Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser in “Outlander.” (Sony Pictures Television)

‘Outlander’ preview: Beware the Watch

Jamie Fraser revealed a dark secret—and a great physiquein last week’s episode of “Outlander.” This week, he’s forced to keep his identity secret when some unexpected visitors turn up at Lallybroch.

Airing at 8 p.m. May 2 on Starz, “The Watch” puts Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe), Jenny (Laura Donnelly) and Ian (Steven Cree) in a difficult position. They must entertain a group of thieves called The Watch who would be more than happy to turn Jamie over to the British for some coin if they learn his true identity.

Douglas Henshall, the Scottish actor who played Dr. Nick Cutler in the dino drama “Primeval,” guest stars as the group’s leader, MacQuarrie, who seems suspicious of Jamie from their first meeting.

Things get more difficult for Jamie when a redcoat deserter from his past, Horrocks (Lochlann O Mearain), joins up with MacQuarrie’s bandits.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not the first time Jamie’s kept a secret. In last week’s homecoming episode, “Lallybroch,” he admitted to Claire that Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall (Tobias Menzies) shredded his back with a whip only because Jamie wouldn’t have sex with him.

Tobias Menzies as Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall (Sony Pictures Television)

Throughout the first season of this fine series, I’ve wondered at Black Jack’s obsession with Jamie. Sure the guy is abusing his status in the occupying British army to impose England’s—and his own—wills on the people of Scotland.

But Jack’s fixation goes far beyond any belief that Jamie’s his personal representation of England’s battle to dominate Scotland. To be blunt, Jack’s had a woodie for Jamie since Day 1. His insistence that Jenny turn her head as he attempted to sexually assault her during “Lallybroch” strongly suggests that he indeed may be gay.

The scene reminded me that back when Jack tried the same thing against Claire, he was prepping to do his business from behind, too. It does seem Jack is using the women in Jamie’s life as stand-ins to make his Jamie fantasy come true.

Now I’m not the kind of gay guy who cries foul every time I see a portrayal of a gay individual that isn’t what I see as completely positive, but I worry that “Outlander” is latching on to a stereotype of the repressed gay man lashing out to exorcise his demons.

I hope that’s not the case. I’ve been assured by “Outlander” fans on Twitter that it isn’t. And thankfully, Menzies’ take on the man is so nuanced and honest that I’m able to put my faith in his portrayal and the story. The actor has been fearless in playing one of the most hateful characters on TV in recent memory. His Jack is a sadist who gets off by imposing his dominance over anyone he chooses—men, women and children.

While Heughan showed Jamie’s hot bod in “Lallybroch,” Menzies gave viewers a rare shot of male full-frontal nudity. Yet I bet dropping ‘trou was the least of himself Menzies has had to expose for the role.

Catch this week’s episode for more exposed secrets. Below are scenes from “The Watch,” airing at 8 p.m. May 2 on Starz.

Outlander Ep. 113: Hurry back video

Claire says goodbye when Jamie and Ian plan to join The Watch on an ambush.

Update from Curt: Readers tell me Diana Gabaldon discussed Black Jack’s sexuality on her Facebook page. Also, reader Colleen Dooley from Australia reminds me that Jamie thought sex was done “from behind” until Claire set him, er, straight on the subject. (A great point. Thank you.)

After reading DG’s explanation, all I can say is the series does not make everything as clear with Jack as her books must.