'Outlander' recap: 'To Ransom a Man's Soul'
Jamie reveals the horrible torture he endured at Black Jack's hands.
Well, we did it. We made it through the most harrowing hour of Outlander‘s first season—which also happened to be the last hour of Outlander‘s first season. If you’re a reader of Diana Gabaldon’s source material upon which the Starz series is based, you’ve likely been dreading this episode all year. (I know I have.) And it was, in fact, one of the most vicious hours of TV that I’ve ever watched. But credit should also be given to the Outlander team for not shying away from Jamie’s rape and its terribly messy and necessary aftermath. Let’s recap:
It’s the dawning of a new day at Wentworth Prison. Jamie, naked and bloody, is lying wide awake in his cell with Black Jack nestled close behind. Randall gets up and begins to put himself together for the day, but a disturbance from the hallway draws his attention. He goes to investigate and is unceremoniously trampled by a herd of cattle that Murtagh and Co. got past the gates. (Night-night, Black Jack?!) The MacKenzie-Fraser Rescue Brigade emerge with a nearly lifeless Jamie to meet Claire—who notes the smell of lavender oil (a known healing ointment) on her husband’s skin. But it’s not there for purposes of good (more on that to come).
The group take shelter in a nearby monastery, where Brother Paul delivers a damning prognosis: “I have no doubt you can mend his body,” he tells Claire. “But there are other wounds not so easily dealt with. His soul, I’m afraid, is in turmoil.”
To wit, Jamie can’t stand to be touched by Claire, and at points, hallucinates that she’s Black Jack. Claire begs to know what Randall did to him. His chilling response: “Too much and not enough.”
Cue the first flashback: It’s moments after Claire is delivered safely from Wentworth, and Randall dislodges the nail from Jamie’s palm. The Scot falls backward, and Black Jack cradles him, painting a sort of an unholy Pieta. In fact, the Biblical allusions are almost a little heavy-handed here, with Randall soothing water onto Jamie’s brow like a baptism and referencing Christ (lest we forget the nail-punctured palm).
“Dear God you are a magnificent creature,” he purrs before kissing him. “It’s like kissing a corpse,” Randall says when Jamie doesn’t reciprocate. (Here’s hoping Randall doesn’t actually know what smooching a dead body is like…) “I know you can do better. My men can have Claire back here in an hour. We have an agreement.”
Black Jack then bends down and pulls up Jamie’s kilt, spreads his legs, and begins fondling him.
“Jamie, I just want this to be a pleasant experience for us both,” he says.
“Do what you must,” Jamie replies. “Take your pleasure and be done with it.”
At that, Black Jack drops Jamie’s kilt, bends him over the table, and rams himself inside Jamie, instructing him to scream.
Back to the present, Claire is fretting over Jamie’s mangled hand. She needs to reset nine bones. She administers laudanum to knock him out and gets to work. (And seems to do a pretty solid job given the fact that she has to work with 18th-century supplies.) But it’s a terrible endeavor—both physically and mentally—and Claire gets sick in the hallway afterward.
The next morning, Jamie refuses food and is running a fever.
“You cannot save a man that doesn’t want saving,” Jamie tells her. Murtagh, too, is worried and pays a visit to the ailing Jamie’s room. The two argue in Gaelic.
NEXT: Come sail away
Another flashback: Randall is asking Jamie if he’s reached his limit. Jamie is delusional and begins seeing Claire instead of Black Jack. “Are you mine?” Randall asks. Jamie answers: “Only you.” At that, he forces Jamie to brand himself with Randall’s initials. Literally, staking his claim to his body—and soul.
At the monastery, Murtagh and the MacKenzies have decided Jamie and Claire cannot stay in Scotland—it’s not safe. The group decides upon France—Jamie has a cousin there—and Murtagh sets about getting passage on a boat.
Young Willie takes his leave to check on Jamie, who tries to make good on his claims that he wants to die. Jamie instructs Willie to give him his knife so he can put himself “out of this black misery.” Willie, of course, refuses.
Claire confronts Murtagh, furious. Did he know about Jamie’s death wish? He did, but thought Claire might be able to fix him. Claire faints. When she comes to, Murtagh has an idea. Instead of trying to force Jamie into the light, someone needs to step into the darkness with him. And Claire is the woman for the job.
Rubbing herself in lavender oil (the signature scent of Black Jack), she tries rousing Jamie. She jumps on top of him and they struggle. After a few rough turns, they come to a truce, in which Jamie reveals his darkest hour of his time with Randall: the brand. He explains that Black Jack made love to him. That he instructed Jamie to call out Claire’s name and he did. He says he can no longer be Claire’s husband. “He broke me,” Jamie admits in defeat.
Claire reminds him of his vow: that she has the protection of his body. Randall could not have his soul too. She even goes a step further: She says she will die with Jamie if necessary. That promise (threat?) seems to awaken something in Jamie. Because, really, what was it all for if not for Claire’s life and liberty? So they go about literally cutting Black Jack out of their lives by removing his brand from Jamie’s chest.
After a farewell to the MacKenzie men (keep your hands to yourself, Angus!), Claire and Jamie board the Cristabel bound for France. Jamie promises Claire that one day they’ll return to Scotland, but Claire knows the devastation the clans will soon endure. Which sparks an idea: “What if we could stop it from happening?” she asks Jamie.
“Change the future, the two of us?” Jamie replies. “That’s madness. Is it not?”
But they are sailing to France where the problem (Prince Charles) happens to be.
When Jamie says it’ll take some thought, Claire makes one last announcement: She is pregnant. And with that news, Jamie is happy for the first time in a long time…and we are left waiting for season 2.
What did you think of the season finale, Outlander fans? Book readers: Did you miss the ending cave scene as much as I did? Did the season feel less complete given that Jamie and Claire did not try to have sex again (like they do in the novel)? Or did that omission make sense in the context of the show and its pacing? What did you think of the first season overall, and will you be sticking around for season 2? Take it to the comments and thanks for reading. Oidhche mhath.