Outlander: Jamie’s dark and disturbing fate revealed; where to watch episode 15

17 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Outlander’ Writer on “Uncomfortable” Jamie vs. Black Jack Scenes: “Worst I’ve Ever Spent on a Set”.

After discovering Jamie (Sam Heughan) had been condemned to hang at Wentworth Prison on last week’s episode of Outlander, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) plotted to break him out.There is one thing that I’ve had to tell myself over and over again from the moment I first saw “Wentworth Prison,” the penultimate episode of the first season of “Outlander.” Reminding myself of this fact, twisted as it might be, is the only way I can even begin to make sense of what we have just witnessed. (Word of warning, I will most likely also be repeating this mantra after the season finale in two weeks.) Jamie can’t be saved if he’s already dead, so the longer Jack keeps him alive – even if it’s to serve his own sick, depraved desires, the better chance Claire and Murtagh have of rescuing him.

It’s an uncommon episode of television that halfway through leaves you realizing that the protagonist probably would have been better off had he been killed in the opening scene. “Wentworth Prison” was precisely that type of episode.Black Jack calmly flourishes the petition of complaint Jamie filed against him, then burns it while Jamie’s hopes of exoneration also go up in smoke. 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.

After being captured by the British and sentenced to hang alongside Taran McQuarrie (Douglas Henshall), Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) is granted a stay of execution … by an all-too-keen Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). That spanking scene everyone made such a fuss over last month seems like child’s play in light of the things Jack did to the Frasers in the dungeons of Wentworth Prison; these were some of the rawest scenes ever filmed for television. Thanks to the sound effects, you hear the squeaking protest of the rope, the clang of the restraints and the snap of the necks — cue the visual of legs twitching. Finally able to take control of the man he’s long been fascinated by (and, frankly, attracted to), Black Jack promises Jamie a noble death in exchange for mental and physical control. Jamie tries to hatch an escape plan, but McQuarrie isn’t game. “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.

Just as our skin is really beginning to crawl watching Jack kiss, lick and fondle Jamie’s scarred back (“It’s a masterpiece,” he echoes from an earlier episode), we cut away as Jack asks, “Shall we begin?” Perhaps that’s why Starz is offering us a reprieve. When Jamie’s turn at the gallows arrives, he attempts to break his bonds, fighting to the end, only to be “saved” at the last minute by a late arriving Captain Randall, who dumps Jamie out of the frying pan and into the fire, freeing him from the gallows only to imprison him in a secret dungeon. Now when Black Jack rides in to save Jamie’s neck, you have to wonder if jumping off the edge of the platform was a more palatable option than being rescued by a sadist.

It’s interesting because the episode sets up for an even more intense finale, but it was, in and of itself, also incredibly violent and hard-to-watch. She told him that it was her Christian duty to pay a visit to the condemned Jamie. “I could tell you’re a Christian woman the moment you entered,” he answered. I know how this is probably going to look in print, but the fact is the five or six days we shot were without a doubt the most uncomfortable and worst I’ve ever spent on a set. Rupert and Angus have managed to get vital information from the guards while gambling and have determined that lunch hour is the best time to break into the prison, and so a new plan is hatched.

Let’s try to keep positive, kids, because there’s a lot of darkness ahead: At least Jamie’s cries communicate his general location to Claire, who has managed to slip down into the bowels of the building, find a door to the outside and leave it unlocked. Thus, while author Diana Gabaldon in no way sugarcoated what happened to Jamie in her book, those events had less of an impact in “Outlander” the novel than they did when portrayed first-hand onscreen (at least they did for me).

In general, the line between serious depiction of criminal brutality and straight-up torture porn is a difficult one to determine, with the difference often lying entirely in intent. Moore and his crew took the visceral subject matter and presented it in such a way that’s vivid and disturbing – and more searing than any book description.

Is the work making a larger point by detailing the horrors a victim is subjected to, or is it just exploiting the cheap thrills of particularly gruesome violence? Same with hair and make-up and costume — I would check with them on occasion after a particularly harrowing scene and, I kid you not, there were tears.

Though at times it feels excessive, it’s also effective at transferring the innate discomfort of the moment to viewers, forcing them to bear witness to the abuse, the better to understand the full extent of its savagery. BJR invokes the name of Claire touching Jamie’s scars with her delicate bare hand at moments while he’s in bed with her to continue to pry his way into Jamie’s mind. The level of infatuation that Jack has for Jamie goes beyond mere hatred – if that were the case, he would have let the Highlander hang without a second thought. Of course, Jamie refused, but Randall insisted that his refusal was only momentary as well. “I will have your surrender before you leave this world,” Randall said.

But as Jack demonstrates over the course of the episode – and this is what the entire season has been building toward – he will not let Jamie go to his grave until he has had the satisfaction of breaking him, both physically and psychologically. 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. If the reason is just to demonstrate that evil exists in the world and that no one is immune to it, surely there are more effective and less exploitative ways to show it. Jamie gets in some pretty good shots, but the man eventually has Jamie on his back choking the life out of him. “Tell me, when you lie upon your wife and her hands trace the scars on your back, do you ever think of me?” the sadist asks, reaching his hand out and acting as if he’s stroking Jamie’s back.

Randall was still trying to convince Jamie to surrender, but the Scot was holding up admirably. “You’re the broken one,” he told Randall when he asked to see Jamie’s warped back yet again. “You’re the one that sees my face every night.” Jamie then staged a daring escape attempt and nearly made it, too, but Randall’s muscle eventually managed to subdue him. Brilliantly played by the actors, Tobias Menzies and Jamie and the idiot guard are the dancers in a macabre performance as they navigate the small space in their various roles.

Thankfully, nods to Diana Gabaldon, the screenwriter and director (and whoever else should get the credit), this isn’t a scene to memorialize being a victim or to elevate the depravity of a monster. What makes the interactions all the more strange is the suspicion that, were Jamie a woman, there would be less luxuriating in extensive and detailed abuse and violation. It was, “I can’t save you from British justice but I can give you the death you deserve, but in exchange you must allow me to break you physically and mentally.” Now that sounds crazy, but to Black Jack that makes a certain amount of sense. Down in the dungeon, as Randall and a giant, terrifying lout named Marley enter Jamie’s cell, I and everyone who’s read Diana Gabaldon’s novel have the same chilling thought: Oh God, it’s starting. Her success as the Singing Sassenach last week has given her enough confidence to try sweet-talking the warden, Sir Fletcher Gordon (Frazer Hines – read here for some fun info on Hines’s “Dr.

Menzies is deserving of an award simply for the amount of emotion he showed on his face as Jack rode into Wentworth and saw Jamie was about to hang – it was tremendous and said so very much. 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. No dice on the letter, but Sir Fletcher does allow Claire, posing as a distant Fraser family friend, to take Jamie’s personal effects (“Je Suis Prest” tartan pin and Sawny, the wooden snake). To me, the line that was truest to Black Jack’s character was when he ripped open Jamie’s shirt and said with wonder, “How does it feel to be alive and wear so much dead flesh?”I give Sam so much credit because it was tough. The episode is a marvel in just how graphic television can get and still have the audience stay engaged with the material, a testament to the strength of the bond between viewer and character.

She is discovered by Black Jack before she can release Jamie from his chains. “Yes, you will come to regret that, ” Randall tells her, as Marley holds her back. This is never clearer than during Claire’s rescue attempt within the prison walls, an attempt that nearly succeeded but for the ill-timed return of Randall to Jamie’s prison cell.

Claire is threatened, yet again, with violence, but nothing is as frightening or as torturous as watching her breakdown when she is forced to leave Jamie behind to whatever Randall has planned for him. 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. Their performances, along with that of Tobias Menzies as Captain Randall, are nothing short of tremendous, finding humanity in the most inhumane of situations. It is a very, very different experience watching that heavy metal hammer come down on the Highlander’s hand, and witnessing Jamie yelp in pain – so loudly that, ironically, it helps Claire locate her husband’s cell that much faster.

To his horror, Claire tells him the precise date of his death but her words are toothless against Randall’s supreme power and she soon finds herself back with her men, holed up in the home of Sir Marcus MacRannoch, a friend to the clan. The psychological abuse that the British captain hurls at the Scot is frightening, illustrated by Sam Heughan’s preternatural ability to widen his eyeballs as Jamie realizes that this goes way beyond 200 lashes. Though she begs for assistance in freeing Jamie, she is refused, as a pointed attack on the prison would be akin to treason, an unreasonable risk to ask of anyone, particularly a stranger. 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.

I was surprised when I first read the book that Claire is unsuccessful because she’s so smart and so capable that that was part of the tragedy of episode 15. Now, I’m not saying Jamie’s mother was a gold-digger, but I will note that she apparently walked down the aisle wearing the jewelry of two men that she did not happen to be marrying that day. Murtagh is one of my favorite characters, but he keeps his opinions to himself a lot unless he’s talking to Jamie, so to see him smile when you almost never do, it was really fun. 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.

But this doesn’t last long, due to Jamie’s resistance and Jack’s insistence that he “will not give in to coarse passion.” He has to have Jamie willingly, which makes it an ideal time for Claire to show up and give Jamie the only reason he could ever have to voluntarily become Jack Randall’s butt boy. Claire discovers her nearly unconscious husband during a brief instance that Jack is away from the cell, but her mission becomes a lost cause as soon as the Redcoat captain returns. She, like her husband, fights Jack off admirably (speaking for the entire “Outlander” fan community by calling him a “f—ing sadistic piece of s–t!” 20th century represent, yo), but Jack overpowers her, choking her within an inch of her life until Jamie finally surrenders. All three principal actors: Heughan, Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies deserve Emmy nominations for this scene, because what unfolds between them next will stay with you forever.

As a “brief test of [Jamie’s] sincerity,” to ensure that the Scotsman will not try to run when Claire is released, Jack nails his busted hand to a table in the cell, while Claire emotes a guttural wail that will make your chest hurt. She’s then forced to watch Jack kiss her barely conscious husband (seriously, how the hell is Jamie still awake given the stratospheric level of pain he’s in? He is a broken man, who takes his last moment of happiness by looking at his beloved wife, smiling, and saying, for the first time, “I love you, mo nighean donn.” Jamie may have to submit to Jack’s sexual whims, but Claire is not leaving that prison without throwing a huge wet blanket on the captain’s excitement. In a great shot of Balfe’s and Menzies’s faces in close-up, with the flame of a torch illuminating the background, Claire whispers the month, date and year that Jack will die. Upon convening with Murtagh, Rupert, Angus and Willie at a safe house, Claire is unfazed about her sinister experience at Wentworth and insists on another rescue mission.

Because what he does have is a herd of 19 hairy Highland cows, and if Murtagh can use them to deprive his old rival of his livelihood and rescue his godson at the same time, then perhaps there is some good to come out of this atrocious day. The episode ends with Murtagh offering a single shred of hope: “I know how we can save young Jamie.” Let’s pray it will be enough for them to succeed this time. My favorite moment had to be when Jack, from the other side of the room, reaches out to touch Jamie’s back, establishing his utter obsession with being able to trace his fingers along every scar. 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.

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