[This is a review of the Outlander season 1 finale. There will be SPOILERS.]
The Outlander season 1 finale beautifully wraps up its narrative with a devastating tale of torture, rape, and manipulation that won't soon leave your thoughts, as we now must anxiously await the premiere of season two later this year.
Creator/executive producer Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) took the complex characters off the pages of Diana Gabaldon's massive books and made them into something uniquely wonderful for the small screen. From the creative teams to the actors, Starz chose wisely when assembling this talented ensemble.
'To Ransom a Man's Soul' was the most horrific episode yet, as the viewer must endure Captain Jack Randall's humiliation of Jamie for nearly an hour. While the scenes of rape and mind games were difficult to watch, Tobias Menzies (Game of Thrones, The Honourable Woman) has solidified himself as one of the best villains anywhere on television. His command of every scene he is in is nothing short of incredible and will hopefully be considered when it's time for the Emmy nominations.
Sam Heughan's performance should also be commended, as we see a man go from strong, to broken, to reborn in one stellar hour of television. Having not read the books, it appeared that once the cattle broke through the prison doors, Jack Randall might meet his end, which would be a shame due to his character's dynamic bravado, especially when he shares a scene with Jamie and Claire. Fortunately, it seems that he was just knocked out by the impact and will hopefully be there for next season. While the men stole most of the scenes this week, the lovely Caitriona Balfe continues to impress with each passing week.
Balfe (Claire Randall) was the least likely to impress when the casting information was revealed. Though beautiful, the Irish-born and former Dolche and Gabbana model had a lackluster acting resume, but she has since proved her critics (including this one) wrong in their assumptions. When Murtagh Fraser (Duncan Lacroix) told Claire that someone would have to enter into the darkness with Jamie, there was no telling what that might entail. Watching her slowly break the hold that Randall had on her husband was both compelling and disturbing, as Jamie informed his wife of everything he had to endure at the hands of Black Jack.
The beauty of Jamie's story lies in his recovery alongside his caring wife, who decides to continue loving him despite all of his misfortunes. In the show's beginning, it was difficult to fully buy into their relationship, due to the fact that Heughan is so darn handsome, which of course is not his fault. There were times when he was too obviously the prince charming we see in older Disney movies. Who wouldn't want to marry him?
It wasn't until these last few weeks, with Claire and Jamie at the mercy of Randall and his men, that the power of their love shone through. Moore and his staff crated a terrifying yet beautiful story this week that won't soon be forgotten. The question now (for those who have not read the books) is where will we find our lovers at the start of season 2?
Before the credits rolled, Jamie and Claire were aboard a ship headed to France, where the Fraser boys have a cousin who is a merchant. In a surprising turn, Claire announces to her slowly recovering husband that they are going to have a baby. So, all is well with the world, right? Well, as long as their ship doesn't sink then yes, but Claire has some radical ideas about changing the future and going after Bonnie Prince Charlie - a.k.a. Charles Edward Stuart. If she and Jamie do change the future, there could be some unforeseen consequences. It would be fun if Claire and Jamie could travel through time together. Perhaps even take a journey past the year she left? These are all hypothetical scenarios, but if season two can match its predecessor, then we are going to be in for a fun ride in just a few months time.
With season 1 now in the bag, what are you looking forward to in season 2? Do you think Jamie and Claire can change the future? Stay tuned to see what happens next.
Outlander will continue in 2015 on Starz.