"I live in darkness"

This darkness, this darkness is really a recurring theme in Season 1 ... it was lying in wait for Frank Randall, but Reverend Wakefield advised him to turn away from it. They engulfed Jamie Fraser, but Claire managed to extricate them.


Even more than for our two unfortunate heroes, this darkness is part of Black Jack Randall's life, this darkness is his daily bread.


This character is very dark in the book but also quite mysterious. We only know what Claire perceives of him or what she heard about him. One thing is obvious: he developed an obsession with Jamie the day the young man resisted him. It is a classic mechanism of envy: it is all the more exacerbated in the face of what persists in escaping it. The young Highlander had repelled his advances, insulted him, and later also refused to cry for mercy while Randall whipped him.


When Jamie Fraser found himself in Wentworth Prison, Black Jack Randall jumped at the chance to bargain for Claire's freedom over Jamie's abandonment ... because "the lure of a self-giving victim 'herself proved to be irresistible. " (Chap. 35) He then took pleasure in torturing the young man to make him bend, in one way or another. Alternating violence and caresses, he confused Jamie to the point that he ended up being disgusted with himself. And then there's this awful moment that Jamie related to Claire:


I would have licked his boots and called him King of Scots, if he had asked me. But I couldn't bring myself to tell him that. So he took me brutally again, and as he came and went in me, kept repeating: "Tell me that you love me, Alex, tell me that you love me." "


- He called you Alex? I couldn't help but ask.


- Yes. I also wondered how he knew my middle name. Finally ... I did not move or say a word. When he was done he went mad. He started beating me again, yelling, "You know you love me!" Say it ! I know this is true! I protected myself as best I could and eventually passed out. When I woke up I was tossing around on my stomach, across a saddle, then nothing new until I found myself by the fire in Eldridge, you leaning over me. I believe that ... if I had told him what he wanted ... he would have killed me. "(Chap. 40)


So, in the book, the last word escaped Randall.

That said, if the young man did not give up the last inch that remained to him of his land, he nevertheless came out demolished. And, as we saw next, Jamie went through that difficult time when survival weighs far more than fear of death.


What did BJR really want in these last moments?


The character's deep intentions remain unclear: Did he want to hear this statement for himself or just to crack Jamie?


Was it perversion or perversity here?


The question remains unanswered.





PS Was Alex BJR's brother or was he the young man who hanged himself after giving in to BJR's advances just before he met Jamie? - We are not sure of either answer. And if you want to know what Diana Gabaldon thinks ... know that she doesn't have the answer either.






In the series, the malevolence of the character of Jonathan Wolverton Randall seems to me even more decided and well highlighted - if I dare say ...


We know that it was the exercise of his profession that transformed him and we discover that he has enough perspective on himself to take pleasure in this situation and even discuss it occasionally with someone: when he has fun confessing his darkness to Claire just before assaulting her and declaring to her "I live in darkness, madam, and I belong to them" (episode 6), and later, when he is about to take Jamie by force, "Do you think I don't control the darkness in me?" (Episode 16).


He is perfectly aware of what is going on within him and he regularly derives satisfaction not only from making someone suffer but also from observing a third person looking at the one who is suffering. We can notice here a really sophisticated form of cruelty. At this point, he uses the 1st person who suffers as an object in order to reach the 2nd person who suffers to see the 1st suffering: this is what happens when he pulls on Jenny's blouse and forces Jamie to lift his eyes to look at her (episode 2), this is again what happens when he grabs Jamie's head to force a kiss on her but first glances at Claire to make sure she's looking at it. that will happen (episode 12).


In the same vein, we notice on several occasions that he also derives satisfaction from causing someone to make another person suffer. The example of Corporal Hawkins whom he incites to hit Claire is typical (episode 6). He orders her to make a gesture that any man of honor forbids himself: hitting a woman, and he obliges her to do so while discussing the appreciable sides of this gesture. The poor boy, torn between his principles and the fear that his officer inspires in him, attacks the young woman with the tip of his foot and is finally saved by the smashing arrival of Dougal MacKenzie who has come to Claire's rescue.


BJR therefore likes to push others to do evil, to cross boundaries and to find themselves in darkness. He likes to control others and this is even more obvious in the original version because when he gives an order to someone who does not immediately comply, Randall then commands him "Do it!" ("do it!"). This happens several times in season 1: we saw it with Corporal Hawkins, but he also does it with Marley against whom he gets angry because he obeys too slowly at will (episode 15) and it is also the case with Jamie (episode 16), when he pushes him to mark himself with the white-hot seal.


He had been particularly interested in James Fraser because he had noticed his pride and strength of character in Lallybroch. He then fell in love with the young man when he "held on. He endured his punishment in silence." We see Randall recount his memories and his thought process to Claire (episode 8): “It was a bad testimony to the onlookers, soldiers and civilians alike. I couldn't tolerate this insult to the Crown. So yes, I did. decided he deserved 100 more lashes. This time, I'll do it myself. " Approaching him, Black Jack Randall noticed that he was shaking. Curious to see what wood the young man was made of, he questioned him and the result certainly lived up to his expectations: "Are you shaking ... are you afraid?" - "I'm only afraid of catching a cold while waiting for you!"

By Marie Modica 

Illustrations: Gratianne Garcia 

For Jamie, the memories of each of these moments feed his worst nightmares. He explains it to Claire: "I didn't understand what he was talking about. He talked for a while ... He likes to do that. He likes to have fun with his toys!" (Episode 12). Trapped in a dynamic akin to the game of cat and mouse of which he found himself the victim, the poor young man really believed that it was a game. Yet he was seriously mistaken. We know, indeed, that all this is serious for Black Jack Randall ... it is even extremely serious!


His interpreter, Tobias Menzies, opened up about it in several interviews when talking about the character: "Jack is not an inherently bad person, but he has been distorted by his experiences. (...) It is a study on sadism. (…) There is enormous admiration for this young man who is able to endure more physical pain than Jack has ever administered to any other person. As a sadist who is interested in human pain. and at the limits of human endurance, it fascinates him. " This explains this statement from BJR: "I will break you." It wasn't even a threat to Jamie, it was just an announcement of his goal. A promise he made to him as to himself.


So that's why Randall especially didn't want Jamie to die so quickly in Wentworth Prison, that's why he even made him serve a meal in the cell: so that the young man replenishes some of his strength before facing him. .. and continues to be hothead in front of his executioner. And when Jamie assured him that he wouldn't surrender, BJR who was scrutinizing his reactions made no secret of his own joy at the prospect of his study being prolonged: "I have to say, there is a part of me that would be disappointed. if you did. " And he adds, probably speaking from his own inner experience: "But any man can be broken, there is nothing to be ashamed of."


He speaks to her in a friendly tone as he calculates a new angle of approach. The physical stamina has already been tested and for now it still holds, so he will look to Jamie's mental endurance side: the anguished memory of the torture stake and his bruised flesh may be a spring for it. destabilization ... Randall thus pretends to be interested in the back of the young man and this one initially seems to remain unmoved but finally leaps like a caged lion. He let himself be approached but, in reality, he does not want to let it go and he attacks with all his strength. However the situation is reversed quickly because if he struggles with the energy of despair, he is not in great shape and above all he is hampered by chains.


At the end of this fight which will not have surprised Randall because it shows a fighting spirit still in action, Jamie is overpowered by Marley and punished for having raised his hand on his executioner. The hand that struck first is the one that is mutilated ... while Black Jack accuses his victim of being responsible for the harm inflicted on him: "Why are you forcing me to treat you so abominably? Why do you choose to spend the last hours of your life like a wretched cripple? Why are you forcing me to hurt yourself? These questions and this reproach shock us and show us the extent of the character's perversity.


Even more: he gloats at first coldly but when he approaches Jamie and sees him so vulnerable, the urge takes him to use him to satisfy his perversion in the moment. He first makes sure that

Jamie has come to his senses enough to realize that he is being used in a degrading way ... "I could take you right now ..." he told her. Yet he stops.


He suddenly remembered the goal he had set with this young man. What he wants above all is to break it and he realizes that he will not succeed in this way because this one has just said to him: "I will kill you!" in a muffled moan. He then decides to leave the room, giving her a warning in line with the perverse speech he was giving her just before: "If only you would stop resisting me, I could make it so much easier for you. I'm here. to help you, don't fight me. "


Why did he come out at that time? It seems to me that it is to relieve the pressure for a moment, to allow Jamie to reflect on this temptation to be easy and, perhaps, to succumb to it ...


What Black Jack would want is for Jamie to crack like Alex once did (and probably a number of other young people before him ...?) And agree to do anything in exchange for it. 'a rapid execution and nobler than the rope. He would like to get a surrender from the young man and we can assume he was still wondering how he would go about it the moment he walked into the cell and caught Claire right in her attempt to rescue.


The young woman, despite herself, offers him the best solution on a set: instead of thwarting his plans, she arrives at the right time to become the instrument with which Randall can put pressure on the subject of his study. He understood, in fact, that young people are deeply attached to each other. Didn't Jamie dangerously expose himself to Fort William to come to the aid of his beloved? And didn't Claire just do the same in the prison where her husband is being held?


According to a technique that does not require much hesitation for those who have hardly any qualms, Randall therefore attacks the young woman to make the young man bend. And this time, of course, he gets exactly what he wanted and even beyond all his expectations. Jamie demands that Claire be brought to safety and, in return, he swears, "You can do whatever you want. I won't resist." and he proved it to her the next instant by letting his mutilated hand nailed to the table.


In exchange for this engagement from Jamie, BJR had agreed to get Claire out. We thus realize that on the fringes of all his malice and perversity, he remains a man of his word. Decidedly, human nature is always very complex! ... that said, Randall does not take much form to respect his word: he quickly gets rid of the young woman by evacuating her through the condemned man's hole, does not care whether she is going to leave go out and hurry back to the cell to get back to what interests him.


Finally Jamie has indeed cracked, not for himself but to preserve Claire. Black Jack is delighted, he knows he has the rest of the night to make the young man scream thanks and the next few hours promise to be interesting. He therefore quietly resumes his work of undermining by returning to his study of Jamie's trauma. Leaning over his victim, kept motionless with this nail stuck in his hand, he looks like an entomologist leaning over an unfortunate insect pinned to a board ... with the difference that where the insect would have died, the young man is here full of life !


First there is this freezing silence and these gestures executed from behind: the torn shirt, the bare back and this caress. Then the sadist's satisfied observation: "a masterpiece". And then this clinical question: "How does it feel to be alive and carry so much dead flesh?" He finally lets all his malice and perversion express itself while Jamie, prevented from moving because of the nail and his promise, is petrified by the horror (episode 15).

Randall is so close to Jamie at this point that he certainly realizes his condition. Like a cat playing with a trapped mouse and tickling it with the tip of its paw, it slips near the back of its neck: "Shall we start?" - these words are both ironic (start what exactly? Jamie's back is proof that all this is only the resumption of a torture started several years ago) and launched in an almost playful tone, like an invitation to have a good time together ...


Showing a false goodness of soul, he offers her alcohol (but prevents her from getting drunk) and announces to her in a conciliatory tone: "The worst is over now. You will see." Jamie understands that Randall is inviting him to get involved, but he's determined not to 'participate' in what might happen to him.

Black Jack attempts an approach that, obviously, Jamie does not want to respond to and Randall quickly realizes that his victim is trying to disassociate himself from what is happening to him. At first annoyed, he finally takes this passive submission from Jamie as a challenge and he decides to take up this challenge: "Well, we'll see that."


The following events take the young man into a downward spiral: BJR first claims to offer him "a pleasant experience for both of us" while watching his reactions and Jamie finds himself with his heart on the edge of the abyss and sense rout. In a burst of anger, he spits his contempt in the face of his executioner who decides to change tactics. Since the mind doesn't falter either, we come back to the unstoppable technique of outright aggression: "Somehow I'll get an answer from you" he tells him, and Randall then takes brutally the young man while asking him to scream. And Jamie finds himself screaming.


It was at this point that BJR managed to break his victim's first privacy lock: Jamie had never complained of being beaten - since his childhood (which infuriated his father) and even during the flogging which had almost cost him his life - the young man had always managed to endure stoically what was put to him. But there, the attack is too new, brutal and, above all ... it is both unattached AND defenseless, which is extremely destabilizing. Much later, Jamie will remember this moment in these terms: "he made me play the whore for him" (season 2, episode 5). Because it is this mixture of physical pain and boundless humiliation that overwhelms him. How ashamed can he feel at this moment? He who is a young man, usually in excellent health, trained to fight, able to defend himself and give his protection to whomever he wishes ... he is abused without even trying to defend himself! Black Jack obviously knows all of this and keeps getting screaming ... and crying.


More abuse likely ensues that is not shown in the series (episode 16) but we find Jamie a little later, diminished by his injuries and fatigue, crawling pitifully on the floor while his tormentor waits quietly and s addresses him as if their initial conversation had never been interrupted: "Am I close? Have you reached your limits?" And, indeed, BJR has never been so close to the moment he has been looking out for for so long.


In a new moment of weakness, Jamie reveals the depths of his heart and calls out to his beloved. This reaction puzzles Randall: his victim is completely isolated and scorned and she still clings to her love: "What is her power? She even has you now?" Randall's voice chases the image of Claire and Jamie finds himself in total dereliction. "Are you mine?" He asks her then ... But Jamie thinks he sees Claire again, furtively, and he does not want to recognize any importance except to her. Black Jack then relieves the young man who is at the end of his strength. He ordered him to mark himself with the burning seal. Jamie is terrified but, docile, he ends up complying - however, with a final start,

Randall meanwhile, sighs deeply: victory is near and what has just happened inspires him the angle of approach for what will be the last stage of demolition. Indeed, what steps has he already taken? Accepting that we hurt him without retaliating is done. Accepting to harm himself is also done. From there, the executioner therefore knows that his victim has reached his breaking point. Of those moments, Jamie will painfully remember, " He made me crawl, he made me beg. Before he was done, he made me want to die." 

He made the young man fall into the same darkness in which he lives, where good and evil are no longer the criteria and where personal satisfaction comes before any consideration of the other.


And he knows that his victory is total because he knows his interlocutor intimately.


Jamie, from the height of his inflexibility, had told him that he would never surrender ... and yet the young man had reached such a point of degradation that he came to degrade the good that was his own. the most valuable. He trampled on his love for Claire under the satisfied gaze of his executioner.


From there, Black Jack Randall is no longer even interested in the physical annihilation of his victim. Jamie pleads with him but Randall turns away, his attention caught on a more urgent matter. The killing can wait ...

After pushing Jamie over and over again, Randall finally attacks him by surprise with tender gestures and, taking advantage of the young man's semi-conscious state, he achieves his ultimate manipulation: "These are Claire's hands ... Think about it. to Claire ... think of your wife ... "He then invites her to self-comfort and to delude herself:" Claire is here ... Say my name, Jamie, say my name! "


And Jamie calls her Claire.


And Jamie is broken.


Black Jack Randall is jubilant at this point and, as the young man crumbles, he hints at her with a triumphant little smile: "I understand. How could she forgive you?


He got exactly what he wanted: by using Claire to manipulate Jamie, he tricked Jamie into using Claire!

What BJR did to him, Jamie would later sum up in a concise sentence: "Too much. And not enough."

… Just what it took to tip him into darkness.





Source: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; Outlander, images from the series adapted by Starz