Outlander: The Garrison Commander   Books Included 
September 14, 2014 9:35 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Capt. Jack Randall's arrival creates tension during Claire's meeting with a British general.
posted by tracicle (14 comments total)
I was mostly on tenterhooks wanting to rush through this episode to the shock moments: first BJR's gutpunch, then the wedding "announcement". I didn't breathe out, I don't think, until Jack hit Claire because that's the pivotal moment.

I need to rewatch it because a) I was only waiting for that point, and b) my kids kept interrupting (because I watch it at 9am Sunday here). But Jack's description of the whipping really cements him as one of *the* most villainous, twisted villains. And the way he seems to entertain Claire's PTSD theory, when you know what's coming...well.

I spent the entirety of the whipping scene looking for Brian. That was him behind Dougal -- and Diana herself did mention on her facebook page that it was indeed him. So I guess we'll get to wallow horribly in that scene again, at some point. Yay?
posted by tracicle at 10:15 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I figured that had to be Brian, too, the way the camera passed over him several times. God, that flogging scene was brutal. I had to close my eyes through a lot of it.

Tobias Menzies is really doing great work. Even before his words became overtly horrifying, he just oozed a kind of terrible sociopathy for the entire episode.
posted by something something at 1:28 PM on September 14, 2014

I agree, tracicle -- knowing what was coming with Randall had me on edge the whole time. I thought the "payoff", such as it was, was well done.

And thank god for the virgin line at the very end. I think that may be my favorite exchange in the whole book, so it was a nice wrapup for an otherwise tense episode.

Can't wait for next week, holy crap!
posted by olinerd at 4:31 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought this episode was extremely good, all around. I just read one recap which complained that the English were caricatured, which seems really naive to me. And if you are going to provide a BJR, you need to provide a context within which such a person could exist. This is that context.

I don't want to like the episode because of its violence — I've defended Martin's ASoIaF as a deconstruction of epic fantasy and I think the portrayals of the ugliness implicit in what is whitewashed and idealized in epic fantasy is necessary and worthwhile. Nevertheless, Martin walks a fine line and often strays across it and, more to the point, HBO's adaptation is often prurient and, in so being, ends up reinforcing what should be repulsive. So I'm wary of this, generally. I don't want to see gratuitous woman-in-peril/sexual assault narratives, I don't want to see horrific violence and brutality excused as "grittiness". It's narratively/thematically/psychologically necessary, or it's not.

So, what I'm saying is that I absolutely don't want to inadvertently endorse a notion that this episode succeeds because of these elements, but rather I think the episode succeeds for numerous reasons and these elements are almost entirely organic and justified (with the arguable exception of the amputation). I admit that partly it's because things are happening and I'd become impatient before this.

But it does cause me to re-evaluate the previous episodes and my own reaction to them. What I suspect now is that this episode is the arrow shooting, the spring releasing — the slow-moving tension of the previous episodes has built and come together for this moment when the narrative leaps forward with enough energy to sustain what will necessarily be a whole lot of stuff happening nonstop right through the end of the season. Common opinion would be, I think, that given so much material to work through in sixteen episodes, the show oughtn't have spent five episodes on what came before this point, but perhaps three or even two. Now, I'm thinking this works. A lot of pieces, both plotwise and with character psychology, were carefully placed where they needed to be over those five episodes and now they're going to explode into motion with this trigger, this spark in the fire pan.

Also, think this scene with Black Jack makes it clear why the show has spent so much effort to make Frank more sympathetic and appealing than he was in the book. I've always thought this was important, that a lot of Claire's psychology doesn't quite work if we're prepared to just write-off Frank, as I think most readers are. But it's easier for book readers to separate Frank from Black Jack, even though we're told they are almost identical in appearance. It's quite another thing to actually see it. This way, it's easier for us to see how Frank and Black Jack are alike, but very different and to spend some time thinking about what it is that makes a person who they are, what is contingent, what can be changed and what cannot. Something very apt for a time-travel story. But also a love story. Maybe especially a love story because in love we constantly grapple with what is constant and what is changing and how those confound our desires.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:51 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was on edge the whole time, too, waiting for that gut punch. The flogging scene was really hard to watch. I couldn't imagine it in my head as being that bad when I read the book. When Claire first brought it up I was like "No, don't bring Jamie into this!"

Claire's reaction to Dougal taking her to the spring was gold. You could practically see her thinking "all it took was a magic spring and now you believe me? Where was this damn magic spring a month ago?"

How great was Murtagh's smile at the very end when Claire storms off with the booze? I love that they've shown us a few glimpses here and there that Murtagh clearly sees Jamie's affection for her and he's so stoically Highlander-manly happy for them to get married.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:31 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes! I rewatched last night and Murtagh's grin is delightful. From that moment when he tells Claire, "He needs a woman, not a lassie," you know he's probably already got Claire in mind for Jamie.
posted by tracicle at 7:07 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

That scene was so different from what was in the book that I didn't expect the gut punch at all. They never had any sort of discussion about Jamie in their first brief meeting, so I thought maybe the show was going an entirely different direction; it was interesting to watch it and have no idea what was coming!

I re-read bits of the book last night and discovered that final scene of the episode, where Jamie & Claire discuss the impending marriage, was taken word for word from the book. I didn't remember that being such a brief conversation, but it was.

I am so excited for next week's episode that I'm a little worried about myself.
posted by something something at 7:08 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am so excited for next week's episode that I'm a little worried about myself.

Me too!

We have a housewarming party to go to next Saturday night and I am a little beside myself about making sure we're home in enough time to have an hour to watch the episode. Like, I don't need to see it exactly when it airs, but I will not be able to sleep that night if I don't watch it. This show has taken over my life.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 10:33 AM on September 16, 2014

I have to say the gut punch GOT ME. He played her so well, it was unbelievable. When Jamie said he was a virgin, all I could think was "I would want a bigger flask."
posted by miss-lapin at 12:42 PM on September 17, 2014

Perhaps that's why she grabbed someone else's flask before she stomped off at the end!

I have not read the books in a long time and I forgot the gut punch. I was watching with a friend who is also a fan of the books, also has not read them in a long time, and also forgot the gut punch. We were both ON THE EDGE OF OUR SEAT. And damn, that scene was about 20 minutes long and we were just getting tenser and tenser throughout.

Tobias Menzies is doing such an AMAZING job. And Frank and Black Jack are really distinct, and not just due to the hair.

Just the casting all around. Sometimes they are who I saw in my head (Dougal, through and through). Sometimes they're not quite (Jaime), but it's totally fine because the version that is on screen is just as squee-able as the one in my head.

In summation: yay!
posted by rednikki at 10:26 PM on September 17, 2014

"Tobias Menzies is doing such an AMAZING job. And Frank and Black Jack are really distinct, and not just due to the hair."

He's a very good actor. He did a really good job portraying Edmure Tully's fecklessness in Game of Thrones and I've just watched him in a really quiet, moving performance in the BBC/Sundance (mini)series The Honourable Woman. I've become quite a fan in a relatively short time.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:19 PM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looking at IMDB, I see that he was also in Rome, which I never got around to watching, and also in that submarine episode of Doctor Who.

I watch quite a bit of British television and film and it's a little weird how you end up seeing the same actors again and again. I've come to sort of enjoy it, really.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:24 PM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Black Jack's little facial tics: licking his lips, sniffing, that funny sort of twitch of the mouth, Menzies did that so well. BJR still carries himself in much the same way as Frank, but his mannerisms and (somehow) the shape of his face are quite distinct. Poor Claire.

It could make you wonder: did some of that cold callousness pass down to Frank? Or is there some softness to BJR that Frank has inherited? What happened in the between-generations?

(I've read the books; I know, don't worry.)
posted by tracicle at 5:17 AM on September 19, 2014

I always read Frank as being pretty cold and callous, especially given his characterization in Voyager (which I think maybe went a bit over the top because I didn't care about him one way or the other in Outlander, but Voyager made me actively hate him). I actually wish Claire's inner monologue explored your question, tracicle, because it's an interesting one. Inherited baddie-ness or not, BJR had to affect some of how she views Frank in her own mind.

Menzies was great in Rome, I am really enjoying him as an actor, he's doing a fantastic job!
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 7:09 AM on September 19, 2014

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