Outlander Season 1 Review “The Garrison Commander”

Outlander 2014

“A hundred lashes is fatiguing to the arm.”
“We were creating a masterpiece.”

If the next two episodes of Outlander are as tense as “The Garrison Commander” was I won’t have any finger nails left. That was a fantastic hour of television. And what a showcase for Tobias Menzies. He’s played morally conflicted in Rome, held his own with Judi Dench in Casino Royale, and even done the incompetent family member in Game of Thrones. And now Black Jack Randall. I’m glad we had three episodes (four if you count that Claire physically saw him last in episode one) without the man. It allowed his reappearance to be all the more disconcerting. Claire’s had to adjust to her time in the past while having Dougal breathe down her neck, yet I never felt her life in imminent danger. That dread couldn’t escape me though the whole time she shared a room with Randall. I kept waiting for him to pounce at any moment and finish what he started in the woods. When he finally finished his conversation and called the corporal in, it felt too easy. And then he punched Claire in the gut. He freaking punched her in the gut.

At the time I was shocked, but it doesn’t surprise me now. As he told his tale about Jamie’s whipping, I could sense the feeling of accomplishment and pride and thought “yeah right” when he told Claire he could change. A man like Black Jack Randall doesn’t change, at least not to me. I don’t know what molded him into what he is now, but that just doesn’t come undone at the drop of the hat. Perhaps Claire believed he could change because of her relationship with Frank. And in the same way that Jamie never gave into Randall, Claire didn’t either, which of course made him all the more angry. My guess is he hoped Claire would reveal all with his apology about the attempted rape. When that didn’t work, he went the “I’ll scare you to death” route. Every question was a move, an attack. And even though Claire physically didn’t get one in on Randall, she held her own against the damn bastard, and I love her for it.

More Thoughts as I Drink from a Magic Spring

– Black Jack Randall is the type of role I’ve been wanting to see Menzies tackle since Rome ended. Let’s be honest, the guy was not given his due on Game of Thrones (along with the rest of the Tullys). And what a 180 Randall is from Brutus. For every decision that Brutus would agonize over, Black Jack would tackle head on with delight. He’s a mix of the intelligence of Roose Bolton with the masochist tendencies of Ramsay Snow. He’s Captain Simcoe from Turn but 10 years older and with an even more dangerous sexual appetite. As Stan Marsh would say, he’s daffy.

– And Menzies is so damn good that his moment as Frank in “The Garrison Commander” completely stands apart from everything Black Jack. If only Frank could see his ancestor.

– Major props to Caitriona Balfe too. Claire had so much to absorb and react to this episode, and she played it beautifully.

– The British army sure came off poorly excluding Lt. Foster. Brigadier General Lord Oliver Thomas reminded me of Burn Gorman’s Major Hewlett on Turn. Prissy, and not the best person to be in command. I understand we’re on the side of the Scots as the audience, but I’m not a fan of the ‘Redcoats are bad’ cliché. Granted, I do understand there is a fan favorite British character that is introduced in the second book.

– Dougal and Graham McTavish = awesome yet again

– You get to marry Jamie, Claire (and better give Dougal a huge gift basket as a thank you)! The exchange about virginity at the end of the episode was just the levity the story needed after being such a downer. Also, the final shot of Claire walking past all the men holding the marriage contract and grabbing the alcohol is now my favorite.

– So, what does a Sussex accent sound like? I’ll need to look that up.

– As Seen on TV- My Favorite Locations: (1) the fort where Randall whipped Jamie and (2) the “magic” spring