(Editor’s note: In light of the glorious reappearance of Frank Randall in tonight’s “Down the Rabbit Hole”, this deserves a repost. originally published May 9, 2016.)
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!***
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…
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.
After Black Jack recovers from the shock of seeing Claire, and attempts to make light of the madness, running into each other in France,
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.
Watch Menzies swallow, almost grin, and acquiesce.
Still though, clearly Jack is not happy to be put in such a position, especially in front of Claire and Jamie.
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.