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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Outlander's Darkest Episode Yet

I watch too many TV shows and would need to make it my full time job to write recaps or thoughts on them. I always have thoughts about every episode of TV shows I watch but sometimes keep those thoughts to myself or chat with friends who share the same interests or tweet about them. This time is different. You all know I'm a big fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and you all have either read my blog post about my excitement for the TV series and my moaning when I had to wait so long for the series to return because of the break it took (aka droughtlander), after its eighth episode. In short, am definitely a fan of Outlander, the book and TV series, for the same reasons that anyone who loves great books and superb acting would have. Writing about the show was inevitable after watching episode 15 of this season (season 1) titled, "Wentworth Prison." If you are anywhere near any type of media, I'm sure you must have picked up something about Outlander and this particular episode.

First, it’s important to commend everyone that has a hand in making this TV series. It is rare to satisfy a "fandom" by casting actors that please us and then writing episodes and executing them to our satisfaction. Thank you for that! I read Outlander years ago and finished the last of the series this year. I wanted to get back to the first one before watching the TV series but after the first episode, I dropped my plan. I'll still revisit the book but also want to wait till the season ends on May 30th. Outlander never shies away from the reality of things as one would have imagined of the years that Diana Gabaldon wrote about. The people, their living situations and circumstances, the politics, and even the meaning of love and family. I embraced every moment in the book when I read it. Then watching the actors express what I had in my head, made me feel like I had won the lottery.

Up until episode 15 of season 1, the controversial episode was episode 9, which was dubbed "the episode with the spanking scene." Everyone had their opinion on it, from the spanking act being degrading to women to Jamie being a sadist. Now that the episode with Captain Jonathan Randall aka Black Jack and Jamie at Wentworth prison has aired, the spanking scene seems like a little pimple that healed within hours. I knew about Jamie's unfortunate encounter with Black Jack at Wentworth and thought it was going to be portrayed mildly for TV. Who was I kidding? I should have remembered that Starz network doesn't have tight censoring rules. I should also have remembered that the TV series had excellent writers, directors, producers, and actors, who would hands-down deliver the fans with great content and some ‘cherry on top.’

Truthfully, I watched the episode with some sort of difficulty. I kept telling myself that I didn't remember feeling like ants were crawling on me when I read the book and maybe I should have refreshed my memory before watching the TV series. I remember bile at the back of my throat when I read the book though. Then, realized that the reason for the seeming difference between the show and the book is that the content of the show was enhanced because we get to see more of what was not in the book. The first meeting between Jamie and Black Jack in his cell at Wentworth when Black Jack inflicted the injury on Jamie's hand was an example. I went through several emotions while I watched this episode. I paused it; said some bad words; scratched my hair; said a lot of "ew!" and screamed at the screen, telling Black Jack to leave Jamie alone or else. It was a wonderful episode and cannot imagine how Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, and Caitriona Balfe kept their cool after filming this episode and the much more dreaded one that is to come, episode 16, the season finale episode. 

It wasn't pleasant to watch because of how good and convincing the physical, emotional, and psychological torture inflicted on Jamie by Black Jack was portrayed. Tobias Menzies successfully tapped into the dark mind of this character, Black Jack, and showed how his actions revealed his disturbing personality. Sam Heughan was phenomenal in this episode because of the acting skills he displayed. There were several unfortunate circumstances that unfolded and Sam had to demonstrate different levels of acting. He played the role of a strong man, both physically and mentally, who kept fighting until he had that noose on his neck. Then he was also a man crippled by pain but still willing to stand his ground. Then came the sacrifice of doing what he clearly didn't want but he chose to do it for the sake of love. It takes a highly skilled actor to deliver such versatility in one episode. Caitriona Balfe's portrayal of Claire is so refreshing and works perfectly because she has made me believe that Claire, her character, is deeply in love with Jamie. My stomach clenched with sadness when she held the box that contained Jamie's belongings, which were stripped from him before he was locked up (chained). When she walked out of Wentworth Prison gate and couldn't contain her emotions, I blurted out a "wow" because that alone made me realize how weak and hopeless anyone would feel if they heard that their husband had come close to hanging himself that day and would still be hanged later. I was blown away by her portrayal of Claire's will to continue to fight to save her husband even when it seemed impossible to achieve. Caitriona's display of female strength is welcomed to my TV.

I hope Outlander casts and the whole team win many awards because they surely deserve them.

(ukoemem - Author; Ola Y - Editor)

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