Outlander season finale, episode 16 “To Ransom A Man’s Soul” (original airdate May 30, 2015) Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies both deserve Emmy consideration, as they translated the most horrifying and graphic material from the novel into one of the most scaring episodes we’ve ever seen on TV. Heugan left us jaw-dropped and pained as season 1 of Outlander came to a brutal and emotionally charged ending. The episode begins with the beating of drums and a marching-flute melody playing in the background as we see the British army gather outside Wentworth Prison. Inside the walls cameras follow the cracks in the prison floor that eventually lead to a bloodied and battered arm dangling from a bed. As the camera pans up you see Jamie lying naked on a wooden bed – his eyes staring forward lifeless and defeated. The camera continues to pan up and over his broad chest enough for us to see Randall lying next to him.
It’s done. Jamie held his end of the bargain to save Claire, allowing Randall to rape him without his resistance. Randall gets up (full frontal warning) his hair long and greasy. “You owe me a debt,” Jamie growls. Randall picks up his knife, as if ready to keep his end of the bargain on a quick death of Jamie’s choosing, but rumblings outside take Randall’s attention elsewhere.
“Please,” Jamie grovels.
The ground is moving and the noise sounds like a stampede nearing. As Randall (Tobias Menzies) peers out the prison’s stockyard window the cattle burst through, trampling over the door and Randall beneath it. The MacKenzie clan follows and throws an unconscious Jamie over their back rushing him to their getaway wagon. Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is waiting miles up the road. “Is he alive,” she yells in desperation, also in disbelief that the plan actually worked. She jumps on to the wagon to see Jamie (Sam Heughan) who is far worse than she imagined. “What did Randall do to you?” Rupert’s driving the wagon and complains of Jamie’s distinguished stench. Claire discerns that it’s lavender, used to relieve pain. Which would mean someone tried to tend to him, Murtagh ponders. Perhaps. But for now Murtagh sends Angus (Stephen Walters) back to patrol the trail to see if anyone is following them. “You’re safe now. I’m going to try and help you,” Claire whispers to Jamie. But Jamie’s delirious — he hears and sees Randall saying those same words and grabs at her throat. Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) and Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) intervene. “What’s wrong with you lad, it’s Claire,” Murtagh says.
“Don’t touch me,” he says to Claire, looking crazed and hardened. Jamie says something in his native tongue and it’s clear that his words are something Murtagh disagrees with. But it’s not time to talk as they have only a little time to get him to the abbey before the British start their search.
At the abbey Willie (Finn Den Hertog) introduces Claire to Father Ansel (Ian Hanmore), who has been prepped on Jamie’s needs. Inside Brother Paul (Sandy Grierson) has begun to care for him. “I have no doubt you can mend his body,” Brother Paul tells Claire, “but there are other wounds not so easily dealt with. His soul, I’m afraid, is in turmoil.”
But Claire knows that if she does not set his hand now he will be crippled for life. “Do not touch me,” Jamie barks at Claire.
“What did Randall do to you?” Claire asks.
“Too much,” Jamie says, referencing the torture and rape “And not enough,” for leaving him alive.
Jamie’s memories take us back to the prison cell, where Randall begins his torture by sharing some of his spirits with Jamie, who is still nailed to the table. “Let’s see if we can make you more comfortable,” Randall says, removing the nail from his hand. Once he sets his hand free, Jamie vomits and falls to the ground in pain. “It’s alright,” Randall takes him in his arms. “The worse is over now.”
Idolizing his physique, Randall strokes and kisses him saying “dear god you are a magnificent creature.” Jamie’s repulsed. Randall’s not happy. “It’s like kissing a corpse,” Randall complains, and he tells him he knows he can do better.
“My men can have Claire back here in an hour. We have an agreement,” Randall reminds.
And the agreement, Jamie concedes, is that “I would not resist.”
But Randall’s idea of not resisting didn’t involve Jamie as a submissive, which he likened to Christ on the cross. He sits Jamie down on a stole, opens his skirt and begins to stroke him. “I just want this to be a pleasant experience for us both.”
Jamie’s beyond disgusted and urges Randall to take his pleasure and be done with it, spitting n his face.
“You think I cannot control the darkness I inhabit,” Randall asks. “One way or another I will get a response from you.” With that Randall throws Jamie on the table and takes him monstrously from behind. “Scream!” Randall tells him, with sadistic punishing thrusts. Jamie screams over and over in what was one of the most horrifying scenes of the series, but, unfortunately, Randall was far from done.
Back in present time, Claire is trying to prep Jamie to set his hand. He shows no emotion. “Do what you wish,” he tells her, and falls out of conscious.
Claire pushes his splintered bones back into his hands and sews his hand back together, finger by finger, with precious care and detail. After she’s finished Brother Paul urges her to get rest. Claire leaves the room collapsing outside, horrified and shaken at what she’s come to realize he’s endured.
Claire sits in the abbey trying to clear her head when Father Ansel offers his ear for a confession. My name is Claire Beacham Randall Fraser, she tells him, and it’s a result of my selfishness that I’ve brought great suffering to both of my husbands. “Eight months ago I was on holiday with my husband in Inverness – it was 1945,” she begins, and proceeds to detail every single event leading to here. Father Ansel listens patiently and when she’s finished he assesses.
“How marvelous. Extraordinary. A miracle perhaps,” Father Ansel says. “Our lord sees the truth in all things and so he knows your truth as well. Whatever your sins, have faith that they will be forgiven.”
Jamie’s refusing to eat. “You cannot save a man that does not want saving,” the deeply moral Jamie tells a heartbroken Claire.
He tells Murtagh he wants to die. He asks Willie for his knife to kill himself. Heughan’s at his best in this episode, as his agony and shame is so palpable.
But then we see more of what Jamie endured. Naked and chained to the prison floor, Jamie rolls around in pain. Randall sits across from him observing. “Am I close? Have you reached your limit yet?” Jamie’s hallucinating thinking he’s seeing Claire and Randall uses it to his advantage. She disappears. “There’s no more Claire,” Jamie cries.
“Then are you mine?” Randall asks.
“Yes, only you,” Jamie unconsciously says.
Randall inserts a branding iron in the fire and tells him to show him he’s mine. “Do it,” he says, and Jamie pushes it into his flesh branding “JR” into his skin.
The MacKenzie’s make plans to get Jamie and Claire to France. Murtagh, however, believes that the only true way to save Jamie is to have someone step into the darkness with him. Claire prepares lavender oil and wafts it over Jamie telling him she’s treated him far too softly and needs to know what happened and demands to know what he’s holding back. “Why can’t you look at me?”
Their fight becomes physical as Jamie pushes Claire away and Claire pushes toward him. “Claire please I don’t want to hurt you,” he pleas. But Claire rips his gown in their tussle exposing his burned skin. “He branded you?”
“He didn’t brand me,” Jamie tells. “I did it myself. You can not understand. Randall didn’t just use force to get what he wanted from me. He made love to me Claire, and I …” And then we go to a flashback where we see Randall seduce Jamie using Claire, taking him again from behind, this time ending with both of them satisfied and Jamie weeping in disgust.
“I understand,” Randall tells Jamie as he weeps with him at his side. “How could she ever forgive you.”
Then it’s back to the present, where Jamie tells Claire that he couldn’t help himself. “It felt so good, not to be in pain.”
“Were you afraid I wouldn’t forgive you? There’s nothing to forgive,” Claire shares. But Jamie doesn’t see himself as being capable of being her husband.
“He broke me. He broke me, Claire. He knew it— we both did, Claire,” Jamie confesses. He says he’s lying there now knowing he will die without her touch. “When you do touch me, I want to vomit with shame.”
“You’re my husband James Fraser. How dare you give up on me now,” Claire begs. “Randall had your body but I’ll be damned if he has your soul as well. You’re mine. We’re meant to be together. It’s the only explanation I have for all of this … If you take away the one last thing that makes sense to me, then I will die with you right here, right now.”
“How can you have me like this?” he asks.
“I will have you any way I can — always,” and Claire wraps her arms around him, and he slowly wraps his free arm around her, showing a slight sign that perhaps he can make his way back from the darkness.
Next, we see Murtagh taking a knife and cutting out Jamie’s branding. As Jamie heals at the abbey, the MacKenzie’s secure a boat to take them to France.
Before sailing, Claire exchanges some lighthearted goodbyes with Agnus, Rupert and Willie, then she, Jamie and Murtagh set sail for France. Once onboard, Claire explains her seasickness to a still recovering Jamie. Looks like a baby Fraser is on its way — surprising news considering what Claire had told Jamie previously, but lovingly welcomed and a promising outlook for their future.