Outlander Surrender Review
Starz’s Outlander: Season 3, Episode 2: Surrender contained an unbelievable moment, so horrific that the viewer’s hand may have still been covering their agape mouth minutes after it was over and done with. That moment is why Outlander is one of the best dramas currently on television – it unflinching goes in directions that the viewer never expected. Outlander is all about good storytelling, regardless of what its writers have to do to a good or bad character in the process. No one is safe in Outlander‘s narrative, like in George R.R. Martin‘s book series A Song of Ice and Fire.
Claudel “Fergus” Fraser (Romann Berrux) had always been a spitfire yet dutiful, never failing to do a task assigned to him. Fergus saw someone to look up to in James “Jamie” MacKenzie Fraser and something to aspire to be a part of when it came to the Fraser family. Fergus’ resolute nature about the British was a stark contrast to Jamie’s sullen intransigence on the subject in Surrender. Fergus was the id of the old Jamie during Surrender, a walking, talking, boisterous version of that begone Scotsman, with a large dose of Dougal MacKenzie in the mix as well.
Fergus’ increasingly pugnacious antics towards the British soldiers during Surrender proved that point right up to the horrific moment that changed Fergus’ life forever. What made that moment so devastating was because of Fergus’ age, the viewer didn’t think that anything really bad was going to happen to Fergus, especially since all he had done was throw insults at the British soldiers (forgetting the fact that Fergus had been raped by an adult last season). The Scot-in-British-clothing showed how wrong and infantile that assumption had been.
What made the scene even more disturbing was that unlike a similar scene with Ser Jaime “The Kingslayer” Lannister in Game of Thrones, the camera didn’t fade to black with the victim’s screams. Surrender‘s camera stayed on the damage and its implications, driving home what had just happened. The camera stayed on the blood and the severed limb as Fergus was carried to safety, making sure the viewer knew that what had just transpired was no dream sequence.
That single scene in Surrender accomplished what most modern horror films fail to – the creation of meaningful horror. Doing something horrible to an empty vessel that looks and sounds like a person is pointless. Fergus was no empty vessel. He had insinuated himself into the Fraser’s lives through the virtues of his: inherent goodness, optimism, loyalty, and steadfastness. Because of all that, when something happened to him, it meant something. The viewer felt something. That was the result of Fergus’ maiming in Surrender i.e. meaningful horror. It shook Jaime Fraser (Sam Heughan) loose of the sorrow that he had wallowed in for years and stirred him to action. An action to stop further atrocities from happening to Frasers and those they held near and dear.
Before Surrender, the viewer never thought they could feel sorrow for someone that looked, sounded, and shared ancestry with Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall but they did so for Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies). At what point does one throw in the towel on a relationship? When the other person in that relationship is using you for sex while thinking of someone else? Frank Randall had already made certain concessions to remain with Claire Beauchamp Randall/Fraser (Caitriona Balfe), hoping to win her back, but the events in Surrender should have proved to Frank, after all the time that had already passed since Claire’s return, that his ardent wish was never going to be fulfilled.
The Frank / Claire scenes in Surrender were like watching a theater tragedy play out. Only briefly, ever so briefly, did Frank have back the Claire that he had lost (at least in his mind anyway). His fervent wish had been achieved until he realized what was really going on. The Frank / Claire’s segment of Surrender ended on such a sad note, sleeping in separate beds (signifying that all romance and coital activities had long since died), that it should have been a wake up gong to Frank – it’s over. Get out. Move on. Don’t settle for the shell of a relationship. Go out and find complete happiness in the arms of another. Claire had.
She was still in those arms during Surrender, despite Frank’s efforts to the contrary. Surrendering to reality, however, had never been Frank Randall’s forte.
It certainly wasn’t Claire Randall’s in Surrender. She was determined to fight societal norms and push forward regardless of the severe dysfunction of her current marriage. Though a sub-plot of Claire Randall’s storyline at this point in Outlander, Claire stepping into new, previously barred roles for women in society is becoming far more intriguing than her martial life.
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