The end is nigh, Outlander fans. Tonight’s “Wentworth Prison” and last week’s “The Search” have set the stage for a brutal end to season 1. (You’ll want to note that the finale airs May 30—not next week.) So without further ado, let’s revisit the bloody events of this penultimate episode.
We open on gallows—a veritable conveyor belt of hangings. One after another after another. Jamie and McQuarrie, in chains, wait their turn. Jamie tries to hatch an escape plan, but McQuarrie isn’t game.
“Is it the rope you’re afraid?” he asks Jamie.
“No,” Jamie replies. “What grieves me is to think my wife will never forgive me for foolishly getting myself hung.
“Aye, nothing like a wife to make a man feel disquieted in his own death,” McQuarrie answers, before his own name is called and he mounts the gallows. He goes down declaring fealty to Scotland, but he’s not out. The force didn’t break his neck, so he’s left squirming on the rope as Jamie is summoned. The Laird puts up a fight, but there’s not much a man in shackles can do. The noose is placed around his neck when a voice calls out to stop the execution. It’s Black Jack. But he’s no savior: He throws him in a dungeon cell, fate uncertain.
Meanwhile, Claire is enacting a plan of her own. She pays a visit to prison warden Sir Fletcher, asking if she may visit Jamie (whom she shrewdly explains is a distant relation). Paying her respects her duty as a good Christian woman, after all. He denies her request (it’d just be too dangerous), but does return with a box of his personal effects.
Claire and Murtagh, who accompanied her, take their leave and go to a nearby drinking establishment, where Angus and Rupert are merrily rolling the dice with the locals. Their seeming insensitivity to Jamie’s plight is actually a ruse for deep intel gathering. As it turns out, their competitors are jailers at the prison and they’re chatty drunks. Angus and Rupert learn that the warden insists on having his evening meal in private followed by a 25-minute Bible-reading session and quiet reflection. Which means that he’s away from his office (and important things like, say, keys) for about an hour. Just enough time to break out Jamie?
Back at Wentworth, Black Jack finally makes an appearance in Jamie’s cell. And he’s not alone—he’s brought his heavy, a very large man named Marley. In his hands, Randall holds Jamie’s petition. It turns out the Wentworth bar flies aren’t the only ones with loose ale lips. (Yes, we’re looking at about you, Sandringham!) Randall sets the parchment on fire, effectively dashing any hopes Jamie has of becoming a truly free man.
Claire returns to the prison at the hour of Sir Fletcher’s respite, insisting that she had a letter to pick up from the warden. The guard—confused—seats Claire and Murtagh in Fletcher’s office to wait, while he goes about his duties. Claire and Murtagh hurriedly search the office for anything (a map) that will help them locate Jamie. But they’re soon interrupted by the jailer, whom Murtagh swiftly dispatches with a swift hit to the face. With him out of the way, Claire has less than an hour to not only find Jamie in the serpentine structure, but to also get him out. She peers into cells yelling his name (maybe use your inside voice, Claire?), until one of the prisoners tells her to look downstairs. “That’s where they keep those of us that hanging is too good for,” the old man says ominously.
NEXT: Fifty Shades of Black [pagebreak]
With no knowledge of the rescue attempt in progress, Black Jack begins his slow, sadistic mindf—ery of Jamie. He tells Jamie he can’t be saved—that this is just a momentary reprieve. He asks Jamie if he ever thinks about him. Then he gets to his aim: If only Jamie will admit that he’s afraid, Randall will give him a final gift: “a clean honorable death of his own choosing.” In short: Black Jack requires Jamie’s full surrender. And he’ll get it. What But did it strike anyone else as odd that Black Jack never specifies what the alternative is? I mean, given his experience with Black Jack, he can probably figure it out. And I guess deductive reasoning would lead you to believe it’s a dishonorable death not of his own choosing, but I, personally, would like to know exactly what I’m signing up for before I agree to make a deal with a known psycho.
Jamie decides that surrendering is not an options—which pleases Randall.
“I have to admit there would be a part of me that would be crestfallen if you did,” Black Jack says. “You know that every man can be broken. It’s truly nothing to be ashamed of.”
And at that, he asks to see Jamie’s scarred back (i.e. his handiwork). As Randall comes near, Jamie attacks him, but to little avail as Goon Marley throws him against a wall and chokes him, nearly to death until Black Jack intercedes. Because he wants him for himself. Randall begins meting out Jamie’s punishment. He has him put his hand on a table and violently strikes it several times with a hammer. Claire can hear Jamie cry out from nearby.
“Why do you force me to treat you in such an abominable way?” Black Jack asks Jamie. As Jamie collapses into his arms, Randall takes the captive’s hand to his bulge.
“I’ll kill you,” Jamie says.
“I could take you right now,” Randall says, but then thinks better of it. “No, I will not give into coarse passion.”
Waiting for Randall to leave Jamie’s cell, Claire finds her way to the prison’s backdoor and leaves it unlocked for later. Claire finally finds Jamie alone in his cell. She works to break his chains.
“You truly have a gift for showing up at the most unexpected times,” Randall, returned, says from behind her.
Following a bit of a verbal tussle, words turn into actions as Claire takes on both Randall and Marley (truly impressive). Jamie stabs Marley with some sort of stick, leaving Claire to contend with Randall. But he overtakes her and chokes her. Jamie yells for him to stop.
“Make me a better offer,” Black Jack says.
“Have me,” Jamie says, offering himself as sacrifice for Claire. But Randall wants a small test to prove Jamie’s intent. Randall once again has Jamie place his hand—the same ruined hand—on the table. But this time, he grabs a nail and drives it through Jamie’s hand! Then he asks for a kiss! Sick, sick puppy. Claire is still in the cell, wailing and watching everything happen.
“Take her away,” Jamie says.
Black Jack escorts Claire out of Wentworth Prison, but she gets in one final jab of her own. She tells Randall that the rumors are true: She is a witch. And her curse on him? Whispering into his ear the exact date of his death. (She must have one hell of a memory, that one.) Claire’s then thrown out a trap door in the prison floor, landing in a mass grave of the executed. She soon finds Murtagh and the band of MacKenzie’s: They’re holed up at the home of a fellow named Marcus. Who apparently was also in love with Jamie Fraser’s mom because when Claire offers him the Scotch pearls as payment to enlist his men in the fight for Jamie, he demurs. Because it was he who gave the pearls to Ellen. But who needs him and his clansmen when Murtagh conjures up a plan that involves cows!? Unfortunately, they are not intended to be slaughtered for a welcome-home barbeque for Jamie…