‘Outlander’ Season 1 Episode 16 Recap: “To Ransom a Man’s Soul”

Outlander Season 1 Episode 16 Recap
Angus Mhor (Stephen Walters), Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), Murtagh Fitzgibbons (Duncan Lacroix), and Rupert Mackenzie (Grant O’Rourke) in ‘Outlander’ (Photo © Sony Pictures Television Inc)

I warn you now; this recap of Outlander‘s season one finale will be emotional on many levels. We are embarking on another Droughtlander, but in this episode torture is the theme. OR more appropriately, how to live life after you have been through something so traumatic that it shifts your entire life. Any of the readers of the books by Diana Gabaldon know what is coming, but actually seeing the words come to life takes the material to a whole new level. Those who have not read the books and are pure television season one watchers will be profoundly surprised. Case in point: the episode starts with a disclaimer for Viewer Discretion that is not present on any of the other first season episodes. Palms wet, hands shaking, heart pounding, Rhenish ready…. Tulach Ard!!

We open with the British soldiers at Wentworth prison giving salute as the British flag is raised in the morning hours, and down below we find Jamie Frazer (Sam Heughan) and Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) laying on a cot…. Oh my gosh, breath…remember to breath. Trauma written all over Jamie’s face, both men are completely naked, and Jack rises to get dressed. Jamie mouths that Jack owes him a debt, that is to say a ‘clean death’ as promised in the last episode. Just as Jack is headed toward him with his dagger, Jack hears odd sounds from outside the cell doors. Jamie, heartbreakingly, begs “please” as Jack turns toward the door. What Jack put him through…death would be a gift.

We hear what sounds like a rumble. Jack is then crushed below one of the doors as a stampede enters. The McKenzie men run in behind the herd and get Jamie out of the cell first, then the prison completely through an open door Claire (Caitriona Balfe) fixed in the last episode, “Wentworth Prison.” They get Jamie into a cart and away they go to where Claire is waiting. She climbs into the wagon and tries to make Jamie wake up, but Jamie doesn’t see Claire. He still sees Jack’s face instead.

Here is one of the changes from the book. They go to a Scottish Abbey instead of a French one as in the book. Jamie is still lashing out at anyone who touches him. Jamie is not just damaged in his body, which is profoundly damaged to say the least, but his soul is twisted into knots as well. How do you fix a person’s soul? I would imagine many people are unfortunately faced with this question all too often in this world. Claire asks what Jack did to him, and Jamie answers “too much and not enough.” We are then pushed into Jamie’s memory. And so it begins…

I’m not going to describe the scenes between Jack and Jamie. It is gut-wrenching for me to watch, much less put down into words. Diana’s books do an amazing job, so I will leave it to the professionals. The descriptions I will provide are in the emotional wreckage that occurs because of the actions. The book is from Claire’s point of view, and the show provides more insight into Jamie’s point of view. As you may recall some of the lengthy discussions between Jamie and Jack in the last episode, Jack wants to have Jamie’s surrender. This is not just physical surrender he is after, but his very soul. Jamie’s will is exceptionally strong; as a man I’m sure he thought nothing could ever make him give in unless he wanted to do so. The floggings were proof that it would take a substantial amount because even those two events did not break Jamie. He never gave in to Jack even during those terrible punishing floggings. This time Jamie would endure rape and other physical abuse. That is no small event to live with for anyone, man or woman. Jack does so much more though. He wants Jamie’s soul to surrender as well, so he embarks on mental tortures too. Unless you have been through an event you felt you could never endure, or would never be pushed into doing yourself, it is hard to describe how it affects your soul.

Back at the Abbey, Claire is trying to get through to Jamie and all he wants is to die. He went into the events with Jack understanding that would be the eventual end. He allowed Jack to do what he would so that Claire was safe, but also knowing he would not have to live with the events for very long. I have no doubt that many in real life have been through so much that death would be a welcome release, and some do choose to take that path themselves…very sorry to say.

Claire begins the job of having to fix his shattered hand. She explains that in some of the war times she dealt with worse, but this is a person she loves. Setting bones, sewing up wounds are all hard to do when a loved one is already in profound pain. The hand that was nailed to the table and had fingers all but destroyed by that hammer will take an enormous amount of time to heal, if he regains full functionality in the fingers at all. As substantial as the physical wounds are, the emotional ones are worse. After all her work is done on the hand, Claire heads off to get some rest while one of the Friars watches over Jamie for her. Claire stops in the hall to be sick…book readers we know why this is happening, don’t we?

Claire goes to the chapel in the morning and is sitting there when the elder Friar walks in and offers a chance to give confession. Claire proceeds to tell him everything that has happened in the past eight months. You might have forgotten about Claire’s inner difficulties and soul-wrenching between Frank and Jamie. Claire has thought she was adulterous and bigamist all this time since she is married to two men. They are 200 years apart though, so that is something. The Friar listened and eventually proclaimed he saw her situation as a miracle. Claire hadn’t seen it in that light, that is for sure.

Back in the room with Jamie, Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) is speaking to him in Gaelic. Subtitles are not provided but you can get the drift well enough. Then Jamie flashes back to when Jack made him brand himself with Jack’s initials, like he was his property. At that time Jamie was flashing back and forth between Claire and Jack’s faces in his deliria. He saw Jack as Claire, and now in the Abbey he sees Jack’s face at times when he looks at Claire; a sure sign that his soul is shattered. Jack twisted the love Jamie has for Claire in order to get his way. He is the purest essence of a sadist.

Everyone now understands that Jamie wants to committee suicide. Claire was the last to know, and isn’t that the usual way for the wife? Everyone always keeps the worst from her thinking it will save her from the pain of seeing how bad things really are. Claire faints dead away all of the sudden, scared the mess out of Murtagh. Claire is not a weak woman, something more is going on there. When Claire wakes they do start talking about how and what it will take to rescue Jamie’s soul. In the book Claire puts Jamie into a trance through a means that Geillis showed her. No one else knew of this action to save Jamie. In the show Murtagh is the one that suggests some action has to be taken. Claire sets about making a potion that smells like the scent she smelled when they first got Jamie back. The oil that Jack rubbed all over Jamie’s skin, while saying it was Claire doing it. Jack twisted Jamie’s love for her. Jack did it as a way to force Jamie to show him affection while Jamie thought it was Claire instead. Jack perverted Jamie’s love for her so that he would give in; even forcing Jamie to believe that Jack’s long hair was Claire’s hair. Jack made Jamie make love to him as if he were Claire.

Claire tells Jamie that she will die with him if he goes. She is there forever and through anything. He has to choose to live or they both die together. Jamie does not want her to die so he has to find a way back. They start by cutting the brand from his skin. Next they will go across the sea to France to allow Jamie the time he needs to recover. As they talk about what the future might hold they came to a decision; nothing like a project to give a man purpose again. They decide that they will try to find a way to stop the rising and the destruction of the clans. Jamie’s eyes perk up with the thought. Claire has another bit of news to relay to Jamie. She is pregnant!!!! A new baby means new hope. Claire thought she couldn’t have children because she and Frank never conceived. For the first time Jamie is smiling and excited.

The damage done by the emotional manipulation will take Jamie a substantial amount of time to get over. Physical damage heals, but emotional wounds are much slower to heal, if they ever do. Just through personal experience, I think most everyone has some level of emotional scarring in life. It could be through trauma like Jamie experienced, or it could be childhood events such as bullies or worse. Any amount of difficulty is not to be taken lightly, but does have to be dealt with eventually. In the books the Friar tells Claire that she is not committing adultery or bigamy given that the two men are in two different time periods. In time sequence she is actually married to Jamie first. This does help Claire to deal with the difficulties within. Jamie as the fighter needs a different approach. Fighting against the rebellion is the therapy he needs. Every person has to find the element that will allow them some measure of victory over their challenges. Make that life of yours be all it can be!!! You got this!

AND…now we are back into Droughtlander. Join the fans, cast, and crew on Twitter and Facebook to pass the time. We are all in this together, and for any reason (not just Outlander withdrawls)!

A Look Back: Outlander Season 1 Episode 15 Wentworth Prison Recap

– By dedicated Outlander fan Laura Putnam

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