Tara Ward recaps the gruelling episode 15 of Outlander, wherein Jamie is relegated to the horrific torture house know as Wentworth Prison.
Word on the street was that this Outlander episode would be a harrowing and disturbing trip to Bleaksville. To ease the journey I prepared some fine comfort food – Southland Cheese Rolls, made from a family recipe bought over from Scotland by my ancestors in 1862 (an Alison Holst recipe found in my Mum’s kitchen cupboard in 1993).
The penultimate episode of season one begins ominously with a shot of sharp knives and weapons. I hope optimistically that we’re back in Mrs Fitz’s kitchen. “Is that a gimp mask?” I ask my husband. “How would I know?” he asks, slightly outraged.
We find Jamie in Wentworth Prison, awaiting his turn to be hanged. Nobody goes gently into the good night – the prisoners are pushed to a gruesome death, necks cracking, limbs flapping, eyes bulging.
Four minutes in, and I am already regretting these cheese rolls.
Jamie fights with the guards, preferring to die like a man than a dog. As the noose closes around his neck I wonder whom he thinks of as he prepares to die. Claire? Jenny? Tits McGee? It’s certainly not Black Jack, who arrives suddenly on horseback and orders a stay of execution for Jamie. Sheesh, talk about cutting it fine.
Thankfully, Claire is at Wentworth to sort this shit out. She’s trying to persuade Sir Fletcher, CEO of Wentworth Enterprises, to grant a visit with Jamie. He refuses, instead giving her Jamie’s personal effects.
It might be the curry powder in the cheese rolls, but my eyes just got a wee bit moist.
Like me, Claire’s physically overcome with emotion. Murtagh, you can’t dance to save your life, but I salute your loyalty to this vomiting, grieving Sassenach. I always knew there was a big softie beneath that bedraggled beard.
Despondent, Claire and Murtagh return to Willie and the Two Donkeys, who have discovered the Warden spends an hour away from his office every night. Booyah! That’s how you save the Ginja Ninga, suggest Ant or Dec, proud as intoxicated peacocks.
One hour! thinks Claire. Things I can get done in one hour: knit a new woollen cowl, create modern day antibiotics in my eighteenth century surgery, and rescue my beloved from the foreboding stone fortress that is Wentworth Prison. Finally, things are looking up!
Back in Wentworth, Jamie’s receiving visitors: Black Jack and his sidekick Bob Marley. “I wondered when you’d show yourself,” mutters Jamie. Be careful what you wish for, Jamie. Black Jack already showed me more of himself than necessary in episode 12.
(Is it wrong to note how good Jamie’s cheekbones look in the soft firelight of sadistic torture and psychological manipulation?)
Claire and Murtagh return to the prison with a plan filled with more holes than Mrs Fitz’s best-knitted shawl. Their frantic search of the Warden’s office proves fruitless, as the guard had the keys all along. Prisons and their systems: getting in the way of criminals since 1744!
“Does anyone know where I would find Jamie Fraser?” Claire asks as she wanders through the cesspit of despair and disease that is Wentworth. “Not here,” says a prisoner. “But if you’re looking for that spunky ginger with the piercing blue eyes, he’s in the dungeon.“
Sadly, so is Black Jack. He offers Jamie an honourable death of his own choosing, so long as he surrenders. “Fall on your sword like Brutus,” he suggests, “or drown in a giant vat of vanilla icecream and chocolate sprinkles”. Okay, that last one was my idea, but you get the drift. “How will I ever choose?” wails Jamie. I know the feeling – sometimes I wonder if I’d prefer a bath of strawberry jam, instead.
Jamie refuses to let Black Jack break him with words and physically fights back. Considering he’s shackled to the wall and outnumbered two to one, Jamie kicks some pretty good BJR butt. When Black Jack orders Marley to hold Jamie’s wrist to the table, my toes curl and I curse my ancestors and their delectable cheese and bread treats. From behind the safety of my hands, I watch as Black Jack hits Jamie’s hand with a hammer until it is a bleeding, mangled mess.
Poor Jamie. At least it wasn’t your cheekbones, Broch Tuaruch!
Claire follows the sound of Jamie’s screams and discovers him lying bloodied on the ground. “Did you miss me?” he asks. You two kids are so cute together. Black Jack is thrilled at Claire’s arrival, and she suffers at the hands of touchy-feely Marley as Black Jack debates her fate. Jamie begs him to leave Claire alone. “Let her go to safety and you can have me,” he barters.
This is music to Black Jack’s twisted sadistic ears. To test his promise, Black Jack places a nail in Jamie’s hand and takes aim with that godforsaken hammer. I look away as Jamie screams, again cursing all forms of ingested carbohydrates. “We will remember this moment for the rest of our lives,” says Black Jack, before Claire and Jamie make an emotional, gut-wrenching goodbye. Indeed, I’ll never look at a cheese roll the same way again. Damn you on all counts, Jonathon Randall!!!
As Black Jack escorts Claire off the premises, she curses him with the knowledge of his death. Frank’s boring genealogy shit finally paid dividends! Claire is pushed to freedom, landing on a pile of bodies below. Hey, McQuarrie, what’s a nice fellow like you doing in a place like this?
Ant or Dec take Claire to Sir Marcus MacRannock’s house, where she proceeds to drink his supply of whiskey and deduce another plan to save Jamie. “I left a door open at the rear of the prison!” she shouts. “And I’ve an idea so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a Hairy Coo!” squeals Murtagh.
That was a rough ride. I need some peppermint tea and a good lie down, stat. My stomach is calmed at the thought of Claire, Murtagh and a bunch of scraggly animals (Ant and Dec included) freeing Big Red from Black Jack’s grubby little hands. Hold on Jamie: we’re coming to save you!