TV Review: ‘Outlander’ Season Finale – “To Ransom A Man’s Soul”

Outlander Finale

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

Let’s first take a moment to talk about Sam Heughan. The Outlander finale is undoubtedly Heughan’s episode, and this is where we get to see just how far his talent stretches. Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies have their share of moments in this episode and earlier on in the season, but I feel like Heughan’s work as Jamie never got to the places Claire and Frank/Black Jack did. Until now. He is amazing in an episode that is so awfully brutal, terrorizing and unforgettable. I don’t agree with how far the show goes into exhibiting Jamie’s torture at the hands of Black Jack, but I can’t deny that each excruciating moment is emotionally powerful and devastating. (If violence, torture, abuse, and rape are triggers for you, I don’t suggest watching this episode or reading the rest of this review.)

The episode begins with a Jamie lying naked with a dead look in his eyes. Black Jack awakens next to him and gets up. Jamie reminds him of their bargain, and when Black Jack is about to make good on that promise, he walks away, distracted by a rumbling noise from the outside. A charge of cattle runs Black Jack down as they storm the prison with Murtagh, Angus, and Rupert right behind them. Jamie’s rescue is quick and easy; they meet up with Claire and head to a monastery to hide and help heal Jamie’s wounds.

Rescuing Jamie from the prison wasn’t the biggest obstacle of the episode. Saving Jamie from himself is, and you can’t blame him. What was referenced in the book is played out onscreen, and it’s not something you can ever prepare for. In fact, I’m not even sure why it was necessary to show what Black Jack did to Jamie. I feel like Sam Heughan does have the skill to drive home the profundity of what happened to him with just words, not action. Unlike the last episode where we got a visceral glimpse of Black Jack’s sadism, at least that fell into the story and moved the plot. The flashbacks in the finale take it too far, and there are too many. Frankly, I never got this close to shutting off an episode of Outlander. I didn’t need to see that happen especially to a character I have come to love.

Jamie is in a dark place, and Claire is having a hard time getting through to him. When he looks at Claire, her face turns into Black Jack’s. Claire can help mend Jamie’s physical wounds, but it takes some serious tough love from her to get through to Jamie. It’s like a breath of fresh air after suffocating in darkness for so long when Claire finally succeeds. The striking tenderness and strength of their love fills us back up with hope. Jamie may not exactly be the same, but he is getting better, or at least striving to.

The end has Jamie and Claire embarking on their next journey as they head to France. There they hope to change the future by stopping the uprising and preventing the battle of Culloden. Before they start though, Claire has one more thing to tell him: She’s pregnant. She’s frightened that Jamie wouldn’t be happy about the news, but he is surprised by his happiness, as he was unsure he would ever feel happy after what he went through. It’s the happiest ending these two could have after everything they’ve been through, and it’s with all of this fervent, bright hope that we see Claire and Jamie sail off into the sunset.

The first season of Outlander was riveting, exciting, and emotional in so many wonderful and devastating ways. Imperfect at times, I greatly enjoyed many moments this season and can’t wait to see what they do with Season 2, which I know is going to be doozy.

Episode 16 Rating: 7/10

Season 1 Rating: 8.5/10

Favorite Episode: (TIE) “The Wedding” and “The Devil’s Mark

Outlander is rated TV-MA and returns in 2016 on Starz.

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.
  • uffauffa

    “What was referenced in the book is played out onscreen, and it’s not
    something you can ever prepare for. In fact, I’m not even sure why it
    was necessary to show what Black Jack did to Jamie. I feel like Sam
    Heughan does have the skill to drive home the profundity of what
    happened to him with just words, not action.” thanks for saying this. I’ve reading a lot of praise about how brave the show was at depicting the rape and nobody questions if it was really necessary. It wasn’t and thanks for pointing it out.

    • Elizabeth R. Wolfe

      I believe it was necessary. I’ve seen lots of comments (places like this, Twitter, etc.) that say it all went to far. But what did you really SEE vs what did your mind put there? Several people have said “I get that Jack was evil and horrific – we didn’t need to see so much of it!” BUT – the physical abuse was the least of the issue – it was the emotional and mental abuse that was far worse – breaking Jamie’s spirit. That was the lingering, touching, gentle, slimy stuff. How can one truly grasp – not BJR’s evilness – but Jamie’s brokenness if you don’t fully comprehend what broke him?

      • uffauffa

        those rape and torture scenes took 20 mins. do you really needed all the details to understand what happened? 20 mins of rape? way less minutes would have sufficed. acutally it can be done without showing any at all. how? trusting your audience to be intelligent enough and trusting your lead actor to show it without lingering on rape-porn. It’s possible, it’s factible and there’s a movie out in the cinemas in this very moment that does it perfectly.

  • Judy

    The finale was very disappointing and disturbing.
    I’ve felt very unsettled since viewing it. The graphic unending details were
    very unnecessary. Well I suppose we haven’t reached the bottom yet as each
    series tries to out-shock the one before. Gratuitious violence – surely the
    writers have more finesse and intelligence!

    • Grace Danielson

      Without any spoilers, this was the most disturbing event of the books I’ve read (5 out of 8). There is still rape but nothing like what Jamie goes through in the first book. Outlander series is not for the faint of heart but the worst is in the beginning.

  • Karri Underwood

    His condition in the book was waaaaaaaaay worse than the show. He tells Claire everything, but some of it she saw in the book, like how he was beaten to a pulp. The PTSD was very pronounced in the book, and I feel like it was downplayed a bit on screen. As brutal as the episode is, male rape isn’t often talked about in mainstream and is just as brutal and dark as rape of women. I did like the fact that a candid talk got him out of his funk rather than an opium dosing and beating from Claire. I didn’t like the removal of Jamie’s healing from the end. Once he has his bearings and begins to heal they have a few very sweet moments in the end of the novel, during a drunken stumble on some stairs after using a hot spring is where she reveals her pregnancy. Not that there wasn’t any joy in the way it was revealed in the show, but it just felt heavy. I also wish there was more behind her revealing her story to the monk, as it doesn’t seem to make a lot of context in this episode, where in the book it does. Deviating isn’t a bad thing when writers make it work. This episode is an example of trying to fit too much in one hour.

  • Rita Forsyth

    couldn’t agree more the last two depressing sadistic episodes went too far, more than necessary for the serious viewers. Perhaps they demographically tested their market, I was so turned off by the inartful manner they presented the sadistic behavior, i began to doubt the sincerity of the series, is this just a soap opera of tabloid fodder. can’t answer at this point loved the history previous to these episodes fear they lost their way $$$$$$