Warning: major spoilers ahead for the Season 3 premiere of Outlander, called "The Battle Joined."
Outlander has officially returned to the airwaves after more than a year of hiatus, and fans finally got to see the aftermath of the huge Season 2 cliffhanger that separated Claire and Jamie by two centuries of time. While Claire was off to have her baby with all the comforts and precautions of 1940s medical care, Jamie was heading toward his own probable death at the Battle of Culloden. Well, the battle happened, but Jamie wasn't one of the many to die. He did manage to accomplish one goal, even if he wasn't able to save the day for the Scots. Yes, Jamie finally got to kill Black Jack Randall.
The death of Black Jack Randall probably isn't something that many fans are going to mourn, after what he did to Jamie in Season 1 and what he did to Fergus in Season 2. As a truly despicable character, he was probably going to die at some point, but the inevitability of his death doesn't make it any less impactful that he was finally killed.
Randall certainly didn't make it easy on Jamie. Randall managed to slice Jamie's femoral artery, which resulted in an awful lot of blood spurting from Jamie's leg as he tried to take down his foe. Luckily for Jamie, he managed to skewer Randall in the torso, so both men were fighting serious wounds in their final showdown. Jamie did win the day, but he very nearly lost his own life in the effort. In fact, Jamie spent a good chunk of the episode lying in the mud of Culloden, on death's door with Randall's corpse pinning him to the ground.
While Black Jack Randall's death is something worth celebrating for those of us who have been waiting for him to bite the dust, it does mean some big changes for the show in the rest of Season 3. Randall has been the main antagonist of the series, and he did the job well. Even as Claire was fighting to return to Frank in Season 1 and she and Jaime were trying to stop the Jacobite rebellion in Season 2, Randall was always in the background, waiting to jump into the action and unleash his dark sadistic side on the innocent. He was the kind of truly despicable villain who tends to stick around in epic sagas, just because he's too good at being bad for anybody to want to kill him off permanently.
Outlander took the bold route of killing off Black Jack Randall, despite the fact that he was one of the most effectively awful bad guys on television. Of course, Randall did die at the Battle of Culloden in the book, and the show revealed long ago that Randall died at Culloden in the original historical timeline, but the show could have used Claire's fumblings in the timeline to keep Randall alive. Now that he is quite definitively dead, the show will have to find a brand new antagonist. Whether the new antagonist is a person or a group or even an event in history isn't clear just yet. Still, the villainous slate is clean, and Outlander will have to fill it in with a new baddie.
The unfortunate side of Randall finally dying at Jamie's hand is that Tobias Menzies just had his work on the show cut in half. Randall wouldn't have been nearly as horrifying if not for Menzies' performance, which was always offset masterfully with his performance as Frank in the 1940s timeline. With Frank already dead by the time Claire and Brianna arrive in Scotland in the 1960s, we probably don't have too much time with Menzies on the show. Although I wouldn't be shocked if he turned up via flashback or hallucination as either Black Jack or Frank, he likely will be out as a regular in the not-too-distant future.
Basically, the death of Black Jack Randall boils down to three things: even the most effective characters aren't safe from being killed off this show, a brand new antagonist will need to step in for the rest of Season 3, and we'll only be getting half the Tobias Menzies we got in the first two seasons. The series will be different in some huge ways moving forward, and it should be interesting and/or heartbreaking to see what happens next.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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