Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 am30 4:36am

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On Outlander, How Much Violence Is Too Much?

Violence, and sexual violence in particular, is used to create narrative tension in books, television, and movies with alarming frequency. The violation of a woman or man—or, in Outlander, both women and men—becomes the heart of the story, the narrative raison d’être. But when violence is such a significant part of storytelling, it’s easy to become desensitized. Or worse, indifferent.

That, perhaps, is why Jamie’s rape and torture at Black Jack Randall’s hands last season was so incomprehensibly graphic and brutal. There was no way to watch detachedly. And this seems, in fact, to be the show’s strategy for handling violence in general: make it unwatchable.

I’ve said it before but I will say it again. There is no limit to suffering. There is no limit to the amount of violence a person might encounter over the course of a lifetime. Outlander, though, seems truly hellbent on demonstrating the infinite nature of suffering, and I wonder if it’s becoming too much.

Saturday’s episode, “La Dame Blanche,” starts off innocently enough, with Jamie and Duverney playing chess. The Comte St. Germain is there, sneering at everything. Suddenly, Claire starts gasping and choking, and Jamie gallantly sweeps his wife into his arms and takes her home. While Claire sips some tea and recovers from her spell, probably triggered by St. Germain giving her some kind of dastardly herb, she and Jamie chat about their political machinations. Jamie decides to host a dinner party, inviting all the players in their little intrigue. When in doubt, entertain.

Claire also chooses this moment to share that Jack Randall is alive. Instead of freaking out, Jamie is thrilled that he might get his chance to exact revenge, and he’s even willing to wait. Somehow, all is right in his world for the first time in a long time.