Fellow Sassenach, Laura (@UnpaidPrivKilt), shares her thoughts on the final two episodes Outlander Season 1 in a guest review of “Wentworth Prison” and “To Ransom a Man’s Soul” (with brief introduction from Funmbi).
One of the best parts of being a fangirl is having friends to flail with. The relationships we form in the midst of fandom completely elevate how we experience our favorite books, films, TV shows, etc. In fact, one of the major reasons we started We So Nerdy was not only share our flails and musings, but also to make friends and provide a space for all of us to talk about the things we love.
Laura (@UnpaidPrivKilt) is one of my very first fandom friends…truth be told, our friendship spans several fandoms, including Twilight and, most recently, Outlander. When I needed help getting though the difficulty of this season’s final episodes, Laura was who I turned to. We raged together, cringed together, and in the end, cried and twirled together. In the midst of our voxer sessions, I invited Laura to write a guest review of Season 1’s last two episodes. Being an ardent admirer of the books, TV series, cast, and creators, I really think she brings unique insight to Outlander‘s overall story arc and trajectory. So check out Laura’s review below and make sure to share your own thoughts with us in comments!
I have to be honest, trying to organize my thoughts about the final two episodes of Outlander’s first season has been challenging because I have so many of them. “Wentworth Prison” and “To Ransom a Man’s Soul” were two of the most difficult hours of television I have ever watched (and I have watched a lot of television, ha!); but in the end, it was more than worth it.
Having read the book, I knew what was coming in these episodes. But there is something about the visual and auditory experience from the show that differs from creating the scenario in your mind while reading. In the hands of a lesser showrunner, lesser writers, a lesser director and lesser actors, these episodes would not have created the emotional impact they did. These episodes may not have been easy to watch, but anything really worth having or experiencing isn’t supposed to be easy, and I’m okay with that.
I had a lot of reservations with how Jamie’s rape and torture would be portrayed on screen. Overall, I thought the pacing of the episodes was good and the way the graphic scenes were interspersed with non-graphic scenes worked. Too much of the rape and torture scenes all at once would have been overkill. I did think there were graphic scenes that went on for too long, the prime example being the first time Jamie is raped. A few seconds less would have been more than enough to get the point across. However, all of the graphic/violent scenes served a purpose and moved the story forward. I didn’t feel like they were gratuitous, though they just crossed my personal boundaries in a couple of places.
The final 10 minutes of the finale were some of the best minutes of the entire season, if not THE best. I would argue the happiness and joy I felt during those last few minutes would not have been as impactful had these episodes not been so challenging. Seeing Jamie and Claire embracing on the boat, together and happy, was a gift in and of itself, one I appreciate all the more in light of everything they went through.
The three main actors, Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, and Tobias Menzies are about as perfect an acting trifecta as you will see anywhere on television today. It is clear they love what they do and brought their “A” game every week, even more so these last two episodes.
The subtlety in Sam Heughan’s facial expressions and his ability to tell a story using his eyes, without saying a single word, was truly remarkable. His performance was nothing short of outstanding. I am still in awe of the way he was able to convey every conceivable emotion with such authenticity. Whether it was the single tear that ran down his cheek as Jamie’s unimaginable torture was about to begin, the way his voice sounded hollow when he told Claire she couldn’t save a man that didn’t want saving, or the way his face softened once he realized Claire would choose to die with him rather than live without him, Jamie’s emotions and feelings were palpable. Sam could not have done a better job and he deserves any and all accolades for his performance.
Caitriona Balfe was a straight-up badass. She brought just the right amount of sass, fierceness and vulnerability to her portrayal of Claire and in these final episodes, she blew me away. I could feel Claire’s despair when she opened the box with Jamie’s personal items in it and I could feel her determination when she got down to the tricky business of putting his hand back together. When she refused to let Jamie lose his soul, her speech was riveting. Every line was delivered with such passion and devotion, I couldn’t help but get emotional. Caitriona is a force to be reckoned with and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. She is a gem.
And finally, Tobias Menzies. My favorite hashtag is #NoDisrespectToTobiasMenzies because I always feel badly about the mean things I tweet about his characters. The way Tobias played Black Jack Randall was horrifying and despicable, which was exactly the way it should be. His performance scared me to death, made me rage and creeped me out beyond belief. When he licked Jamie’s back scars, I literally gagged. When an actor can elicit a physical response, they are doing something right, even if what they are actually doing on screen is so, so wrong. Tobias deserves nothing but praise for his work in these episodes.
I could go on and on about these episodes for days. Literally. And that’s why I feel like they did it right. Any show that brings about this much thought and sticks with you for days and weeks after it aired, is exceptional. Thank you Outlander, for getting it right and being exceptional.
I want to thank the lovely ladies at We So Nerdy for asking me to do this guest review. I have so much love for this blog and it’s an honor to contribute.
The honor is all ours Laura…thank you!