Episode 115: "Wentworth Prison" (SPOILERS)
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
The display of chains and what looks like medieval instruments of torture in the opening scene is chilling, especially by contrast to the lighthearted puppet show from the opening of last week's episode.
Wentworth Prison looks both forbidding and impregnable. As well it should!
I thought the scene with the prisoners being hanged was very well done. I especially liked Jamie's line, "What grieves me is to think my wife will never forgive me for foolishly gettin' myself hung," and MacQuarrie's defiant last words.
Yanking on the hanged man's legs to hasten death reminds me of Lord John doing just that for Bates in BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE. <g>
This hanging scene isn't in OUTLANDER, but (interestingly enough) it does appear, at least to me, to be based on a couple of bits from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. Whether that was intentional or not, I'm not sure, but here are two examples:
1) MacQuarrie's line, "Nothing like being hung to make your tossel (?) stand up solid as an oak", and the discussion that follows, immediately made me think of Jamie's memory of BJR's words, taunting him:
“You’ll go to your death with your arse burning from my pleasure, and when you lose your bowels, it will be my spunk running down your legs and dripping on the ground below the gallows."2) You may recall that Jamie tells Claire about watching executions at Wentworth:
(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 8, "Unlaid Ghosts and Crocodiles". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"They marched us down to the courtyard; those of us in the condemned cell. And made us stand in rows on the stones, to watch an execution. They hanged six men that day, men I knew. I watched each man mount the steps--twelve steps, there were--and stand, hands bound behind his back, looking down at the yard as they put the rope around his neck. And I wondered then, how I would manage come my turn to mount those steps. Would I weep and pray, like John Sutter, or could I stand straight like Willie MacLeod, and smile at a friend in the yard below?”I liked the slow-motion bit where BJR looks at Jamie, as if realizing, "I've got him now."
(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 23, "The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men..." Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I didn't care for the bit where Jamie was trying to free himself from the irons by brute force. Surely he can see that it's futile, and wouldn't it be better to conserve his strength?
Frazer Hines is excellent as Sir Fletcher Gordon. For those of you who don't know, Frazer Hines is the actor who played a young Scotsman named Jamie in that long-ago DOCTOR WHO episode that inspired Diana Gabaldon to set her "practice novel" in 18th century Scotland. <g> (See Diana's blog post from 2010 for more information about Frazer Hines and the DOCTOR WHO connection.) I thought it was a great idea to give him a role in the TV series.
This scene between Claire and Sir Fletcher is very much as I imagined from the book. Caitriona does a wonderful job here. The instant Sir Fletcher leaves the room, Claire comes close to breaking down, and it's clear that she's keeping control of herself only with great effort.
"The prisoner's personal effects" -- notice the little wooden snake on top.
Claire's reaction when she gets outside is taken straight from the book.
The bantering between Rupert and Angus is enjoyable, as always, but Murtagh was right to put a stop to it. This isn't the time for joking around!
I liked the way they kept alternating between Claire's point of view and Jamie's throughout this episode. Very efffective! Now we're back to Jamie. BJR looks more than cheerful in this scene, smiling at Jamie as though he can barely contain his delight.
That petition of complaint is a very long document! I was not at all surprised to see BJR burn it to ashes.
I liked the scene with Murtagh and Claire searching the office.
"May I call you Jamie?" Randall's tone is absolutely polite, but I can't help hearing Jamie's words from DRAGONFLY in my head:
"I am called Lord Broch Tuarach for formality’s sake,” the soft Scottish voice above me said. “And beyond the requirements of formality, you will never speak to me again--until you beg for your life at the point of my sword. Then, you may use my name, for it will be the last word you ever speak.”"If ye're expectin' me to beg for my life, ye'll be sorely disappointed." Good line, but like many parts of this episode, it's full of foreshadowing.
(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "Untimely Resurrection". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"Do I haunt your dreams?" My thought when I heard this was, Maybe not yet, but you will, you BASTARD!!
The next bit is one of my favorite parts of the whole episode.
"When you lie upon your wife, and her hands trace the scars upon your back--" This is a BRILLIANT bit of camera work, amazingly well done and very creative! It's easy to get distracted by that and miss BJR's next words. "--do you ever think of me, and soften?" More foreshadowing, and a reminder, for those of us who have read the books, that the psychological effects of this ordeal are going to linger for a long, long time.
"You could have a Roman death. Fall on your sword like Brutus." Hearing Tobias Menzies say this line actually made me laugh out loud, because it's clearly meant as a reference to his playing the part of Brutus in HBO's ROME a few years ago. (He was excellent in that role, and I would definitely recommend the series, if you haven't seen it already.)
"But first you must give me your surrender." I loved the way Jamie looks at him, young and cocky and full of self-confidence, with no idea what's coming next. This is almost our last glimpse of his pre-Wentworth self, and I savored it, knowing that everything is about to change now.
Meanwhile, Murtagh clouts the guard over the head (his specialty, at least in the TV series <g>). I liked the part where Claire goes sneaking through the corridors in search of Jamie, though I kept muttering, "Too late! Too late too late TOO LATE!!"
"I won't surrender. To you or any man." Good line, but BJR is going to take that as a challenge.
I didn't expect the fight with Marley to happen then, but the way it's choreographed is clearly based on the description in the book. Interesting that BJR has to stop Marley from choking Jamie. ("Idiot! You could have killed him!")
When Randall picked up the mallet, I couldn't breathe at first. This was so incredibly hard to watch! I cried out, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!" with each blow.
I liked the way the camera shows Jamie's vision going in and out of focus. But it's what happens next that I totally did not expect.
Randall puts Jamie's good hand on his crotch. "Can you feel that?" (I shuddered with revulsion as he moved Jamie's hand up and down.) "I could take you right now." But then he shakes his head. "I will not give in to coarse passion." And then, FINALLY, he's gone.
I liked the fact that Claire stumbled by accident across the door leading to the outside. And then she has the presence of mind to drop the key outside on the grass before she goes back in.
Notice the rat scuttling across the dungeon floor.
The scene where Claire finds Jamie is very much like the book, and I'm glad they kept so much of it intact. Ditto for the part with BJR and Claire. The dialogue is almost word-for-word from the book, but the subtle little touches, like BJR running a finger across her lips, or taking her hair down, add to the horror of the situation, especially when you recall how much he looks like Frank.
The bit with the two soldiers is not in the book, but it helps to explain how Randall is able to get away with torturing Jamie without being found out by Sir Fletcher or anyone else.
The final confrontation between Claire, Jamie, and Randall is absolutely riveting, and VERY well done!
"Are you watching?"
"Make me a better offer."
At this point I started saying, "Oh God, oh God," over and over again. This is SO hard to watch! BJR forcing Jamie's mangled hand to lie flat on the tabletop, then saying calmly, as Jamie cries out, "I haven't even begun."
The nailing was much worse than I'd pictured, bloodier and even more difficult to watch than the crushing of Jamie's hand had been. I flinched and squeezed my eyes shut involuntarily with each blow.
Jamie and Claire's farewell is just heartbreaking, and yes, I had tears in my eyes through this part. It's VERY well done. I just wish they had been able to include more of the actual dialogue from the book here. I especially missed Jamie's line, "Claire, I'm to hang in the morning. What happens between now and then doesna matter to anyone." And Claire's reaction. (This is a minor quibble, really, and I'm not trying to nitpick. The scene as it appears on TV is emotionally wrenching and very effective, but I still prefer the book version, which always makes me cry.)
The scene with Claire and BJR in the corridor is really well done, very much as I always pictured it.
Wow, that was a long drop down from the trap door! Lucky Claire didn't sprain an ankle or something. Claire stumbling across MacQuarrie's corpse was unexpected, but I liked it.
Back to Jamie. To me, the look on Jamie's face when BJR cuts his shirt off says, "I will endure this because I must, as the price for Claire's life." We know from the book that he was trying very hard not to think at all.
"Shall we begin?" That made me shudder, knowing that Jamie's ordeal is far from over.
I'm glad they included the wolves howling in the distance, even if we didn't actually see Claire fighting off a wolf with her bare hands.
I like MacRannoch, and this scene is very close to the book. The pearls are prettier at close range than they appeared in Episode 107, but they're still not anything like what I imagined from the description in the book. Still, I'm glad they kept this part.
The sight of the cows made me smile, in spite of everything.
I definitely wasn't expecting the episode to end where it did! There's an awful lot of the book left to cover in just one more episode, but I can't wait to see the finale!
Finally, in case you're wondering why BJR smashes Jamie's left hand instead of his right, Maril Davis (@TallShipProds) explained on Twitter:
.@brianne1017 because we're not playing him as a lefty in the show, since Sam is right handed. @Outlander_Starz— Maril Davis (@TallShipProds) May 16, 2015
I hope you enjoyed this recap. What about the rest of you? I'd like to know what you thought about this episode. Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.
*** IMPORTANT NOTE: ***
There will be no new episode next week. The season finale, Episode 116, will be shown on STARZ on Saturday, May 30, 2015.
Here are my previous OUTLANDER episode recaps. Please come back on May 31st to see the last one!
Episode 101: "Sassenach"
Episode 102: "Castle Leoch"
Episode 103: "The Way Out"
Episode 104: "The Gathering"
Episode 105: "Rent"
Episode 106: "The Garrison Commander"
Episode 107: "The Wedding"
Episode 108: "Both Sides Now"
Episode 109: "The Reckoning"
Episode 110: "By the Pricking of My Thumbs"
Episode 111: "The Devil's Mark"
Episode 112: "Lallybroch"
Episode 113: "The Watch"
Episode 114: "The Search"