‘Outlander’ Recap/Review: Episode 116, “To Ransom a Man’s Soul” (Season One Finale)

Official Episode 116

[This is not a spoiler-free review/recap of the episode. If you have not seen the episode yet, read it at your own spoiler risk.]
Episode 116,“To Ransom a Man’s Soul,” Written by Ira Steven Behr and Ronald D. Moore, Directed by Anna Foerster

I just want to give fair warning that this episode is not for the faint of heart. I am going to do my best to keep this review/recap as true to the episode as possible, but be warned that the episode is MUCH more graphic than what I’m willing to detail here. You can use your imagination if you haven’t had the chance to watch it yet. It is a very rough episode to watch, but I think they did a great job of being true to the novel and how it wrapped up, as well.

Recap:

The episode opens with a view of Wentworth Prison, drums sounding as if at a hanging, but then we realize that it’s for the raising of the flag, and it becomes a light tune with woodwinds added in. The soldiers present their rifles as the flag rises.

We cut to the cell and there’s poor Jamie, lying on a cot, his eyes blankly staring ahead. Randall is beside him on the cot. Even when he gets up and dresses, Jamie remains unmoved. Suddenly, he reminds Randall that he owes Jamie a favor. Randall pulls a knife from his pile of clothes, but is distracted by strange noises down the hall. Jamie starts to lose his composure as Randall turns to investigate the sound. He tries to move from the bed, but is hardly even able to move. Randall ignores him and leaves. The sounds grow louder as he approaches a door down a couple turns in the hall. On the other side of the door, however, is a stampede of cattle, which quickly overtakes the door and leaves Randall crushed beneath the fallen door.

As soon as Randall is down, Murtagh and his crew slip in and find Jamie. Murtagh covers him quickly, but it is clear that they all have a good idea of what happened in this cell. Murtagh reassures Jamie and then carries him out as the soldiers are dealing with the cattle. They escape on horses with a cart and meet up with Claire down the road. Murtagh doesn’t want to stop, but Claire insists on checking the damage done to her husband. She climbs into the back of the cart with him and moves the sheet. Her face is pained as she surveys the signs of abuse on Jamie. One of the men mentions that Jamie smells and she identifies it as lavender oil and that it’s to relieve pain. Murtagh sends one of the men back to watch the road while they get ready to head out. Jamie wakes for a moment, but when Claire comforts him, he sees Randall instead of her and strangles her. He is clearly both angry and terrified. Murtagh pulls him away and notices that Jamie is delirious. They speak back and forth in Gaelic for a moment, but that’s all the info Claire can get from Murtagh about what Jamie is saying. They quickly move on.

They pull up to a monastery where a Father has promised them sanctuary and safety. He cuts Claire off to let her know that everything she needs to treat Jamie is already ready for her. Jamie continues to fight them, though, leading one of the monks helping her to believe that his soul is in turmoil. Claire hears him, but focuses on the physical ailment of his hand, an issue she more readily knows how to treat. He flinches from her and insists again that she not touch him. Claire begs him to talk to her, but he’s cryptic in his response.

Jamie flashes back to his hand being nailed to the table, the last place we saw him in the previous episode. There are rats all over the floor and the dead body of Randall’s sidekick. Randall is watching Jamie and shares his flask with him, not allowing him to drink all of it, though. He says he wants to make Jamie more comfortable, so he pulls the nail from his hand. Jamie is overcome by the pain and falls away from the table, vomiting. Randall cradles him tenderly, contradicting what he had said in the previous episode by telling him that the worst was now over. Randall puts a little water on Jamie’s forehead and admires his half-naked body. He kisses Jamie again and, when he gets no response, tries a third time. Jamie continues to resist and Randall complains that it’s like kissing a corpse. He threatens to retrieve Claire, but Jamie insists that his side of the agreement was that he wouldn’t resist Randall’s advances. Randall likens this to the martyrdom of Jesus on the cross, but he is determined to make Jamie respond. He picks him up and moves him to the table, sitting him in a chair.

Randall kneels before Jamie, pushing aside his kilt. Jamie shows some anxiety, but Randall shushes him while coaxing his legs apart. Jamie won’t look and barely keeps his composure as Randall caresses up his thigh. Randall asks him if his hand feels nice and then moves under the kilt so we can’t see him anymore. Jamie’s face is teary, pained, as he tries not to respond. Randall uses his hand again while watching and speaking to Jamie. He comments that he wants to make this experience pleasant for both of them. Jamie gets angry and finally tells him to just take his pleasure, spitting in Randall’s face. Randall seems to have his feelings hurt, but then grows angry, too. He is clearly offended and insists that he is capable to controlling his urges. He removes Jamie’s kilt and roughly bends him over the table, undoing his belt. He insists he’ll get a reaction from Jamie and then forces himself on him, being rough and telling him to scream. He grows rougher until Jamie does just that.

We flash back to Jamie and Claire as he is drinking something. The monk advises Jamie to listen to Claire, but he continues being belligerent. She takes the bottle from him, reminding him that she’s about to set his hand. He admits that he wanted to be dead by the time Randall was done with him. Claire is equally stubborn and insists on setting the head, no matter what Jamie says. Jamie uses a similar phrase with her that he used with Randall earlier, “do as you wish”. Claire is shocked by his apathy and takes the pain medication from him as he tries to take too much of it. He drifts off again as she prepares and then we hear Claire’s voice over talking about the process. She mentions that it’s different to be working on her husband than on the soldiers from the war. She also remembers Jamie saying that he could take any pain, but that he would need greater strength to see her in pain. She equates this to the strength they both needed now. She’s worried about infection, but is hopeful about the prognosis for his hand. The monk offers to stay with Jamie so Claire can sleep. As Claire leaves, she is sick against the wall and struggles to keep her tears under control.

Claire isn’t sleeping, but is in a small chapel when one of the monks comes in to light some candles. She gets up to leave, but he apologizes for disturbing her prayers. She explains that she was just trying to clear her head, so he offers for her to sit and let him hear her confession. She resists at first, afraid it won’t make sense, but he convinces her to try. So she tells him everything, about the time traveling and the two husbands. The part she seems to struggle most with is that her selfishness is hurting both of her husbands, especially blaming herself for everything that has happened to Jamie. Claire is crying by the time she finishes talking, but the monk touches her hand to comfort her and calls her a miracle. It is not what she was expecting. He tells her to trust that the Lord sees her and her truth and that any sins she truly is guilty of will be forgiven, and the absolves her of her sins.

Back in Jamie’s room, he still refuses to eat. The monk tells Claire about Jamie’s continued stubbornness. Claire tells Jamie that he needs food and touches his forehead. Jamie seems out of it and she confirms he has a fever. However, his hand seems to be fine. She tells him about what the process of fixing his hand will be like, but he isn’t listening. She asks the monk for some ice water and clean clothes to help the fever and reduce infection, so the monk leaves to fetch these things. Jamie informs her that she can’t save a man who doesn’t want saving.

In another part of the monastery, the guys are offering Murtagh a drink to take his mind off Jamie not eating. One of them tells a story about how his uncle lost his arm in an accident and starved himself to death fretting over it, which, funny enough, does not comfort him. Murtagh goes to Jamie with a bowl of broth, but he won’t touch it. Instead they begin conversing in Gaelic. Murtagh is clearly trying to reason with Jamie about something, but becomes upset with him and says Claire’s name, but nothing else is clear.

Jamie remembers back to the cell again, where he is dragging himself across the floor, vomiting blood. Randall watches without his shirt, sitting on the floor. He asks Jamie if he has reached his limit yet. Jamie continues spitting blood, groaning in pain, as he starts seeing Claire instead of Randall. Randall wonders aloud at the power Claire has over Jamie and wants to know her secret. Jamie begins to lose it, talking about her being gone and no more. Randall pulls Jamie back and asks him if he belongs to Randall. Jamie sees Claire again and admits to being only his. Jamie is out of it, so Randall seems less than satisfied. Randall heats his seal in the fire and tells Jamie to prove it, pointing to Jamie’s chest, over his heart. But when Jamie gives in, he slips it to his ribs instead. Randall holds him as Jamie is in pain, but he still doesn’t seem happy.

So far the British aren’t coming towards the monastery, but know they will be heading there soon. Murtagh suggests Claire takes him elsewhere, another country. Both sides of his family have people in France, and one of the men points out that she is supposed to have family there, too. She explains it away as being her ex-husband’s family, not hers, but agrees to seek out the Fraser connections there. They assure her that the MacKenzies will always stand by her, too. Murtagh leaves to get them a ship.

One of the men brings news of the trip to France to Jamie. He wants to help, but Jamie sees his knife and asks for it so he can end himself. The young man is shocked, but won’t give in to Jamie and leaves. Murtagh tells Claire about procuring passage. Claire recounts the story and asks if Murtagh knew about Jamie’s intentions. Murtagh says he wanted to tell Claire, but that Jamie made him pledge not to. Murtagh’s been praying that Claire could change Jamie’s mind. Claire clearly doesn’t understand. Murtagh tries to explain where Jamie is coming from, but Claire refuses to accept it. Murtagh suggests that there must be more going on with Jamie than either of them have guessed at yet. He tells Claire that he’s sorry, that he doesn’t want to hurt either of them, but he also doesn’t want to watch Jamie waste away. He insinuates that he’ll put Jamie out of his misery if he is beyond help. Claire faints at those words, but Murtagh catches her.

Official Episode 116

 

Murtagh and the monk bring her back and Claire tries to get up from the bench they have her on. She is still preoccupied with Jamie’s physical damage, but the monk suggests that Jamie will kill himself if he isn’t brought back into the light. Murtagh knows Jamie’s stubbornness, though, and suggests that someone has to step into the darkness with him to save him. We see Claire preparing some oil of lavender. She uses it on Jamie, trying to trick him into thinking Randall is back. Jamie sees through it, though, and resists her. She wants to know what happened, but Jamie shoves her to the floor and they hit each other back and forth a couple of times. He doesn’t want to hurt her, but she gets mad and tells him he already is. She rips his shirt and sees the brand on his side. She tries to understand, tells him they can remove it, but there is more bothering him. We learn that Randall made love to him and that his response is what is truly bothering him.

We see Jamie on the cot in the cell while Randall washes himself and then returns with the lavender oil. He gets Jamie to finally respond to him by pretending he is Claire. He makes Jamie think of Claire while he touches him. He succeeds in confusing the delirious Jamie and tricks him into tying them in his mind. Afterwards, Jamie realizes what happened and fears Claire will never forgive him.

Jamie feels horrible and explains that it just felt so good not to be in paid anymore. Claire insists that there is nothing to forgive, but he insists that he doesn’t feel he can still be her husband now, but refuses to be anything less either. Claire sees it as survival, but Jamie feels broken. She insists they belong to each other and nothing can change that. He grows angrier, torn between wanting her and shame. Claire won’t let him go or give up on her. She moves to him and grabs his face, reminding him about his vow to protect her with his body. She refuses to let Randall have Jamie’s soul, too. She believes that everything that’s happened was to bring them together and if he takes that from her, she’ll die with him. This brings him around, but he still can’t touch her. He wonders why she loves him while he’s like this. Insists she always wants him, no matter the way, and he holds her.

Jamie refuses pain medication, looking much more like himself, as they prepare to cut the brand from his side. Murtagh cuts it out and throws it on the fire as Jamie spits on it and we watch it burn.

The men say farewell as Jamie and Claire get ready for the ship. There’s some humor and some awkwardness, but finally the couple and Murtagh are on the ship for France. On the deck of the ship, Jamie approaches Claire who is near the railing. He comments on her being seasick, though he expected it to be himself. She’s glad to see his humor is returning as he teases her. She reminds him that they’ll both be all right and he assures her he’ll be sure of it. She admits having fear of the future being unknown and he promises her they’ll return to Scotland one day. She’s afraid for the future of Scotland, though, but then realizes that they might be able to stop all the bad things that are coming. France gives them this opportunity with Prince Charles being there. He is intrigued by the idea, but not completely convinced. She then shocks him by telling him that she is pregnant. He looks terrified at first, but then tells her that he’s happy, despite everything they’ve been through. She is visibly relieved. They hug, they kiss, and then they hold each other as we watch the ship, Cristabel, get underway.

Review:

Interestingly enough, I don’t have much to say about this episode. I thought it was wonderfully done. It made me cringe in horror at all the right places, but then brought me back from that dark place to an ending that made me feel like things can be okay, despite all the evil. I was very pleased with how they wrapped up the season. I really can’t say anything even slightly negative about it. All I know is that I am very excited to see the next season already! I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did!

See more photos from the show here.

  • Shelly Leit

    Thank you for the synopsis. I can’t see the episode until tomorrow and actually dread watching it. I hope this is the end of both of our main characters being tortured and hurt!

  • Anne

    I thought it was great – well done to Ronald Moore, Sam and Caitriona, Tobias, all the other actors, and of course Diana. Not as graphic as I was expecting, considering how awful the book’s description of Randall’s torture of Jaime is. But just enough visuals in the show to make it realistic, and I think it follows the book pretty flawlessly. Looking forward to season 2, and hope the second part of season one comes out on DVD soon so I can watch the whole thing all together. I am sure there are some people who think, ‘oh, that’s awful, how can people watch this!” but they seem to forget that it’s a pretty historically accurate telling, and violence against the Scottish by the British. There are incidents of assault on women, violence, rapine, and graphic fighting – there was even the crucifixion of a couple of Scottish citizens by the British, I think in the “Rent” episode (no one seemed too upset about that). I think they did a fantastic job adapting the books to TV. Thank you Starz for carrying the show!

  • Cball Nunya

    Was very disturbing to watch. Rape should not be portrayed so graphically,

    • Anne

      Ummm, have you read the books? Remember too that this is basically one people conquering another – British vs. Scottish – and as modern-day people we cannot begin to fathom what life was like 200 years ago. Humans are notorious for cruelty to other humans – and its’ still going on. You can’t live in a bubble nowadays and think, oh how awful they show that on TV – it’s a pretty accurate portrayal I am sure. As we speak I’m sure there are things like this going on but we are so distanced from it that we can’t even imagine it. People watch graphic violence on TV & in video games, and listen to violently graphic music, so how it this different? And they did have a strong disclaimer at the beginning, so if you weren’t sure about the show’s content perhaps you shouldn’t have watched it.

    • Lyanna

      There is no way to sugar coat rape. It is what it is.

  • Heather McNeil

    The acting was fantastic as usual! However, I do feel that it was unbalanced. I am really missing some of the pivotal moments and conversations between Jamie and Claire on his road back to her. Acting was amazing given the content. Hoping to feel and see more of the connection between the two of them in season two. Still so happy that my favorite book has been brought to life.

  • Fran Zahniser

    I thought the acting on everyone’s part was superb and I probably went through every emotion possible in the course of one hour. I’m not bothered with BJRs full frontal. If anything, it punctuated what you could see on his face, in his walk… he was strutting…he won! It wasn’t just showing rape, it explored the aftermath of that kind of degredation and violence. My only complaint is that I wish they had spent more time on Jamie’s healing process. The process of recovery generally takes longer than the physical and emotional trauma. If the finale had been a longer episode they could have given that the time it deserved.

  • Cat Mckenzie

    My feelings after last nights episode was that when DG goes to her Darkside she really plunges deeply , that in itself is scary . This episode was so very difficult to watch. When the reader falls in love with the characters, like Jamie and Claire, and something horrific happens to them it is difficult not only to watch but to feel what that characters going through. There’s no doubt in my mind that both Sam and Tobias dug extremely deep to portray this heinous crime against humanity . As soon as the episode was over, despite being lifted by the “Healion Coos” in all their shaggy glory and our hero and heroine sailing off into the sunset ,I turned off the TV , I had to let my shoulders , my face and my emotions relax .

  • Lori

    Truth…the finale and the previous fifteen episodes were all leading to the truth. When she wrote Outlander, Diana Gabaldon knew that the love Jamie and Claire had for each other would see them through anything. That’s a truth. When Claire professed to Jamie that they were meant for each other, it was the truth, the one we all knew but had not heard her say. The episode was beautiful, painful, brilliant and powerful. Truth.

    A one of a kind book led to a one of kind television series the likes of which we have not seen before and may never again. There is not enough praise to do the creators, writers, directors, producers, actors and crew justice. Outlander isn’t simply a television series, it’s an experience. Forget the blood, guts, violence and gore. This is a love story from the roots up. It is about the love of spouse, friend, family and country. Even the vilest of villains wanted love…at least love as he understood it.

    Truth…every single actor in this series was beyond superb, no matter the size of their role. Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies have raised the bar to an unbeatable height. Stripped to the bone (no pun intended), theirs were rare and raw performances to be certain. The truth of their story was there in all its dark disturbing glory.

    Bravo to all for an outstanding season. Oddly enough, it was Black Jack Randall that said it best…”The truth carries a weight that no lie can counterfeit.” Truth.

  • aussiesuzie

    Thank You for this brave,realistic finish of Outlander book 1,I liked the ending although the healing process was rather short,but this is TV adaptation Sam,Tobias&Cait were just brilliant in their roles,they went up a notch especially Sam,it had it all in it,as a morale good man gets broken by a sadist,but true love won on the end so kudos to Sam!

  • Rosenmops

    I wish there had been a love scene between Claire and Jamie at the end to balance out the horrific rape scene.