Outlander: Behind the scenes with John Bell
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Outlander is off-screens at the moment as the cast and crew shoot an extended season seven, which will have a whopping 16 episodes for fans to enjoy. In the interim, some fans have been going back to the books and previous seasons to tide them over until the new episodes land. Some are also keen to know more about the terrifying figure of Captain ‘Black Jack’ Randall (played by Tobias Menzies).
WARNING: This article contains spoilers from all seasons of Outlander and the Outlander novels
What was the inspiration for Captain Black Jack Randall in Outlander?
Captain Black Jack was a monstrous figure, who relied on both physical and sexual violence to wield power.
He violently flogged Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan), leaving him close to death and scarred for life.
Moreover, he subjected Jamie to a brutal sexual assault and tried to claim the young Highlander’s soul in a sick power play move.
Additionally, Captain Black Jack tried to rape Jamie’s sister Jenny Murray (Laura Donnelly) and Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe).
Captain Black Jack’s death was as violent as his life with the sadistic Redcoat meeting his maker on the battlefield of Culloden with Jamie finally killing his abuser and nemesis.
But the English soldier wasn’t a two-dimensional character, Captain Black Jack was capable of empathy and showed a great deal of compassion towards his sick brother.
Additionally, although Captain Black Jack was a monstrous figure, he was also the ancestor of Claire’s husband and historian Frank Randall (also Menzies).
Outlander author Diana Gabaldon has previously addressed where the colourful character first came from with both Frank and Captain Black Jack intrinsically linked.
She previously said: “I don’t know. I just knew that he’s one of those people that comes along, and when she [Claire] met him and he looked just like Frank, I wondered if it was going to be one of those stories where she falls in love with her husband’s ancestor, and within instants, I realized [sic] that that was not going to be happening at all. I thought, ‘oh, this is much more interesting.’”
She went on tell the blog Three If By Space in 2014 how the character was a “mushroom” and was “fully formed” from the off, rather than someone she had to develop.
Gabaldon suggested Captain Black Jack was an antithesis of her, lacking any empathy with the writer curious to explore the acts a person like this would commit.
Also, he is not based on a real-life figure like perhaps some of the other characters in Outlander, which are lifted straight from the pages of history, such as Bonnie Prince Charlie (Andrew Gower).
She went on to say Captain Black Jack derived sexual gratification from his acts of savagery and said his desires were a “deviance”.
The American writer also went on to address his sexuality with many believing the militia man was gay due to his fixation on Jamie.
Gabaldon said: “He is actually a pervert. He’s not homosexual, he will attack anyone, anyone who will give him gratification by acting afraid of him.”
She also addressed his tenderness towards his brother, describing it as part of his “twisted” code.
The author said: “And obviously, he’s a pervert, with sociopathic tendencies, and that doesn’t mean he is incapable of love – he loves his brother – and people say, oh well, sociopaths don’t really feel love, they just get positive reinforcement from someone, and that is what they think is love.”
On her website, Gabaldon has also labelled Captain Black Jack as a “sadistic bisexual pervert”, which suggests he is attracted to both men and women.
From Gabaldon’s words, Captain Black Jack is more intricate than people might perceive him to be.
Even though he was killed off in season three, Outlander ventures through time and he pops up in the novel Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.
In the novel, he comes into contact with Roger MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) with readers again getting to see a different side to the character.
Outlander season 7 will premiere in summer 2023 and seasons 1 to 6 are streaming on Lionsgate+ now
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