In this edition of our weekly “Outlander” video recap discussion (watch below), I am joined by Gold Derby editor Tom O’Neil (self-professed “number-one ‘Outlander’ fan”) and contributing writers Amanda Spears and Ted Stevenson to dish the penultimate episode of season two, “The Hail Mary,” which was directed by Philip John and written by Ira Steven Behr and Anne Kenney.
After two action-packed episodes, viewers were treated to a more introspective installment. Our heroine Claire (Caitriona Balfe) makes a deal with the devil, her nemesis ‘Black Jack’ Randall (Tobias Menzies). She wants him to marry her friend Mary Hawkins (Rosie Day) so that Mary might be assured of a better life as Randall’s brother and the love of Mary’s life Alex (Laurence Dobiesz), lies wasting away on his death bed.
“What I really liked about it was that we see Claire as a modern woman,” declares O’Neil. “Her desire to get Mary paired off with Black Jack,” he says, “is one of the cool things about this show. It’s that a strong woman can go back in time into this era; woman are powerless here, they have no property, so we need to be smart so we’re going to set her up, “ he explains. “She brings all this great wisdom, despite this being so repellent to her normally, because she’s a fixer, she heals people and she changes lives.”
Stevenson agrees that the scenes between Claire and Randall were the highlight of the episode. “I love it how they were reunited in that bedroom around sick Alex, and you can see it on his face that he is going through all of these emotions. He really needs her, but he hates her, he also respects her because he knows that she’s smart and she can handle the situation of can alleviate his pain a little bit.”
“We get to see another side to Black Jack,” I add. “He’s the moustache-twirling villain of the series and here he’s desperate, he can see that his brother is on the way out. He’s actually a human being with emotions, and we actually feel for him.” Spears gives a lot of the credit to both Balfe and Menzies, noting “all the credit in the world to Caitriona and Tobias for really dominating this episode,” while I observe that “Tobias Menzies is such an amazing actor and does a really great job with ‘Black Jack’ and giving him some empathy and making us feel for this guy.”
While some of the episode takes place back near Culloden Moor as the army led by ‘Red Jamie’ (Sam Heughan) and Bonnie Prince Charlie (Andrew Gower) ready themselves for battle, the real focus was the to-and-fro between Claire and Randall, and the audience’s wrestling with having to feel for the detestable ‘Black Jack’. O’Neil says that ultimately, we as viewers go along for the ride because of Claire. “Underneath it all is Claire’s decency for wanting to help his brother,” he explains. “There’s something so wonderful about this woman and her great spirit and humanity and her desire to do the right thing that shines here.”
We also discuss whether this episode has any Emmy prospects and look forward to the eagerly anticipated season finale “Dragonfly in Amber,” which will air on Starz on July 9. Be sure to make your Emmy predictions right here. You’ll compete to win our contest prizes for best picks — $500 (first place), $300 (second place) and $200 (third place) in Amazon gift certificates — a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Emmy nominations). Be sure to read our contest rules.