Grab your ale and put on your kilts because the droughtlander is over! After two agonizing years, Claire, Jamie, and the rest of the Scots are back for Season 6 of Outlander. Since it’s been so long since Season 5, it may be hard to remember what exactly happened leading up to now. We’ve prepared this nifty guide for you to catch you up on the story—and we’re going all the way back to Season 1 for you new sassenachs (you’ll get that after you’ve seen it).
In 1946, feisty British military nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) and her hubby, Frank (Tobias Menzies) are enjoying a holiday in Scotland post WWII when, after touching one of the ancient standing stones at Craigh na Dun in Inverness, Claire is whisked back to 1743. Rather than completely lose it, which is what most of us would do, Claire uses her historic and medical knowledge to her advantage and joins a group of Scottish rebels who are fighting against the tyrannical “Black Jack” Randall. In an even more disturbing twist of events, “Black Jack” is Frank’s ancestor, but whereas Frank is a sweet little nerd, “Black Jack” is a horrifying psychopath.
As Claire tries to flee back to her own time, the Scottish clan decide to keep her on as a healer. To keep her out of the clutches of Black Jack, Claire marries hunky—and we mean hunky—Scotsman Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). Claire holds her own against Jamie’s misogynistic views, and the two fall in love—much to the chagrin of young maiden Laoghaire (Nell Hudson), who has been pining after Jamie for years. While Claire feels some guilt regarding Frank, who can blame her? Jamie is a bona fide Scottish sex God.
While canoodling with Jamie, Claire gets into a bit of trouble when she befriends Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek), the wife of the procurator who basically does whatever the hell she wants. The pair hit it off, and it’s later revealed that while Geillis isn’t a witch, she is also a time traveler—a vital piece of information that becomes key in season three.
As all of this is going on, Claire tags along with the rebels and, remembering her history lessons, realizes that they are part of the doomed Jacobite rebellion against the English King. Knowing their fate to fight and lose, Claire tries to warn them. They don’t believe her, and Jamie is captured and tortured by Black Jack. Thankfully, Claire and the gang are able to rescue him, and a pregnant Claire and Jamie decide to head to France to try again to save the Jacobites from themselves.
While living in Paris, Claire and Jamie learn that the aristocracy parties hard and the political entanglements are full of intrigue. Jamie sets up shop as a wine merchant and befriends Jacobite leader Prince Charles (Andrew Gower), who has the funds necessary to start a full blown revolution.
Meanwhile, Claire befriends some French ladies (including the fabulous Louise de la Tour) and begins to volunteer as a nurse at the local hospital. Unfortunately for the pair, Black Jack reappears, and Claire convinces Jamie not to kill him until after he is able to establish the family line that will eventually lead to Frank, her husband in the future. However, dealing with Jack Black sends Jamie down a dark path, causing Claire so much distress she loses their baby.
After their disastrous time in France, Jamie and Claire realize that they can’t change the course of history and head back to Scotland. Before the Battle of Culloden, which will lead to the downfall of the Jacobites, Jamie forces Claire, newly pregnant again, to go back through the stones and return to her own time. When she returns to the 20th century, Claire explains to a befuddled Frank what happened, and he agrees to raise Jamie’s daughter, Brianna, as his own. As long as Claire forgets Jamie. Of course she can’t forget, and on a trip to Scotland with her now adult daughter, Claire discovers that Jamie did not die in battle—and she vows to return to him.
In 1948, Claire and Frank raise little Brianna in Boston. Bored of just being “Frank’s wife,” Claire enrolls in medical school, where she befriends her sole Black classmate, Joe Abernathy (Wil Johnson). Claire does become a bona fide doctor, but her and Frank’s marriage is strained due to the fact that she is still in love with Jamie.
Back in the 1700s, Jamie finally takes down Black Jack, but ends up in prison. He befriends the prison warden, Lord John Grey (David Berry), who promptly falls in love with Jamie (doesn’t everyone?). Lord John helps Jamie get a job at an English estate, where (surprise, surprise) another woman decides she wants to sleep with Jaime, and he fathers an illegitimate child, Willie. Sadly, Jamie can’t stay and raise Willie, so he returns to Scotland and proceeds to start a printing press where he prints rebellious literature.
After Frank dies tragically in a car accident, Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Claire head to Scotland, where Brianna’s adorable boyfriend/historian, Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin), helps Claire to track down Jamie through historical records. She returns to the 18th century to find him and, despite having spent 20 years apart, they pick up their relationship right back where they left it, proving that true love conquers all. With the possible exception of ex-wives.
Much to Claire’s shock, Jamie has remarried and his new wife is none other than Laogharie. And she’s none too pleased to see the return of the tramp who stole her man. Jamie’s sister is also not too keen on seeing Claire, especially when she learns of all the trouble the pair has gotten her son, Jaime’s nephew Ian, into. In order to get Laogharie off their backs, Jamie and Claire decide to head to Jamaica on a ship to retrieve some lost Jacobite treasure to compensate her. Unfortunately, Ian is captured on the way.
While on the ship, Claire reunites with Fergus (Cesar Domboy), Jamie’s adopted French son, and his feisty wife, Marsali (Lauren Lyle), Laogharie’s daughter. The voyage gets even rougher after a British ship boards theirs and kidnaps Claire. She manages to escape, and together they track down Ian, who has been kidnapped by none other than Geillis, the time traveling hottie from Season 1. Geillis is also on the hunt for the Jacobite treasure, and is trying to fulfill a prophecy that involves Brianna (it gets complicated.) In order to protect her daughter and save her nephew, Claire takes down Geillis, and Claire and Jamie leave Jamaica and sail to America.
The Frasers are now living in North Carolina and are heading up river to meet Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta. Along the way, they are attacked by the brutal pirate Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers), who makes Black Jack look like a cute puppy. They manage to make it to Aunt Jocasta, but modern-thinking Claire takes issue with her claims of being a “benevolent slave owner” (which of course never existed). Claire tries to save a poor slave, despite her actions being technically illegal (thus proving that things that are legal are not always right.) Needing a place to live, Jamie makes a deal with Governor Tryon that requires Jamie to pledge loyalty to the British crown and convince immigrants to settle on the new land. In return, the governor grants Jaime a plot of land of his own, which he calls Fraser’s Ridge.
Meanwhile, back in the 1960s, Brianna learns that her parents are doomed to die in a fire, so she heads back to the 1700s to warn them. After an uncomfortable encounter with Laogharie, Brianna heads to North Carolina and picks up a traveling companion on the way named Lizzie (Caitlin O’Ryan). She meets her father for the first time peeing in a back alley (keep it classy, Jamie.) The pair quickly form a bond and realize that they have a lot more in common than they initially realized.
After Roger discovers his girlfriend has left he too travels to the past and braves a treacherous journey by boat to get back to her. He tracks down Brianna, and they become handfasted (a informal form of marriage). However, their first night together isn’t spent in bliss, as Brianna learns that Roger had no intention of telling her the fate of her parents. Furious, Brianna sends him away, and tracks down Bonnett to recover her parents’ stolen wedding rings. Once again proving what a turd of a human being he is, Bonnett rapes Brianna.
Roger comes back to Brianna because his loyalty is incredible, but as they fight, Lizzie spots them and assumes that Roger is her attacker. A furious Jamie storms out and beats the hell out of Roger and sells him to the Mohawk Tribe. An equally furious Brianna forces Jamie and Ian, who has befriended the Mohawk, to go get him. The pair track down Roger and the Mohawk insist that someone take Roger’s place, which Ian is more than happy to do. Roger and Brianna finally reunite, Brianna has her baby, and Roger and Jamie continue to dislike one another.
By the end of the season, Roger, Brianna, and their baby are happily living on Fraser’s Ridge and preparing for a formal wedding. Bonnet, who was finally captured, escapes, and it’s unclear whether he’s alive or dead.
Brianna and Jamie have a big, happy wedding where Marsali owns everyone when it comes to dirty limericks. Unfortunately for Brianna, she learns that Bonnett is indeed alive. Jamie also gets some unfortunate news: Governor Tryon informs him that in exchange for his land, he needs to track down and murder Murtagh Fitzgibbons (Duncan Lacroix), Jamie’s godfather and the leader of the regulators who oppose British rule.
Claire continues to be a healer by opening up a clinic in the back of her house and trying to create her own form of penicillin. Jamie becomes tangled up with The Browns, a complicated family, as Claire decides to publish her own medical advice under the pen name Dr. Rawling. This infuriates the patriarch of the Brown family, who, along with his group of miscreants, beat and rape Claire. Thankfully, Claire is rescued, and Mr. Brown is taken down by Marsali, who poisons him. Even Brown’s brother is cool with the murder, although he does tell Jamie, “When the time comes, I will do what I must.”
Meanwhile, Jamie and Brianna are having fun setting up their home, until Bonnett shows up and kidnaps Brianna and her son, Jem, to try and claim him as his own. Bonnett isn’t interested in being a father, but he is interested in Jem’s enormous inheritance. Brianna’s family comes to rescue her, but it’s Brianna who puts the final bullet in Bonnet’s head, proving that the women of Outlander treat garbage men like the trash they are.
The Regulators and the men who make up Jamie’s militia go to battle in the Battle of Alamance, a real battle that occurred in 1771 and is considered as a major event leading up to the American Revolution. Sadly, Murtaugh dies in battle, which causes Jamie to reconsider his loyalty to the crown. During all of this, Ian does return to Fraser’s Ridge and even pursues a bit of a romance.
What’s Going to Happen in Season 6?
Season 6 of Outlander is most likely based on the sixth book of Diana Gabladon’s series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Some of the major plot points from that book, however—such as Claire’s rape and the takedown of Bonnett—already happened in Season 5. This season has also been shortened down to eight episodes.
The new season will pick up where Season 5 left off and will most likely delve into Claire’s trauma. Having experienced what Claire went through, Brianna does her best to care for her mother. Trauma isn’t the only thing the Frasers will have to overcome. Their new neighbors, the Christie Family, cause all sorts of trouble. The patriarch of the Christies, Tom (Mark Lewis Jones), was a prisoner with Jamie, and his conservative views aren’t the most accepted in the community. Tom also has two children, Allan and Malva. Claire becomes close to Malva, much to the displeasure of her father.
It’s also been said that the new season will be darker than previous ones due to the impending Revolution. Ian will struggle between his family and his bond with the Indigenous tribes in the area. Even Marsali and Fergus’ lives may be about to get more complicated. In the book, Marsali gives birth to a baby with dwarfism, and sadly the community does not accept the baby. Other key moments in the book include Roger becoming a minister, Brianna giving birth to a daughter, Lizzy also becoming pregnant, and Claire being accused of murder. If all of that happens, we are in for one hell of a season.
You can stream the first five seasons of Outlander on Netflix and Starz. Season 6 begins airing weekly on Starz on March 6.