“Outlander” star Mark Lewis Jones in Tom Christie’s Sacrifice for Claire

(Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Outlander Season 7 premiere, “A Life Well Lost.”)

Outlander returned and delivered plenty of emotion in his season 7 premiere episode, “A Life Well Lost.” As Jamie (Sam Heughan) ran to save Claire (Caitriona Balfe) from potential death, his fellow Scotsman Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) stayed close to her to keep watch.

While she remained imprisoned for killing Tom’s daughter Malva (Jessica Reynolds), Tom sought justice in the form of a fair trial. When Claire is taken to care for the pregnant wife of Governor Martin (Eugene O’Hare), she sends a letter back for Tom, conveying her wish for Jamie to come rescue her.

It is his involvement that allows the Frasers to be reunited and ultimately freed when he makes the gallant choice to sacrifice himself by confessing to the crime neither he nor Claire committed. While Tom is partly responsible for Claire and Jamie’s predicament, his sacrifice ultimately stems from his feelings for the Fraser family matriarch.

Mark Lewis Jones as Tom Christie in

(Credit: Starz)

“I’m not sure he’s full of guilt. I think it’s full of love,” Jones tells StrippedPixel about Tom’s choice to confess in order to save Claire. “It’s always felt like he’s been waiting for this opportunity to show love, and it comes in the form of Claire.”

“I always feel like he’s headed for (it) really,” he continues. “In Season 6, he was incredibly uptight and pious with Claire in particular, and that was to hide his true feelings. By the time we get to Season 7, he’s in a position where he can reveal how he really feels, not just with Claire, but with (Jamie) as well.”

The men also have a touching moment right before Tom goes to the ship that Claire is on board to reveal that he is confessing for the sake of her release. “They really get to a place of mutual respect,” says Jones. “You wouldn’t say there’s love between them, but definitely respect.” And at the end of the day, Tom’s actions allow him to “play the ultimate hero,” he adds.

Mark Lewis Jones and Sam Heughan in

(Credit: Starz)

When it came to Tom’s heartfelt confession to Claire aboard the ship, Jones says, “Up until that point, he’s had a hard life with all of it – the prison and the kids and the wives – and somehow it all comes down to a head at its simplest: just two people in a small room.” During his confession, viewers discover Claire’s physical similarities to Tom’s long-dead wife, Malva’s true parentage being his brother’s, and the lack of love in Tom’s life until he met Claire.

She pleads with him to reconsider his decision, noting that his life has value, knowing that it will likely end if he is tried for the crime he claims to have committed, but he refuses to back down. He tells Claire that he knows his life has value and that’s why he’s able to stand by her side now and take the blame.

“Caitriona is wonderful to work with,” says Jones. “Everything is so bare and revealing and vulnerable, especially for Tom. But I think for both of us, at that moment, there’s nothing to hide behind. And when we first got the script for that episode, I was excited that we were given the opportunity to really go and deliver what the writers delivered.”

Regarding Jones’ experience with the show, he says: “It’s been fantastic from the start both with (Caitriona and Sam) and the others. They were both fantastic to work with. It was a really wonderful experience and I’m so glad the response was what it was because it was a gift.”

And just like Tom’s gift to Claire, fans are certainly grateful for the sacrifice he made to bring the show’s main loves back together. We have to tip our hats to that.

OutlanderFriday, 8/7c, Starz

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