One of the most harrowing pieces of television you’re likely to see this year, Wentworth Prison is a tour de force for Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies, as the tensions that have been seething away beneath the surface of Jamie and Randall’s relationship are brought out into the open. Randall is determined to break Jamie, and it’s only when Claire is present in the cell that the Englishman finds the chink in the Highlander’s armour.
It’s not just the torture that’s graphically portrayed: the episode starts with an unflinching depiction of the rebels being hanged by the redcoats, pushed off the gibbet so that their necks snap (if they’re lucky) or they choke to death (like Douglas Henshall’s McTarrie). It’s all the more chilling for the sheer banality and production line quality to the process.
There’s some light relief with the presence of the original Jamie – Frazer Hines – early on in the episode but otherwise it’s pretty much unremittingly bleak. Randall makes no secret of his desire to possess Jamie body and soul, and you simply cannot look away as he starts to achieve his aim, thanks to Claire’s intervention. And that, as he ominously informs Jamie in their last scene, comes before he properly begins…
Verdict: A dark and terrible depiction of sadism but one that never feels gratuitous. 8/10