TV Review: “Outlander” – “To Ransom A Man’s Soul”

Written by Caitlin Cooper June 03, 2015

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The last few episodes of “Outlander” haven’t been great, with the exception of last week’s “Wentworth Prison”. For a show that started off so strong, it’s been a bit of a drag to see episodes that felt more like filler than plot or character advancement. Well, last week’s episode was a difficult one, and this week’s season finale proved to be a significant one for Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and her Scottish husband Jamie (Sam Heughan). But was the season finale good? Yes and no.

The season finale of “Outlander” shows Jamie being rescued; his broken body and spirit are brought to a safe haven so he can recover from the horrors inflicted upon him. And while Claire diligently works on fixing his body, Jamie is surrendering more and more to darkness. He wants to die. It’s up to Claire to confront Jamie and convince him to fight for life again. Only then can they leave the country that has brought them both unimaginable pain, and start to build a life together.

“I never thought I’d say this again, but I am happy.”

This “Outlander” episode is incredibly difficult to watch. It’s extremely graphic in the flashbacks of Jamie’s torture and rape at the hands of Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies), and it makes you uncomfortable. If you don’t have a strong stomach, you may not want to watch those scenes. This episode dives into darkness with glee, and it makes for sickening scenes. What Jamie endures is horrendous. And while he is the real victim of it, Claire and Jamie’s Uncle Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) are also affected by it. There are some moving scenes where you see them fight for Jamie, and with him about his giving up on life. And while the scene in which Claire and Jamie finally speak and he begins to confront and move past his demons is moving, the whole episode just left me feeling disappointed in the emotional story told here. Jamie was raped, and all it takes is one try and he’s suddenly clawing his way back to himself and life? No. Not realistic. And he says he’s happy when Claire tells him she’s pregnant? Also probably not realistic given what he just went through. Because the emotional arc happens in just one episode, it makes everything seem incredibly rushed. And I find hard to understand why the writers then wasted so much time on filler in past episodes when they could have left more time to depict Jamie’s healing in a believable way. Also, just before Claire and Jamie set sail for France where they will try to stop the Jacobite uprising before it happens, thus saving thousands of Scottish lives, something disgusting happens. The writers thought it was a good idea to have Claire be groped by her sort of friend as a bit of “humour” in an episode dealing with assault, torture, and rape and the aftermath of such things? Bravo on being tasteless.

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While I think the writing is probably one of the weakest of the first season of “Outlander”, the acting remains strong. Balfe once again plays Claire with bravery, vulnerability, and intelligence. Heughan had a lot of difficult scenes to film for this episode, but he really shows his talent in the dead look he takes on, and then with the way he portrays anger and grief over his character’s torture. Together, Balfe and Heughan make a strong team at the helm of “Outlander”. Lacroix and Finn Den Hertog (who plays Willie) are also really talented actors. They bring even more strength to the cast, and I hope we see their characters again.

“What if we could change it?”

The “Outlander” season finale was disturbing, so it succeeded in that regard, but it also felt rushed in terms of Jamie’s emotional healing. For a show’s first season, the season finale should be just as strong as the season premiere so that audiences will return next year – that’s right, next year – for season two. “Outlander” began with strong episodes centered around a wonderful female character, but the writing declined in quality towards the end of the season and doesn’t do the characters justice. Even so, I will watch “Outlander” season two with it’s new goal and new setting.

My Rating: 7/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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