We Need to Talk About Outlander’s Tobias Menzies

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Before we get into things, a ***Spoiler Warning:  Outlander Spoilers through Season 2, Episode 5, “Untimely Resurrection” follow. If you’re not caught up, you may want to back on out. Spoilers Ahoy!***

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I’ve sung the praises of Tobias Menzies (aka Game of Thrones‘ Edmure Tully) before, but guys, we really need to talk about this insanely talented man. In fact, were I pressed at this moment to name the best actor on television right now, Menzies would be the first name I’d think of. Mind you, the Outlander cast is a talented one, and this week’s episode featured great performances by Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Lionel Lingelser (King Louis). I have no desire to diminish the ensemble, but when Captain Jack Randall steps onscreen, you simply can’t help stopping a moment just to breathe in his — and Menzies’ — presence.  Sure, if you’ve been watching since the beginning, the character history plays a part in our similar reaction to Claire’s when she first spies the Captain; she’s been dreading this moment since she heard from Jack’s brother Alex (Laurence Dobiesz) the monster was still alive…

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but when in “Untimely Resurrection” Black Jack reappears, that feeling in the pit of our stomachs is much more than knowing who Randall is. It’s the myriad little facial tics, the intensity of a look in Menzies’ eye; it is his tour de force performance in every single scene he’s in, grabbing hold of our insides and not letting go. The feelings aren’t all bad either, which you might think impossible. In imagining the moments Claire, Jamie and Jack would meet again, I can almost guarantee you didn’t think you’d be smiling, or chuckling or fully aware of Randall’s own vulnerabilities. And yet there they were, all the emotions, marching across Menzies’ face and working their way into our own psyche. Randall’s sheer surprise matched Claire’s incredulity; in those few moments that followed, the range played out is incomprehensible. A few gif-able seconds give but a hint.

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After Black Jack recovers from the shock of seeing Claire, and attempts to make light of the madness, running into each other in France,

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Randall has a most-amusing encounter with King Louis (Lionel Lingelser), who takes great delight in messing with the English Captain, who wonders if Randall shouldn’t beg him to give his brother (Alex) his job back.

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Watch Menzies swallow, almost grin, and acquiesce.

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Still though, clearly Jack is not happy to be put in such a position, especially in front of Claire and Jamie.

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The whole scene plays out in less than ten minutes, but the emotions conveyed could fill the hour. If you’ve never watched Outlander, or met Menzies’ Black Jack Randall, get hold of this episode and catch the whole exchange. Nothing could be more convincing than this great actor’s nuanced performance; you should — you need to — be watching this show.

Outlander airs on Starz (available in a standalone app) Saturday nights at 9 pm EST.

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over seven years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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  • Jelinas

    That gifset alone has convinced me that you are correct. GOOD LORD. Just that tiny flicker of rage — you know that’s the moment when it dawns on him that he’s going to have to eat some humble pie.

    I don’t even need to watch the ep. That moment is enough for me.

    • Seriously though, watch this scene. No naughty bits this episode!

      • Jelinas

        YEY, thanks for looking out for me, Cinders!! *scampers off to watch*

      • Jelinas

        I finally watched, and, while that scene was AMAZING, the rest of the ep was kind of a slog for me. That’s probably because I don’t watch regularly, and there are references back to last season that probably go over my head.

        THE DRESSES, THO

  • Freetheklingons

    I hate him so completely. When I think back to him playing the milquetoast Edmure Tully. Who even knew he could do this??

    I chafe at what they are doing to some of the characters from the book (don’t all book readers say this?), but my disappointment is not with TM, that’s for sure.

  • mable

    I love Tobias immensely and want to see more Frank and BJR on the show but I wish we had seen more of a confrontation between Black Jack and Jamie instead of with Claire. In the book their meeting is tense giving Jamie the upper hand because they are on level ground and he has taken his place as Laird Burach Turach. While Claire and Randall’s scene was amazing, Jamie and Randall were almost laughable and not fraught with the tension it deserved. This is just another example of the “pussification” of Jamie this season.

    • I disagree. Jamie is supposed to be really good at hiding his emotions. That doesn’t mean those emotions aren’t there, but he’s been forewarned that BJR lived and was actually very much looking forward to seeing him again. As soon as he ascertained that Claire and the baby are OK, he makes a b-line to challenge him to a duel! I think Sam played it spot on (different than the book version, yes, but the TV version works — loved the encounter with King Louis!).

      • mable

        Sam spoke in an interview that the scene was longer. It showed how Jamie sees Randall’s red coat from a distance and his tension builds as he gets closer. The scene was shortened for time. I question why they spent so much time on the Randall/Claire encounter and cut down Jamie’s initial visceral reaction to seeing his tormentor with his unwell wife. Once he sees him yes, Sam and Tobias are brilliant (the whole cast is) but, to me, this adaptation so far has been very untrue to Jamie’s character. Besides that, I am loving the season and can’t wait to see more.

  • Lisa Branford

    I could hardly breathe when the monster showed up again in this episode, but I absolutely adore Tobias as Frank. Give the man an Emmy already.

  • Laureen Pillipow Vanghel

    I hate Randall is back, but Tobias Menzies is amazing as the character, so much in just a look from him, what a good article.
    Thank you!

  • I never thought I’d be able to see TM as anyone other than Brutus, but his work as BJR/Frank has superseded that role.

  • Rita Bowen

    #BJRonhisknees Love it. Tobias knocks it out of the park again!!