Sunday, May 31, 2015

Episode 116: "To Ransom a Man's Soul" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 116 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled “To Ransom a Man's Soul”. (This is the season finale.)

The acting was SUPERB throughout this episode! Sam and Tobias's scenes together were raw, powerful, emotionally intense -- and courageous on both their parts. Caitriona was wonderful, too. I liked what they did with the script. Yes, there are plenty of changes, just as Diana Gabaldon warned us, but they managed to capture the essence of this part of the book, and I think it works very well indeed!

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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

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I liked the opening shot of the seal (used in the branding scene), the rosary, and the bottle of oil of lavender very much. It's especially meaningful after you've seen the episode!

That first glimpse of Jamie is just heartbreaking. The expression in his eyes -- he looks as though he wants very badly to be dead. And then the camera angle widens and we see Randall lying naked beside him. I shuddered all over when I saw that.

I really did NOT want to see BJR fully naked (not out of prudishness, but because of my feelings about his character), but I don't think it was gratuitous nudity, just raw honesty. And it takes guts for an actor to do that.

As Jamie watches BJR leaving, he says, "You owe me a debt." And then, "Please." It's clear he means that he wants BJR to kill him.

I loved the cattle stampede! It was better than I've always imagined, in fact.

Claire wearing men's clothing took me by surprise. I can understand wanting to disguise herself so that she looks like a man at a distance to any Redcoats who might be pursuing them, but I was still taken aback a bit.

The way Jamie sees Claire's face blending with BJR's (in the scene in the wagon, and throughout this episode) is very effective.

"What did Randall do to you?" "Too much, and not enough." Great line!

The scene where BJR pulls the nail out of Jamie's hand was hard to watch. And it appeared to me that Jamie fell on the injured hand (owwwww!) But the way BJR cradled him so gently, like a child, murmuring, "It's all right, the worst is over now, you'll see", made my skin crawl with revulsion.

"Dear God. You are a magnificent creature." My instant reaction was, yes, and you RUINED him, you bastard!! (Jamie may eventually find the strength within himself to forgive Randall. I don't think I ever will.)

"It's like kissing a corpse. You can do better than that." And then he taps him on the nose like a small boy. Those tiny gestures add so much to Tobias's performance. He's just mesmerizing to watch!

The first rape scene was so hard to watch, but Jamie's reactions throughout are just perfect -- heartbreaking! I was not expecting him to spit in BJR's face, but I liked that, because it proves his spirit still exists.

"Scream. Scream!" And he does, finally. That was horrible. Very intense and difficult to watch, but I didn't look away. (Watching this, I had a sudden memory of the infamous scene in the stable in LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE: "I could make you scream." So this is what Jamie was remembering. I don't think I'll ever be able to read that bit in BOTB again without thinking of this scene from the TV show.)

I liked the next scene with Jamie and Claire. Although it's different from the book, I think the use of laudanum works well here. It gives us a chance to concentrate on what Claire is doing (not just the surgery itself, but her voice-over, which is taken straight from the book) without being distracted by Jamie's agony during the surgery. And I liked the way they showed Jamie hearing fragments of BJR's voice in memory as he's slipping into unconsciousness.

Claire throwing up immediately after the surgery -- is that stress, or morning sickness?

I'm glad they included the scene in the chapel with Claire and Father Anselm, even though it doesn't address the question of Claire's adultery/bigamy. Diana Gabaldon fought hard to have this scene included, but she didn't get everything she wanted, as she explained on Compuserve here.

"Through my selfishness, I've brought great suffering to both my husbands." Good line.

"Eight months ago" -- Claire went through the stones on Samhain, in the TV series, so that means it's around July 1744 now.

I liked the montage as Claire tells her story to Father Anselm. It reminds me a bit of Jamie telling stories about his family on their wedding night. Father Anselm is much older than I expected, but I liked him.

Back in the sickroom, Jamie has a fever. It's the wrong time of year for snow, so Claire asks for "the coldest water you can find."

"Ye canna save a man that doesna want saving." Good line, but chilling!

The scene between Murtagh and Jamie in Gaidhlig is fascinating to watch, even if I don't understand a word of what they're saying. (See the translation here.) Murtagh is very good here.

Another flashback: "Have you reached your limit yet?" BJR is very calm, almost clinical, as though he's conducting a scientific experiment.

I liked the way Jamie reaches for Claire and her face melts into BJR's. "She's gone," Jamie whispers. "There's no more Claire." Heartbreaking!

BJR's mind games ("Are you mine?") are just sickening, revolting, but undeniably effective.  Still, even under torture, Jamie can't stop loving Claire. ("You [seeing Claire in his mind]...there's only you.") I found that reassuring.

Lovely shot of BJR's face in firelight, as he blows on the fire in the brazier.

The branding scene is much more intense than I imagined from the book. "Show me you're mine." Jamie nods as though mesmerized, but then he manages to turn the red-hot signet away at the last moment, so that the brand falls on his side, not over his heart. I was very glad to see that!

I liked this line, in reference to Jamie's cousin Jared: "The man's a merchant. He couldn't fight sleep."

The scene with Willie and Jamie was well done. Willie is very earnest, trying to do the right thing, but Jamie clearly wants to die.

I liked the scene with Murtagh and Claire very much.

"I'll not watch Jamie waste away, die like an animal in the woods with his foot caught in a trap!" Great line. And Claire faints -- is that a sign of early pregnancy, or only a combination of extreme stress and tight stays?

I liked the scene where Claire makes the oil of lavender. She is a wise-woman, after all. <g>

The confrontation between Claire and Jamie is a terrific scene, very intense! Yes, there are differences from the book, but I think the way it's done here works very well. Caitriona is just wonderful throughout this whole sequence.

"These are Claire's hands. Think of Claire." I'm shuddering all over, again. And watching BJR masturbating, preparing to rape Jamie yet again, makes me feel sick. The way he uses his hair to evoke Claire's presence is just horrible....but at the same time, it's an interesting twist on the way it's done in the book, where Claire evokes BJR's "ghost" (his voice, his scent, his touch) in order to get Jamie to fight back. And it is very much consistent with Jamie's description in the book of how BJR would not stop talking about Claire, but kept her image always before him.

"Say my name" -- and this time Jamie's body responds, and BJR, seeing it, deliberately makes it worse by saying, "How could she ever forgive you?"

I absolutely loved Claire's reaction: "You belong to no one else but me. And I belong to you. And nothing will ever change that!" Wonderful quote, one of my favorites in the whole series.

"We were meant to be together....It's all been for you and me." I love this, too. (Yes, I'm a hopeless romantic where J&C's relationship is concerned....)

"How can you have me like this?" "I'll have you any way I can. Always!" Another terrific pair of lines! And when Jamie finally reached out and put his good arm around her, I had tears in my eyes.

Murtagh is very good with a blade! I was so glad to see that sickening brand tossed in the fire.

"Keepin' you and Jamie out of harm's way proves to be a full-time occupation." Good line from Rupert. I also liked the gallant way he kissed Claire's hand in farewell. Angus's antics in this scene made me smile. I'm going to miss these two! They're always entertaining to watch.

Claire is puking again. This time it really does seem like morning sickness.

"I believe we can do anything we want, just as long as we're together." Another great line, and finally Jamie gives her a half-smile.

Jamie's reaction to the news of Claire's pregnancy is very good. And they sail off into the proverbial sunset together. <g> I loved the music at the end, with a vocal arrangement of the series theme song that I've never heard before.

This episode was riveting and very emotionally intense, but it left me feeling hopeful at the end. I'm so glad they didn't end with a cliffhanger! It's going to be a long, long wait for Season 2 (no, we still have no idea when the next season will air on STARZ -- keep in mind they've only been filming about three weeks) but I'm happy with the way this season ended.

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.

Here are my previous OUTLANDER episode recaps:

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"
Episode 115: "Wentworth Prison"

12 comments:

rynawolfe said...

Karen, I'm always a bit in awe of you and your knowledge of the books. I also love that you tend to have a very level-headed take on the series. You may not always agree with how something is done, but you never come across as whining about it. I think this review is spot on....It was well done...Thanks for taking the time to put out another great review!

Bev Sykes said...

I was eager to read your thoughts this morning, and they made me cry, remembering. What an amazing finale. Though I have read the books several times, I don't have the total recall that you do and so differences don't bother me as long as the general intent is there. They could not end in the hot spring, for example, because it would have meant that whole thing done in the nude and that would have distracted. I was confused about Clair's men's pants and found it jarring on first viewing until I watched the earlier episodes and realized it was her costume for her stage performances when searching for Jaime. I think it was MTV ( I could be wrong) which did an EXCELLENT review of the rape scenes and how Outlander broke new ground in showing it ALL (the good and the bad) plus the emotional reaction and Jamie's shame at having responded to BJR's making gentle love to him. I loved how the nudity throughout the series has always been so natural and not for shock value...it would have made NO sense, for example for BJR to have gotten up from the bed wearing pants.

All in all just an outstanding conclusion and I look forward to next year.

Bev Sykes said...

Btw, since the series just finished I suspect it may not be eligible for Emmys until next year (I hope I'm wrong)

Karen Charbonneau said...

As I expected, you were able to distance yourself emotionally to write a great review. The anticipation was more nerve-racking this week than watching it, although I ate a big lump of cheese and homemade bread without being aware of doing so during the episode, along with a mug of tea. My husband's reaction was, "This is the creepiest stuff I've ever seen." Now we can look forward to the revenge Jamie takes on Randall. Thanks, Karen. Always come to you first.

Lori Coulson said...

Outlander IS eligible for the Emmys because it began its first Season in 2014 -- the awards follow the standard network season, i.e. September through May.

Bev Sykes said...

These are my thoughts on the entire series: http://www.funnytheworld.com/2015/Jun/01.htm

Melanie said...

Great review and if could let us know what Jamie said in Gaelic when Claire told him she was pregnant.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

Well done, as always. I loved the scene in Gaidhlig and glad they don't use subtitles. Wrenching to see a man torn apart. I missed the grotto scene - essential to bringing Jamie back to Claire, body and soul. Sorry they left that out - may be in flashback? It wrapped up quickly and tidy. Not sure if that ending "fits" the series but there it is. All the acting was superb. Getting lots of good press too.
~ Victoria

barbara wismer said...

Karen, I really enjoy how you encapsulate your reviews always remembering that the book is one thing and the TV series another. On my first few viewings of an episode, I have to really work to put what I see on the screen in the context of the TV series, and remove it from what the book contains. I had the same reaction you did - I felt the episode really worked very well in the context of the series, and I also was (as usual) tremendously impressed with all the acting, the directing, writing, all production values were AMAZING and OUTSTANDING. Rom Moore and his team have just done an excellent job on this and I am so, so, so grateful! Thanks, too, for your terrific review!

Cybergram said...

Karen, thanks again for a great review!! I really was apprehensive about Episode 1-16, did enjoy it for various reasons! It was chilling, it was tense & in the end it was uplifting! Tears, dread & joy were with me the whole watching of the episode! Many thanks for you comments & review.
--Myrna

Anonymous said...

Great review. I have mixed feelings about this episode and I know Diana warned us of the changes and to watch the episode for what it is, and I really tried to do that. I just felt that Jamie's healing was rushed and I also felt that they have lost some of their closeness. And that makes me feel sad. I missed the scene in front of the fire in Eldrige House in the book where Jamie bites down on the leather strap and grins and crosses his eyes as she sets his hand.....and the comment that he looked like a striped tiger. In the episode his reaction to Claire not being able to touch her or have her touch him and unable to look at her was too quick - I know I know I am comparing the book and I am trying hard not to. If he had been able to react to her better in the wagon on his immediate rescues I may have felt better about it.
But saying all of this....its not taking away from the episode what it is - which is brilliant. Brilliant acting, directing, production. The music also tied everything in wonderfully - I really want to get the soundtrack.
I watched the episode again today for the second time and I am feeling better about it....I still feel sad though.

Anonymous said...

I thought they did a wonderful job with a very difficult part of the book. The acting was phenomenal! Both Tobias Menzies and Sam Heughan deserve nominations. Catriolana Balfe too. Did you notice Jamie's posture when he was sitting in the rowboat, he was shrunken into himself and even when they all got on board, he was sitting by himself, still hunched over. And after Claire told him she was pregnant, and he said he was very happy, when he was holding her, his expression went back to one of worry and maybe a lack of confidence. I hope they do follow up with him getting through all that happened.

Filming it must have been very difficult on everyone, including the crew filming it. I read somewhere it took a week to film the scenes in the dungeon. As with all the episodes, I have watched it several times (hard as this one was) and have picked up things I missed before. Like Jamie holding his hand over the brand through most of the scenes when Claire was working on him. I couldn't figure out how she wouldn't have seen it earlier.

I did miss the underground hot springs in the abbey and did feel that everything was a little rushed, but that is part of the transition from written to visual medium, where Diana was able to take as many pages as she wanted, the series has to fit into a very rigid timeframe. I have been trying to think of another book that has been given 16 hours of tv time to tell the story and haven't thought of one. Roots was 8 hours, I looked it up.

I couldn't believe the relief it was when we got out of the prison and into the sun on the beach! Loved Angus doing his Angus thing with Claire!

The music was wonderful and I really loved the theme being done differently at the end. It is such a beautiful song.

And now we go to another period of Droughtlander syndrome without even knowing when the drought will end. Sigh.