Readers, this “Outlander” recap is shockingly late because this episode, “The Garrison Commander,” was a really difficult watch for me. Eighteenth century Scotland is definitely not for the squeamish! Thankfully, with the help of Jamie’s abs, I eventually managed to get through it.
We pick up right where we left off, toes off the edge of the cliff : Hot English Stranger aka Lt. Jeremy Foster (like names are important with a face like that) is repeating his question to Claire: Is she insane enough to consider herself a guest of these Scottish barbarians? She hesitates for a moment, before answering that yes, she and Dougal are good chums. The Redcoats aren’t entirely satisfied and suggest she accompany them back to Fort William in order to take High Tea with the Garrison Commander. Claire obviously hasn’t had a good cup of English Breakfast for weeks, so obliges. Dougal, glowering Scottish disapproval, invites himself along for the ride too.
Quick side note: Does anyone know how the hell Lt. Jeremy Foster managed to infiltrate a tiny Scottish town as a blacksmith? Even without the red coat on he would have stuck out like a sore thumb! Maybe he’s just really good with a hammer.
The Tea Party
Once at Fort William, Claire is treated like A Proper English Lady, with silverware and fine wines and polite British conversation while Dougal is rudely left to stand off to the side. WHO’S THE OUTLANDER NOW, DOUGAL? (I’m going to level with you guys really quick here, I’ve kind of fallen in love with Dougal in the last few episodes - Graham McTavish is doing a stellar job, and sometimes I forget I’m supposed to be rooting for Claire/Jamie. It’s a very confusing time for me.)
The Garrison Commander, Sir Oliver Thomas, is a friendly chap with a terrible wig who readily accepts Claire’s complete and utter fabrication of a story and agrees to have her escorted back to Inverness Post Haste. (He didn’t actually say “post haste” but that’s pretty much how I imagine all Gentlemen of that era spoke, so let’s just all go with that.) At this point, they showrunners have veered wildly off book, and I even though I can vaguely guess where this episode is heading, I’m still surprised to see Jack Black Randall show up.
Putting the “black” in Black Jack Randall
After a brief interruption where Claire is forced to amputate a man’s arm, she finds herself alone with Public Enemy No. 1. The scene is played to sheer perfection by Tobias Menzies and Caitriona Balfe. It’s tense and horrible and not sexy in the slightest, despite Jack being a spitting image of Claire’s hubby Frank.
Conversation soon turns to the brutal 100-stroke flogging of Jamie performed by Randall, and we are treated to the most horrific flashback scene to grace our TV screens in a very long time. Starz has never been afraid of nudity or violence, but Jesus. H. Roosevelt Christ this was a tough few minutes to get through. Meanwhile, as we’re all wailing and covering our eyes in abject horror, Randall is near orgasming as he relives the “exquisite, bloody masterpiece” he and Jamie “created.” Forget about the Redcoats, someone really ought to call the men in white coats for this psycho. (Also, if you couldn’t tell by his recount, Claire’s not the only one who might have a bit of a crush on Jamie.)
Jack wonders to Claire if there is hope for his soul, and Claire, still angling for that free ride back to Inverness, tells him that she thinks there is. There is a flicker of hope in Jack Randall’s dark eyes, and he stands, offering his hand to Claire.
Then he punches her in the gut.
Literally: He smashes his fist into the pit of her stomach, watching her fall to the ground, before ordering a poor young corporal to kick her while she’s down. It’s tough viewing.
Thank goodness Dougal swoops in and saves the day, thundering in, threatening war and carrying a wheezing Claire out of Fort William. Does anyone have an “I HEART DOUGAL” shirt yet? I need this in my life. After taking Claire to a magical spring that makes its drinkers tell the truth (ooookaaaay Dougal), he decides she’s not such a bad egg after all, and lays out his plan to get her away from Black Jack for good.
No, not to Dougal (bless his heart). To — GASP — Jamie.
Is that a contract in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
Claire takes to the idea of marrying Jamie rather reluctantly for someone who, you know, has a pair of eyes. But she understands that in order for the Scots to protect her from Captain Jack Randall, she must essentially become a Scot herself. And so it is that she finds herself staring down at a marriage contract between herself and one handsome eligible bachelor.
“Doesn’t it bother you that I’m not a virgin?” She asks Jamie Fraser, who blinks and carefully responds: “No, as long as it doesna bother you that I am.” As our heads collectively explode, he adds: “I reckon one of us should know what they’re doing.”
I’m not sure whether the episode faded to black or whether I just passed out, but in any case, next week is a big episode — called “The Wedding,” come on — and we will not leave you hanging again, promise.
Check back next week for an unintelligible keyboard mash of a recap.