Air Date: Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 9PM ET/PT on Starz
After picking my jaw up off the floor, I’ve gathered my restless thoughts and finally made sense of them. I don’t know how you feel after watching the season one finale of Outlander but I know I need a hug. Knowing what was coming in this final episode, Outlander still surprised me with how in depth “To Ransom a Man’s Soul” turns out to be. I’ve said before how I love the novels, the epic storytelling, and brilliant characterizations. There should be no mistaking that in the series either. I’m blown away by the depiction of one of my favorite books and left speechless. “To Ransom a Man’s Soul” has, by far, gone above and beyond any other book to TV depiction I’ve seen before. While every nuance of the first Outlander novel hasn’t been laid out for viewers page by page, both halves of season one are done well enough that I can find no reason for complaints.
Captain Randall’s (Tobias Menzies) line, “the worst is over now, you’ll see,” is such bullshit. He calls himself putting Jamie (Sam Heughan) at ease over what’s to come when really Jamie only wonders what atrocities await him. I’m still not sure how to approach the subject of what happens to Jamie because the slippery slope to a rant is extremely steep. I know Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, has told her fans via her Facebook page some of the inner workings of Randall’s mind. He’s not gay or bisexual, as many viewers (and let’s be honest, some of us readers) suppose. I just find it hard to believe he’s not even a little inclined to desire men for the simple pleasure of it. He’s sadistic, yes, and wants to break men and women sexually but he seems to get off on being with Jamie a little more than he should. In Jamie’s own words, ” He [Randall] made love to me.” Now, I may not be Randall’s creator but that’s a little out of character for someone who merely gets his kicks out of causing others pain.
Of course, Randall has fallen off the precipice of simple torturer into some place my mind doesn’t dare travel. He tries to garner an explicit response from Jamie as if Jamie is supposed to enjoy what’s being done to him. The head games are what I don’t get. What does Randall gain by inflicting psychological trauma on another human being? I realize he considers Jamie will be put to death soon anyway, so whatever happens to him in the meantime doesn’t matter. But no, that’s not how real life works. Randall harbors a sick fascination with Jamie and Claire’s (Caitriona Balfe) relationship; he wants to know how it works. How do two people love one another as much as Jamie and Claire? How can Randall achieve a little bit of that in his life, if only to sample a taste of the exquisite delicacy seen as their undying love. Randall’s actions do not make me pity the man. He’s a broken man looking to do as much damage as he can to everyone he comes across. Though it doesn’t need to be said again, I’ll do it anyway. Menzies is amazing in his role as “Black Jack” Randall. Just contemplating how I had to turn away from the screen because I couldn’t bear to watch him anymore is a testament to the realism Menzies puts forth. He slips into the role so well, I don’t see anyone but “Black Jack” tainting my TV. I get chills when I recall the detached way in which he goes about his torture and debasement of Jamie.
I didn’t realize how Claire’s attire would attribute to Jamie seeing her as Randall. The shirt, pants, and pulled back dark hair are so similar, it’s no wonder he couldn’t decipher whom he was gazing on in his delirium. Part of it is the trauma he goes through; his desire for Claire being so strong, he can’t help but see her in everything (or everyone). What a serious mind-fuck for poor Jamie. As an aside, I have to give Claire a pat on the back for not giving up on her man. She is the epitome of strength in a seemingly hopeless situation.
Where the heck are the subtitles for we non-Gaelic speakers, huh? We have to guess what’s being said using context clues and body movements. Not fair.
Memorable and funny lines
Rupert (Grant O’Rourke): “Pardon the interruption, but will ye be wanting tea or can I get this wagon moving?”
How delightful the writers can find some place to insert a bit of humor in a viciously dark episode.
Claire: “What did Randall do to you?”
Jamie: “Too much and not enough.”
Randall to Jamie: “Am I close? Have you reached your limit yet?”
I don’t think Randall cares much about limits.
As a season finale, “To Ransom a Man’s Soul” hits the let’s-see-how-deep-we-can-go nail on the head. We can only surmise what adventures await Claire and Jamie next season. But what’s most unexpected during the season finale is the graphic and detailed depiction of “Black Jack’s” favored form of punishment. It’s not the only instance of rape you’ll see on a cable network but I wager it’ll be one spoken of for a long time to come. What happens isn’t swept under the rug, never to be spoken of again, nor treated like the bad thing that happened that one time that no one ever speaks of; the implications of what this means for TV in general is astounding. Maybe other writers and directors will be brave enough to show the truth of rape and how it affects survivors.
Follow Outlander on Twitter, using #Outlander and don’t forget the cast Sam Heughan – @SamHeughan, Caitriona Balfe – @caitrionambalfe, Tobias Menzies – @TobiasMenzies, Laura Donnelly – @donnellylaura1.
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Photo credit © 2015 Starz Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.
© 2015, Elle. All rights reserved.
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