Things certainly got dark in this week’s Outlander.
It wasn’t as though we didn’t already know that Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) was a human monster. He’s proven himself quick to try and rape helpless women, with a violent streak a mile long, but this week, things escalated to an entirely new place as he described the day of Jamie’s flogging to Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in excruciating detail.
It wasn’t just that he clearly took a sense of pleasure in beating Jamie to within a centimeter of his life a few years ago. It was the way he described it, and the only adjective to use for it is “lovingly,” as though this had been some sort of beautiful consensual act that he and Jamie had engaged in together. He found the violence deeply arousing, and he spoke of it as though it was a tender memory. He’s a monster, and he’s remorseless about it.
It threw what a genuinely good person Claire is into sharp contrast as he fed her that story, as he spun out lies to try and make her believe that he knew, on some level, how incredibly sick it is to have enjoyed flogging Jamie as much as he did. Claire knows better, of course, but she’s also seen what war can do to a man from her own time, how it can warp a sense of morality, how it can make a monster out of a good man. She was willing to believe that there had once been a good man in Randall, and she was willing to believe that he could find his way back there. This man is the direct descendant of the gentle husband waiting for her back in 1945 who she so treasures; she wants to believe there is something of value left inside him.
She learned the hard way there is nothing good at all inside Randall, as he threw her to the ground and ordered one of his subordinates to kick her like a dog, instructing her that she’ll be held prisoner under suspicion of treason for as long as he pleases. There’s absolutely nothing Claire can do to protect herself. She’s an English woman and thus is subject to English law.
Until, that is, Dougal comes up with the brilliant plan to make her Scottish by marriage, and though he gives us possibly the grossest sexual euphemism in television history (“I wouldn’t mind being the one to grind your corn?” Gross, Dougal. Gross.) we applaud his plan: Next week, Claire will marry Jamie.
Jamie could not possibly be more excited about this development, though Claire’s naturally hesitant, with a husband left back in her own time, but Jamie’s so sweet with her, making sure she truly is OK with the arrangement.
Favorite scene of the episode? Hands down when he drops the bombshell that he’s still a virgin, and promises that he doesn’t mind if she’s not. “I reckon one of us should ken what they’re doing,” he says mischievously, and we fell just a little bit harder for Jamie Fraser.
How long until next Sunday? We can only watch the preview so many times before we explode.