He Thought He Was Going to Die… now… how does he live… Outlander Episode 15 & 16



I WAS prepared.  The scenes at Wentworth unfolded much as they had in the book.  The menace was there.  The eerie certainty that Black Jack Randall would have his way was there from the moment he rode in to ” save” Jamie from the noose.  He could barely contain his relief and excitement.  His masterpiece lives and is his.  Tobias’ portrayal of Jack’s sick fascination with Jamie was perfectly executed in shades of reverent respect and barely contained sadistic lust. He would have his surrender. I was horrified and moved.

I’ve tried to boil down what exactly it is that moves me so much about the scenes between Claire, Jamie and Black Jack in that dungeon in Wentworth Prison. I think it has to do with this piece of dialogue from the book;

You can’t,” I whispered. “You can’t. I won’t let you.” His mouth was warm against my ear. “Claire, I’m to hang in the morning,. What happens to me between now and then doesna matter to anyone.” I drew back and stared at him. “It matters to me !” The strained lips quivered in what was almost a smile, and he raised his free hand and laid it against my wet cheek. “I know it does, mo moduinne . And that’s why you’ll go now. So I’ll know there is someone still who minds for me.”

The gut-wrenching knowledge that this could truly be the last time she saw him, knowing she had to leave him battered and in pain and in the fiendish hands of Black Jack Randall was painful to watch.  Her only chance to save him was to leave him …but… she knew she was leaving him to face his last few hours on Earth in a nightmare. Jamie was sacrificing his life to save hers… his compliance was being assured with a threat to his wife’s life.  He is keeping his word to give Claire time to get away,  He thought he was going to die, so what did it matter… her decision… his decision… both rooted in their love for the other. This is what moves me so much.

Cait’s tears of pain and grief gutted me. But, Sam’s silent tears and eyes wide with pain shook me …beyond words. It took me a moment’s reflection to understand what I was feeling and to understand those tears silently falling down his cheek. I saw the agony visited on his heart.  He was doing what he never thought he’d do…he was giving in …and suddenly he could still feel his father’s kiss, but now it was forever linked with the revolting kisses on his back and the taste of his wife’s salty tears of anguish on his lips. Yeah…I was moved and horrified.

The sacrifice was bigger than either of them could imagine.  The deliberate infliction of pain and humiliation by the rapist and sadist named Black Jack Randall, a man who finds his pleasure in the total domination of another, could not have been imagined despite the evidence before them both. Jamie naively believed that he would be able to remain unaffected by Black Jack Randall’s advances.  He knew there would be pain involved and he would feel repulsed, but he believed he could remain emotionally distant.  His illusions will be shattered within minutes.

What will we see in Episode 16 and the Aftermath of Wentworth

Later, In the book, Jamie feels the need to tell Claire what he experienced. He tells her that anyone can be broken if you work hard enough at it and Black Jack worked hard at it.  He wanted Jamie’s surrender, he wanted him broken and begging. His dark appetites for control and power over this seemingly unbreakable man were satisfied.

BJR will rape Jamie. The damage done physically would heal. What is more difficult to heal, of course, are the wounds that cannot be seen. Like many who suffer such trauma, once the shock fades and he has had time to process what has happened, Jamie feels distraught to the point of wanting to die. It is his own belief that suicide is a “mortal sin” that prevents him from taking his own life to end his despair. That and a desire not to give Black Jack Randall one more moment of his life, “…he has damned me in life. He willna damn me in death”.  .

What we haven’t talked about is the part a lot of rape victims don’t talk about, physical arousal during a rape.  This seems to be the aspect of the rape that  causes Jamie the greatest mental conflict. This is the part that causes him to cry out in anguish,

“… he hurt me -hurt me badly- while he did it, but it was an act of love to him. And he made me answer him- damn his soul! He made me rouse to him!”  The hand bunched into a fist and struck the bedframe with an impotent rage that made the whole bed tremble.”

The guilt, rage and shame that Jamie expresses over his physical arousal and orgasms at the hands of his rapist causes Jamie to question his identity.  I’m not saying that he questions his sexuality; he is hetero.  However, I do believe for the first time, Jamie isn’t sure he can trust himself.  He feels betrayed by his own body and mind.  Adding to the confusion is  BJR’s use of pain and mental gamesmanship.  We know that Jamie does recover enough to be with Claire and they go on to live their lives.  But, the fact that he was able to have a functioning relationship with Claire?  A miracle

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe there was some sound scientific theory behind Claire’s rescue attempt.  She used his own weakened and traumatized  mind to set him free.  It was sort of like a version of aversion therapy.   She exposed him to what he feared, but this time…he got to fight back. His Highland Warrior spirit fought its way home.  It makes sense, but the fact that it worked?  A miracle.

Like so many of us who journey through this world with the baggage of our past, Jamie must find a way to carry his knowledge and pain. He was going to die…so, now how does he live? The aftermath of Wentworth is living a life with a self-image, a core, that has been torn apart and patched back together. The scars are always there. Jamie is not the same man he once was. And… he discovered things about himself in that dungeon he didn’t know and now regrets knowing.

Jamie came to his wedding bed a virgin. His experience of sex up until Wentworth was found in the arms of his loving wife. Like many men, I believe Jamie closely relates sex to love. In fact, in one of the later books, Claire makes a comment to Jamie that love and sex are actually two different things. Jamie’s reply is that for him …they are very close. He associates sex with love. How confused must he be by his own body and its traitorous response to Black Jack’s “acts of love” .

In Dragonfly in Amber, Jamie has returned home from a night observing and resisting debauchery. He and Claire fight and he admits it was a near thing;

Too close,” he repeated, moving back a bit. “It was too damn close, Sassenach, and it scared me.” …”…it was … well, those women. What I felt like with them. I didna want them, truly not …” … “But the … the lusting, I suppose ye’d call it … that was … too close to what I feel sometimes for you, and it … well, it doesna seem right to me.” …“I always thought it would be a simple matter to lie wi’ a woman,” he said softly. “And yet … I want to fall on my face at your feet and worship you”— he dropped the towel and reached out, taking me by the shoulders— “and still I want to force ye to your knees before me, and hold ye there wi’ my hands tangled in your hair, and your mouth at my service … and I want both things at the same time , Sassenach.” He ran his hands up under my hair and gripped my face between them, hard. “I dinna understand myself at all, Sassenach! Or maybe I do.” …“Such things— the knowledge of them, I mean— it came to me soon after … after Wentworth.”… “I thought at the first that Jack Randall had stolen a bit of my soul, and then I knew it was worse than that. All of it was my own, and had been all along; it was only he’d shown it to me, and made me know it for myself. That’s what he did that I canna forgive, and may his own soul rot forever in hell”…“You’ll lie wi’ me now,” he said quietly. “And I shall use ye as I must. And if you’ll have your revenge for it, then take it and welcome, for my soul is yours, in all the black corners of it.”

This story of a woman and the man that she loves is so much more than a romance or an adventure. To me, the books and show are a monument to what it means to be human and … to the power of true love.

“Blessed is the influence of one true loving soul on another” Unknown




122 thoughts on “He Thought He Was Going to Die… now… how does he live… Outlander Episode 15 & 16

  1. “Blessed is the influence of one true loving soul on another” Unknown
    Says it all.
    I don’t get to see this episode till Sunday night but nothing is spoiled for me because I have read the actors and director have done a superlative job.

  2. I have yet to watch, but have read the books, and when I saw your review, by email, I knew I had to read it as I trust you enough to know that you would speak from the heart and also be rational about it, as opposed to all the hands that are flapping in the air over the episode of which these people have yet to watch. Thank you for your beautiful words. x

  3. Eleanor Cohen

    Beth- I haven’t seen the episode yet but I read the books… I admire your insights.

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Deanne

    Beth, your thoughtful insights always help me crystallize the thoughts and emotions whirling in my brain. I am away from my book so this is paraphrased but another bit that keeps running thru my mind. I couldn’t keep from rousing to him anymore than I could keep from bleeding when he cut me. Jamie’s PTSD is timeless and as relevant today as the headlines in the news. What Diana has written will stand the test of time because it is so human.

  5. Cindy

    I had trouble figuring out how I felt about the episode and I think you pretty much captured my thoughts. I cried, cringed, closed my eyes a couple times and afterwards totally impressed with the skill of those actors, wow. Thanks for a great article!

  6. Beth I really liked this write up. One thing I think takes people off guard is the fact that a rape is happening to a man with another man committing the crime. We are so accustomed to hearing stories about women who have been raped, abducted, sodomized, etc. that it is weird or shocking when you hear a big strapping man say he was taken advantage of. And the outcome like Diana said whether male or female, is how do we learn to overcome such a traumatizing event? Bad things happen to good people all the time, but how do we move on from that event and learn to trust and love again. This story has that answer…

  7. No MacArthur

    Brilliantly written, thoughtfully composed, and right on the money. I intend to copy it, just for me, not for plagiarism. Bless you for putting it all into words. Was your degree in psych? 😉

  8. lperryman76

    Love your review Beth. I also was totally prepared and one of the ones that was looking forward to this and the next episodes because I knew the acting would be brilliant and was prepared for the material. Boy, they sure did not disappoint! Tobias was fantastic, but I have to say that Sam stole the show!! The horror that he portrayed through his expressions and body. WOW. I just can’t stop thinking about it. That final scene….his eyes, his whole body shaking, the tear, just did me in. Looking forward to next week, which is where, I think, the sobbing will come in. Thank you!

  9. Victoria

    Wonderful testimony, and insight Beth. I will send this to my non-reader friend once she’s watched both 15 & 16, because I’m not sure all those nuances will be apparent, in spite of the brilliant acting. The excerpt from DIA also helped me accept what happened with Laoghaire at the stream – after much protesting that Jamie wouldn’t be tempted – because at the end of the day, it’s a simple basic response.

  10. Anne Robinson

    Thank you for your brilliant and insightful commentary. I watched and was deeply moved by the episode, as I had been by the book. The writers and actors are brilliant and very brave. Your insights truly enhanced the experience. Thank you so very much!

  11. Oh! Yes! I so agree with you. I’m rewatching the first series of shows (I purchased them just so I could). Last night I couldn’t sleep, and got to thinking about what you wrote about Jamie heading down the wrong path. It was Clair who changed that path and gave me the desire to be the man he was always meant to be. Very well said.

    I, like so many others, often wonder if some of us really can slip through the stones and go back 200 years in time. What a grand adventure that would be. (And a tad scary)


  12. @jackieincincy

    You captured it perfectly Beth. The only thing I can add is that Claire’s inner lioness appeared so much stronger to me in the show than in the book. She was magnificently brave and resourceful. Took my breath away!

      • Deanne

        Cait’s performances were so intense! I felt her struggle to maintain composure until outside the prison walls! When she finds Jamie but can do nothing but sob as BJR nailed his hand it just gutted me! As much as Jamie she makes the decision to be compliant for him, knowing leaving him with that monster is the only chance to save him. I also can’t say enough about the support performances. Murtagh!

  13. Beth, thank you for this thoughtful piece. I have been amazed each week as Ron and company have brought Diana’s material to the screen so faithfully. Each week the spirit of the characters and the essence of the emotions of the storyline are all there. It was a relief to watch this week and see this faithfulness yet again. I did think to myself at the end, ‘Okay, so no wolves! (At least visually.) I can live with that!’ (I was wondering all week how they were going to pull that off!) I was a bit disturbed all week by all the vitriol on various sites about episodes 15 and 16 – and all without people having seen them! – and can only say…Trust, people! Just trust.

  14. TerriP

    Might I suggest that sacrificing oneself for another, to endure torture in another’s stead, is not surrender. In fact, I would argue that is a victory. Further, Jamie sacrifices his innocence, and that is painful thing to have ripped from you, but he does gain knowledge from the experience. It takes time for him process what he’s been through but in later books he reveals an insight into the difference between how bodies react to stimulation and how that is different from loving a soul. I’m not saying that that is something everyone should experience… by a long shot. I’m simply stating a reality. I don’t like it when rape survivors are called victims simply because victims, who give up and die, don’t survive and referring to someone who has experienced rape as a victim is thus counterproductive. The goal is to encourage them overcome and survive not to imply that they ought to give up. There isn’t a rape survivor alive who hasn’t wished they were dead at some point. That isn’t what makes one a victim. It is simply part of the process of becoming a survivor. Jamie does not surrender – ever. Jamie survives. He wins.

  15. This brought me to tears (which are very close to the surface today anyhow) but what an excellent analysis of the episode and how Jamie feels. He must (and does) question his manhood because his body physically roused to BJR and maybe even more because in the end he held BJR when he wept. It must have been so confusing and why it haunts him the rest of his life. If it had just been physical I think it would not has had the lasting damage that the emotional destruction did. Perfect, Beth.

  16. swenner1222

    Your writing is eloquent and insightful. You always speak to the heart of the message the book and show portray. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on these wonderful books and show

  17. Julie J. Wentzell

    Loved your take on this episode. We have an image of ourselves in our own minds but sometimes we are forced to look into the darkness and see the reality of life and what being human means. Jamie struggles with this for some time but knows that however his soul is, it belongs to Claire. Love does conquer the darkness and always will.

  18. Claudia Folt

    I enjoy your Outlander blog more than I can say. There is so much negativity out there, even from people that profess to enjoy the show. You tell it like it is in a sensible, sensitive way, and point out bits and pieces that I hadn’t even noticed or thought of. So glad that I found you! Thank you!

  19. chazak

    At this writing I still have a half-hour to go before I can watch. I am so glad I read your review first. You put it all into perspective for me, and then the quote from Dragonfly in Amber sealed the deal. Such a multilayered “organ” is one’s soul! I am amazed at Diana’s gift in writing something that is so deeply painful and insightful as Jamie describes his experience and his body’s reaction as apart from his emotions. What Claire’s strength must have been to leave him after those words from Jamie that someone “still minds for him.” Love like that is truly unconditional and rare. Looking forward to seeing the portrayals by this exceptional cast…they are more than capable of the task.

  20. Beth, I JUST finished watching ep 115. I was mesmerized. I am still processing. Yours is the only blog I wanted to read tonight. I knew you’d get to the heart of the matter. Thank you. It’s late and I think sleep may be a long time in coming.

  21. Margie Quan

    I believe that what women love about the character Jamie is that he expresses his feelings and thoughts. Most men do not do that, and women have to guess at what a/their man is going through. Jamie’s says the best things, and men are not generally like that, unless they are trying to impress a woman with “sweet talk” to get her to do things for and to him. For a non-book reader, what you have posted greatly assists a person in understanding what the character is experiencing internally (cause that is not what can be perceived just from watching the series), so I thank you for that!

  22. Lisa M

    Ok, you have been favorited, I am going to go back and read all your prior posts and you wull be my go to blog as soon as ever other episode is done from here on out.

    Wonderfully expressed and thank you.

    I had kind of been a little confused about what Claire will do in episode 116 (I’m a book reader so I do know). And you clarified that, so thank you.

    It makes the line of a character who wasn’t even in the books, Tarran McQuirie mean so much more.

    He said that Jamie was not just a bonny fighter, but that he was a warrior and that is an important distinction.

    Most of us can surprise our natural fight or flight reaction in the name of self preservation. we think I will submit to this now so that I can live and I’ll deal with the rest later.

    But Jamie really can’t do that. Fighting back, never surrendering is an integral part of who he is. It’s bigger than fear and in some cases bigger than common sense. The infamous Fraser stubborn pride.

    His love for Claire is the only thing bigger than that warrior pride bigger than fear, bigger than anything. He submits and he doesn’t even hesitate for a second.

    She risked it all for him and vice versa and that part of what makes a good marraige. The knowledge that the other person is always going to put you first no matter what.

    Claire called back that warrior instinct from where it had been vanquished and allowed it to enact it’s revenge and that is what saved Jamie….never got that before now. Thank you so much.

  23. Thank you for your amazing insights into these characters. I’m still learning to live with my own demons from the past. Looking for a positive ending has been an obsession most of my life. With the junk that many producers are putting out, I’m pleased to find Outlander, which doesn’t sugar coat the harsh moments, but finds a way to continue moving forward in spite of them.
    Jamie and Claire represent the possibilities that we all face in traveling on our individual journey. BJR represents the negative aspects of living in this damaged society. Only a fool can expect to avoid the harsh realities of life, but hopefully, we can learn to hold on to the strength that the good Lord gives to all who ask…just like Jamie and Claire.
    Like Jamie said in episode nine, it’s all about choices.

  24. Kasandra Ireland


    I am new to the Outlander world. No idea how I missed it for 20 years, but I’m so glad I’ve found it now. I binge watched the first half of the season just before the second half started and am now up to book 7.
    For me, this show is setting a new standard of excellence, and captures the relationships better than any other book to screen adaptation, I’ve seen.
    I just wanted to thank you for your eloquent and insightful thoughts on episode 15. You said everything I would have said if I were a writer. I too, was especially moved (actually haunted) by the look on Jamie’s face and the silent tears. I hope Sam gets some awards for his performance. Really, all of the actors deserve awards, their performances are so… visceral.
    Anyway, thank you.

  25. BKD

    This was really well said, Beth. I appreciate your insights into all things Outlander without invoking juvenile humor and snarkiness like so many social media outlets and personalities do.

  26. Janice

    Beth, I was as moved by your words and insights as I was by the episode itself. You always help me see the depth of the emotions the characters display in this outstanding drama. I watch each episode a second time with much more understanding and appreciation after reading your blogs. Thank you.

  27. Julie in Texas

    Beth, I so appreciate your “way with the words” – and share your feelings about these episodes. So visceral to watch versus reading (which was hard enough) – but so very necessary for their ongoing story together. The talent that these actors, directors, producers, etc is just getting better and better!
    Thanks for your time that you give so that we can all share this – – and, go through it together. And many, MANY Thanks to Diana Gabaldon for giving us many years of wonderful material to look forward to being brought to life!

  28. NK Gutierrez

    Awesome write up Beth as usuall. Thank you for all that you do with this.I have always found this part going forward the most interesting for me because it sets the stage and is a foundation for Jamie’s continuous development and future interactions. I was totally prepared and not at the same time for this episode.Luckily,i found that i was able to get through it ok. Next episode i’m not to sure about it,but i will be doing it with eyes wide open. I have found it remarkable how Diana through this series has been able to convey “love” in the sense that it’s not cookie cutter.It means different things to various people and it is expressed as differently which can be scary if one’s idea of love overlaps with what they don’t think love is or should be.That’s a mind frack right,how does one deal with everything you’ve been thought contradicts what you feel.

    The woman is an expert at exploring human behavior i tell you.The relationship dynamic in this series is excellent, thought provoking and urges looking inward the characters….I freaking love it.

    • I agree with you totally and in fact, wrote a blog article about the different kinds of love in Outlander. it’s on here somewhere! LOL! Thanks for reading and taking the time to write!

  29. In a day and age when communication is often reduced to texting, your talent to convey what ypu feel is nothing short of remarkable. As a lover of history I have spent years pouring over letters written during the Civil War. Even the simplest have an eloquence that surpasses what is often considered literature now days. You share that gift for being able to express what is in your heart and head.

    It has taken me awhile to sort my emotions out after watching 115. There is nothing that I can say that hasn’t been said about the performances of all concerned so I would like to add my two cents to why I felt it was so powerful. You start out seeing Jamie as he has been. Young, Powerful, Courageous, Defiant even in the shadow of death. What happens from that point and what tore at my heart was watching the systematic destruction of innocence. The last sight of him. The tear—

    I was struck by something one of your readers said. “sacrificing one’s self for another is not surrendering.” If he had thought to destroy Jamie he failed in part because of Claire’s love and because Jamie refuses to allow what was done to him to define him. The justice was that after seeing Jamie in Paris and in Scotland BJR knew he could never be the man he had sought to possess.

    • Thank you for the lovely compliment, but I think you might be pretty good at expressing your heart and head as well! I enjoyed reading this very much would you mind if i posted it on Twitter?

    • DebbyMc

      You, also are remarkably eloquent.

      The sacrificing statement by the other reader is so true. It’s in the sacrificing to save Claire that Jamie actually wins in an unwinnable situation, horrendous as the events are. BJR may reach most of the corners of Jamie’s soul but the love bond between Claire and Jamie is something that cannot be touched or broken. The one thing that BJR cannot ruin or claim is the thing that he needs the most.

  30. Char

    You make a very good point about Jamie’s disgust and despair at his own arousal. That’s a factor in rape that is never addressed, and undoubtedly makes it hideously worse for victims (and it’s something BJR is well aware of, and uses as yet another weapon). I read an account of a victim of homosexual rape; he was a teen at the time, and it had taken him decades to stop blaming himself and to understand, as he put it, “if an elephant touches your cock, it’s going to get hard.”

  31. As tough as this part was in the book and the episode I think that fact that they do surrvive and go on speaks momuments of their love. This really is the best love story out there (Romeo and Juliet who?) But I really like how you wrote it so thank you.
    Icelandic regards,

  32. Cheryl Clifford

    Beth, thank you! Thank you so much for putting into words thoughts and feelings I’m having that I truly didn’t know how to express.

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