I have heard the fearful rumblings. Some will choose to not watch Saturday’s episode, and that is certainly their prerogative. (Trust me, I get trigger warnings. Do what you gotta do! No judging here.) But I will be watching. I won’t hide behind a pillow. I won’t be live-tweeting. I. Will. Watch. (Admittedly, there may be a dram or two at hand. And Kleenex…plenty of Kleenex.)
Before I go any further, in leiu of a proper “Trigger Warning Font,” please allow me to just switch to my big, red warning font:
TRIGGER WARNINGS AND SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW.
DINNA SAE YE WERE NAE WARNED.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way…
Saturday means Wentworth. It means sacrifice. It means Curl-Into-The-Fetal-Position-While-Still-Trying-To-Keep-The-Whisky-Flowing. But it also means a turning point. Up until Wentworth, Jamie fought tooth and nail to protect Claire (despite the fact she had an annoying 20th century habit of wandering off, speaking her mind, and generally causing mayhem). But at Wentworth, Jamie protects Claire by NOT fighting. Well, at least not in the normal sense of the word.
In order to see Claire safely delivered from Wentworth prison and the clutches of Black Jack Randall, Jamie agrees to allow BJR take free liberty with his body. Jamie agrees not to resist. He pledges to accept whatever Black Jack wants of him—no matter how painful, or degrading, or horrific. Jamie agrees to it, because his body is the only thing he is in a position to bargain. He agrees to it, because no price is too great to protect the woman he loves. (Excuse me while I swoon a little…nevermind, it was just the whisky.)
And Jamie is true to his word. Jamie does not resist…but that doesn’t mean he didn’t fight. Jamie—so strong, so proud—he most certainly fought. He fought himself. He fought every survival instinct that told him to Make. It. Stop. Jamie fought his own humiliation, and disgust, and fear, and pain, and arousal, and shame. Yes, there was a struggle going on; for a while, Jamie sure beat the hell out of himself.
Certainly at the abbey, Claire was left with a broken man. Go back, he said. Just let me die, he said. Definitely not the Jamie we are used to. But then, he had planned on dying in Wentworth. And, to be honest, that which he could hope to erase in death was simply more than he was equipped to live with when he finds himself very much alive. Jamie admits as much to Claire.
But how do you give someone back their pride, their dignity? Jamie couldn’t fight for Claire at Wentworth—he had given his word and he meant to keep it. But Claire could help him fight the lingering demons. And, when finally relieved of his vow, fight he did. Jamie awoke the next day to a wrecked room, a naked wife, and only fragmented memories of the battle that they had waged together.
One of my other posts garnered some comments about Outlander being awfully “rape-y.”
Rape also happens a lot in Outlander…because, well, rape happens a lot. Period. Claire does not escape this harsh reality. When Jamie comes with Young Ian, Roger, and the men of Fraser’s Ridge, the drums echoing in the darkness*, he is faced with a very battered and abused woman. The first time I read that book, I wept. And not pretty, lady-like crying, no. I cried that “Swollen-Eyes-Runny-Nose-Can’t-Breathe-Just-Pass-The-Damned-Kleenex” kind of crying. Jamie was ferocious in his attack on her assailants, unspeakably gentle in his ministrations to Claire, and clear minded about the possible repurcussions of her rape, say, oh, nine months hence. What threw me at first, though, was what he thought to himself when Claire very, erm, aggressively commenced their their first Post-Rape Consummation.
She fought then, that’s good. (Or words to that effect.)
At first, it rubbed me the wrong way–as if fighting were something she owed him. But then I realized that Jamie, of all people, would understand better than that. He knew that fighting was something she needed. She needed to fight…to fight through the anger, helplessness, and humiliation. Just as he had demons to fight, so did Claire. And she screamed and clawed and raged…just as he had. And he let her…just has she had.
Brianna, ever her parent’s daughter, also did not escape the 17th century unscathed and, like them, she struggled with it. Jamie watched her brooding over whether she might have somehow fought off the attack. Instead of trying to sooth her with soft words and reassurances; however, he provokes her, riles up here anger, and shows her just how futile her fists would have been; in doing so, he assuages her guilt in a way that no mere words could have done.
He also helped Brianna to forgive–and not just herself. Jamie confides in her that forgiveness is a choice he makes every day. Every day. Over twenty years have passed, and he still has to face the past and make the choice. The Choice. He did not “reach a place where he could forgive” or “learn to forgive.” Jamie chose to forgive. And, in choosing, he takes back some of the power he handed over on a dark night, at a place called Wentworth.
No, the struggle didn’t end when he was freed from Wentworth, nor when Claire made him face his demons at the abbey. The struggle didn’t end.
The struggle didn’t end for Claire once the bruises faded. The struggle didn’t end for Brianna just because she tried to hide what had happened. And Jamie knows this all too well…he shares the burden of knowledge.
And while the Wentworth will be painful to watch…it is honest: things that happen to us (and yes, sometimes things that we allow to happen to us) aren’t resolved neatly at the end of an hour.
Having read the books, I know what will happen. I also know how Jamie’s decision at Wentworth echoes through the rest of the books. While perhaps not quite so deep and festering after a time, the choice does leave a very prominent scar—less visible than those he bears on his back, of course, but a scar nonetheless.
So I will try to face Wentworth with the same unflinching resolve as Jamie did…and I will fight off the specters afterwards.
*Fan girl admission: this bit is one of my favorites. The description of the bodhrán gives me goosebumps. Seriously. Every Time.