Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Outlander season six, episode six, “The World Turned Upside Down.”
Yesterday’s episode of Outlander was a 70-minute emotional rollercoaster that ended in tragedy. At the conclusion of this arduous outing, the body count at Fraser’s Ridge creates a discernible divide in the colonial society, and at its center, the show bids one of season six’s main cast members farewell.
Spoilers to follow.
“The World Turned Upside Down” started with a contagious case of flux ripping through the settlement and taking victims by the dozens. One of these people is Claire Fraser herself, who knocks at death’s doorsteps and pushes the Fraser family into disarray.
Claire eventually recovers from illness and begins investigating the disease, noting that what she had was different from the flux the Ridge was battling. Then, almost out of nowhere, Tom Christie’s daughter Malva announces that she’s pregnant and accuses Jamie of lying with her more than a dozen times.
Jamie and Claire have a heart-to-heart and figure out the best course of action, with the people of Fraser’s Ridge distancing themselves from the family over the next few months. At the end of the episode, Claire finds Malva in their garden, with her throat slit and her unborn child already dead.
In a recent chat with Variety, Malva’s actress Jessica Reynolds addressed her character’s shocking and grotesque death.
“I already knew this is a juicy character,” she said. “One of the scenes was the accusation scene that we’ve just seen in episode 6. So I knew that there was some dark stuff going to go down. It wasn’t until I got the part and I started reading the book that I realized, like, oh my God, these are the worst circumstances of a character of any person I’ve ever come across. I was just thinking I couldn’t imagine anything worse happening to me. It’s a Greek tragedy.”
When asked how Malva’s death would affect Fraser’s Ridge, Reynolds said:
“It’s a really interesting thing about the Protestant community coming over to the Ridge and putting all this blame and all these superstitions and this witch ideology on Claire again, even though she overcame that in season one. It’s going to impact her greatly. But then you’ve got that personal aspect for Claire. She loved Malva. Maybe it’s her thinking why can’t she have done more? I think it’s going to be tough. It’s interesting seeing a lot of the fans say ‘Why can’t Claire see that she’s evil and she’s manipulative?’ Malva has a lot of sides to her, and ultimately I think she is a victim. I think Claire sees Malva as a victim as well when things were revealed. Also, it’s trauma after trauma for Claire, right? She’s processing the rape of last season, and then Malva distracts her. She’s got a lot of things to look forward to. And now it’s another blow. How much trauma can one take on?”
Malva’s death might finally be the thing that pushes Claire over the precipice she’d been hanging on through this season after her traumatic run-in with Lionel Brown. As for Reynolds, it’s a shame to lose such a powerful actress this early into the narrative of the new season, but Malva will no doubt continue to haunt Fraser’s Ridge for many more months to come.