Previously on Outlander, ‘The Search’
The gallows are no place for small talk, but Jamie and Tarran McQuarrie manage to chat quietly while waiting their turn for the neck stretcher. They don’t come up with a plan–not a good one, anyway–and soon enough McQuarrie is up to bat. Jamie barely flinches as his sort-of friend (who also sort-of got him into this mess) convulses at the end of his noose, but when his own name is called next he does his best to fight off his jailers who are dragging him to the gibbet. Then, just as the rope is about to tighten around his neck, a horse and rider come in at break-neck speed to stop the execution. Holy shit, it’s Black Jack Randall! He’s just saved Jamie from being hung! Randall saves the day!! Wait… that’s weird, right?
Upstairs in the prison, Claire is doing her best to make a save of her own. She tells the warden, Sir Fletcher, that Jamie is a distant relation (and not her sexy Scottish husband) and she would like to see him for their family’s sake. Her request is denied, unfortunately–it’s just too dangerous for a delicate flower such as herself–but she does walk away with a nice parting gift of all of Jamie’s former things.
Claire has held it together as best she can, considering the very impending death of Jamie, but seeing Angus and Rupert playing craps at the local bar is about the last straw for her. Right as she’s about to lose her shit on them they explain they were drinking it up with two prison guards, and they have much needed intel: the Warden Fletcher takes a very long lunch. Me, Murtaugh, and Young Willie all absorb this information with a little side-eye, but luckily Claire is in charge here and she knows what the puppies are getting at. A very long lunch means a whole hour of Fletcher’s office being empty–which is a whole hour to get Jamie rescued. They’ll probably be back in time for supper!
Okay, so it’s not a very good plan. In fairness, our rescuers don’t know where in the prison Jamie is. They also don’t know Black Jack Randall just walked in to Jamie’s cell with his massive aggressive idiot of a servant, Marley. He’s also brought Jamie’s petition for pardon. Remember the one Claire sort-of blackmailed the Duke of Sandringham to take? She forgot to make him pinky-swear to not tell anyone, so now Randall not only knows all about it, but has made sure it was never delivered. And since that document certainly doesn’t make him out to be a very nice person, he has no choice but to burn it in front of Jamie’s face. To his credit, Jamie’s face is impassive, but this is not a good sign for him. Then again, it’s not like something tiny like a pardon was going to make Randall release Jamie now.
While Warden Fletcher is having his meal, Claire and Murtaugh manage to get into his office and give the place a good tossing. They find the keys, but with no map who knows where Jamie could be? The jailer who just interrupted their search could have know, but since Murtaugh had to render him unconscious, the only option left is for Claire to search the whole dame prison herself. Time’s a-ticking! She passes cell after cell of prisoners, calling Jamie’s name, but he’s not in any of them. Not stopping to open any of the cell doors (she does have a whole ring of keys on her) she keeps searching and only finds her way when she hears Jamie screaming out down the stairs.
The reason for the screams? I can’t say for sure, because my hands were covering my eyes, but I believe Randall took a hammer to Jamie’s hand and crushed his fingers to a pulp. Jamie refused Randall’s advances again, and Randall is about sick of it. Not really–he likes a good challenge, and he’ll break Jamie’s spirit sooner or later; or he’ll break his body, whichever happens first. Jamie starts a fight with Manservant Marley, almost gets choked out by that yeti, is saved by Randall yet again, and that’s when the hand-smashing happened. When Jamie collapses from the pain, Randall collects him in his arms with comforting coos and caresses on the back, then forces Jamie’s good hand onto his bulging Lil’ Captain. He is quite literally adding insult to injury! Randall forces Jamie’s hand to pleasure him, but then decides against it at the last minute. Something tells me it’s not because he’s had a change of heart.
I guess he’s going to take a break or something, because he and Randall clack down the hall, all the while not knowing Claire is watching and waiting for them to disappear around the corner. She finds the door to the outside and makes sure it’s unlocked for later escaping purposes, then goes to Jamie. They comfort and cry and kiss until the minute Randall walks in on them…oh, shit! Randall gives Claire to Marley, who seems to have quite the taste for her, but another big fight ensues. It’s never really a fair fight when one person is chained and has a broken hand, so it’s no surprise Randall wins this one. He has Claire in a chokehold up against the wall with her eyes bulging out–I think he’s really going to kill her!–when Jamie yells for him to stop. He offers himself in exchange for Claire, which is really all Randall has wanted this whole time anyway. How nice of Claire to show up and make that happen for him! In a traditional exchange of gentlemanly promises, Randall forces Jamie to a chair and nails his fucking hand to the table. An actual nail. Through his hand!! Knowing Jamie won’t be going anywhere, he wrenches Claire from him and frog marches her out of the cell.
With a moment to regain her composure, and at Randall’s behest, they discuss the rumor of her witchiness. A flash of brilliance comes to Claire as she whirls around to Randall, and practically spits words at him as she tells him a secret no man should know: the time and date of his own death. He. Is. Horrified. Then he pushes her down some trap door in the floor and is rid of her. Claire practically lands on the body of Tarran McQuarrie, but she has made it out of the prison and she is alive.
Rupert (or Angus, whichever one is which) finds Claire and leads her back to the home of Marcus, a friend of the MacKenzie’s and their temporary shelter. Marcus can’t/won’t help them on their mission to save Jamie, and when Claire tries to buy him off with her wedding pearls, his eyes go huge–he was also in love with Ellen MacKenzie, and HE’S the one who gave Jamie’s mom those pearls to begin with! Still won’t help, though, but that’s okay: Murtaugh has come up with a plan, and it involves 19 head of cattle. I’m pretty sure he’s not even joking. Mmmmphm.
Thoughts on this episode:
- Holy. Shit. Holyshitholyshitholyshit! That was my inner (mostly inner) monologue this entire episode. That was intense! From the title screen with all of the torture instruments (none of which were used… yet?) to the very last minute and Murtaugh’s possibly/probably insane plan, this episode was absolutely everything. Week after week this show is unabashedly unlike anything else on television and defies you to call it a romance when it is so much more. And with this episode, more than any other before now, I was totally willing to suspend my disbelief at some of the smaller details that normally make me roll my eyes (how did Claire know that was the door to outside? How did teeny Murtaugh carry Claire and her 15lbs of wool dress?) because it was just that good. It was worth it to suspend disbelief.
- Having said that, my favorite book scene involving hand-to-hand combat with a wolf was cut from the storyline. We can only be asked to believe so much, I guess.
- This episode is the first time I believe Claire was really in love with Jamie, but I’m fully on board now. Claire is simultaneously strong and steely, but also terrified for Jamie and then also heartbroken at the thought of losing him. This is the Claire I’ve been waiting for–the one who will not be backing down ever for anything. Her pain-in-the-assness is finally paying off!
- And Jamie! He might have said 10 whole words this episode, but there was not one damn minute you didn’t know where he stood. There was no question what was going through his head, and he didn’t even have to open his mouth. I love a smiley, sexy Jamie, but those 10 words and 8,000 facial expressions were Sam Heughan’s finest hour.
- But Randall? Sadistic. Villainous. Vile. Psychopathic. I can’t even think of strong enough words to describe him. There’s a razor-thin line between Randall’s sadism and his homosexuality, and every word Tobias Menzies utters balances perfectly on that line. He’s putting everything he has into Randall; he’s enjoying the hell out of it, and doing an award-winning job.