For anyone who has read the Outlander books, this next series of events is going to be the hardest to get through. We are at Wentworth Prison! For those of you who have not read the books, there is no way you can brace yourself sufficiently for what is going to happen. As I contemplated this week’s recap I thought, some things just can’t be unseen. Reading about them in the book is one thing. What occurs..well, most people cannot put a visual to even seeing the words in print. But watching them performed before you on the TV screen is entirely another thing. The phrase “burned into my retina” never was more fitting. I approached this episode, and have to say the next one too, with a fear that I have never had while watching a TV series. It was more akin to the ‘horror movie’ feeling I usually get before one starts. Because I love these characters so much, there was a little “don’t destroy my beloved family member” thrown in for good measure. I warn you now; I do not have the words of description to adequately convey this episode in all aspects, nor the next one which is the season finale. Some things you will need to experience for yourself to get the full understanding. However, I will do my best.
We open to a wide shot of the outside of the prison, a very huge and imposing place as you can imagine, and completely inescapable. But our heroin is going to give it her all. The opening scene has Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Taran MacQuarrie (Douglas Henshall) watching other prisoners get hanged. Just another lovely day at Wentworth right?! They’re discussing what it will be like for them when their judgments are carried out. Standing there in torn, filthy, shabby clothes, bare feet, and given the size of the prison, no hope of escaping this one. Chains on the hands and feet pretty much keep you unable to do anything, heavy iron shackles complete the ‘lovely’ set, along with the beautiful markings they provide on the skin at the wrists and ankles. Now, seriously, what prison has their gallows on repeat?! The noose is just pulled back to the top and set for another neck. Who knew a prison had a hanging express lane, how ghastly.
Taran MacQuarrie was called as the third man we have the pleasure (said in all sarcasm) of seeing stretched at the end of a rope. MacQuarrie went out cussing the English. Atta boy!!! Get one last insult in before you lose the chance. Then our dashing, yet very dirty, hero is called. MacQuarrie is still squirming; his neck did not break cleanly so he dangled briefly before death. As they come for Jamie he does as he always does, tries to fight back. They get him up the gallows and put the rope around his neck. A rider comes in and stops the proceedings in respect to Jamie. You might think this a good thing, but the rope would have been kinder to Jamie in the end. Who rides in and stops the events just in time? BLACK JACK RANDALL (Tobias Menzies).
If you haven’t read the book, you might breathe a sigh of relief at having the rope taken from around Jamie’s neck. Nope, death would have been a kindness in this case. But I won’t spoil it, so let’s keep moving. BJR has Jamie taken to a cell. As Jamie passes he stares Jack down, basically this is the only way he can show defiance at this point. You can then see the determination in Jack’s eyes; he is aiming to break the man this time. Plus, we know that he has a sadistic affection for Jamie. Jack has food sent down. We can’t have our plaything weak from hunger now can we? Jamie grabs a loaf of bread and goes back to trying to pull his chains from the wall.
Then we see Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in a room with an Englishman talking about Jamie. She is playing the part of a family friend. Sir Fletcher (Frazer Hines) is advising Claire that Jamie has been given a stay of execution for the moment. Claire is trying to get a visit with Jamie by playing the Christian woman role. Sir Fletcher won’t let her go down to see him but her inquiry to allow Jamie to write a letter to his family does spark Fletcher to movement. When he leaves the room for a moment, Claire all but breaks down. She has to steady herself before he comes back. He won’t allow a letter from Jamie, but he brings her Jamie’s personal effects. In the box you can see all of his things that Jamie carries in his Sporran. I don’t know how Claire holds it together. I’m on the side of tears and the episode just got started.
Claire leaves with the box and Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) is waiting outside the front gate. As she is leaving she starts to stumble, falls into the wall and is understandably sick. She is so weak that Murtagh has to carry her away. At the inn where the other men are waiting, some of the men get into a dice game with two of the jailers at the prison. The manly way to garner intelligence it would appear. They discover that Sir Fletcher has a routine that will allow approximately an hour where he is not keeping close watch on the prison. A window of opportunity, as it were. Claire shows a glimmer of hope with this news.
Then we see BJR coming into the room where Jamie is being held. Oh look, BJR brought a friend, a rather large friend, to join in the fun. As BJR likes to do, he starts by bandying words around, but does eventually come to his first point. He has gotten his hands on the petition against himself that Jamie and Claire had drawn up. This dastardly man has no limit to his abilities to cover his own arse. So as you would expect, BJR burns the letter right in front of Jamie, his last hope gone in a puff of smoke and ash. The stare-down continues.
We return to Claire and Murtagh entering the prison again, right at the ‘window of opportunity’ I spoke of. They are shown into an empty office. Claire, expertly and much to the surprise of Murtagh, gets rid of the guard so they can search the office. Hunting for keys and a way to find Jamie is the purpose of this activity.
Enter the cat and mouse game again. BJR and Jamie are still conversing in Jamie’s cell. Jamie tells Jack that he would prefer the noose to Jack’s company. And as Jack is so masterfully able to do, he works to get inside Jamie’s head. I know evil exists in the world, but this man appears to be eaten up with it…and we haven’t seen his worst yet. 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. BJR confesses to Jamie he wants Jamie to admit he fled Ft. William, but never did flee far enough to keep from having BJR in his head. Again, Jamie cannot give in to Jack’s demands. He is determined to not let Jack break him. Jack continues to give him options of a clean death as a prize for admitting and giving surrender. He admits he will have Jamie’s surrender before Jamie is killed, one way or the other.
Claire and Murtagh are still searching the office and have found keys. While looking for a map of the prison, the officer comes back in and catches them with the keys. Murtagh knocks him out before he can sound any alarm. They make a plan for meeting back up later, and Claire heads out to try to find Jamie. A woman in a prison….real easy thing to hide. She does a good job of dodging soldiers and making it to the cells. One of the prisoners tells her to go below; she should hunt in the lower cells.
Now Jamie is looking into the face of the brute BJR brought into Jamie’s cell before. This won’t be good. Jamie tells Jack he will not surrender to him or any man. Of course Jack expected this, and admits he would have had a level of disappointment if Jamie did give in. Jack then asks to see the scars on his back. Jamie pretty much agrees if it will shut Jack up. Always defiant and cheeky Jamie, always. With respect, which is odd, Jack asks to lift Jamie’s shirt back. Just keep playing with the mouse, kitty cat! Jack’s brute standing in the front while Jack is standing at Jamie’s back. (Okay, I think the music gives the fact away that something is about to happen.) Jamie spins and gets Jack in a choke hold with both hands around his neck. The big burly man comes at him with a metal hammer and his initial strike hits Jack, since Jamie expertly moved at the last second to force that event. Jack is thrown to the side, Jamie and the brute continue to battle. Jamie gets in some pretty good shots, but the man eventually has Jamie on his back choking the life out of him. You can only do so much chained to a wall, but excellent effort all the same. Of course Jack can’t let his toy be destroyed, not yet, so he kicks the man in the face to make him let go. Jamie gasps for air as he is pulled to his feet. Jack grabs the metal hammer and makes the brute force Jamie to sit at the small table in the room. He commences with pounding Jamie’s hand with the hammer. I shake as I write those words. As Jamie did not cry out when being lashed or flogged, as most every other person in the world would have, he is crying out now. This being the first real painful cry Jamie has uttered, even while in serious pain and anguish previously, it is terrifying to hear because it takes a lot to push Jamie to it.
Claire is in the lower level now and hears Jamie’s cries. She skitters down the hall toward the sounds. As the scene returns to the room, you see Jamie’s bloodied and broken fingers. He is on the verge of passing out from the pain, but Jack grabs him by the hair and makes him stay awake. Jamie tries, in his much weakened state, to lung at Jack. Jack takes the opportunity to force the situation to become one of the elements most feared from the book. Though the book doesn’t have that exact thing happening yet in the chain of events, it is still within the spirit of the encounter. (I can’t tell you how much back spacing I have had to do thanks to the shaking of my hands as I write this part.)
Jamie is forced to grab Jack’s penis. Jack makes Jamie start pleasuring him, and Jamie says he will kill him. Jack decides he will not take Jamie, not just yet. Jack wants to break him first. He leaves him on the floor holding his broken hand and near unconsciousness from the pain.
As Jack is going down the hall, Claire pops out from a side room. She heads for the cell after Jack is gone from the hall. So many cells to guess, she chooses a bolted door. This door happens to lead to the back and outside of the prison. She leaves the door rigged so she can get through it on her way out or as a means to get back in after Jamie, if necessary. She then continues down the hall looking for Jamie. She finds him crumpled on the floor. She rushes in and makes him aware she is there. He begs her to go, and lets her know that BJR is nearby. She is determined to get him out and starts trying to force a key into his shackles so she can unlock them. AAANNNNNDDDDDD enter Black Jack behind her.
Jack has another mouse to toy with. His brute gathers Claire up when she tries to lung at Jack. She does call him some very accurate choice words. Jack then lets his brute ‘search’ her for weapons. A pretext for him assaulting her, and I am not going to get more graphic than that. Jack is explaining he wouldn’t like to see it but will be happy to let his brute do what he wants with her. Claire stands there and waits for her opportunity to shove the big man aside and lung again at Jack. Jamie makes a movement to help, as best he can in his weak state, but does manage to put a big enough wound in the brute’s neck that it kills him. Jack grabs Claire again, and by the throat this time. As he is choking Claire he makes sure Jamie is watching. As Jack said during one of the long-winded speeches he’s so fond of giving this episode: every person has their breaking point. Jamie tells Jack he can have him without a struggle if Jack will let Claire go, which of course is what Jack has wanted all along, Jamie’s surrender. Claire is Jamie’s breaking point, her safety more accurately. Jack doesn’t care that Jamie will die soon. Jack has wanted Jamie from the first time he saw him at Lallybroch. All of this is to have his way with Jamie’s body before Jamie is given the noose. Also the fact that Jamie is a man he has never broken. This egotistical fact just has to be corrected in Jack’s mind.
Jack demands a test of trust that Jamie will do as he said and allow him free access to his body if he will let Claire go. I’m sure Jack knows that if he puts himself in a vulnerable position Jamie will try to kill him. Jack makes Jamie place his broken hand on the table as Claire is forced to watch this time. Jack gives Jamie one mercy and lets Claire be wrapped in his good arm while Jamie has his broken hand spread opened, it was balled up, and nailed to the table. Then he makes Jamie kiss him in front of Claire as she weeps dreadfully. Claire is allowed one last kiss before she is drug away.
Jack admits to her in the hall that he heard of her witch trial. Claire tells him she IS a witch and curses him with the knowledge of his own death. It is good to see a slight element of fear in Jack’s eyes for a second. At least she got one significant blow in before being very unceremoniously thrown out a trap door. There are other bodies of the dead in the spot where she fell and she finds MacQuarrie in the pile. Claire gets up to get away from the prison.
Jack returned to the cell with Jamie and starts cutting up the back of his shirt so he can touch the scars on Jamie’s back. Actually caressing the scars as tears roll down Jamie’s cheeks. That look is one of utter devastation. Then Jack licks the scars… excuse me while I throw up.
In the meantime, Claire is trying to find the men in the woods behind the prison. In the book, Claire has to fight a wolf at this point, with her bare hands. In the show the men find her and take her back to a sympathetic member of a different clan, his house is where they are hold up. Claire begins to beg for help to free Jamie, and offers the man the pearls Jamie gave her on their wedding night. This is a surprise to the man. He gave those same pearls to Ellen as a wedding present when she married Jamie’s father. Apparently many a man’s heart was broken the night Ellen wed. The man wants to help, but the prison is no small challenge. He also has a family and doesn’t want them to be placed in danger. All completely understandable….heart-breaking, but understandable. Murtagh sees the cows of the man outside and he has the look of a man with a figurative light bulb that goes off over his head. Murtagh has a plan for the rescue of Jamie. Roll credits….. You had to know some stuff would be left for the season finale, right?!
Jack will still do his worst before they can execute anything in the way of a rescue attempt. As disturbing as this episode is, book readers know this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Some things are worse than death, and Black Jack Randall most certainly leads that category. Next week we find out what the consequences are of Jamie giving up his free will. Again, some things are worse than death. BUT you have to wait for two weeks this time. The season finale is to air on May 30th at 9pm ET/PT on Starz. The first eight episodes will be shown in a marathon on Saturday (Outlander Day) May 23 starting at 2pm ET/PT. The next seven will show the next day, on Sunday May 24th starting at 2:45pm ET/PT. I’ll be tuning in, I hope you join me.
– By dedicated Outlander fan Laura Putnam
Follow Us On:
- ‘Outlander’ Season 4 Episode 13 Recap: “Man of Worth” - January 27, 2019
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- ‘Outlander’ Season 4 Episode 11 Recap: “If Not For Hope” - January 13, 2019