Outlander Recap: I Believe It’s Called Foreplay and We’ve Been Played Long Enough

By
Outlander
Show
Outlander
Episode Title
The Garrison Commander
Season
1
Episode
6
Editor’s Rating
5/5

Friends, this was an excellent episode. It only took six weeks but finally, things have started happening. And though Jamie and Claire don’t have sex in this episode, we are offered a glimmer of hope that soon, oh so soon, their bodies will find one another in the Scottish moonlight.

Picking up where we left off, Claire assures the redcoat, Lieutenant Foster, that she is a guest of the Clan MacKenzie. On the journey to the garrison, Claire is super-excited to be among her fellow British soldiers, though there are centuries between her service and theirs. Claire smugly revels in the role reversal because Dougal, along for the ride, has become the outlander. Take that!

At the garrison, Claire is immediately coddled with venison, cheese, and claret, which I think is ye olde fancy talk for wine. Introductions are made and we learn that Claire is in the company of Brigadier General Sir Oliver Lord Thomas (aka pompous jackass), commanding officer of the northern British army. The British do love their titles. It all goes downhill from there. The British immediately begin mocking Dougal for his accent. The phrase “these people” and other such condescensions are tossed around. Claire offers that there are some English with equally unintelligible accents and Dougal gets in a good burn, telling the general he should have stayed in London if he wanted to hear London accents.

“How are we ever going to make peace with such an ill-mannered people?” the general asks, as Dougal excuses himself to get some ale, which is mostly an excuse to get away before he loses his temper, and understandably so. For a few minutes, Claire enjoys being the belle of the ball, smiling coquettishly at all the soldiers. This, I suppose, is civilization. Before long, though, she entreats the general to help her get back to Inverness and Craigh na Dun so that she might be reunited with her boring husband. She is such a broken record about getting back to the 20th century. Like, woman, this is only episode six and the show has been renewed so you are not going anywhere soon.

As she muses, via voice over, about getting back to her life, Captain Jack Randall storms in to the room. The general is aghast, and says, “Are we under attack sir? You’re putting the claret at risk.” Claret is very serious business and don’t you forget it. Randall makes a big show of brushing that dirt off his shoulder, and then he begins to make a whole lot of trouble for Claire. After some talk talk talk, he brings up the story of a beheaded soldier. Claire brings up the highlanders she came across the previous day. It’s a slippery slope. There’s talk of politics versus morality. Claire is accused of sympathizing with the Scots and she makes a bold statement on their behalf after Randall suggests that she has shared Dougal’s bed.

It’s all very tense but then Doctor Nurse Claire is called back into service. Three enlisted men have been ambushed and one is dead. She rushes to help a young man have his arm amputated. It’s a desperately gruesome scene reminding us that nearly everything in the 18th century was terrible. This show is not shy about broken bodies, blood, or sound effects involving handsaws and bone. Claire once again demonstrates her grace under pressure because she is a bad ass and will have you know it.

Back in the dining room, Claire finds General Pompous Jackass gone. Only Black Jack Randall remains, receiving a close shave (his face, pervs) from a minion. Claire has a brief flashback to shaving Frank, as he submits to her ministrations, bland and pale-chested. She is quickly brought back to the 18th century when the minion accidentally nicks Randall with the razor. Randall loves the sound of his own voice and offers up a soliloquy on a proper shave and blah blah blah. He is the worst.

The pair engages in quite the battle of wits. Randall apologizes for his behavior when they first met and says, “I look forward to the opportunity to reveal my true nature,” as if his true nature has not already been plainly revealed.

Claire continues to plead for the right to return to her family while sidestepping Randall’s questions. Randall is not at all interested in letting her go. He explains why he harbors such suspicion and Claire comes up with a very convincing story, more grace under pressure, about following a soldier she had fallen in love with to Scotland, only to discover he was a scoundrel. When she refused her imaginary boyfriend’s advances, he attacked her, and she fled dressed only in her shift. By the end of this tall tale, Claire is dewy eyed, calling upon Captain Randall to be decent and inquire no further about why she was running through the woods. 

Randall asks for the man’s name but Claire says she would rather take the high road. Randomly, Randall sketches Claire’s likeness and says he’s going to call his drawing “Beautiful Lies.” There’s no fooling this one. Alas.

Now, Randall gets down to business. He offers Claire passage to Inverness if she can provide proof that the MacKenzies have spoken Jacobite treason or tried to raise funds for the Jacobite cause. Claire refuses, of course, and then gets huffy because she’s had enough of the mind games. She says she will wait for the general and submit to his judgment but Randall tells Claire she will not leave the room until he is satisfied that she is as innocent as she claims to be, promising to resort to more serious methods than conversation if she doesn’t start telling the truth.

Claire gets huffy all over again, asking if he will lay her back open to the bone the way he did a young boy, and in a truly excellent (in terms of acting) and horrifying (in terms of humanity) scene, we learn of how Jamie’s back came to be so scarred, how he didn’t cry out during his original flogging, and how Randall, meaning to break him, decided to flog Jamie’s freshly wounded body. The extent of Randall’s sadism is revealed as he calmly recounts how he gave Jamie one hundred lashes on top of the one hundred lashes the boy had already received just to prove a point. Throughout the ordeal, Jamie continued to remain silent, which only made Randall more committed to the scourging. There are no jokes to be had here. The scene is affecting and unwatchable, as it should be. A redcoat faints. The watching crowd becomes increasingly disgusted.

Randall finishes his story by claiming, “I saw the truth. That boy and I, we were creating a masterpiece, an exquisite bloody masterpiece. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” If by beautiful he means repulsive, brutal, and utterly craven, sure. 

Claire is stunned, tears streaming down her face but she maintains her composure. She suggests that there may still be hope for Randall’s soul. He, continuing to love the sound of his own voice, rambles on about how his service in Scotland has changed him. Claire tells Randall he can prove his decency by letting her go. There is an excruciating moment where it seems like Randall might be saved, but ... this is a show about a woman. At some point, she will have to be imperiled. We’ve been over this and it comes to pass yet again here.

Randall approaches Claire and strikes her in the stomach. Claire falls over, in agony. Randall grabs her by the hair and tells Claire he resides in darkness, so that takes care of that. Then Randall instructs his minion to kick Claire, which the young soldier does, reluctantly at first and then with more vigor. Thankfully, Dougal saves the day by storming in. He pulls the gasping Claire to her feet and tells Randall he and Claire will be leaving. Not interested in a fight, Randall relents “for the day,” and orders Dougal to return Claire to Fort William by the next sundown. 

The last thing Claire wants to do, hobbled as she is, is get on a galloping horse, but that’s exactly what she does because, as aforementioned, the 18th century is terrible. She and Dougal ride off and eventually, they stop at a spring a ways down an embankment. The water smells rancid but Dougal assures Claire the water is potable. As she drinks, Dougal asks Claire, one last time, if she is a spy for the English. She indignantly states that she is “plain Claire Beecham and nothing more.” Dougal finally believes her because the spring is magical. Just go with it. Then Dougal tells Claire his plan for saving her from Randall’s clutches and, guys, this is when the episode goes from good to great.

If Claire becomes Scottish, she can’t be forced from clan lands. How can Claire become Scottish you ask? If she marries! Claire is like, Oh, I’m not marrying you, and Dougal chuckles, says something crass about grinding her corn, which is a great euphemism for bad sex if nothing else. Then we realize he means for Claire to marry Jamie. I am pretty sure I heard a chorus of angels at this point. Jamie comes upon Claire and offers her some drink and they talk over their potential nuptials. She asks, “Doesn’t it bother you that I’m not a virgin?” “No,” Jamie says, “So long as it doesn’t bother you that I am.” The angels began singing even louder. You’re telling me Claire will have a blank slate and that amazing body to work with? There is a god and her name is Beyoncé.

After mulling over her options a bit longer, Claire takes a big swig of drink, and makes her way back to the menfolk, grabbing the bottle because for some inexplicable reason, she’s going to need a lot more liquor to wrap her mind around being married to the hottest man in Scotland. I don’t need such convincing. I am ready for the wedding and the wedding night and the honeymoon and the christening of a new home and the fight sex and make up sex and Tuesday night sex and all the other flavors of sex Claire and Jamie are finally going to have if Beyoncé wills it, Amen.

Looking Ahead:

  • There are only two episodes left in the first half of season one, which means this show is probably going to get really great and then leave us hanging for who knows how long, because cable seasons function in their own reality. I am angry in advance.
  • History schmistory.
  • How much longer must we wait for the thing approximately 97% of us are waiting for?
  • Dear commenters, I do enjoy the show or I wouldn’t be recapping it.