‘Outlander’ Star Jessica Reynolds on Malva’s Tragic Twist & Christie Family Secrets

Spoiler Alert

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 6, Episode 6 of Outlander, “The World Turned Upside Down.”]

The latest episode of Outlander made way for shocking reveals and even bigger mysteries as tensions rise on Fraser’s Ridge.

In “The World Turned Upside Down,” Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) really do have their world flipped upside down, from a mystery illness among their settlers to a very unsettling revelation from Malva Christie (Jessica Reynolds). When Claire herself falls ill, she’s cared for by her family and Malva, but when she begins to recover, the Frasers learn Malva is pregnant. The catch? Malva claims Jamie is the father.

At first, Claire is distraught, considering she had a vision of Malva comforting Jamie in a close way, but she has her faith for Jamie reaffirmed by his actions. It’s clear that Malva’s troubled and hiding the true identity of her baby’s father, but no real answers are unearthed because Malva ends up dead by the episode’s end.

Outlander Season 6 Jessica Reynolds

(Credit: Starz)

Found by Claire in her garden, Malva’s throat was slit, and Claire was forced to carry out an emergency cesarean on her unborn child. Sadly, the efforts were futile, leading to a devastating ending. But will further answers about Malva’s mysterious ending be unveiled? Jessica Reynolds opens up about her character’s storyline, potential answers on the horizon, and more.

Malva begins the season quiet and shy, but little by little we learn there’s another side to her. What was the best part about exploring her character progression?

It was so great for me. I read the book, which is in chapters and that’s the way it unfolds with Malva, right? We’re peeling back these layers time after time and it was just so great in terms of how they [translated] it from the book into the series. They really lent that tool to me, in terms of her evolution. In each episode, there’s a little bit more every time, and so it made it seamless for me to portray the arc.

Then also there was a lot of work for me to fill in the gaps. I figured out exactly in my head when I thought she got pregnant, which is a pivotal moment when she starts to act up. It’s interesting to see viewers judge her for what she’s doing, without knowing that subtext and that background because, in my head, making those character choices, it was like, as soon as she’s pregnant, survival mode comes in. She’s in a state of complete desperation and that’s when she starts getting a little creepy as everyone has said.

Outlander Season 6 Jessica Reynolds Caitriona Balfe Alexander Vlahos

(Credit: Starz)

And in terms of the book, will the remainder of this season follow those storylines closely or are there any surprise changes viewers should look out for?

As far as I can remember, it follows it very, very closely, just as tragically. I think there’s a little shift. For this episode, I think it’s pretty on the nose with the book, and I think most of the series is, from hearing what fans have said about other seasons and this one seems to be quite in line with the book, which was great for me because I took so much of my work from that.

Malva’s life came to an end in this episode, but is it the last we’ve seen her? Will we learn the truth behind her mysterious death?

I can’t promise that’s going to be in this season as to why [she died]. I don’t think we’re going to see the reveal, necessarily in this season, it might be ending on a cliffhanger, because we were supposed to be shooting 12 episodes for Season 6 and then that had to be halted. Now four extra episodes are going into the next season. So it might be a bit of a wait, which is tough for me, because I’m like, “I want everyone to know.” But yeah, but it will be revealed at some point.

Malva’s interactions with the Frasers had seemed so genuine up until this point. Was her conversation with Jamie more calculated than innocent?

In that scene specifically, I think she feels like she does with Claire, she’s just as impressed with Jamie. I think why she goes for Jamie is not because she’s in love with Jamie. I personally didn’t follow that route, but I think that it’s a need. Again, it’s survival mode. It’s desperation. She’s only 18. There were possibly other options she could have taken. But this seems like this is all that she knows what to do right now. She knows she can seduce men. She knows she’s good at it. She knows it’s plausible and people will probably believe it.

Outlander Season 6 Jessica Reynolds Mark Lewis Jones and Alexander Vlahos

(Credit: Starz)

At the same time, in that specific scene, I think she is genuine. I think she admires him. I think that the tricky thing with Malva is she’s doing what she knows she needs to do, but when it comes to it, she’s a very sensitive, people-pleasing, and empathetic person. I think she’s too sensitive. She’s too empathetic almost. And she’s just young and she does some awful things because people have done some awful things to her.

Does Malva feel any remorse for her actions? She did seem to care for Claire.

She has remorse. I think it’s so obvious when the audience sees what they will, that she is sorry. This isn’t an evil act, as far as she’s concerned. I think even the scene where she is confronting Jamie and she’s crying and stuff, I think there’s almost a subtext of like, “I can’t believe I have to do this.” It’s panic. She’s so young. I see a little girl when I read it, and hopefully when we watch it as well.

Despite what Malva said about Jamie, Claire still goes to check on her and see how she is. But Malva’s tone changes as soon as Allan (Alexander Vlahos) arrives. Should viewers be looking deeper into that?

Yeah, look at the abuse she’s faced from her father and look at this seedy, completely unconventional, unsafe seeming home environment that she’s in. I think it’s definitely worth looking at the people around her as to why she is the way she is now. She’s grown up with these people, with Allan for longer than she’s been with Tom (Mark Lewis Jones). Definitely start asking questions, let’s not put all the blame straight onto Malva. I think it’s such a psychological debate.

When it comes to Christie family secrets, are they all aware of each other’s?

Maybe. Let’s just say that there are a lot of secrets in that family. And there’s just a lot of trauma that is not talked about by everyone in the triangle, from Tom, to Allan, to Malva. They barely talk to each other, so I think there’s a lot of secrets.

Without her father or brother, would Malva have had a successful life like the one Claire said she could have? Or are the odds against her stacked too high?

I think it’s such an interesting debate and that’s what I want the audience to do, debate that nature versus nurture. My instinct when you ask that is, absolutely. I think anyone who’s been through any sort of trauma has the ability to become a survivor from it and break from it and build something really amazing out of it. But then the other part is like, from what happened to her, it’s almost like the damage has been done and it’s like her fate has been set.

What was it like filming the death sequence? Is it fun playing dead?

It’s funny. It was so sunny that day and I just had the best time just chilling. Everyone was making a fuss over me, cleaning me up, I was just chilling. There’s actually a really funny picture of me with sunglasses on, with my throat all cut. It was the least work I had to do. But then we actually shot it and Caitriona was obviously pregnant at the time, and she was weeping and crying onto me, and I was like, “I’m going to cry and I have to be dead.” Just seeing Caitriona in that super emotional vulnerable state, as an actor, is amazing. So that was a “whoa” moment for me because I just got to observe it.

Outlander, Season 6, Sundays, 9/8c, Starz