Outlander Recap: Back in Black Jack

Outlander Jamie Wentworth Jack

I have a feeling that the membership of PETJAMMF — that is, People for the Ethical Treatment of James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser — will have grown significantly by the end of this week’s Outlander.

How could it not, especially when Mr. Claire Beauchamp is nearly hanged, only to be saved by evil incarnate (aka Black Jack Randall), offered a terrible proposition and forced to relinquish the love of his life and then some in exchange for her safety?

It’s a rough hour, and I wish I could say it ends on a happy note, but most of us know that isna likely. So let’s all quaff a wee dram of Scottish courage and review what takes place in “Wentworth Prison.”

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WENTWORTH PRISON BLUES | Jamie’s absence in the previous episode is addressed right away, as we pick up with Lord Broch Tuarach and MacQuarrie waiting in line to be hanged in a Wentworth Prison courtyard. One by one, the men ahead of them are called by name to ascend a platform and don the noose; Jamie and MacQuarrie chat about it casually as they move forward in line, but you can tell the situation is getting to both of them.

Eventually, it’s MacQuarrie’s turn, and he is not blessed with a quick, clean death. With the Watch leader still jerking on his rope, Jamie makes a decision: Sugar, he’s going down swinging. He wraps the chain binding his wrists around the nearest soldier, but it’s to no avail; he still winds up with the snare around his neck. At the very last moment, a man calls, “Stop the executions!” Yay! Jamie is saved! Wait a minute, it’s Randall. Boo! Jamie is screwed! Black Jack orders Jamie chained up in one of the dungeon cells, and the stymied redhead is led away.

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VISITING HOURS | Meanwhile, Claire visits the prison and pretends to be a distant acquaintance of Jamie’s looking into his welfare as part of her “Christian duty.” She barely keeps it together (oh honey) when the warden tells her Jamie is still alive but she can’t see him; I nearly lose my stuff when he gives her Jamie’s personal affects and the little wooden snake is so pathetically there on top of the pile.

After a quick stress-puke outside the prison, Claire can barely stand. Murtagh picks her up, grabs the box and gets them out of there.

Outlander Jamie Wentworth Jack

THE BEGINNING OF THE END | I have never loved Rupert and Angus more than I do in the scene that follows, when what appears to be their drunken disregard for Claire’s plight reveals itself as a clever ruse to gain vital info from the jail employees with whom they’re gambling. (Their self-congratulating is funny, too.) Armed with intel about the warden’s nightly schedule — AKA when Claire and Murtagh can bluff their way back into his empty office and hopefully find the key to where Jamie’s being held — Mrs. Fraser and her partner in crime return to the prison.

But Claire, you’re gonna want to hustle. 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. 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.

Then things get really weird, really fast. Randall is shaking a little, sweating and talking about Jamie’s junk, saying things like he wants the Scot to admit “that you escaped Fort William but you did not escape me.” Jamie’s face, body language and affect throughout the scene communicate two thoughts: 1) “The hell?!” and 2) “Nope.” But Randall doesn’t seem to care. The captain eventually gets around to his big ask: If Jamie gives him the use of his body (ugh, even typing that phrase makes my skin crawl), “I will give you the death you deserve.” (Side note: How screwed do you have to be for this to be an attractive offer?)

Jamie’s refusal — “I won’t surrender to you, or any man” — merely stokes Randall’s desire to tame his prisoner. (Snap poll, Outlanders. What’s creepier: The matter-of-fact way Black Jack talks about how any man can be broken, or his insistence on seeing the scars his handiwork left on Jamie’s back?) When he draws close, Jamie is like “Enough of this ish,” and starts violently choking Randall. Marley rushes in with a mallet, and when Jamie loses that battle, a recovered Black Jack forces Jamie to lay his hand flat on the table, takes the mallet from his accomplice, then starts making a pancake of Jamie’s fingers. Don’t worry; the anguished screams emanating from Sam Heughan will only bother you if you have a heart, soul and/or fingers.

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BLACK JACK UNMASKED | 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. (That’ll prove important later.) As she draws closer, Randall is starting to lose his cool with his captive. “Why do you force me to treat you in such an abominable way?” he asks.

It should be noted that Jamie is in no shape for any kind of conversation at the moment, doubled in half with pain, bleeding, chained and generally hating life. But don’t worry, everything is about to get even more disturbing. Once he establishes that his prisoner is conscious, Black Jack grabs Jamie’s uninjured paw and puts it between his legs. “I could take you right now,” Randall threatens, and over in the corner, even Marley the big, dumb attack dog knows that this is messed up.

After the pair leave, Claire enters Jamie’s cell and finds him lying on the floor, nearly insensate. “Dinna fash, Sassenach,” he slurs. No, Sassenach. FASH. FASH A LOT. She’s trying to unlock his leg irons when Randall and Marley return. Many terrible things happen in rapid succession, so I’ll shorthand it: Randall sniffs Claire, Jamie rallies long enough to wound Marley in the throat, then Randall nearly chokes Claire to death and the only reason he stops is that Jamie gives him what he wants by saying, “Have me.”

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Outlander Jamie Wentworth Jack

NAILED IT! | You’d think that would be bad enough, but Jack wants proof that Jamie won’t change his mind as soon as Claire is safe. So as a test of his word, the captain has Jamie offer up his mangled hand… which Jack affixes to the table. (Note to Ron Moore: When the fans say they want to nail Jamie, this is not what they mean.) Good God, it’s horrible to watch, with Claire clinging to her husband and both of them sobbing, then Randall forcing Jamie to kiss him while she watches. Then Jamie orders her gone, tells her he loves her, they kiss and Randall forcefully escorts her out of the cell.

Though Claire momentarily freaks Jack out by telling him she is a witch who can foretell the date of his death, he gets over it by pushing her through a hole in the floor. She winds up in the pit where they throw the corpses, though she makes her way back to her men.

Inside, Randall hasn’t let the momentary pause put a damper on his insane party. One of the more disturbing visuals involves Randall admiring his “masterpiece” — Jamie’s ruined back — up close. “Don’t lick it, don’t lick it,” I whisper as his face draws ever closer to the scars… and then he licks it. Ick, Outlander. Jamie stares straight ahead, crying, and I wish I could tell you this is as bad as it’s going to get before the end of the season, but I dinna like to lie.

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GET A MOOOOOVE ON | Amazon of awesome that she is, Claire takes a deep swig off of a wine bottle then says they have to go back inside. But MacRannoch, a friend of Clan MacKenzie who’s letting them use his home as a temporary shelter, says he can’t risk lending any of his men to the rescue effort. Claire tries to buy his participation with the pearls Jamie gave her on their wedding night; it turns out they were originally from MacRannoch. “Your husband is Ellen MacKenzie’s son?” he asks, interest piqued. Just then, there’s some noise outside, and we learn that MacRannoch has a herd of cows in his front yard. “Cattle, you say?” all the book readers murmur as Murtagh looks them over with an interested eye and murmurs, “I know how we can save young Jamie.”

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? How will you fill the two weeks until the May 30 season finale? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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43 Comments
  1. Rachel says:

    Too much, just too much. I don’t know how I will be able to watch the finale.

  2. Laurie says:

    Black Jack was so creepy in his calmness. Kudos to Tobias. The scene where Jamie and Claire are sobbing broke my heart. The way he said I love you.

    • Terri says:

      The scene where they were sobbing broke my heart too. I was on edge & literally shaking from the hammer scene on. Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies & Caitriona Balfe were absolutely AMAZING, especially Sam. He conveyed so many of the emotions Jamie was feeling just with his face & eyes. He didn’t have to say a word. When Jamie told Claire he loved her, it ripped my heart out. It was a hard episode to watch, but not as bad as I was expecting. Having never read the books, I don’t know how the 2 scenes compare. I haven’t been able to get this episode out of my head. I can’t wait for the season finale. If it’s anything like this one, it should be fantastic.

  3. CourtTV says:

    I know it means little but doesn’t Jamie get his right hand ruined in the book?…I’ve become that person.

    • Me says:

      It was the right in the book. BJR thought it was Jamie’s dominant hand so he smashed the right hand. Best guess? Sam is right handed so they went with the left instead.

      • Lori says:

        Well if that’s why they did it it’s lame! How can they be so good at being accurate to the books and mess that up? They have already showed him tapping his right fingers when he thinks and for those of us who have read the books we know he has trouble doing that after his hand is destroyed. I am disappointed that they did it this way but everything else is so good I will just have to get over it.

        • Alichat says:

          Yes, but the hand tapping is a small item. If they’d smashed Jamie’s right hand, how would they explain his terrible sword fighting skills in future episodes? Sam isn’t left handed. If you want the fighting to be up to the standards of Jamie’s skill, Sam needs his right hand to be the uninjured one. Plus, they’ve had Jamie fight right handed since the show started, so they are being consistent and keeping the continuity. I was surprised as well when that moment first happened, but once I realized it was due to Sam being right-dominant, I was fine with it. I’m wondering how much time all of these injuries will add to Sam’s make-up time in season 2. It already takes him almost two hours I think just to put on the back prosthetic, shoulder scar, and waist scar.

        • sls says:

          Show Jamie is right-handed not left-handed like book Jamie. Ron has said they did this because Sam is right-handed and it was easier for him to manage the sword and things with his natural handedness. So you will always see show Jamie as right-handed.

  4. pam says:

    I’m on the west coast and haven’t seen it yet. Too nervous to watch such a horrible thing! But I have a duty to see it through. I owe it to diana gabaldon. Such a talented writer. Thanks ron moore for bringing this story to life!

  5. Janly says:

    Why doesn’t any heroine think to gouge out the villains eyes? I mean, REMOVE them from his face!

  6. bonniew88 says:

    Such a tense and brutal and emotional episode yet your recap still gets a chuckle out of me.

  7. Mauigirl says:

    Trying desperately to wipe out the horror in this episode by focusing on the incredible acting done by Sam, Cait and Tobias. These 3 and the show itself truly deserve Emmys!

  8. marsh says:

    Jamie is soooooooo hott!!! Because yes, I’m that girl haha <3<#

  9. Marci says:

    I had a bad feeling about this episode, so I read this before watching it, and I’m glad I did because it spared me from having to watch it.

    • elizabeth says:

      Marci – It’s so much worth watching. It’s tough to watch, true, but it’s such a great performance from the whole cast. Watching it, I kept thinking (SPOILER) “How can she go back to husband in the future?”

  10. Liz says:

    Oh God Oh God, please kill Black Jack, please kill Black Jack!!!
    AND (one less bloody favor), please make those three wonderful actors (Sam, Cait & Tobias) get an Emmy, like, now!! Such wonderful acting…

    • Karen T. says:

      Remember, horrible as he is, BJR is Frank’s ancestor. Claire is stuck in a situation from hell: if they kill the insane bastard Black Jack, will Frank never be born? They don’t get into that thought much yet, but if you think logically about it, it isn’t really a spoiler as all the facts are there now. Awful, awful situation, to be sure.

  11. vicki says:

    very hard to watch!! can’t wait till black jack get’s his!!great acting by all the cast

  12. specialka says:

    The performances were riveting and amazing!

  13. Dianne Hill says:

    I’ve read the books, so I knew what to expect. But I lost it with the single tear running down Jamie’s face. What incredible acting on everyone’s part, but oh my… Sam!

    • Winter says:

      Yes! I was the exact same way. It was so haunting.

    • Winter says:

      I have been dreading this episode knowing what was coming. I think it was hard to watch though not quite as bad as I expected. I picked up the book on the long hiatus (now I’m in the middle of book 7) and I’m glad I did. I’m not sure how I would have handled this episode if I hadn’t known what was coming. All my friends who watch the show but have never read the book I tried to warn saying some severely f’ed up stuff happens to Jamie so just be prepared.

      BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD
      Another site I read suggested that in the end it won’t be played the way a real rape victim is with long lasting effects. And I can’t say what season 2 holds but I can tell you in the book I’m in it’s more than 30 years later and Jamie still has nightmares so I think it’s pretty realistic.

  14. Drew says:

    I won’t see these last episodes for quite a while yet, but I am a little nervous about them. I’ve read the book and… Damn. I trust Ron Moore to do it tastefully and the cast is great. I do not envy them.

  15. Alichat says:

    I was expecting this to be the really bad episode. Not that what happened in this one wasn’t bad, but book readers know what I mean. Next week is going to be brutal. I think because I was expecting the bad, it didn’t upset me as much as it would had I not known about it. The moment on the gallows though tore me up. I was wishing that the good-bye between Claire and Jamie was more in line with what was said in the book, but I’m ok with that. Did anyone else think that MacRannoch’s home would be grander? After the description in the book, I was rather surprised by the set they designed.

    • ninergrl6 says:

      Yes I thought the home would be grander too, more opulent. I pictured it more like the way Lallybroch was portrayed, but basically it was just a simple building.

      • Alichat says:

        Yes! I was expecting it to be like Lallybroch! Where was the expensive carpet, Sheraton desk, and French walnut sideboard? It was like they were in a small cottage adjacent to the house.

    • shunda1177 says:

      I’m not sure where you are but its not showing next week in the states. They are running the entire series from the beginning because it’s Memorial Day weekend, with the season finale airing 5/30.

  16. segment banzai says:

    As much as I hate black jack the actor tobias menzies is amazing in the role.at least he doesnt tell my beautiful jamie to put the lotion on his skin.these 2 men surely must be up for emmys.

  17. theschnauzers says:

    The most chilling line of dialogue was the last, from Black Jack — “Shall we begin?” That should have sent everyone hiding from behind the couch (A shout out to Frazer Hines, who played the warden in this episode and who also portrayed Jamie MacCrimmon, the Companion of the Second Doct0or, who was Dianna Galbaldon’s inspiration for Jamie Fraser and Outlander.)

  18. Elaina says:

    I cannot stop thinking about Jamie. Such a good soul. I never thought I could kill someone but Black Jack could change that.

  19. Lin says:

    It really is unbearable to watch! It broke my heart to watch the scene with Claire & Jamie! It’s going to be hard to watch the finale! Please don’t let it be a cliffhanger!! I’m going to have withdrawals waiting for season 2! They are all such great actors!

  20. shunda1177 says:

    As a personal rule, I never watch a show of a book I’ve read and vice versa because I’m always disappointed. I’m loving the show but haven’t read the books. I think may have to break my rule and read the books for this one.

    • Winter says:

      I have the same rule but I picked up the book for this during the hiatus and I have to say I love them. I recommend reading them because they are really good and while the show is not exactly the same as the books they have kept pretty faithful overall.

    • Yvonne says:

      I really hope you do read the books. Ron Moore has done an amazing job with the series but the books are obviously so much more. Sometimes I think Diana uses her vast intellect to show off but I cannot rate her in depth of research and love of her craft enough. It those two things that make her characters and unusual story lines quality.
      It’s impossible to put the Outlander series of books into any one genre; or to describe them adequately to others but thousands of readers world wide have proved she is to be reckoned with amongst the very elite of her craft.
      If you are enjoying the series as you appear to be, you will not be disappointed with the books.

  21. Willis says:

    Aaarrrgh! I’ve read the books, and knew what was coming. Just wanted to get it over with. Well, that’s not going to happen. As I expected, they’ve handled it magnificently so far. This series is beyond anything I’ve ever seen on TV.

  22. Yvonne says:

    Having read this several times over the years I still find it very difficult to accept. The actors were amazing and very brave. I’ve read what is to come in episode 16 and have no idea how I am going to watch it.
    I had prepared myself for Wentworth but still find the images coming back to haunt me all the time. In particular the last image of Jamie sat stoically still whilst Randal does the ultimately creepy appraisal of his back . Jamie wearing that look of sheer terror of what was to follow with the tear falling down his face as Jack declares the horrors are just going to start.
    That is the main image that is with me now and the scene of the nailing with Claire sobbing and hanging on to Jamie. Naturally it’s Jamie who tries to comfort her whilst he is in unimaginable pain.
    This may not have all been accurate to the book in terms of being the left hand being damaged etc But the changes that were made seemed to add to the intense drama and in particular having Jamie and the other prisoners witnessing the hanging at the start really set, the depth of darkness and despair this particular episode and the next would bring.
    If Emmys are not forthcoming for these principal actors then there is no justice. This whole series has been a touch of genius and exceptional quality drama throughout.

  23. Chrissie says:

    You would think if someone you loved was threatened with harm, you would fight harder. Claire didn’t really seem to fight Randall pass a certain point. I know they’re dealing with the constraints of Diana Gabaldon’s writing, but I wish she hauled off and slugged Black Jack in the face, instead of telling him when he was going to die.

  24. stacia amentas says:

    I couldn’t belive only a few episodes played in April, and before I new it,it was over, that sucks! Now I’ve got to wait til 2016!,…why don’t they air all the previous episodes,while we wait for the new ones. I thought it would have at least played thru the summer…sooo disappointed!