man give up his life for her?

Jamie reasons that Claire would be doing Tom a disservice if she rejected his selfless sacrifice. He’d do the same in Tom’s stead (but he can’t because he’s the main male hero, so sorry Tom, ye got to go.)

Dinna Fash Sassenach, I’m contractually obligated to appear in every single episode.

However, the episode doesn’t end with Jamie and Claire in bed.


Because no therapists exist in Colonial America, Jamie unpacks his anger at the man responsible for Claire’s arrest (and past assault) — Richard Brown (Chris Larkin).

Coward that he is, Brown attempts to appeal to Jamie’s status as a gentleman.

Jamie growls that Claire is the only reason he remains a respectable man.

The episode fades to black as Richard Brown FINALLY GETS IT.

And with that, Outlander fans, we’re off to a promising start to the seventh season.

But seriously.

Who killed Malva?? 

Can Tom be saved??


Stay tuned to find out!


Synopsis: “Claire makes a startling discovery about Roger and Brianna’s newborn daughter. A familiar face returns to the Ridge with explosive consequences.”