You’ll need a strong stomach for the scenes with Jamie, but this is easily the best episode so far. I had my doubts when reviewers repeatedly told viewers, “Don’t worry if you’re disappointed so far because it gets great in the sixth episode!”
But they were right, you see. This felt like an entirely different show. I even thought Caitriona Balfe did a credible job as Claire, right when I was totally losing faith in her acting abilities. But good God is Claire a stupid woman sometimes. A lot of the conflict in the show is coming from that character’s stupidity. The things she says and the danger she puts people in…
Outlander is characterised by long, long scenes and a slow burn immediately before we’re slapped in the face with a cliffhanger. However, the long scene in this one worked wonderfully, involved some pretty gruesome flashbacks of Jamie’s torture at the hands of Black Jack Randall, and was by far the most emotionally engaging moment of the series so far.
One thing: I get that Randall is a sadist, but Gabaldon (and the show’s producers) do themselves no favours portraying the only homosexual (or is that bisexual?) character as the epitome of evil, and throwing kinky sexual tendencies into the mix just adds another layer of what many could easily perceive as bigotry. They made Randall even more evil in the episode than in the book!
But that aside, the thing I know had some viewers changing the channel was exactly how gruesome the whipping of Jamie’s back was. Think Passion of the Christ gruesome (which I saw once, back when it came out, and don’t plan to see again). Holy moly, that was more than I needed to see, but it was a tear-jerker of a scene.
The ending was good, and some much needed relief from the intensity of the earlier scenes.
With this sixth episode, Outlander seems to have found its way. I suppose it could be argued the book didn’t find its way until this point, either, so the show’s producers aren’t entirely to blame. This is the interesting stuff, not Claire’s bizarre obsession with botany!!