Monday, September 15, 2014

OUTLANDER: Season 1 Episode 6: The Garrison Commander

Captain Jack Randall: the stuff of nightmares OUTLANDER STARZ TV

I’m reading the tealeaves, as Mrs. Graham taught me of course, and I see Emmy and Golden Globe awards in Tobias Menzies’ future. His performance in The Garrison Commander, was one of the most chilling I’ve ever seen. As a long time fan of the books, I had a well-formed vision of just how evil Black Jack Randall was, but my imagination didn’t come close to the evil that dripped from Menzies’ every word. He terrified me. And I hate to imagine how well he will perform in episodes we will see in the future. He could bring on nightmares.

Claire’s story arc in this episode takes her from ill-advised glee when she comments that she is at last with her familiar British army, albeit two centuries earlier, —people who ‘look upon her with respect rather than suspicion’—, to fear and loathing as she listens to Randall recount his flogging of Jamie, to shock and despair when she learns she is to marry a man she hardly knows.

Claire is escorted by the army, to Fort William. There, enjoying a lovely, civilized, mannerly dinner with the British officers—like something right out of an Austen movie—the temperature in the room drops precipitously when Black Jack Randall enters it. As her eyes lock with his, she sees her chances of escape to the standing stones disappearing. And yet, she stays loyal to Dougal and the Mackenzies during the dinner conversation/questioning—which I liked, but really wasn’t a wise move on her part.

In fact, throughout that dinner party I was shouting at Claire a lot. Why can’t she be more circumspect about what she chooses to say? This isn’t just a problem with the TV rendering of the book, it is a problem Claire has in the book as well. She’s a smart character, well educated with a lot of worldly experiences under her belt. Why does she say things that can so easily be used against her? A wise person would keep their mouth shut and quietly watch what’s going on, and keep all incendiary thoughts to themselves. Claire is too smart to be acting so stupid.

Though Claire knew that Randall was a bad guy prior to arriving at the fort, watching her dawning realization that she was sitting with a sadist, a truly evil and sick man, was painful. Silent tears ran down her face as she was forced to listen to him graphically recount how he had tortured Jamie. This wonderfully acted, but horrible to watch scene will be an important foundation for much that is to come.

Favorite moments in this episode: Dougal coming into the room as Claire lies on the floor, beaten and battered, and he shoots a look at that poor corporal that could stop a person’s heart. Dougal as the avenging angel—I liked it. Then there was the lovely scene where Claire and Jamie first speak after learning that they must marry in order to keep her safe from Randall and the English army:
“I reckon one of us should ken what they’re doing,” he says after Claire asks if he minds that she’s not a virgin and he answers by confessing that he is one. 


As every Outlander book fan out there is doing, I’m cheering that we’ve finally arrived at that most wonderful part of the book. However, for those viewers who have never read the book, these next two episodes could fall flat. Why? Because very little time has been spent on developing the character of Jamie. By this point in the book the reader knows Jamie Fraser to be an excellent man, loyal, brave, strong yet gentle, intelligent, and a man of his convictions. As readers we cheered when Claire was ‘forced’ to marry him. But viewers do not fully know the man that Jamie is, so may feel neither here nor there about their marriage. Also, a few more hints of growing chemistry would have helped. Thank you to my dear friend and fellow Outlander fan, Anne, for pointing this out to me. I hope we see much more of Jamie’s true character in the next two episodes.

I’m taking this week off from my regularly scheduled rant about Claire’s wardrobe. But by the looks of some of the message boards, I’m not alone in my concerns.

The next two episodes are what I’ve been waiting for—I see multiple viewings in my future, as I again read those tealeaves.

Slàinte mhath!

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