Outlander: Wentworth Prison

Catriona Balfe, Sam Heughlin and Tobias Menzies in Outlander

Previously on Outlander: Jamie got himself captured, escaped, and then got captured again and thrown into Wentworth Prison.

‘Make me a better offer.’

Prisoners are being hanged before a small audience of bored-looking redcoats. Taran and Jamie are amongst the condemned, waiting for their turn. Jamie tries to convince Taran to try one last stand, but Taran’s not interested, since it’ll just get them killed as surely as the rope will. So, you may as well go down fighting, right, Taran? At least, that’s what Jamie seems to think, and I’m on his side here. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. Taran’s called forth, and when he’s on the scaffold he shouts that it sucks that the last thing he sees will be a bunch of Englishmen and he didn’t spend his life fighting them like a true patriot. He’s thrown off the scaffold, but his neck doesn’t break. He jerks and dances, slowly strangling to death. Historically accurate and horrifying to watch. Not the last time I’m going to think that during this episode.

Jamie is called up, and though he tries to fight against the redcoats, obviously it’s no good. The noose is placed around his neck, but at the last second, Randall comes galloping into the courtyard, calling for the hangings to be halted for a moment while he has a word with the man in charge. The guy in charge orders Jamie taken down and put into a cell.

In the cell, he tries to find a way to pull the chains holding his ankles to the wall loose. A jailer delivering food tells him he’ll never pull that loose. He advises Jamie have a bite to eat and hope for good things. Jamie clearly knows better than that, but he does dig into the food. Better to have your strength in situations like this, right?

Claire, posing as a well-born friend of the Fraser family, goes to see the warden of the prison, Sir Fletcher, and is told Jamie’s been granted a temporary stay of execution. She pretends not to be all that close to Jamie and, noting the bible on Fletcher’s desk, says she just came because it seemed like her Christian duty. That helps win him over, but not enough for him to allow her to see Jamie. She asks instead to be allowed to deliver a letter from Jamie to his family. Fletcher seems rather touched and excuses himself for a moment. Claire takes the time to gather herself, which is just as well, because he returns not with a letter from Jamie, but the man’s personal effects, including the toy snake. Fletcher thinks it might bring the family some solace. Claire has no choice but to accept it.

She makes it outside the prison, where Murtaugh is waiting for her, before she breaks down into sobs and starts vomiting. He sweetly rubs her shoulders and picks her up, carrying her away.

They go back to the inn where they’re staying and moodily watch from a table, along with Willie, while Rupert and Angus drink and carouse and play dice, laughing the whole time. Claire and the other two grumble about how little Jamie seems to mean to them. Nobody seems to know what to do. After a while, the boys return and tell the others that their gaming was not just for fun: they were playing with two soldiers from the fort, who provided them with an interesting nugget of information. Apparently Fletcher takes an hour each day to read his bible, leaving his office empty. Only Claire seems to understand how this can be used, and she starts to look hopeful.

Back at the prison, Randall goes to see Jamie, who’s still trying to yank the chain out of the wall. Randall’s got some muscle with him, a brute named Marley. Randall notes that Jamie ate the food and seems pleased. Yeah, I’ll bet he likes ‘em strong and feisty. He cheerfully shows Jamie the petition of complaint that Jamie wrote up against Randall and sent off with Sandringham. Turns out Sandringham isn’t all that reliable (shocking, I know!) and he got drunk and started getting chatty about this, and word got back to Randall, who managed to relieve Sandringham of the document. Randall agrees that this probably would have secured Jamie’s pardon and Randall’s disgrace, so naturally he burns it.

Claire and Murtaugh return to the prison and tell the guards that Fletcher’s expecting them. They’re shown to his office, but he’s having his bible hour just now. The officer seems uncertain what to do, so Claire offers to wait for Fletcher and even suggests the man wait with her, since he seems hesitant to leave. He indignantly tells her he has duties to perform and stomps out. Claire and Murtaugh start rifling through the place, searching for keys and a map so they can more easily find Jamie.

Belowstairs, Randall gets comfortable and asks if he can call Jamie ‘Jamie.’ Jamie’s like, call me whatever, but don’t expect much more from me.’ Randall dials up the creepy, asking Jamie if he thinks of Randall in the middle of the night, or when he’s making love to his wife. I think we can definitely say you’re the last thing on his mind when he’s with Claire, Randall. He wants Jamie to admit that he’s terrified of Randall. In return, Randall will grant Jamie a more noble death. A Roman one, such as Brutus’s, perhaps? (Kind of an in-joke, I think, since Tobias Menzies played Brutus on Rome). Or, if Jamie prefers not to see Randall’s face in his last moments on earth, Randall will slit his throat from behind. Thanks?

Claire and Murtaugh have found keys, but no map. Murtagh tells her they’re out of time, and, indeed, the head jailor comes back just then to check on them. He sees the keys in Claire’s hand and goes to raise the alarm, but Murtaugh knocks him out. Claire orders him to tie the guy up and hide him while she goes to find Jamie. They agree to meet in the woods behind the prison.

Claire steals through the prison, asking for Jamie at crowded cells. She finally finds a guy who tells her he might have been taken below.

Jamie has weighed his options and decided not to surrender to Randall after all. Yeah, what the hell, it’s not like he has anything to lose at this point, right? He may as well remain defiant to the end. Randall is somewhat pleased, because like I said, he likes ‘em strong and feisty. He asks if he can see Jamie’s back, and Jamie lets him, if it means Randall will just shut up already. Marley’s looking a tiny bit creeped out by all this, which is really saying something, because you know this brute must have seen some real horrors in his life. As Randall reaches for Jamie’s shirt, Jamie grabs him by the throat and starts strangling him, telling Randall that he’s the broken one who thinks of Jamie at night. Marley steps in, wielding a heavy hammer, and he and Jamie start to fight while Randall recovers. Marley gets Jamie down and begins strangling him, until Randall steps in and kicks Marley away. ‘Idiot, you could have killed him,’ he says mildly. He has Marley hold Jamie’s hand down on the table while Randall crushes it with the hammer. Jamie’s screams have the unintended benefit of telling Claire exactly where he is.

Randall almost literally says, ‘why do you make me hurt you, baby?’ and forces Jamie to look at him, even as Jamie is nearly passing out from pain. Randall’s happy to still see some fight and defiance in Jamie’s eyes and grabs his good hand, holding it to his crotch. ‘I could take you right now,’ he purrs as Jamie grunts in pain and groans that he’ll kill Randall. Again, Marley’s face says, ‘is Game of Thrones hiring? Because they totally draw the line at man rape.’ Randall decides to wait for a better time and drops Jamie to the floor, where he lies cradling his crushed hand. Randall goes to leave, telling Jamie that he’s just trying to help him.

He and Marley take off, and once they pass Claire swiftly finds a door that leads to the outside. She makes sure it can’t be locked, then manages to locate Jamie’s cell. Crying, she kisses his face and he starts to come around a little, telling her she has to get lost, because Randall will be back soon. She takes in the wreckage of his hand and starts trying to work on the chains around his ankles, talking to him the whole time to keep him awake. She begins hammering away at the lock, and then Randall returns, commenting that she really has a gift for showing up at the most unexpected moments.

Claire slowly rises and turns to face him. ‘You beast,’ she growls. He invites her to do better, and she flies at him, wielding the hammer. She’s quickly caught by Marley, who is only too happy to obey orders to search her for weapons. In this case ‘search’ is just code for ‘molest’ and at one point he puts his hand up her skirt and then stars sniffing it. Oh, god, now I just feel ill.

Randall says he’s not really in the mood for snatch today, but Marley probably is, so she’s going to be sent away with him. She coldly asks Randall if he doesn’t want to watch. He tells her he really doesn’t want to see her, a lovely woman, with a brute like Marley. Randall starts to move on to Jamie, while Marley starts draping himself over Claire. Now, this is Claire we’re talking about, and we know she’s not just going to take this lying down (and nor should she) so she throws him aside and throws herself on Randall, wrapping a chain around his neck. Jamie rallies and manages to jab Marley in the throat with a broken piece of wood. Randall, now thoroughly pissed off, thrusts Claire away, winding her, and then gets her up against a wall, prepared to rage-rape her. He makes sure Jamie’s watching, while Claire chokes and cries. Jamie screams for Randall to stop, and Randall tells him to make a better offer. Jamie offers up himself, if Claire is released safely. Claire sobs and begs Jamie not to do this.

Randall asks for a quick test of Jamie’s sincerity. Jamie agrees. Randall orders him to put his wrecked hand flat on the table. Claire gasps for him not to do it and Randall tells Jamie to silence her or Randall will do it. Jamie quietly says her name and she shuts up. Randall lets her go and she rushes to her husband, crying and moaning brokenly and wrapping her arms around him while Randall pulls a nail out of a broken piece of furniture and then proceeds to nail Jamie’s hand to the table. Oh. My. God.

Jamie is nearly unconscious from pain again, but Randall forces his head back and orders Jamie to kiss him. As Claire weeps, Randall clearly goes full tongue. Jamie rasps for Randall to take Claire away. ‘We shall all remember this moment for the rest of our lives,’ Randall tells him. Yes, that’s almost certainly true. Claire wails that she can’t leave Jamie. He says he loves her and kisses her forehead. Randall drags her to her feet and marches her down the hall while Jamie regards the wreckage of his left hand.

On her way out, Claire finds that steel spine of hers, as Randall says he heard recently that she was on trial for witchcraft. Claire, no longer crying, coldly says that’s true, and that she is, in fact, a witch. To prove it, she’ll tell him the exact hour of his death. ‘Jonathan Wolverton Randall, born September 3, 1705, dies…’ She whispers in his ear, and he looks horrified. That was pretty badass, Claire. He shoves her through a trapdoor, which is apparently where they toss the bodies post-hanging. As she gets to her feet, she finds herself surrounded by them, including Taran’s. Gasping and panting, she drags herself out of the pt and runs to the woods.

Back in the cell, Randall unlocks Jamie’s leg irons and promises Claire has gotten away safely. He pulls out a knife and cuts away Jamie’s shirt so he can look at his creation, which he declares a masterpiece. He finishes tearing away the shirt while Jamie—all naked horror—lets a single tear fall, knowing that this is going to be so beyond horrible. ‘Shall we begin?’ says Randall. AAAAAAAAAAARRRRGH!

Claire stumbles through the woods, calling for Murtaugh and Willie. Only the cries of wild animals answer her for a while, but then Rupert grabs her and takes her to the home of Sir Marcus, a friend of the Fraser clan who’s sheltering them for the night. Claire’s pretty much like, ‘great, a friend! How many men can you muster to storm a prison full of soldiers and save my husband? Couple of hundred, right? Surely?’ Marcus replies that he just offered up a guest room, not a frigging army. Pretty much the last thing he and his wife and kids need is for the redcoats to come knocking on their door. Fair enough. Claire offers to pay him and retrieves the pearl necklace Jamie gave her on their wedding night. Don’t forget, that is his mother’s pearl necklace, which meant a hell of a lot to him, and I can’t believe she’s just blithely offering them up like this, as if they’re just some trinket she’s been carrying around. I realise she’s hyper-focussed on getting Jamie back, but there should have at least been a second where she registered some hesitation or regret that it’s come to this. Make it at least seem like this is a bit meaningful. But it doesn’t matter anyway, because it turns out the pearls were a gift to Jamie’s mother from Marcus, who was also in love with her (seriously? We’re doing the ‘I loved Jamie’s mother so much, I gave her jewellery on her wedding day and now I shall risk life and limb to save her son!’ thing again?) (Also, I should point out that pearls were crazy expensive at this time, so that was a very serious gift.) Strangely, Marcus is surprised to learn that Jamie was Ellen MacKenzie’s son. I thought he was a friend of the clan? He doesn’t know that they’re after the laird? Even if he’s a friend of the MacKenzies instead, this still makes little sense. Didn’t these guys explain at all what they were doing there? Anyway, he still doesn’t think he can help them, so Willie says it’ll just have to be the five of them. Claire tells them about the door she left open at the prison, which is great and all, but they need an actual plan of attack here. While they think about that, a servant or something whom Marcus sent out that morning to retrieve 40 missing cattle returns with only 19. Marcus yells at him, while Murtaugh looks at the cattle, laughs, and tells the others he has an idea.

What…what just happened? I’m having so much trouble reconciling this episode, with all its finely acted brutality, with the goofiness of the previous hour. I appreciate that this show is so versatile (this week it’s a sexy romance! This week it’s about sexual politics in marriage! This week it’s about actual politics! Now it’s a buddy road trip comedy!) but I find myself experiencing quite the mood whiplash strain sometimes. Having said that, this was a damn fine hour of television: taunt, brutal, quick-moving, and featuring actors who seriously brought their A-games (and on that subject, can Tobias Menzies get nominated for something please? Because the only reason Randall isn’t a completely ridiculous cartoon villain is because of his excellent performance.) Still, I really hope never to have to watch that again, because damn. Just…damn.

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