TV Review: Outlander 1×15 – “Wentworth Prison”

Outlander 2014

Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of Outlander. To catch up on previous coverage, click here.

This week’s new Outlander episode isn’t an easy one. In fact, it’s the show’s most brutal and moving episode yet. If you’ve read the books, you know what’s coming, and if you haven’t, prepare yourself for Black Jack’s return because to say it’s disturbing is an understatement. (If violence, torture, abuse, and rape are triggers for you, I don’t suggest watching this episode or reading the rest of this review.)

I’ve seen some debates recently between avid TV watchers about how entertainment’s main objective is to make you happy, escape to a new world and forget about the bad in your own life. In a way, that’s true. I love escaping into a good story with engaging characters and losing myself for an hour or two at a time. It makes me happy. However, I don’t require it to always make me happy. Sometimes, I want it to make me sad, to frighten me, to move me, to make me think, discover, and see something—whether good or bad—in a new light. Television is an art in the form of visual storytelling, and if we want to be honest about our world, society, history, and most importantly ourselves, we shouldn’t always want completely “happy” stories that don’t challenge us one way or another.

That’s not to say I actually enjoy watching Black Jack torture Jamie Fraser, by smashing his hand repeatedly with a hammer and then nailing it to a table. It had me curled up in fright and then seething with anger as I watched Claire cling to him crying, realizing that they are both totally helpless against the evil Red Coat captain in this situation. The opening scene is unflinching as we see Scottish prisoners get hanged one after another. The scene where Claire is dumped in a nest of those dead, hanged men bodies is just as visceral.

Nothing compares to Black Jack’s sadistic pleasure of torturing and breaking Jamie though. Thankfully, this episode doesn’t show us all of Black Jack’s plans for Jamie, but the teasing alone is enough to make hairs rise and goosebumps appear. It’s dreadfully sad when a single tear falls down Jamie’s face as Black Jack taunts him. Seeing Jamie, who was always big, strong, good, and oh-so-hopeful, accept that this is how his life will end is hard thing to swallow. For the first time all season, I cried. This buildup of awful scenes moved me in a way it hadn’t before. We spent the whole season getting to know these characters to eventually get to this moment that even Black Jack says will be one we won’t ever forget.

Outlander 2014

Again, this episode isn’t easy to digest at all, but you do have to understand that story doesn’t end here. We see that as Claire, Murtagh, and Dougal’s men work together outside the prison walls to help Jamie escape. Even after her encounter with Black Jack, Claire isn’t giving up, and neither are the men because Murtagh has a plan. It’s with that huge spark of hope after a tough episode that left me breathless but mostly intrigued. Now, we’re going to be heading into a new direction with these characters, as they deal with the fallout of this situation. Is it safe to assume that Jamie survives? I sure hope so because I want to see Outlander tackle the psychological and physical after-effects of such abuse with a character like Jamie. (And I also want to see Black Jack die.)

Rating: 8/10

Outlander is rated TV-MA and airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Starz. The season finale will air on May 30th. 

Check out all of our Outlander coverage here. 

Gabrielle is 27 years old and lives in Chicago. She enjoys writing about film, TV, and books, but occasionally writes about music as well. In addition to writing for, she also the editor-in-chief and a co-founder. In her spare time, she’s either watching more movies and shows or reading more books, while continuously checking Twitter, which she may or may not be addicted to… Feel free to email her your thoughts, ideas and questions.
  • D R Allen

    Gabrielle, what an EXCELLENT review! I am a long-time fan of Dr. G’s, and have been dreading watching this episode ever since it was announced that Starz was handling the production! :-P (cowardly (unlike you), I’m not planning on watching ep15 until ep16 is also available).

    I REALLY regret that I didn’t run across you and your reviews until ep15 had already been aired. I’ve gone back, read them all, and have enjoyed the insight you’ve shown in ALL of them :-)

    [NOTE: there ARE a couple of boo-boos, though. Is it too late for you to go back and fix Ms. Duncan’s name? She’s GEILLIS (not GELLIS) and it’s a little jarring for a long-time fan like myself to see it misspelled in ALL of your reviews]
    [NOTE 2: If you (as co-founder of this site) would answer this “netiquette” question – would it be appropriate for me to add my reactions to your past articles? I provide a VERY different viewpoint as (besides being a male Outlander fan) I am from one of the old Scottish families (the Allens are a sept of the Clan Donald) in which every generation (for the past 300 years) has provided one or more officers to the military. One of the MANY reasons I prize this series of books is the sympathetic understanding Diana Gabaldon shows of the military culture (that so many authors don’t). But – I wouldn’t want to alter the “flavour” of your website’s past comments w/out your consent.
    [NOTE 3: Notes 1 – 3 will be deleted (via DISQUS) on your reply – I’d just as soon not be guilty of cluttering up your comment section w/questions :-) ] -Dave-

    • Hi Dave,

      Thank you for your enthusiastic comment. I’m happy you’ve enjoyed my reviews. I can’t believe I’ve been misspelling Geillis’ name incorrectly all of this time. Thank you for pointing that out. I will fix those mistakes once I get a chance.

      Please feel free to comment on past reviews. Thanks again! – Gabrielle

  • Pingback: Outlander Review: A Brutal Finale Leads to a Hopeful Second Chapter | The Young Folks()