Comic relief a breath of fresh air after the drama’s recent dark turn

After keeping us in Fraser Ridge for several seasons — featuring a range of frustrating but not always interesting villains, and the cusp of the Revolutionary War — “Outlander” Season 7 feels like a breath of fresh air.

The season premiere begins where we left off: a determined Jamie (Sam Heughan), along with Ian (John Bell), must save his beloved Claire (Caitriona Balfe) from the attempted death of Malva Christie (Jessica Reynolds). For ). Claire, meanwhile, does what she can to survive – and she’s truly perfected the art of keeping her wits about her in the face of impending doom.

But unlike other seasons that have crushed and violated our heroine in needlessly graphic ways, we are relieved here. Instead, Claire’s looming trial and possible execution is delayed due to her skills as a doctor and the political unrest of the era, with Jamie always one step behind.

John Bell and Sam Heughan in a still from “Outlander” Season 7. (Starz)

We get many surprises as things progress, including some great sightings of Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones), the late Malwa’s pious father, who spent time with Jamie in Ardsmere in Scotland. In fact, for anyone who tires of Tom’s story quickly, the first half of season 7 is when it all starts to pay off.

What makes the ending a little disappointing is that the writers almost gloss over the backstories of Tom’s kids, Malva and Alan Christie (Alexander Vlahos), early in the second episode.

The seemingly important exposition is explored very quickly, in flashbacks that take no more than a few minutes. But given the nature of the revelation here, it’s possible that this was done as a reaction to the unnecessary violence in previous seasons. Still, you almost wonder what the purpose of these characters was other than to try and fabricate a mistrust between Claire and Jamie. This seems especially unlikely given how connected they are throughout the course of the show; A couple who have never been so disappointed in each other, and who have traveled across oceans and time for each other on more than one occasion.

And yes, that level of intimacy continues to appear in Season 7, although the physical aspect slows down a bit towards the end of Episode 2.

Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton in a still from ‘Outlander’ season 7. (Starz)

Speaking of trying to drive a wedge between the couples, a certain time traveler we last saw whistling inside a prison cell in Season 6 also reappears, Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Things get a little complicated for Roger (RICHARD RANKIN). This is a short-lived complication for the couple which later has major ramifications for the others (including Jamie, Claire and Young Ian).

One of those twists reveals a big secret held by Mr. and Mrs. Bug (Hugh Ross and Sarah Collier), who were first introduced in Season 5. Given that we’ve barely seen or heard of Ark Bug since then, and only had a few scenes with Mrs. Bug, the level of familiarity and betrayal felt between Bugs and Jamie feels a bit off and unlike other Showlanders (aka fans). may feel the same for those who used to watch the show before). Insects play a more prominent role. In the books, that makes the plot twist seem a little out of the blue).

Within the first four episodes available for review, we re-meet another old character who will surely play a bigger role as the season unfolds: Lord William Ransom (Charles Vanderwaart), the son Jamie fathered long ago. Several years have passed since we last saw young William, traveling with his father, Lord John (David Berry), to meet Jamie back in Season 4. which would inevitably turn into a revolutionary war).

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Jamie, of course, has no desire to face off against his son (he even says so in the trailer), and begins planning his escape. In classic “Outlander” fashion, you know he’ll get involved in the war one way or another — which side he’ll end up on remains to be seen.

What we can say is that Young Ian will have at least some connection to William, as well as a few new characters looking to join the rebellion. We really are on the brink of war, which sounds exciting considering the show’s epic Battle of Culloden in Season 3.

Comic relief finds its way into the new episodes, an aspect of the show that has been missing from its darker sixth season. It’s hard to lighten the mood when there’s so much violence and death, especially after Murtagh’s passing. But this time around, from the banter between Claire’s fellow inmates to a delightful scene in Episode 2 where Brianna tries to explain Disney World and Mickey Mouse to Jamie, it’s equal parts hilarious and tender. Heck, even Tom Christie makes us laugh at one point.

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Another thing that’s missing? Time and space change – and we get them both in unexpected ways. We finally get a brief look at Lallybroch again. Given that we’ve only got two more seasons for the show to wrap up, hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Jamie stomping old turf.

For the rest, you can expect the same level of romance and intimacy between our two main couples as they face new challenges, especially in their roles as parents and grandparents. Without it, it wouldn’t be “Outlander”.

The new season of “Outlander” airs Friday, June 16 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Starz, with new episodes airing weekly and at midnight Fridays on the Starz app and all Starz streaming and on-demand platforms Available to stream.

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