Outlander review: A cliffhanger to remember
Oh, Starz. If you were going to make us wait until 2015 for new episodes of Outlander, did you have to leave it on that cliffhanger?
It was an agonizing hour of television, sprinkled with some bright moments, and "Both Sides Now" accomplished the impossible — it made us actually care about Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies), who's going about his life in 1945. He's convinced Claire would never have left him for another man, arguing with the Inverness police department and anyone else who'd dare tell him otherwise, but hope is rapidly slipping.
"When you've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth," the pastor tells him, quoting Sherlock Holmes, and though Frank doesn't want to believe Claire abandoned him for a lover, the evidence is fairly damning.
When a group of grifters attempt to rob him for the reward money he's offering for any news of Claire's whereabouts, Frank nearly beats the life out of all of them. In the end, he's appalled with himself, but for a moment, there's a trace of Black Jack Randall's legacy that comes shining through, a dark, secret part that's trickled down his bloodline that allows him some sort of ugly satisfaction. He can't solve the mystery of his wife's disappearance, but now he's allowed to hit something, and it feels good in a way that he wishes it didn't.
It's Claire and Jamie we're rooting for, first, last, always, but the moment in which Frank stands at the rocks of Craigh na Dun, broken and desperate and clearly feeling foolish for still hoping — well, for just a moment when he heard Claire call his name through the rocks, we were hoping right along with him.
For Claire and Jamie, however, the honeymoon period is drawing to a close. While their sexual chemistry is as off the charts as ever, while real love is starting to blossom between them, the realities of committing to a life in 1743 Scotland are starting to close in on Claire.
One thing the show has never shied away from is the horrible always-present fear of rape, and while this isn't exactly a fear women are immune to in 2014, it's out of control in 1743. Claire's been threatened with it too many times in eight episodes — it's a constant source of anxiety, and when she and Jamie are forced to kill two British deserters who interrupt them mid-romp in the meadow, it's hammered home to her — she wants to be with Jamie, but this is not where she belongs. She is not safe here.
It's all the more horrible for her when Black Jack Randall, the man with the same face as her husband, finally captures her at the moment when she's about to make her escape home to 1945. Claire had almost outwitted him, gave herself away at the last moment, and as we all know Jack is at his happiest when he's causing the suffering for another human being, things are about to get very grim for Claire. It's not just rape that's on the table, again, it's Jack's fondness for knives.
Until, of course, Jamie breaks in through the window with a snarl and a gun aimed right at Randall's head. "I'll thank ye," he sneers, "to take your hands off my wife."
It's the last we'll see of Jamie Fraser until 2015, and it's quite the image to go out on.