Diana Gabaldon, the author of the ‘Outlander’ books and the woman who initiated this amazing journey for thousands of fans with only a few strokes of her keyboard, termed the Outlander season finale as extraordinary. ‘To Ransom a Man’s Soul’ was in every way, a masterpiece simply because it is one of the most agonizing episodes filmed for television. Not only did it break the mold of season-finale template, but also that of TV dramas. Executive producer Ira Steven Behr, who co-wrote the episode with showrunner Ronald D. Moore and Anna Foerster, the director, should undoubtedly be praised, along with the entire cast for delivering, what can be touted as the almost perfect season finale.
The ‘almost’ is added because book fans may have wanted the showrunner to add the hot spring scene, but Moore had already stated that it would have been a logistical nightmare. As opposed to most season finales, the Outlander finale lacked the usual cliffhanger element, with the only exception of the ruthless Jack, played by Tobias Menzies. The last that we saw of that character was him lying unconscious on Wentworth Prison’s floor after a herd of hairy Highland cattle trampled him, all thanks to Sir Marcus MacRannoch.
The structure of the episode is such that from the kickoff we get important bad and good news. The bad news is that Jack decided to have his way with Jaime, but the good news is that Jack is immediately dealt with after Jaime’s rescue. They awakened the morning after the end of Wentworth Prison and to everyone’s dismay, the once-affable Jaime is now simply a corpse left with completely dead eyes. The decision made by Behr and Moore for letting us witness Jack being knocked unconscious and Jaime’s escape was creative. Then we moved onto harrowing flashbacks, which helped make the upcoming seasons a bit easier to deal with.
But, there was no death for Jack so we should be prepared to see Jack and also Frank, his 20th century counterpart, in the next season. But, apart from the news of Jack not dying, the remaining episode was an absolute fairy-tale ending, as much as it could be for our heroes, especially after they were put through the emotional wringer that we would probably not wish on anybody, even our enemies. Once again, we can’t help, but marvel at Jaime’s superhuman ability of bouncing back, even though his soul has been crushed to pieces.
Here again, we have to give Behr and Moore credit, because the aftermath showed enough visible damage to make it seem realistic and that’s not just Jaime’s busted hand. Yes, Jaime has begun the healing journey with Claire right there with him. The news of her pregnancy gave him a reason to smile for the first time in a while. But even then, the light that was the signature of the Scotsman’s eyes, has returned only slightly since Jack snuffed it out. It will be a rough road for Jamie as modern psychotherapy is still decades away and it will be difficult for him to return to normalcy in the next season.
The sex scenes between Heughan and Menzies were rather graphic and shocking, but there is no denying that they weren’t well done. Even the full-frontal scene with Menzies seems organic because he has successful broken Jaime so why shouldn’t he be strutting around? While the sexual abuse scenes are bound to be etched in your memory, perhaps the most emotional scene of the season was with Jaime and Claire, where she doesn’t hesitate in stepping into the darkness with her suicidal, tormented husband. She breaks down the wall of shame Jaime has erected and gets him to admit to what happened with Jack. His hesitation was heartbreaking and their love shined through when he reached out for Claire. It is a reversal of roles because up till now, Jaime has saved Claire, but now it is her turn to save her husband, in body and soul. She meds the broken bones in his hand, but she said it was the easy part as opposed to the brutal psychological tactics Jack had used for torturing Jaime.
Her dressing reminded of his captor and he refused to allow her to come near him while he was recuperating. We see flashbacks to the terror that Jack inflicted upon Jaime, including his rape, branding JR on his skin and then the mind games. Jaime develops suicidal intentions and recoils from Claire. However, time is running short and they really need to get out of Scotland due to which Claire decides to use some regression therapy; she uses one of Jack’s psychological weapons i.e. lavender oil and smacks down her husband until he starts opening up.
It was difficult to watch her tactics get the results, but she pledges her loyalty to her husband for whom she gave up her 20th century existence. Once she has pulled her husband away from the precipice of death, the only thing they have to do before they leave Scotland is to remove the skin-brand that Jack left on Jaime’s skin. Murtaugh cuts it out and Jaime spits on it before it’s turned into ash. Now, the Frasers, along with Murtaugh set sail to France where there is some of Jaime’s family and they will be safe from British retaliation. It is a relief to see our heroes out of danger on the ship and they have got some 18th century suits on that make them look really snazzy.
That’s when Claire breaks the news to her husband and they embrace and kiss passionately. It might be a bit clichéd for a season finale, but this is one of those times when it is the best possible thing to happen and it is what everyone wants to see after the harrowing and brutal episode. Here, the Fraser family motto, Je suis prest, seems rather apt as we bid goodbye to our heroes until we see them in the next season of Outlander.