Outlander: To Ransom a Man's Soul   Books Included 
May 31, 2015 1:59 AM - Season 1, Episode 16 - Subscribe

Season finale. A risky escape attempt is engineered to free Jamie, and he's taken to a nearby monastery, where Claire attempts to nurse him back to health, both his mind and body.
posted by tracicle (23 comments total)
My feelings are so mixed right now.

It was tense and uncomfortable and depressing, of course, and so hard to watch. But at the same time, so much was missed out that could have better served to move the story and characters along. I wish there was more time and lead-up to the big climactic scene between Claire and Jamie, and it felt lame and cliché in the end. Less time flashing back, although I guess book-lovers want all the gory details? I don't know. I also thought the buildup to Claire's pregnancy announcement was a bit meh and too obvious, but could be only because of knowing what's to come.

Murtagh's chin quiver when he and Claire talk about Jamie wanting to die, that got me crying above anything else. Murtagh showed some emotion! And his eyebrows are pretty much a character of their own. I would like Murtagh's eyebrows to get their own acting credit next season.

I mean though, all the scenes with Jack and Jamie were incredible -- the acting, the depth of feeling, the lengths those two actors have gone to. It's easier if I remove myself and think about it in terms of actors acting, because to think of it as something real that happens is too much. So I spend a lot of time thinking about how they pulled it off so beautifully, both of them, and how willing they are to go all-out for the sake of good TV.

The rescue was perfect! The cattle racketing through the fort was brilliant and hilarious and a very good idea there, Murtagh. I think Murtagh might be my new favourite now that Willie, Rupert and Angus are out.
posted by tracicle at 2:05 AM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sam's acting in the torture scenes was the best we've seen from him, I thought. I found myself just being so sad for Jamie.

Overall I am left with a meh feeling as well, though, and I think it's because of those rushed and awkward final ten minutes. I hated that last conversation on the boat. The final scene in the book is so intimate and personal, but the show's version felt like two strangers shouting things at each other over the wind. Dislike. but I will watch it again and, like most episodes where my initial reaction has been negative, I'll probably like it better the second time.

I did like Claire saying goodbye to Angus and Rupert - the gradual transformation of those relationships from suspicion to grudging respect and affection was very well handled throughout the whole series.
posted by something something at 5:34 AM on May 31, 2015

Jamie's seasickness has been minimized.
posted by brujita at 9:28 AM on May 31, 2015

I wonder if that means no Willoughby later, since he was only written in as a solution to Jamie's seasickness and was a terrible cluster of stereotypes.
posted by tracicle at 10:36 AM on May 31, 2015

I was disappointed with the rescue sequence -- why wasn't Claire there? In the book, didn't she see Randall get trampled with her own eyes? Isn't it her thinking that she has changed the course of the future by getting Randall killed too early and thereby erasing Frank from existence that inspires her to think that she and Jamie can prevent Culloden & the destruction of the highlanders?

And, yes, Jamie's recovery felt way too rushed by having it all take place over a couple of days(?) in Scotland rather than in France after all that time weakened by sea-sickness + fever. And we'll probably never get that scene of him getting the splint off, where Claire is apologizing and thinking he's upset at the damage, and he's actually overwhelmed with emotion because he never really believed it would ever be functional at all. I don't really mind that we didn't get the book scene of Claire fucking Jamie to his senses, what with compressing his recovery into days instead of weeks. (I guess the lavender will just be the book-readers' in-joke.) And, while I figured with the time compression, we wouldn't get the pregnancy reveal as romantically as in the book, I'm baffled by them choosing to have Claire tell it like it was possible bad news. Would have made more sense for her to tell him at the end of the lavender scene, as one of the reasons that she needed him to stay alive.
posted by oh yeah! at 11:53 AM on May 31, 2015

Claire did not see Randall trampled in the book (god help me, I almost just wrote "in real life"). Someone reported back to her that they saw him "tossed like a rag doll" in the middle of the herd but in a later book it's revealed that the witnessed rag doll was actually someone else.

Jamie's seasickness has been minimized.

The ship wasn't moving yet. At one point Claire did say something like, "Murtagh tells me once we're underway you aren't going to be able to have a conversation," or similar. I was initially annoyed at the weird choice to have Jamie comment on Claire feeling ill but in retrospect I think that was supposed to be a pregnancy clue.
posted by something something at 12:44 PM on May 31, 2015

They're not in full sail, but readers have been told Jamie's seasickness is SEVERE and I think that not being on solid ground would be enough to nauseate him.


In An Echo in the Bone, it's made clear that Jamie's Willie has inherited this.
posted by brujita at 5:13 PM on May 31, 2015

Yeah, they really didn't stick the landing there, did they? While the acting during the prison scenes was some of the best of the series, we did just get two episodes full of torture porn. There needed to be a triumph to end on - by framing the show around Jamie's recovery/flashbacks, we didn't really get that. Not even a final showdown with Randall!

I'm told that the original ending was supposed to be the reveal that Claire had been talking to their kid this entire time which would have been the OH SHHIIIIII moment the episode needed, but that it was pulled for some reason. I suspect that the whole time-jump-return thing is going to be avoided for as long as humanly possible.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:30 PM on May 31, 2015

I totally agree with you all about the rushed feeling. I have thought for the past couple of weeks that they should have cut half of the content from The Search, put in some of Wentworth Prison into that episode, then they would have had time for one entire prison episode and given the recovery enough time. I wish they had structured it so they could have started this episode at MacRannoch's house with Claire fixing Jamie's hand, then gone over to the abbey. I can't believe they left out the part where Jamie tells Claire to go back to the stones and go back to her own time! That scene in the book broke my heart, it would have been so powerful to see it onscreen. I need way more deleted scenes on the dvd for this half of the season.

Of all the changes, I love that they found a way to give Willie, Rupert, and Angus more time in the story. I love those highlander dudes.

I wonder if that means no Willoughby later, since he was only written in as a solution to Jamie's seasickness and was a terrible cluster of stereotypes.
Tracicle, I so hope you're right! That character is just terrible, I cringe and skip as fast as I can through his parts in the book because Diana's writing is so ham-handed there... Voyager is such a weird book, there is so much in it that makes me cringe, but then there are a few moments that are the best in the series (print shop reunion!).
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:02 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ugh. I actually asked my couchmates if we should fast-forward through the rape scenes. That personal dimension of it was so deep and dirty.

I've been pretty torn about how I feel regarding the fact that the sadistically brutal villain is a man who rapes men. These days you often see some other gay character presented as a counterpoint, which in itself runs the risk of being a stereotype, but that's not the case here (and I am hesitant to refer to Black Jack as a gay character).

I think the acting rises above stereotypes in any case (as did Simon Callow as Sandringham -- I love Simon Callow anywhere I can get him). In the hands of lesser players, I think I would find it very easy to dislike. They do a pretty good job of keeping Jamie's reaction personal to him and his own feelings of being degraded against his will, not going over the top about the gay angle. I think that's what keeps it the most reasonable to me as a 21st century viewer of a fictional show :P

Comparing it to the big kerfuffle recently with GoT and Sansa, it's all about the choices the producers (and DG) make, and I think they've done okay so far.
posted by St. Hubbins at 11:22 AM on June 1, 2015

I was reading Gabaldon's blog the other day and she explicitly states that Randall isn't a gay character in her mind, evidenced by the fact that he also attempts to rape women (namely Claire and Jenny). I'm not sure I buy that, though, as in the books there is some stuff about him having loved someone named Alexander, and it does seem as though he is perpetually obsessed with Jamie much moreso than any of the women he runs across.
posted by something something at 11:27 AM on June 1, 2015

Lord John is portrayed sympathetically in the later books....and yes, Jamie is the unrequited love of his life but LJ has several relationships with other men. It's hinted in An Echo in the Bone that he's in a LTR.
posted by brujita at 11:44 AM on June 1, 2015

Oh yes -- I forgot about Lord John. I do love him.
posted by St. Hubbins at 1:39 PM on June 1, 2015

Not sure why Gabaldon thinks 'he's not homosexual, he's a sadist' is such an important distinction or defense against being thought homophobic - if gender is irrelevant to him, then he's bisexual/pansexual and also a sadist. Not really an either/or question.

I'm not sure I buy that, though, as in the books there is some stuff about him having loved someone named Alexander

Alexander is Randall's brother, but, yeah, it's implied that he had more than brotherly feelings for him, as I recall.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:46 PM on June 1, 2015

Wasn't there another Alexander, though? I always found it confusing, but I'm almost positive Jamie found a Bible at Wentworth that belonged to a prisoner Randall had previously tortured, and that person was also named Alexander.
posted by something something at 6:25 PM on June 1, 2015

Yes, there was a prisoner Alexander separate from the brother. I suspected that Diana forgot about that guy after the one or two throwaway mentions of him. I've always felt kind of she doth protest too much when Diana gets defensive about people discussing the homophobia in her work. The way Claire reacts to Lord John in Voyager, and a lot of Lord John's characterization through books 3-6 (I haven't read the novellas, and I think he is better written by books 7 & 8), Claire's negative reactions seem a bit too much like windows into Diana's mind, because they seem kind of out of character for Claire.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:37 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, there was a prisoner Alexander separate from the brother.

Ha! And all this time I thought he had a thing for his brother. Totally warped my perception of that deathbed scene.

I've always felt kind of she doth protest too much when Diana gets defensive about people discussing the homophobia in her work.

posted by oh yeah! at 8:02 PM on June 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

The way Claire reacts to Lord John in Voyager[...]

Yeah, but in this, at least, Claire reacts the same way to anyone who she thinks is attracted to Jamie, or that he could be somehow attracted to. She's pretty jealous, really. I'm thinking particularly of Laoghaire, but she has some pretty uncharitable thoughts about Willie's mother too, and isn't so delighted in his various brothel adventures.

Gabaldon has some fairly big flaws in her writing, but it says something that despite all that, a lot of people (me included, obviously) really love these books.

That sounded really fangirly, oh dear.

Jamie found a Bible at Wentworth[...]

He's not carrying it any more in the books, is he? I can't recall the point at which he got rid of it/returned it/lost it.
posted by tracicle at 11:30 PM on June 1, 2015

Gabaldon has some fairly big flaws in her writing, but it says something that despite all that, a lot of people (me included, obviously) really love these books.

Oh, definitely. I love these books so much, Jamie and Claire are my favorite fictional relationship of all time. I nitpick because I love! (Also because Gabaldon is pretty obnoxious about people's interactions with her work if they don't completely agree with whatever is going on in her head)

I think he gives the Bible to someone to give to Alexander's family in America, sometime in Book 7? My memory of that is pretty vague, though.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 3:43 AM on June 2, 2015

Oh huh. Count me in as someone who thought Alexander referred to his brother all this time. Though are we sure it doesn't? When we meet Alex later, particularly when he's very sick, Black Jack is an insanely devoted brother, even going so far as to request Claire's help for him in return for intelligence.

After sleeping on it a couple days, I am still kinda disappointed in this episode. The prison scenes were insanely well acted and suitably horrifying and disturbing, and they did well setting up Jamie's issues with being intimate at all with Claire. But it was really at the expense of all the other emotional impacts the rest of the book is supposed to pack - especially Claire helping Jamie to battle his demons. Also, why was Father Anselm all just like "cool! I forgive you!" and walked away? In the book he and Claire had an interesting discussion of the ethics of changing the past, of bigamy, etc. It was far less about guilt over Jamie. I guess I see why it went this direction but his reaction was so abrupt and the scene was over so quickly it just felt weird.

I do think this could have benefitted from being a two hour episode.
posted by olinerd at 6:58 AM on June 2, 2015

There might be more in the scene that they had to cut.
posted by brujita at 9:37 AM on June 2, 2015

This episode (and the one before) contained the most upsetting, horrific scenes I've ever seen on a TV show, hands down. TBH, I wish I'd never started watching this show, and I wish I could forget these episodes, but I'm finding it difficult.

Outlander is rated ages 16+ on Dutch Netflix - the same as e.g. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. To get an idea of what my exectations were.

I was utterly, completely unprepared for the explicit torture and sexual violence. Normally, I would stop watching, but this far along in a series when you've already grown fond of the characters and need to know they'll be OK, I couldn't really do that. I just muted the sound and looked away half of the time, and it was still way, way too much for me. I know I'm a wuss, but I just wish I'd known beforehand.

I'm really unhappy about this. :(
posted by sively at 6:30 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry, sively. I know that for me, having read the book already made those scenes less upsetting. The way it happened in the book will always be more real to me than this filmed interpretation. I wonder if it might help you retroactively to read it? The book spends more time on Jamie's recovery than on the rape & torture itself.

I don't know when Dutch Netflix will get season 2; I'm assuming it will be after the Starz premiere broadcasts, so, you should be able to check in with us mefites in the S2 Fanfare threads to ask us how it went. There shouldn't be anything worse happening to Jamie in S2 than what Randall did at Wentworth prison, unless they go very far astray from the book.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:59 PM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

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