This half season flew by and we can’t believe this is the Outlander finale! We started off with Jamie rescuing Claire from Black Jack Randall and now we’re going to see Claire try to rescue Jamie back again. It’s been an amazing ride since September and the big finish ends with lots of tears, tension and, yes, even a glimmer of hope! Thank God for that glimmer of hope since these last two episodes of Outlander have taken television to never-before-seen dark places.
Recap – Episode #116 “To Ransom a Man’s Soul”
If you thought last week’s episode was brutal, the night(mare) was only beginning for Jamie.
Jamie wakes up the next morning with a dead-eye stare and is expecting Black Jack to fulfill his promise of giving him an easy death. The irritatingly peppy English military band prepares for their daily hanging as Black Jack gets up to greet the day.
Black Jack hears a bit of a commotion and heads out to investigate. He looks through the prison door’s peep hole to see a stampede of cattle that bowl open the door and trample over Black Jack. Yay cows!!! We may go vegetarian for a week to celebrate!
See, that was Murtagh’s brainwave the other night – to use a cattle stampede as cover. He, Angus and Rupert rush into the prison through the door Claire left unlocked, nab Jamie and take off in all the confusion. Claire meets up with them and notices that Jamie’s pretty much battered to a pulp, but smells like lavender, a pain-reliever. She tries to console him, but he’s hallucinating that she’s Black Jack and almost chokes her. Whoops!
They head off to a monastery where Father Anselm has agreed to give them shelter to patch Jamie up. (This is clearly going to take some time.) Jamie’s not coherent and refuses to eat so Claire and Brother Paul are worried that they can patch the wounds, but not necessarily his mind.
Regardless, Claire insists on setting the bones in his hand which was smashed and nailed and …
…Jamie flashes back to the evil night before. Black Jack is strangely solicitous of Jamie even as he’s preparing to torture and rape him. Black Jack isn’t just after Jamie’s manly form, but he also wants Jamie’s surrender. He begins with every straight man’s nightmare of what happens in prison and brutalizes Jamie.
Thankfully the flashback ends and Claire convinces Jamie to take some laudanum so she can set the bones of his shattered left hand. Viewers may need a dose of laudanum as well as Claire pops the bones back into the skin. Ewwww!
Claire heads to the chapel for a bit of quiet when Father Anselm drops by to light the candles. He offers to hear her confession and she unloads everything on the man – everything! His first reaction isn’t that she’s a total nut job, but he believes her and says her story is “marvelous” and possibly a miracle.
Jamie continues to refuse to eat or to be touched by Claire. He repeats that he doesn’t want saving. Rupert and the MacKenzie men are worried that he’s serious about wanting to starve himself to death. Murtagh has a Gaelic conversation with Jamie which seems to re-tread this ground.
Jamie flashes back to the night before where Black Jack manages to coerce Jamie into branding himself with Black Jack’s initials.
Jamie’s lack of improvement means that they need to move on. Since England and Scotland aren’t safe, they think about going to France. Murtagh knows there’s Frasers in France that may be able to help them.
Willie goes to look in on Jamie. Listless Jamie asks Willie to give him his dagger. Uh oh. He’s really getting serious about not recovering. Willie wisely refuses and tells Claire. Claire is alarmed and goes to Murtagh for help. Murtagh has resolved that if Jamie is really determined to waste away and die, he’ll help him reach his goal. Stubborn Claire won’t have any of that. Brother Paul believes someone needs to lead him back to the light and Murtagh suggests someone needs to get into the darkness with him.
Armed with those thoughts, Claire makes some oil of lavender and decides that being gentle hasn’t worked. She covers Jamie in the fragrant oil and wants to know why he won’t look at her. He struggles to get away from the smell and her touch and things get violent. In their wrestling match, she sees the brand on his skin and all the fight goes out of him. It wasn’t just Black Jack’s brute force that got to Jamie. Black Jack used Jamie’s memories of Claire and Jamie’s own body’s unwilling response to make Jamie surrender.
Jamie sees that shameful moment of surrender as a betrayal to Claire and a victory for Black Jack. Claire tries to get him to see that the moment doesn’t matter and that they were always meant to be together. If he dies, she will too. He finally starts to consider the idea of moving on. Moving on begins with having Murtagh slice out the brand of Black Jack’s initials.
Jamie, Claire and Murtagh prepare to sail for France. Willie, Angus and Rupert see them off in characteristic fashion: Willie is sweet and sincere, Angus is enthusiastic and crude while Rupert is gallant enough to prove superior to Angus.
They set sail and Jamie and Claire contemplate their future. Jamie promises that they’ll return to Scotland one day. Claire is worried about what awaits Scotland with the Rising and the end of the Highland culture. She decides that they still have a few years and perhaps they could change the future and stop Culloden. Prince Charles is the key and he’s also in France. Why not, right?
Well, they have one more reason to try to build a future. Claire is pregnant. (!!!!!) For the first time since Wentworth, Jamie is happy.
Reflection – what did we think?
Erica: Just when you thought last week’s episode had rough scenes, they find a way to top it. There’s been a lot of threatened-rape throughout the season and when they finally show it, ye gads!
Alicia: I hate to say this in the event it be taken the wrong way…but kudos to Sam, Tobias, Ron, the entire production team, the writers, Starz, etc. for not shying away from Diana’s story in all its gory and dark details.
Erica: They didn’t pull any punches. As graphic and horrific as these Wentworth Prison scenes were, they weren’t gratuitous since they had a clear subtext to the story – it was all about who had the power and the consequences. The whole season was really building up to Black Jack Unleashed so really it had to be this harsh. But even after that build it, the show really went beyond expectations. Amazing job by all.
Alicia: Tobias and Sam…wow…that was intense and they did an amazing job! I can’t say enough how impressed I am.
Erica: These last couple of episodes were Sam’s finest. While I love charming Jamie, he does tortured Jamie very well. They really know how to torment our heroes, don’t they?
Alicia: Agreed. Sam really showed his ability in these episodes. I’ve loved the charming Jamie, too, but the raw emotion in these episodes…just…wow.
Erica: There are some shows which are enjoyable but forgettable. Outlander demands your attention and really goes for the gut punch. Has any other show out there produced such visceral reactions? This is truly great storytelling.
Alicia: Can I just say that I love the fact that while the episode ends with a slightly happy tone, it isn’t a complete HEA (HEA = happily ever after). There’s still this heavy feeling going into the second season with just a slight glimmer of some light finally ahead.
Erica: After what they’ve been through, there’s no way to actually have this end happy. Hopeful is about as light as you can go.
Alicia: Overall I think I’m still too busy digesting to really say anymore…that was a lot to take in. I looked at the clock and within 20 minutes: Jamie’s rescue, escape, the monastery, flashback to Randall brutalizing Jamie, and Claire setting Jamie’s hand (bones, people…BONES). And there was so much to come after that. I need time to take it all in…
Erica: Yes, you walk away from this episode shell-shocked. It’s hard to process the episode, let alone take a good look at the series and how far they’ve come. The last two episodes just hits you that hard. I will say that this is some of the most daring, ambitious and, oh yes, successful storytelling on TV. Period.
—–BOOK READERS DISCUSSION – (Spoiler Alert!!)———————————
Erica: I know Diana Gabaldon put out a post on Twitter to try to hedge any complaints about the finale, but it really was true to the book. While they did edit a few scenes at the end, they were not particularly important plot-wise. I think those missing scenes did help heal the reader after the incredibly harsh scenes. But there’s only so much time in TV.
Alicia: Reading the books, these scenes were hard, but watching them was just brutal. Is it wrong that the worst was Claire setting Jamie’s hand? Dear heavens, I almost got sick watching that and I’m not even lying. Eeek!
Erica: Well, Claire was supposed to almost throw up, right? We were definitely there with her. On a much lighter note, I will miss Angus and Rupert! The show really developed them into a funny and interesting pair. I could watch Angus fire his eyebrows around for days.
Alicia: I know! I will miss them, too.
Erica: One thread that the show omits is Claire’s hesitancy about killing Randall since that would possibly kill Frank. It’s a bigger deal in upcoming seasons, but it would have been nice to touch on it now. We could have had a quick line about Black Jack being trampled, but his fate is sort of glossed over. We strangely don’t get the misdirection on that fate of Gellis and Black Jack — no one in the show says they are dead. I wonder if non-book readers will be as surprised later.
Alicia: Yeah…that really stood out to me as well. I’m wondering if they did kill him off or if they’re going to do something else? Hmmm…they’ve been pretty true to the books so far so I have to think he’s gone, but it wasn’t really clear.
Erica: I think we’ll see Black Jack again since we need to see that Frank isn’t directly the fruit of those evil loins. But that’s a tale for another season, right?
—–END OF BOOK READER DISCUSSION ——————————————————
You’ve read what we think, but how did you like this episode? Still breathing? In desperate need of a hug? Let us know what you think!
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