Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of Outlander. To catch up on all of season one coverage, click here.
Let’s first take a moment to talk about Sam Heughan. The Outlander finale is undoubtedly Heughan’s episode, and this is where we get to see just how far his talent stretches. Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies have their share of moments in this episode and earlier on in the season, but I feel like Heughan’s work as Jamie never got to the places Claire and Frank/Black Jack did. Until now. He is amazing in an episode that is so awfully brutal, terrorizing and unforgettable. I don’t agree with how far the show goes into exhibiting Jamie’s torture at the hands of Black Jack, but I can’t deny that each excruciating moment is emotionally powerful and devastating. (If violence, torture, abuse, and rape are triggers for you, I don’t suggest watching this episode or reading the rest of this review.)
The episode begins with a Jamie lying naked with a dead look in his eyes. Black Jack awakens next to him and gets up. Jamie reminds him of their bargain, and when Black Jack is about to make good on that promise, he walks away, distracted by a rumbling noise from the outside. A charge of cattle runs Black Jack down as they storm the prison with Murtagh, Angus, and Rupert right behind them. Jamie’s rescue is quick and easy; they meet up with Claire and head to a monastery to hide and help heal Jamie’s wounds.
Rescuing Jamie from the prison wasn’t the biggest obstacle of the episode. Saving Jamie from himself is, and you can’t blame him. What was referenced in the book is played out onscreen, and it’s not something you can ever prepare for. In fact, I’m not even sure why it was necessary to show what Black Jack did to Jamie. I feel like Sam Heughan does have the skill to drive home the profundity of what happened to him with just words, not action. Unlike the last episode where we got a visceral glimpse of Black Jack’s sadism, at least that fell into the story and moved the plot. The flashbacks in the finale take it too far, and there are too many. Frankly, I never got this close to shutting off an episode of Outlander. I didn’t need to see that happen especially to a character I have come to love.
Jamie is in a dark place, and Claire is having a hard time getting through to him. When he looks at Claire, her face turns into Black Jack’s. Claire can help mend Jamie’s physical wounds, but it takes some serious tough love from her to get through to Jamie. It’s like a breath of fresh air after suffocating in darkness for so long when Claire finally succeeds. The striking tenderness and strength of their love fills us back up with hope. Jamie may not exactly be the same, but he is getting better, or at least striving to.
The end has Jamie and Claire embarking on their next journey as they head to France. There they hope to change the future by stopping the uprising and preventing the battle of Culloden. Before they start though, Claire has one more thing to tell him: She’s pregnant. She’s frightened that Jamie wouldn’t be happy about the news, but he is surprised by his happiness, as he was unsure he would ever feel happy after what he went through. It’s the happiest ending these two could have after everything they’ve been through, and it’s with all of this fervent, bright hope that we see Claire and Jamie sail off into the sunset.
The first season of Outlander was riveting, exciting, and emotional in so many wonderful and devastating ways. Imperfect at times, I greatly enjoyed many moments this season and can’t wait to see what they do with Season 2, which I know is going to be doozy.
Episode 16 Rating: 7/10
Season 1 Rating: 8.5/10
Outlander is rated TV-MA and returns in 2016 on Starz.