{TB Talks TV} Outlander Review: “To Ransom A Man’s Soul”

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Tweetable Takeaway: Claire may heal Jamie’s scars on #Outlander, but can she heal his soul?

Airtime: Saturdays at 9pm on Starz

By: Jeff Iblings, Contributor

We’ve come to the end of the first season of , and there’s a lot going on. Blackjack has been up to the devil’s business, and the scars on Jamie’s body may be no match for the scars on his soul.

Jamie awakes in the aftermath of whatever unknown depravities Blackjack has inflicted on him. He’s little spoon to Blackjack’s big spoon, and they’re both lying naked on a bed in the prison cell. We don’t know what happened, but can guess. Jamie looks miserable. Blackjack gets up, and Jamie tells him “You owe me a debt.” Blackjack has promised to either kill Jamie or let Jamie kill himself after giving himself over to Blackjack’s desires. He seems like he’s about to give Jamie his knife, but sounds in the passageway distract him, so he leaves Jamie to see what they are.

Remember the scene last episode when Murtagh was ecstatic about the cows? Here’s where they come into play. We knew when Claire left a door unlocked that whatever rescue attempt was going to go down, would go down with the help of the door’s access to the bowels of the prison. Those noises Blackjack heard, they were coming from the vicinity of the door. Right as he’s about to look outside and see what the ruckus is, Murtagh and the boys drive a herd of cattle right through the door, over Blackjack, and into the prison.

I can’t think of a better distraction for the British soldiers then to try and corral these huge beasts while Jamie is spirited away. Once safely out of the walls of the prison, he’s put into a cart and driven to Claire.  This is where the first hint of Jamie’s messed up mental state come into play. While she tries to tend to him, he see’s Blackjack’s face instead of hers, and tries to choke her. The only safe place they can go with Jamie is to a monastery where the British soldiers may not think to look. It’s here that the battle to save Jamie becomes a struggle between light and dark.

I’ve never seen anything as gruesome as the scenes of Claire fixing Jamie’s hand. Blackjack did a real number on it, and the way it looks, it’s hard to imagine it ever functioning properly again. This is another instance where Claire’s 20th century medical know how comes in very handy. She sets the broken fingers, stitches the split skin, pops a bone jutting out of one finger back into place, and creates a modern looking splint to protect his hand. I honestly looked away when she popped the bone back into place. She has the ability to heal in ways that are amazing for the time period she finds herself in, but all of her medical knowledge is unable to help heal a man that would rather die than live on.

She wants to know what Blackjack did to Jamie, and he responds, “too much, and not enough.” We find out the real nature of what took place through flashbacks. We’ve known all along that Blackjack’s biggest desire is to break Jamie. He couldn’t do it with the whip during the lashings that scarred his back, and ever since he’s been obsessed with Jamie. The bargain Jamie made was to protect Claire, and it’s through the threat that Blackjack may find her and hurt her if Jamie doesn’t concede that Blackjack takes his pleasure from Jamie.

I was creeped out by the tenderness with which Blackjack treats Jamie most of the time. It’s like he’s in love with Jamie, thinks there is something between them, and if only Jamie will give in their weird love will blossom. It starts out with caresses, and moves right to Blackjack giving him a blowjob. Jamie recoils at the sensations, and when Blackjack gets mad Jamie isn’t enjoying himself, Jamie spits in his face. “Take your pleasure and be done with it.” In his anger, Blackjack violently rapes Jamie. Delirious in the aftermath, Jamie begins to see Claire’s face on Blackjack’s. It’s something Blackjack takes delight in and exploits later on. He forces Jamie to brand himself with Blackjacks seal on his chest.

While Jamie convalesces in the monastery, he tries to get both Murtagh and Willie to either kill him or give him their knives so he can kill himself. Whenever Claire tries to comfort Jamie he recoils at her touch and begs her to leave him alone. In her sadness she takes refuge in the chapel of the monastery, and ends up in conversation with older monk. When he asks if she wants to confess to him, she spills her entire story on the man. He’s the only other person she’s told about her time other than Jamie. His reaction isn’t what you would expect from a man of God of that time. Instead of thinking she’s possessed or insane, he’s delighted by the tale. “How marvelous, extraordinary! A miracle perhaps.”

In order to break through to Jamie mentally, Claire decides to go into the darkness with him and confronts him. They fight and struggle both mentally and briefly physically as Jamie tries to keep her from touching him. We find out what really happened. Blackjack turned his tenderness on, and mind-fucked Jamie big time. He rubbed him with oil and told Jamie that his hands were Claire’s hands, and to think of Claire while he made love to him. Jamie let himself get caught up in a moment of pleasure after such deep bouts of pain. He was thinking of Claire, and Blackjack threw it in his face. “How can she forgive you” after this. Blackjack broke him, and Jamie can’t live with that thought.

He tells Claire, “I yearn for your touch, but when you do touch me, I want to vomit in shame.” She offers to kill herself if he wants to kill himself, since if he died she would be dead inside as well. It’s this moment where he realizes she would share his darkest actions if it means they’ll be together. He snaps out of his death wish. Murtagh cuts the brand out of Jamie’s chest, and then them a ship to France. They’ve escaped for now.

More thoughts:

  • When Claire threw up after tending his hand, I had it feeling it was morning sickness and not her response to Jamie’s wounds. Her pregnancy gives them both hope for a new life in the aftermath of the terrible suffering they’ve both gone through.
  • Willie is really the person who helped the most. He instigated the others to join in to rescue Jamie, and other than Murtagh, he may be the best friend Claire and Jamie have.
  • I have a feeling we haven’t seen the end of Blackjack. Cows may have trampled him, but his lust for Jamie will keep him pursuing the couple to the ends of the earth.
  • Claire talks to Jamie about changing the future and saving Highland life by stopping the Jacobite uprising. Do I think they can really alter the future? No, but it’ll sure be fun to watch them try.
  • I was able to keep relatively spoiler free this whole season, so as a reward to myself I bought a copy of the book. It’s time for me to dig in. Thanks for my reviews and interacting with me. It’s been a blast.

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For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates. Twitter: @OfSoundnVision

Keep up with all of Jeff’s Outlander reviews here.
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