Sunday, May 17, 2015

Episode 115: "Wentworth Prison" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 115 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled “Wentworth Prison”. I thought the acting and the writing in this episode were superb! Sam and Tobias, especially, were just riveting throughout, and Caitriona was excellent as well. I had tears in my eyes more than once.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.

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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."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 8, "Unlaid Ghosts and Crocodiles". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) You may recall that Jamie tells Claire about watching executions at Wentworth:
"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?”

(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 liked the slow-motion bit where BJR looks at Jamie, as if realizing, "I've got him now."

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.”

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter  21, "Untimely Resurrection". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"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.

"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?"
"STOP!!!"
"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:


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"

15 comments:

Anne said...

I agree with everything you've said about his amazing episode Karen. I was also shocked when it ended, partly because it was so riveting and partly because there is so much left for the last episode. I can't wait!!

Karen Charbonneau said...

Ah, Karen, you see so much more than I do. Will definitely watch it again. Wonderful recap with your book memory. Would love to see you on a quiz show with the subject: Diana Gabaldon's novels. I, too, wondered about which hand was smashed in the book compared to the show. Guess there was no teaching Sam to handle a sword with his left hand. Rome was good - I'd forgotten Tobias played Brutus; just recall him from Game of Thrones. Glad to have gotten through this one, as riveting as it was.

Ellen Overman said...

As always a great recap. Thank you for that.
I think cast and crew did an amazing job on covering this part of the book. It's hard to watch but it belongs to the story.
I agree with you that I was surprised when this episode ended. I expected to see some more of the rescue in this episode. Like you said: there is still so much left for the last episode. But I'm sure they will do a great job with the last one too.
Kind regards
Ellen Overman
Netherlands

Bev Sykes said...

Is Claire's vomiting outside the prison a clue that she is pregnant?

I wondered about the left hand smash too but figured Sam must be right handed.

I had to go get the book and read the scene after watching it. They sure got it right. And yes, there is a ton to cover in the final episode. Is it going to be 2 hrs?

mountaingirl1961 said...

Hark ye back to Jamie skipping stones... he was right handed doing it.

Immense, intense episode, Emmy-worthy for all three leads. The power of the acting is such that you don't even *think* about the strength of their work until well after you've finished watching the episode.

I have no idea how they're going to get through everything else that happens in the book in an hour, but based on the strength of this episode I trust them to do it well.

Belinda said...

Once again, i enjoyed reading your re-cap Karen. I was actually looking forward to the part where Claire fights off the wolves and was a bit disappointed when that didn't appear. I wanted to see how they would film something like this. I heard the wolves howling and thought, here it is!

I hope the final episode is more than an hour that's for sure.

Sherry said...

My stomach was in knots when Jamie had the noose around his neck, even though I knew he wouldn't hang. The acting was superb. When Jamie could barely look at Claire after the kiss, just-"take her away." I held my breath several times during the episode and was torn up completely when the single tear fell down Jamie's face. It was so emotional throughout. Hard to watch, but excellent.

SharonA said...

Hi, I just discovered your website and hope you will put up with some digressions. I started thinking about a movie of this series when I started reading the books 10 years ago and wondered what I was going to read when I finished them, nothing was ever going to compare (and it hasn't). I have read most of your reviews and agree with most of what you say and am embarrassed to say I didn't pick up on the puppet show till after i read your review. I was so nervous when I first heard there was going to be a series, since most film versions fall so far short of the book, but I have been ecstatic with the production, the photography, costumes, sets (love the furniture, tapestries on the walls and so many interior shots reminded me of Vermeer paintings) scenery, direction, acting have all been far beyond my expectations, but knowing that Ronald Moore had a background of working on Star Trek which has very attentive and vocal fans who pick up on any discrepancies made me more conifdent with him being in charge. He would know how angry and vocal his audience would be if he screwed this up!

Catriona has either gotten better or I have come to appreciate her talent more as the series goes on. She has such an expressive face (as Jamie says, you can read everything she thinks in her face). I loved the personality change as she was singing and the mischevous (sp) look in her eyes. I held my breath till the middle of Leoch to see how Sam was going to do as Jamie, physically he sure fits the bill, but he had to have the humor, innocence and intelligence of Jamie to carry it off and he really has. I wish there had been time to include the 2 scenes of him with Hamish asking about being married and with wee Jamie learning how to aim
! I think they show that he would be a wonderful father and would have made his reaction to Claire saying she probably couldn't have children even more poignant.

Dougal is turning into a real stinker as I knew was coming but (ach-brain just died, the actor's name just flew away) is wonderful, georgous and absolutely riveting, I do agree, having Dougal fall completely apart after Maura died just didn't ring true.

Like everyone I was very nervous about this latest episode and spent a lot of time looking at the ceiling and cringing. I am surprised that it ended where it did and don't see how they will fit everything that is left in the book into one hour. Marley could have been even more disgusting as he was in the book, even with the sniffing of the fingers--ugh!

Two things I haven't seen commented on: 1. everyone has perfect teeth, Diana spent so much time talking about rotten and missing teeth that I expected at least a few people to have yukky mouths. and 2. Did anyone else notice in the flogging scenes that even with the blood running down Jamie's back and onto the platform his tartan was completely clean.

Thanks for your reviews and hoq are we going to survive till next season!!!

Illieny said...

I love your reviews!
Just a quick question/observation ..Am I mis remembering that its Jaime's right hand that is smashed ..and JBR's comment that he didn't realize Jaime was a leftie? (or he would have smashed the left) ..and then its his right hand that Claire does a second surgery on?

Hans said...

I haven't read the books but I LOVE this series - great acting, costumes, sets, locations, etc.! Like most viewers, I like to imagine that Jamie (or anybody) finally gets to kill the sadistic Captain Randall, but there's a problem with that wish. If Randall has a wife and children, no problem, otherwise consider this: Jack Randall is a direct ancestor of Claire's 20th century husband, Frank. If Jack Randall is killed BEFORE he has children, Frank Randall won't be born, meaning that he wouldn't have met and married Claire, the two of them wouldn't have gone on holiday to Scotland, Claire wouldn't have entered the stone circle, and she wouldn't have found herself in the 18th century or met Jamie! Killing a childless Jack Randall would completely negate and undo everything that's happened to her in the 18th century!

Tiffany Terry said...

i wondered too if the finale was going to be more than an hour. My mom and I were sitting listing all the things that have to happen before the end of the next episode and it's quite a bit.

And yeah I was totally confused at the left/right hand but duh what a simple explanation!! :o)

Cybergram said...

Hi Karen
Again, I loved your review! I, also, very much appreciate how you physically put it together for you readers!!
It was hard to watch, for sure; I've watched several times now...seeing something different every time I watch! I also turn on cc after my initial watching, because sometimes it's hard to understand all the dialog. I've also got a "cinema" feature on my TV, that bring the images closer without distorting the image! I like that very much. And, lastly I can alter the picture on my TV so things are not quite so dark & little things missed in viewing before, become more clear! I've done this with every episode.

Anyway, back to the review! I find, for myself, that I don't care so much if the story line or dialog of the series, completely matches the dialog in the book! But, I have to say that there are many, many lines I DO recognize! I do remember reading or hearing somewhere that Ron D Moore said that when they first started developing the Outlander series that they had a team who took out ONLY the dialog parts from the book! So in my mind that became their 1st draft of scripts. Then I wondered if that meant a lot of Claire's talking in the 1st person became a 2nd kind of script & then probably the descriptive part of the story became the 3rd kind of a script!
I think it's amazing how well this series has come together so beautifully! I know that there is a LOT more to cover in the final episode to come, but I imagine that there will be some voice overs or some way to convey passing of time spent in Jamie's rescue & in the the Monastery for his recovery! I am so happy that this series is pulling NO punches in the telling of Diana Gabaldon's so well loved written story pages!
Thanks again, Karen for your great review!!
Myrna

Cybergram said...

A thought I had that I forgot to include in my previous post is that, I didn't think that Claire tossed both the bolt & keys out that back door of Wentworth, but was just another part of the door lock mechanism along with the bolt. I thought she kept the keys in her hand as she needed some long key-like metal item to insert in Jamie's leg lock in order to try to beat it open to release him. Otherwise what else & where did she get what she was using to try to open that lock on his ankle? Thanks, again
Myrna

Leeann said...

Hans, you need to read the book! then you will know why your comment is so wrong :-)

Melanie said...

Read the books and all of that is explained.