Mon
May 18 2015 10:00am

Outlander 1x15 Heart-to-Heart: Dark Times

Outlander 1x15 Claire

Show/Episode: Outlander 1x15: Wentworth Prison
Ships: Jamie/Claire

Outlander 1x15 Jamie and Claire Captain's Log

This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Outlander, including the most recent Season 1, Episode 15, “Wentworth Prison.” Enjoy!

Jamie has never been nearer to death. Though Tarran MacQuarrie attempts to distract Jamie from the matter at hand with literal gallows humor, it doesn’t work. Jamie isn’t afraid of the rope, but what Claire will think of him for getting himself hanged. Got his priorities straight, our Jamie. There’s no chatter, no background noise at all to leaven the grimness of this scene, and even MacQuarrie’s patriotic speech is cut short as his neck breaks…mostly. No sooner is the rope around Jamie’s neck than Black Jack Randall rides in and orders Jamie’s execution stopped. Jamie’s expression says it all – there has got to be something sinister behind this reprieve, and, as we find out, there certainly is. Book fans, you know what’s coming.

Claire, however, does not. She has one thing in mind and one thing only; to get Jamie out of there by any means necessary. If that means posing as a distant relative and convincing the pious warden, Sir Fletcher, that she’s concerned Jamie can’t write his mother final farewell, then that’s what she’ll do. Not as easy as she thought, as Sir Fraser thinks meeting a dangerous criminal is too dangerous for a fine lady, but he will entrust Jamie’s effects to her. Can she get them to his next of kin? Claire keeps a stiff upper lip long enough to accept the box, but staggers outside and collapses, with sobs and vomit, her agony palpable.

Also palpable is the disgust she and Murtaugh feel over Angus and Willie’s losing all their money at a game of dice…until they learn the money was lost to prison guards, who gave up some priceless information. Sir Fletcher always takes time to dine and read his Bible in private, which will give Claire a shot at finding the keys.

Outlander 1x15 Black Jack nails Jamie Hand

Jamie finds his suspicions about Black Jack’s motives are right, and the two men begin a dance of brutal power and resistance. Black Jack slithers through his scenes, dripping elegant malice with every prick and prod.  That complaint Jamie lodged against him, the one that should have been presented at Court? Damning evidence, that, which is why Black Jack burns it in front of Jamie. Black Jack inquires if his face haunts Jamie’s dreams, until Black Jack brings Claire into it. Then, Jamie lunges, fierce and primal. What does Black Jack want?

His answer? Surrender. If Jamie will admit that he escaped Fort William, but not Black Jack himself, then Black Jack will allow Jamie to choose the manner of his death, something clean and honorable, not the messy business of hanging. Every man, he intones, can be broken. Oh, and can he see Jamie’s back? Yes, if it will make Black Jack stop talking. For a moment, it does. Jamie whirls on Black Jack, insisting that Black Jack has it the wrong way around; It’s Jamie’s face Black Jack sees every night.

Black Jack does not like this at all, and smashes Jamie’s hand with a hammer. The camera doesn’t hold back, and it’s easy to feel Jamie’s pain as well as his resolve with every expressive twitch and grimace. Why, Black Jack asks, his tone hurt and silky at once, does Jamie make him do this? He forces Jamie to look at him, then to feel his erection, before he thrusts a resisting Jamie away. Black Jack wants Jamie willing, and he’s only trying to help him. Why must Jamie make this difficult?  He stalks off.

Claire, drawn to the cell by Jamie’s screams, vows she won’t leave without Jamie, though he urges her to run. Nobody, however, is going anywhere, as Black Jack returns. Claire should have slit his throat when she had the chance, and Black Jack agrees, before pinning Claire to the bars of the cell. Black Jack himself may not be in the mood for cunt that night, but perhaps his guard is, oh, and is Jamie watching? Oh yes, he is.

Outlander 1x15 Claire, Jamie, and Black Jack in the Cell

Jamie offers himself in Claire’s place. Black Jack can have him, if he lets Claire go. Claire sobs her refusal, but Jamie begs her silence, even as Black Jack nails Jamie's ruined hand to the table, then demands a kiss. Jamie complies, then demands Black Jack take Claire away. This is an act of love, raw in its pain and beauty. Claire refuses to go, but Jamie insists she must, because he loves her. Claire doesn’t go easily, though, but curses Black Jack by whispering the day, month and year of his death, which she knows from Frank’s studies, into his ear. This startles Black Jack enough to push her through a trap door, onto the bodies of the executed men, before he hurries back to Jamie.

Black Jack gives Jamie his word that Claire is safe, (riiiight) then cuts Jamie's shirt open down the back. His fingers stroke Jamie's scars with a perverse, intimate pleasure. How does it feel to be alive and yet have so much dead flesh? Shall he begin? Begin? What? There’s more? Oh yes, book fans, there is, but we’re going to have to wait for the season finale on that one.

Outlander 1x15 Black Jack opens Jamie shirt
Via YeahJamieandClaire

Claire, undaunted, finds shelter in the home of Sir Marcus MacRannoch, ready to bargain for his help. He won't give it. He has to look after his own, and it's not worth the Redcoat's ire. Claire offers Jamie's mother's pearls, which should be the right thing to do, as Marcus was the one who gave them to Ellen. It's still not enough. Fine. Claire and company will rescue Jamie themselves… with the help of nineteen head of cattle.

Memorable Lines:

Black Jack: : Do I make you uncomfortable? Do I haunt your dreams since Fort William?  When you awaken in the middle of the night, shaken and sweating, is it my face you see looming in the darkness? Tell me, when you lie upon your wife, and her hands trace the scars on your back, do you ever think of me?

Claire: I’m not going to leave you.
Jamie: Yes, you will. Do as I say. I love you.

Claire: Witch, I am. I curse you. I curse you with the knowledge, Jack Black Jack. I give you the hour of your death.

Outlander 1x15 Witch I am gif
Via YeahJamieandClaire

Charting the Course: Claire and Jamie both prove, achingly, that they really will do anything for love, while Black Jack finds ever more ways to perfect the art of psychological torture. It’s a delicate dance between body and soul, keeping us viewers on the edge of our seats.

Next stop: Episode 16, “To Ransom a Man’s Soul”


Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.

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8 comments
Kahintenn
1. Kahintenn
Hard as it was to watch, I thought the ep was brilliant, possibly the best one this season. Acting, sets, lighting, costumes...fabulous.
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
I know Diana Gabaldon has said this is the the scene she's been waiting for but MAN this is TOUGH!
Anna Bowling
3. AnnaBowling
@Kahintenn, it was amazing, visceral, memorable. Amazing job by everyone.

@JenniferProffitt, I can only imagine what it must have been like for Diana Gabaldon to watch it. So tough, and a so real, I'm in awe.
Nicole Neal
4. icecharm
Knowing what comes next makes this very hard to watch. The acting was excellent, though. Oh, sweet Jamie!
Trish Copley
5. Vol Fan
Brillant episode. Acting was far and above anything I can remember seeing for a very long time. Emmy's all around, or should be. In fact, if this series does not sweep them, I cannot fathom what might. Not only acting, but directing, cinematography, clothing, special effects, everything is incredible.

Back to this episode. I admit I was terrified to watch and I fear the next one may very well be even worse, before it gets better. Can't imagine how they will be able to wrap all this up in one hour. Hope we at least get a two hour finale.

Claire broke my heart, but I was so proud of her strength and fight. Jamie broke me with his resolve, strength, and extra wide-terror filled eyes. That one tear falling was heartbreaking. And Black Jack Randall? What else can be said. Tobias Menzies is incredible. While I hate BJR, I have to watch in awe of TM's acting ability. He does such quiet menance, sadistic enjoyment and it's as if he (BJR) too is discovering as we are, just how evil he is, better than anyone I've seen since Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Only difference is while he too is discovering himself, he is enjoying it, while we are horrified.

Just one brillant show. Even though I've read the books & know what is coming, I really hope they don't end the season on a cliffhanger. We know they are filming Season 2 now, but who knows when it may come back on. I would imagine this is a very hard so to film, due to the fabulous quality of every part of it. It's gonna be a very hard wait.
Susan White
6. whiskeywhite
I agree with everyone about the rivetting nature of this episode. I didn't see Jamie's single tear until I saw the gif above. What do you all imagine he's thinking? (Do book readers have an advantage here? Or is even this type of scene told from Claire's perspective, as Jamie has related it to her?)

I was struck that Randall blames everything he does on Jamie, in language very much like that in many accounts of domestic abuse, where men blame women for "making" them use physical violence, telling them that it's all their fault. It's the language of domination for sure. But of course the relationship with Jamie is not the same as with an abused wife/partner. Randall cannot claim that he has an 'right' to abuse Jamie in this manner (not that men have the right to behave so, but many think they do). I'd be interested in your insights as to what this means for Randall.

Claire telling Randall she is a witch and that she is cursing him was brilliant. I was surprised at how quickly she obeyed Jamie's order/plea that she leave. But I guess she realized that her only hope of rescuing Jamie was to escape and reunite with her companions.
Anna Bowling
7. AnnaBowling
@icecharm, I know! Knowing what comes next, I was cringeing the whole time. A sure sign of excellent writing and acting, both.

@Vol Fan, I agree on the Emmy sweep. Nobody dropped the ball on this one, and it was easy to imagine being right there with Jamie and Claire, feeling the anger, terror, desperation and deep, deep love as well as Black Jack's ever-deepening evil.

@whiskeywhite, very astute on the abuser language there, and right on point. Randall does blame Jamie for everything; from Randall's point of view, he, like any good villain (oxymoron, yes, but it works) believes he is the hero of the story and the hero is the one standing in his way. So, from Randall's point of view, he might well claim he has the right. He's getting off on the power of the situation; he's the officer, Jamie the prisoner. Randall can give Jamie what he wants -in this case, Claire's safety- or take it away, and still get what he (Randall) wants regardless.

Claire's no dummy; she knows that staying there, she couldn't do as much for Jamie as she could if she made an escape and came back with reinforcements.
Susan White
8. whiskeywhite
Interesting thoughts on Randall, @AnnaBowling. Yes, it is totally a power trip. Randall knows perfectly well that he has no legitimate right, no matter he's an officer and a "gentleman" (if his behaviour isn't the ultimate indictment of that term, I don't know what is), to abuse Jamie or anyone else as he does. That's why he's afraid of Jamie's petition. I found it particularly shocking that he forced a young soldier to repeatedly brutally kick Claire and ordered others to ignore her cries for help. That's how abuse is taught and legitimized.

Randall isn't an isolated case of a single deranged man. My partner is a long-time anti-racism educator, originally from the Caribbean. When he saw the scene of Randall flogging Jamie, he commented, "That's the roots of the flogging of slaves." He tries to promote awareness of the slave uprising in Haiti which freed the entire nation from French colonialism in 1804 -- the only successful slave rebellion in modern history. It had an immense influence on anti-slavery, human rights, and independence movements on both sides of the Atlantic.

Slavery was particularly brutal in Haiti, slaves were often flogged to death, as they were elsewhere, not to mention being tortured and killed in other horrible ways (burning, dismemberment, etc.). Randall could get into serious trouble for treating a white, high-born person like Jamie in this manner (even if he is a member of a rebellious colonized population). But mass flogging and other brutalization of enslaved Africans was made possible by an ideology that presented black people as less than human, little more than animals, having no rights whatsoever.
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