The first season of Outlander has come to an end with an emotionally intense episode, “To Ransom a Man’s Soul.” I have watched the episode thrice. The first time, my husband was with me, and he could not stop saying, “when will these rape scenes end?” I shared the same feeling with him. The second time I watched the episode, I was more relaxed and able to focus on the main points. The third time, I just paid attention to certain scenes. This post is not a review but a comment of those scenes in which lavender probably causes hallucinations.
The episode starts with what seems to be a lifeless Jamie in the dungeon cell. Lying beside him is Black Jack. Obviously the damage has been done at this stage. Jamie is alive but dead in spirit and mind. What was emphasized in this scene is the nudity of the rapist. The victim is naked too, but there is something disturbing that does not allow the viewer to look at the nudity of his body. Black Jack’s full frontal nudity is emphatic of his triumph, possibly his satisfaction of producing a broken man. Jamie’s curled-up position and inability to stand are emphatic of his “broken” condition.
After being rescued by Murtagh, Angus, Rupert and a bunch of Highland coos, the traumatic effects of the experience start to surface. Claire notices not only Jamie’s reluctancy to be touched but the smell of lavender, which is described as Black Jack’s signature scent in the books. Jamie sees Black Jack in his mind instead of Claire and starts strangling her. Is this a hallucination or a sign of an unstable mind?
Later at the monastery, Claire has problems in tending his injured hand. Jamie refuses her touch. She questions him about what Black Jack did to him at Wentworth. There is a change in the point of view, and the viewer becomes a witness to a violent and disturbing rape scene because of Black Jack’s inability to elicit a sexual response from Jamie.
“It’s like kissing a corpse. I know you can do better.” – Black Jack
“Take your pleasure and be done with it.” – Jamie
Afterwards there is the scene with the lavender oil, which Jamie inhales. It is known that lavender has soothing properties. The first thing that comes to Jamie’s mind after inhaling the oil is Claire, the person he loves and somebody who has healed his physical wounds in the past. However, the person administering it is the sadistic Black Jack. Therefore, an association between Claire and Black Jack is created to the point that lavender is no longer soothing to Jamie after he is rescued, something that is obvious later when Claire takes the role of Black Jack. Furthermore, Black Jack keeps reminding Jamie about Claire during this ordeal making his association with her stronger. From Outlander (585):
“He talked. All during it, he talked to me. Partly it was threats, and partly it was love talk, but often it was you.”
“Aye. He was most terribly jealous of you, you know.”
Can lavender cause hallucinations? If it is administered in high amounts, lavender can be toxic, and its first target is the central nervous system. As a result there is a possibility that an individual with an overdose could experience hallucinations. Here is a link where I found this information.
In every scene after the first rape, Jamie is seen inhaling lavender oil. Is he overdosed? At the same time, he has been bleeding from an injured hand causing him to lose consciousness several times. Overall he is weak in body (bleeding), soul and mind (after being raped). This makes it possible for him to be drugged by the oil.
The viewer also witnesses the branding by Black Jack, which I consider forceful, even though Jamie claims he did it himself. Here are some interesting lines from the dialogue between Jamie and Black Jack.
“What is her secret?” – Black Jack asking Jamie about Claire
“Now you are mine. Are you mine? “- Jamie sees Claire when Black Jack asks him this question
“Only you” – Jamie’s reply
Jamie did give a little bit of a fight before he got branded, which means that he did not consent to it. However, after this event everything goes downhill for Jamie. He breathes in more lavender oil, which is also applied to certain areas of his body. Jack Black even tells him to think about Claire while applying the oil to him. Even Black Jack puts the oil all over himself. Then they proceed to have sex, something that Jamie is ashamed of, especially after Randall telling him, “how could she ever forgive you?” This is reminiscent of the following quotation from Outlander (585).
“Oh, yes. He would ask me – while he touched me – he would ask, ‘Does she do this for you? Can your woman r-rouse you like this?'” His voice trembled. “I wouldna answer him- I couldn’t. And then, he’d ask how I thought you would feel to see me … to see me ….” He bit his lip hard, unable to go on for a moment.
Is this sex scene consensual? I guess this is a matter of personal opinion. Jamie does not have any vision of Claire in this scene. However, it is likely he is drugged, and it is possible that he did have some visions of Claire since Black Jack kept reminding him of her. Personally I see it as rape. This is further supported by Claire when she tells him that there is nothing to forgive.
Of course, Claire is aware that there is something that he is hiding from her based on the conversation she had with Murtagh and after hearing about Jamie’s suicidal tendencies from Willie. This leads her to reenact the dark moments Jamie had with Black Jack by taking the role of the tormentor. This is how she realizes that Jamie got branded and that Black Jack “made love” to him. This whole scene is characterized by superb acting and meaningful lines.
“Randall had your body, but I’ll be damned if he has your soul.” – Claire
“You belong to no one else but me. And I belong to you. And nothing will ever change that.” – Claire
“How can you have me like this?” – Jamie
“I’ll have you any way I can.” – Claire
Basically Claire brings Jamie back with love. The scene in which they hug each other is emotional. It does not matter whether Black Jack took Jamie’s body. There is simply no love between them. Of course, there might be other feelings between them, bad and good. It is obvious that Black Jack admires Jamie for what he is, but he is also jealous of both him and his wife.
This scene is different and shorter than the one in the books. However, it is well-done and perfectly adapted to the TV medium.
Jamie will never get fully healed from this experience. However, it will take some time for him to be himself again. Getting rid of Black Jack’s brand is the first step. He is also genuinely happy with the revelation of Claire’s pregnancy once they are on their way to France aboard a ship. I sincerely enjoyed watching this scene, even though I do miss the scene in the hot springs at the end of the first book. I guess there were some budget constraints but also it would be terribly bad to add a sex scene when Jamie is still recovering from his ordeal.
For those who like to read my posts concerning the books, I will be writing more about them by the first week of July.
Gabaldon, Diana. Outlander. New York: Bantam Books, 1991. Print.