- Outlander -The Christies On 'Outlander' Are A Damaged Bunch, According To The Actors Who Play Them
It's never easy being the new kids on the Ridge. But when the Christies showed up in Outlander Season 6, they weren't afraid to shake things up. In a Zoom call following the premiere, The Dipp spoke with the actors playing Tom, Malva, and Allan Christie (Mark Lewis Jones, Jessica Reynolds, and Alexander Vlahos) about the family's underlying damage — and how that could hurt Jamie and Claire.
"The Addams Family have walked onto Fraser's Ridge," Vlahos says of the Christie family's introduction in "Echoes." Although Tom Christie brought along a whole new group of Scottish settlers called the "Fisher-folk," it was Tom and his two children Allan and Malva ("us three weird lot," Vlahos jokes) that made a real splash upon their arrival by pushing Jamie's buttons, causing religious tension, bringing Richard Brown's ire down upon them, and generally just being a bit off.
Lewis Jones notes that the Christie patriarch coming to Jamie for help and accepting this offer of land must have been "really difficult" for Tom and he "must have had no choice at all." And the flashback to Ardsmuir Prison at the start of the episode helped to establish the power struggle these two men have.
"It was obvious that these two guys at the center of this strange place really rubbed each other the wrong way and there was some weird chemistry going on between them," Lewis Jones says of the Ardsmuir flashback. "I think that set it up perfectly for when they then meet in Jamie's parlor years later. Where things have changed dramatically for [Jamie], but Tom is still not in any world of comfort and needs Jamie's assistance."
Because Tom was imprisoned, Vlahos mentions how Allan and Malva needed to care for each other in their early years. "When Tom wasn't around, Allan was the man of the house," Vlahos says. "I think everything stems from pre-Tom and now with dad being around, they — as kids do, even nowadays — they will agree to a certain point with their parents' beliefs but will want to try and find their own way."
Even in the first episode, you can see a glimmer of Allan and Malva's rebellion against Tom's puritanical parenting. But Lewis Jones believes that Tom thinks he's doing what's best for him.
"In his own mad way, he means well for his kids," the Tom actor says. "He's trying to keep them away from the sins of the world. But by doing so, it makes their lives much worse and much harder."
"There's such a coldness between Tom and Allan and Malva," Reynolds says. "Allan and Malva do have that sibling relationship and you can see that there's definitely a closeness there. But between them and Tom, there's such a hostility there."
She credits some of the Christie children's more awkward social interactions to the lack of a stable and supportive upbringing. "I think that comes out in the kids' social cues. Just in terms of sometimes coming across a bit odd," Reynolds laughs. "When [Malva] first meets Jamie and Claire, there's no kind of filter there. She doesn't know how to play it cool at the start because she hasn't been taught that by her father or her brother. The roots of their relationships are so askew from mother, father, uncle, etc., etc., and you can see that in a lot of social situations."
Vlahos points out that Malva has it worse off than her brother in regards to figuring out her identity because of the two competing father figures in her life. "[Malva's] got basically two versions of dads," Vlahos says. "She's got Tom, who's actually her father, and then, Allan, who's also taking on that role. It's doubly difficult to try and make your own claim."
One parental figure that Malva doesn't have in her life is a mother. (According to Tom, the children's mother is busy "burning in the fires of hell.") And Malva's somewhat-intense fascination with Claire and her work was obvious from the first time she stepped into Claire's surgery. For Reynolds, she says it didn't require too much acting to portray someone who looks up to Caitríona Balfe's Claire.
"Coming onto the show and meeting someone like Caitríona, it wasn't hard to feel that way. She's got such a grand personality," Reynolds says. "I remember when I first met her, I just thought, 'You're so tall.' Her and Sam [Heughan] were just so tall and had this huge presence."
"She's so brilliant," Reynolds continues. "Doing scenes with her, the roles weren't so different in terms of being able to look up to a woman who has a lot more experience than you and who is very kind and welcomed me on as an actress, never mind as Claire welcoming Malva. It was a weird kind of parallel. So yeah, it came naturally for me."
Although Malva's currently enchanted by Claire, there's clearly darkness up ahead concerning this family. Even if you haven't read the books by Diana Gabaldon, past seasons of the show — and the promotional materials surrounding this particular family — should have your spidey senses tingling. For instance, in the below preview for Episode 2, Malva is shown marveling at the fact that Claire's a physician while Allan notes how other people might consider her a witch.
"For people who have read the books, they're like, 'Uh-oh the Christies are here,'" Vlahos says of the Christies' villain potential this season. "But I feel like in Episode 1, there's a degree of empathy towards them, which I think is brilliant because ... it makes people drop their guards to the Christies and then, you know, chaos ensues."
"You kind of have an understanding of their badness," Lewis Jones adds. "You kind of understand that they're really damaged people. And they've been damaged by what's happened to them ... I think the understanding of their damage helps, in a way, understand their actions. Even though some of their actions are really not good at all."
But while you might have felt some sympathy for this lot after the Season 6 premiere, Vlahos warns you against feeling too bad for them, pointing to Allan's theft of the Brown family's gunpowder horn (a scenario created by the TV show that wasn't in the sixth book, A Breath of Snow and Ashes).
"Who comes to a new place, brags about something that clearly he had no time to manufacture?" Vlahos says.
"The lying is the first big red flag for any audience member if they're in tune with what Allan's done in that and don't just think, 'Oh, I feel sorry for him after he gets whipped,'" the Allan actor says. "I think you need to start questioning anyone's moral compass and sense of beliefs when they do that."
But even with red flags, Lewis Jones teases that the journey the Christies go on this season is "not what you think it's going to be."
"It's difficult to predict what's going to happen with the Christies and which way this is gonna go," he says. But when it comes to predictions, you don't need tea leaves to tell you that Jamie and Claire's relationship with the Christies is only going to go down from here.