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Two Takes: Outlander “The Garrison Commander” 

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

This episode truly shows us what lengths Black Jack Randall will go to to get at the truth. If you haven’t read the book and had any doubt about the type of man Randall is, “The Garrison Commander” will strip your illusions away. For this particular episode, we also felt the need to refer to the book because while some events and dialogue are the same, other events are very different.

Kara: This was a brutal episode. Not only did I have to cover my eyes during the amputation scene, but I had to look away multiple times as Randall flogged Jamie. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve read the book but I couldn’t for the life of me remember how Claire got away from Randall during that interrogation scene. So when it seems like Claire’s words have gotten to him, I went along for that ride. It was so shocking when he punched her and then had Corporal Hawkins kick her while she was down. I have literally never been so happy to see Dougal MacKenzie.

Tina: “The Garrison Commander” was so brutal, I totally agree with you. It felt like this was on the level of HISTORY’s Vikings brutal. I also had to close my eyes at the amputation. In fact, I don’t even know if they showed too much because I didn’t open my eyes at all during this scene. And then it was so hard to watch Randall flog Jamie. The fact he had already received a hundred lashes and Randall was going to inflict a hundred more…I just couldn’t. Jamie’s back was so bloody. Kudos to the makeup people and kudos to Tobias Menzies and Sam Heughan, because I felt every whip of the flog. I was practically in tears.

It’s funny because in the book, they had Dougal relay the information about Randall’s brutal torture. In this episode, Randall did. And I was so impressed with Menzies. Can I say that? He was simply amazing as we saw his perspective of that day he took it upon himself to punish Jamie. The look on his face. The conflicting emotions…but, ultimately, he got pleasure out of what he did to Jamie.

Kara: Yes. As Black Jack Randall says in the episode, “I dwell in darkness. Darkness is where I belong.”

So from that point on, we know Claire’s in real trouble. He knows she’s lying and we know he objects to her “frivolous attitude” with him. In the book, Randall makes a point to tell her he and his men searched for her “murdered servant, plundered baggage” and her “discarded gown” after their first encounter. So, the story she tells in the book is different from the story she tells in the series. But what I find interesting about the book version is that Randall is giving her reasons he thinks she’s lying, trying to catch her out in that lie and trying to back her into a corner so that she might reveal the truth. Also, there is no Brigadier General Sir Oliver Lord Thomas in the book – at least, not yet. I’m not quite sure why we were introduced to the commanding officer of the Northern British army, unless it’s to show how different he is from Randall. I mean, Black Jack does not care what the General or his men think of him, even though it’s obvious they don’t respect Randall at all. So, I’m assuming we’ll see them again later. And I agree about Randall’s perspective on the flogging. I think it’s important to hear that story from Randall. It sets up some truly brutal Jamie/Randall scenes that come later.

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

Tina: As much as I loved getting some Black Jack perspective, I kept thinking a couple of things about Claire. First of all, what was it like for her to hear Randall — the man that looks identical to her husband, Frank — talk about torturing another man? That must have been so difficult for her. I can’t even imagine. Second, I can’t believe she allowed herself to actually think she could appeal to Randall’s humanity enough that he would allow her to travel to Inverness, which would put her that much closer to going home. I feel like she was a bit cocky (and maybe even a bit too desperate) to think that he wasn’t anything but the evil guy that he is. And Randall played her brilliantly. I couldn’t even feel bad for her because she had gotten her hopes up before and was thwarted. It’s going to be tough to get home, Claire. Just saying. And there’s also the matter of I really want Claire and Jamie together so I don’t want her going back to the future anytime soon. But that’s just me.

Kara: It’s not just you. I did like seeing the Frank/Claire flashback in this episode though. What is it about that scene where Claire shaves Frank that’s so sexy? I don’t know, but I liked it a lot. But, like you, I’m still very much enjoying the sparks between Claire and Jamie in their present. And we’re about to get a whole lot more than that. When Dougal takes Claire to the St. Ninian spring, ostensibly to find out once and for all if she’s a spy, her claim that she isn’t finally seems to satisfy him. But that’s only because the waters of the springs are believed to act as a truth serum. And because of that, Dougal tells her his plan to make her a Scot. Yes, Dougal’s been ordered to take Claire to Fort William, but that’s only if she’s an English subject. If he marries her to a Scot, he’s free to ignore Randall’s command. At first Claire assumes she’s to be married to Dougal. Even though he admits he’d like to “grind her corn,” he’s got someone else in mind.

Photo Credit: Starz
Photo Credit: Starz

Tina: And that would be Jamie. I loved the little scene where Claire asks him if he’s interested in anyone else. He basically tells her he’s not that great a prospect (LIES!!!) considering he has a price on his head. Claire’s not stupid. She knows Jamie’s a catch regardless of what he has or doesn’t have to offer. And then things got even better when Claire asks the sexy ass Scot if he minds her not being a virgin. “Well, no…so long as it doesna bother you that I am. Reckon one of us should know what they’re doing.” The look on his face when he made this surprising admission was beyond cute. BEYOND, I tell you.

Kara: I’m with you. And after Claire’s had time to consider it and comes marching over to the group to give them her decision, Jamie looks so hopeful. We know he’s attracted to her. We know he cares about her. Now I’m ready for him to show her how much.

Outlander airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Starz.

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