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Outlander – S1E16 – To Ransom A Man’s Soul

Previously on Outlander, ‘Wentworth Prison’

The good news about this episode: the tableau of the opening credits is no longer Jack Randall’s instruments of torture like it was last week. The bad news? It’s a bible and a rosary. That smacks of either an exorcism or a burial…

oh no

While the British army at Wentworth Prison starts their morning band practice, our Jamie is lying broken and bloodied in the Pit of Despair. And naked. With a naked Jack Randall cozied up right next to him! We’re 3 minutes in and this has already taken a terrible, terrible turn. Randall gets up to start his morning (and probably not to make Jamie’s coffee) when he hears a weird banging outside the cell. The door opens and 19 head of cattle come cattling through the hall, driven by our favorite band of Scottish rogues! They eventually find the naked ginger giant and escape through the door Claire conveniently found (and left unlocked) just the day before. This haphazard plan is pulling together quite nicely, and not one “back door” joke has been made yet!

cattle call

The cattle are wreaking havoc on the Redcoats, making the perfect distraction for Murtaugh, Angus, Rupert, Willie, and a very dormant and slightly hallucinating Jamie to meet up with Claire (who is inexplicably dressed in men’s clothes again. Did I miss that part of the plan?). Jamie’s hurt, and he’s hurt baaaaaddddd, but right after a prison break is not the time to stop and perform surgery. They have to get as far away as possible, and a few hours ride brings them to a nearby monastery.

“There are other wounds not so easily dealt with. His soul, I’m afraid, is in turmoil.”- Brother Paul

The monks take them in and have a room and surgery ready for Claire, but she can only heal his body–he has wounds worse than his hand, and she doesn’t have the tools to mend his damaged soul. Brother Paul is not wrong in his diagnosis, and we flash back with Jamie to the prison, moments after Claire had left him the day before.

Randall kisses and soothes Jamie and his poor mangled hand, cradling his body in his arms and bathing his forehead with clean water. Then he goes in for the goods, spreading Jamie’s legs and reaching right up under his kilt. Jamie still has a little fight in him and spits in Randall’s face. Terrible, terrible move on Jamie’s part; Randall bends him over the table and rapes him with such savagery that he forces Jamie to scream out.

Claire has to basically take all of the bones out of Jamie’s hand and put them back in in proper order, and her stubborn patient refuses to take any sort of laudanum for the additional pain she’s about to bestow on him. But Jamie wanted so much to be dead when he was with Randall that being alive is no longer in his interests. When he does eventually concede to the medicine, Claire does a pretty convincing imitation of a doctor (remember how she was just a nurse?) with a meticulous and slightly gory surgery sequence. It takes its toll on her, and by the time she’s done she gets sick with worry all over the hallway floor.

miraculous

As the bell tolls for morning alms, Brother Ansell finds Claire alone in the tiny chapel. She’s not praying–not really–but is looking for someone to talk to, so when he asks if she wants to confess she can’t hold it in any longer. Claire uncorks her bottled up emotions and she spills her entire story to the monk: two husbands, time travel, multiple rescues, a witch trial, the whole shebang. Ansell listens in wonder, and at the end marvels at her miraculous tale, absolving her of whatever sins she thinks she has committed. Claire may not believe in God, but Brother Ansell has tried to at least give her some peace.

Apocalypto

Jamie is still refusing food, making it clear he has no interest in living; luckily, he’s got a fever, so he can hedge his bets between that and the starvation, according to Young Willie’s anecdote. The story gets under Murtaugh’s skin, and the old Scot goes to Jamie’s room where they have an entire argument in Gaelic with no subtitles, Apocalypto-style. I imagine it went something like this:

Murtaugh: You have to eat.

Jamie: I don’t want to.

Murtaugh: Look, you can’t stop eating every time you have a bad day.

Jamie: Yesterday was REALLY bad.

Randall is trying to push Jamie to his physical and emotional limits, and it might finally be working; every time Randall speaks to Jamie, Claire’s face swims in and out of his vision, finally merging with Randall’s. When Jamie realizes Claire isn’t there, and has really left him, he breaks. His face goes slack and his eyes flatten, and he submits–Randall has finally won the battle of wills. He heats his wax stamp over a brazier and half-forces, half-coerces Jamie to brand himself with his initials. Randall has claimed him.

Willie has spotted Redcoat patrols, and the group knows they have to move on; Claire has to flee the country and take Jamie’s body with her in hopes that he’ll thrive in a change of scenery. They decide on France, where Jamie’s cousin is a merchant, and while Murtaugh secures a boat, Willie runs to tell Jamie the good news. Do you get the feeling Young Willie has no idea what’s going on? He’s just walking around telling stories about his starving uncle and letting Jamie know he can “forget about what’s happened here”. Imagine his surprise when Jamie asks for his dagger so he can kill himself!

Outlander 2014

Claire must have talked to Willie, because she confronts Murtaugh about Jamie’s suicide attempt, furious at finding out Murtaugh already knew! He thought Claire could save him, but that was clearly before Jamie gave him all of the gory details–now Murtaugh’s flag is firmly planted in Camp Euthanasia. But between the two of them and Brother Paul, there might be a way to reach out to Jamie. Instead of bringing him back to the light, someone is going to have to go into the dark retrieve him herself.

Claire rouses Jamie awake with oil of lavender (Randall’s signature scent, a subtle connection) and begs him for a fight. They smack each other around the room, and amidst the screaming Claire and Randall’s faces are merging in Jamie’s head. Eventually Randall’s brand is revealed on Jamie’s body, and he finally confesses the terrible truth to Claire.

Somewhere between hallucination and defeat, Jamie begins to allow Randall access to his body. Randall instantly takes advantage of Jamie’s submission, forcing him to think of Claire while he strokes and caresses him. In Jamie’s addled, tortured mind, he can only think of his wife; the lines between fantasy and reality blur as Randall makes love to his body. When they both finish, Jamie’s face grows horrified as he realizes how he was just manipulated.

confession

Luckily for Jamie (and for us), Claire is not accepting Jamie’s defeat, and she reminds him of his wedding vows. When he calls her attempt weak, she takes it to the next level–she freaking traveled through time because she was meant to be with him, and if he’s going to die then she’s going to die, too, dammit! And those were the magic words, because Jamie looks at her and finally sees her with no ghost of Randall floating behind her. Claire did it–she broke the spell! Now they can live happily ever after, right after they knife that brand out of Jamie’s side and flee the country.

groper

The MacKenzie men say farewell with a hug, a kiss, and a little grope for good measure. Claire, Jamie, and Murtaugh board the Cristabel, and when Jamie promises some day they’ll return home, Claire gives him the side-eye. Why would they come back, when the future holds a very specific certain death for all Scots that she’s already warned him about? Oooorrrrr, and this sounds crazy, what if they tried to change the future? What if Claire and Jamie can get to Bonnie Prince Charlie, who just HAPPENS to be in France, and keep him from returning to Scotland? The whole Scot-slaughtering battle at Culloden would never even happen. It just might be crazy enough to work! And speaking of crazy, Claire is pregnant. The End.

happy

Thoughts on the season finale:
  • Holy cow. I have never simultaneously been so excited and so resistent for a season finale to happen. Knowing Jamie’s impending doom, I just couldn’t imagine how it was going to be handled: was it going to be an hour of unnecessarily bloody violation? Were they going to gloss over the gore and just deal with the aftermath? Were they, God forbid, going to change the storyline? I have never been so proud and so impressed and so excited about the horror that just happened. Okay, excited may be overstating. But the whole gang over at Outlander Productions knows how to tell a story, and they do it with an elegance and an understanding that you simply have not seen on any other TV show. A big portion of the Outlander canon is Jamie’s assault at the hands of Randall, and that’s how this episode was approached–like it was a big deal. No passing event, no sensationalism, no MacGuffin, but a horrifying trauma that lives and breathes and inflicts its own brand of pain over and over again. It’s brutal and honest and unflinching, in a way that most of us probably aren’t comfortable watching on TV, because of that whole “life imitating art” thing.
  • Score | 9/10So in addition to a fantastically written episode, the acting was impeccable. The shooting and direction were simultaneously intimate and repulsive; Anna Foerster also directed The Wedding episode. I’m quite certain this show will win no Emmys for anything other than Costumes or Score, and it will be a crime. By the way, I’m absolutely willing to be wrong about that.
  • Do you remember the second time Randall captures Claire (or it may be the third–it happened a lot), and they talked about how she should have shot him when he was lying unconscious on the floor? For God’s sake, why do people keep not killing this man? Murtaugh, who has no qualms at all about slitting a throat or two, walks right by the man’s body after it’s been trampled by cattle and doesn’t stab it a few times just for good measure. Poor judgement, if you ask me.
  • I’m pretty sure grabbing someone’s boobs is not a traditional farewell in Scotland. After everything that’s just happened with Jamie, violating someone is still funny? Claire should have accidentally knifed Angus.
  • Claire is pregnant! It’s unexpected and exciting and makes Jamie finally smile, but it felt like that was supposed to appease us for not having had a sex scene since before Lallybroch.
About Robyn Horton (94 Articles)
Robyn grew up a military brat whose parents let her indulge in her love of literature, mythology, movies, musicals, and Kings Quest (without telling her how nerdy they were). She is now a reformed graphic designer with a husband, two dogs, a Sweeney Todd themed bathroom, and a burning need to know how many books really can fit in one house.

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