Guys, Ron Moore is NOT F$#@ING around. Things happen in this episode that shouldn’t happen to a girl that was just trying to eat dinner and watch Outlander at the same time. The episode warning really should have looked like this:
Big cliffhanger last week resolves itself immediately.
Dougal is so happy. Lookit his happy face:
Contrary to what I thought she would say, Claire tells Lieutenant Foster that she is “a guest of the Clan Mackenzie”. You can see his disappointment (and Dougal’s infinitesimal but obvious smirk), but he still requests that she go speak to his commander, who is staying at the inn at Brockton. She accepts, and Dougal says that if she is going, so is he, so they all set off for the English Garrison in the title.
As they travel. Claire is filled with warm fuzzies because she is once more again her own English army in which she spent six years nursing, and being treated with sympathy and respect. She also thinks about how she knows how Dougal must feel as the lonely Scotsman surrounded by enemies on his own land, but I think she underestimates his hubris.
A friendly reminder to everyone that Dougal gives zero f*cks. As they walk in, the officers are at what I assume to be their evening meal, and they are way happy to see an English lady.
The Lieutenant briefly introduces Dougal as the “Dougal Mackenzie, War Chief of the Mackenzie and brother to its Laird” while spending almost 15 minutes introducing his top dawg, “Brigadier General Sir Oliver Lord Thomas, Knight of Bath and Commanding Officer of the Northern British Army.” Here is a picture of what that introduction looked like, and it is exactly as you imagine.
General Thomas tells Dougal that he certainly looks the part of a War Chief and finally speaks to him directly to ask how to address him but fails to understand his accent, which leads to him openly mocking the War Chief as unintelligible and the room joins in to give it the feeling of an animal in the zoo.Thomas even refers to him as “the creature”. Alhough both Lieutenant Foster (“He is speaking English”) and Claire (speaking of Newcastle accents also being hard to understand) try to gently maintain the polite atmosphere, Dougal lets his temper show for the first time when Thomas says the world would be an easier place if everyone spoke like Londoners.
Even though his voice is very low and fatherly when he says it, General Thomas (who now miraculously perfectly understands him) gets his dander up.
Thomas says that he would happily oblige him and go back, if not for the Scots not acting like “loyal subjects of the British Crown” and as the two men stare at each other, you realize just how tense the atmosphere in the room is, and how easily things can get out of hand, and just how freaking huge Dougal’s balls are.
General Thomas then jokes about how he does enjoy the field, and wishes his servants moved as fast as his soldiers, even fancying that he could be a Laird, telling everyone that he knows it’s bad form to ask what he wears under his “skirt” when Dougal interrupts him, once again speaking like you would to a child, to ask if he enjoys embarrassing Claire or if he’s just arrogant. This sets the Lieutenant and Dougal against each other (one insisting on an apology the other won’t give) until Claire interrupts, probably really hungry damn it, telling them they are both acting like children. Thomas gets all turned on by Claire’s bossiness and put out when Dougal agrees with a smile that she is good at telling men what to do.
The entire thing basically stops one yo momma joke away from a full rap battle. General Thomas kicks Dougal out under the guise of not having enough room and the venison getting cold, and Dougal says to keep their “scraps”, as they are still serving “good Scottish ale in the taproom” and he tells Claire he will be downstairs.To Dougal’s credit, the entire time he remained impassive and derisive and if there is a class for broadcasting different ways to imply “fuck off”, please have Graham McTavish teach it so I can take it.
After he lets himself out, We see some scenes of Claire eating and laughing with the English soldiers. She has obviously got them in the pal of her hand, and she has just managed to get General Thomas to agree to have Lieutenant Foster escort her to Inverness.
Then it all goes to hell.
Turns out Capt. Randall has interrupted his commanding officer’s dinner because he just saw Dougal downstairs and when he is ordered to go outside and shake off the dust of the road, he sees and recognizes Claire.
When Thomas asks if they know each other, he says he thought he recognized her, but that he was wrong. Claire picks up on this and says she thought the same thing. The clueless General then introduces them, and then presents himself again to the table to tell them about Dougal. Thomas clarifies that they know, Dougal brought Claire and when Randall says he “can’t wrap his head around” an English lady with Scots, Thomas has the bright idea to ask him to escort Claire to Inverness to tell him her stories. Foster claims she was treated well by her “Scottish friends” and this causes Randall to say that he didn’t know “the English could have Scottish friends”, and he bets “Private McGreavey would agree with me.” Everyone gets very quiet, and Thomas is annoyed.
He tells Randall that Claire will have the vapors if he brings up that story, but Claire says she’s not the type. Randall then tells the story of how two weeks ago, Private McGreavey wandered away and was found two days after, tied to a tree with his severed head in his hands. Claire blanches and says it was a terrible day when he was assigned to Scotland but that’s not good enough for Randall, who scoffs “Is that all you have to say” at Claire.
She then counteracts with the story of the crucified Highlanders, to which one of the English officers says is only English justice to what were surely traitors.
Claire says both sides have committed atrocities which they should be ashamed of, and the same officer says this is why he never discusses politics with women. Claire smartly says she thought they were discussing morality, not politics and this give Randall the perfect opening to imply that Claire is Dougal’s whore, otherwise why would she side with “the Scottish aggressors” over her own people?
This makes me sad because almost three hundred years later, slut-shaming is still considered THE way to get a woman’s opinion dismissed.
Claire tries to stick up for herself and the Scots, claiming that English are the aggressors and that the Scots just want the same freedoms the English enjoy, and that they are occupying Scots land. Randall smirks out the window, and it becomes obvious that this was his purpose all along, to neatly cut the ties of trust and friendship that Claire managed to establish with the officers prior to his arrival. Mission accomplished.
General Thomas points out that the land is the Crown’s, and questions Claire’s loyalty. Claire sees her opportunity to get back to Craig Na Dun evaporating and hurries to reassure them that she is a loyal subject, but the damage is done. Proving he is a class A mindf*cker, Randall now sticks up for her and says she has “lived among the savages too long” and when Thomas menacingly says she should get back to her family posthaste, Claire says she will leave today if he allows it. His consent is interrupted before it can be given, however, by the announcement that men are being shot at outside the town, and that there is a wounded man downstairs but that even though they have sent for the surgeon, they are not sure where he is.
Claire offers to go, citing her medical experience. Downstairs she sees Dougal, who tells her that he saw “that bastird Randall” go up and asks if she is okay. Claire asks if his men would have been responsible for the attack and when he responds that never without his say-so and that he can’t be held without evidence, Claire tells him that they are just looking for someone to blame and she would feel better if he made himself scarce. This provokes as close to a double-take as we’re gonna get from Dougal, who takes her advice and steps out.
Claire takes charge with her usual aplomb, diagnosing an amputation and prepping the patient until the surgeon comes in. I know this because he haughtily announces “I am the surgeon here” and asks Claire if she’s going to faint. She says she’s stayed awake through worse and maybe she won’t faint, but I sure as heck might the second I see his tools.
Ugh. She does stay awake, but I’m pretty sure she cries throughout and when she makes it upstairs, it’s to be greeted by the sight of Psycho “Black Jack” Randall getting a very erotic (I can’t be the only one that thought this) shave from his young ginger page, LIKE YOU DO.
Claire asks where General Thomas has gone, and he responds that he has gone “hunting rebels”. As she watches, Claire sees the razor he is using is the same as her husband’s, a cherished antique, and we get another short Frankback (shaving pron edition) where Claire shaves Frank during one of his breaks during the war.
I know I’m supposed to care about their relationship and Ron Moore really is doing an excellent job in theory, but damn it, I just don’t. I care more about that excellent nightgown and where I can get one. Claire’s indrawn breath after coming out of her daydream causes the young Private to nick the Captain, which causes this really odd scene where he yanks him down and then proceeds to force-shave him while crooning advice about controlling his nerves.
He dismisses him with orders to not let himself and Claire be disturbed and let me tell you, if you are already uncomfortable with the mixture of anger and violence and sexual overtones, better skip to the end of the episode because it gets WAY worse before it gets better.
Claire wants to leave for Inverness and advises Randall not to touch the General’s claret, but because he is a sociopath, this is his response.
He wants to question her again, and goes back to the well on what is fast becoming his patented move: lure them in with kindness. He apologizes for near-raping her when first they met and assures her that he is ashamed to think of it, and looks forward to showing her his “true nature”. Claire’s thoughts really are written on her face.
Doomed for disappointment, dear. He asks that she be as honest with him as he plans to be with her, and she agrees. He questions her about where she is from, why she is in Scotland and won’t accept her usual answers. He tells her there are no Beauchamps in Oxfordshire, and she points out that he is from Sussex, so he shouldn’t know. They speak briefly in French and he tells her he doesn’t see anything of the prostitute about her, for which she thanks him. When she asks her for her maiden name, she apologizes for her comments about the Scots and saying she needs to be along her journey. He says she isn’t helping her case, and she denies having a case. He comes clean and says that she is either a spy or a whore. When she asks if those are her only choices, he says that if she has another explanation she shouldn’t keep it to herself. Claire then invents a long tale about falling in love with an officer stationed in Scotland who ended up being false tried to rape her, which is why she ended up in her shift, and begs him not to pry further if he is a gentleman which, SPOILER ALERT HELL NO HE IS NOT.
It is very obvious she is barking up the wrong tree. He asks her for the name of gentleman and when she demurs, stares at her like a velociraptor, walks over and sketches something on a napkin with what I assume is a blackened piece of his soul. He then asks her for her opinion on the sketch, which he will call “Beautiful Lies.”
We really need to be more respectful of that which we as a society allow ourselves to call “art”. AMIRITE? Randall tells her that if she wishes to get to Inverness, she will provide him with proof that Dougal is raising funds for the Jacobite cause, which he already knows to be true. Claire denies having witnessed anything of the sort during her travels, and of course he doesn’t believe her because Claire is an awful liar.
Claire finally gets tired of his interrogation and says she will not submit to it unless she is under arrest, flouncing off to sit in a chair to wait for General Thomas to come back so she can go to Inverness. She says if he wants to guard her, that’s fine by her. Randall comes to stand behind her chair and informs her that she will not go anywhere until he is satisfied that she is innocent as she claims, and that if she won’t submit he has…alternative methods that he’ll have to try. Claire says she knows all about his methods and I want to scream SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP CLAIRE because you can see him tense up when he realizes she must know Jamie, but Claire is just at the end of her rope and you can tell she wants to chastise him for it.
Claire tells him that she has heard of him through tales told by the Mackenzies of one of their own that was whipped by him to the bone. This is where sh*t starts to get VERRA CREEPY because while Claire is shaking with outrage, this motherf*cker is all dreamy like he is hearing about a hot chick he used to date and remembering the first time they did it. Claire says she has heard flogging is a sport, and he says no, he takes it very seriously, and that the “poor Highland boy” she refers to is a “wanted thief and murderer”. When Claire says he had only stolen a loaf of bread, Randall asks if Dougal told her this and she nods her assent. This brings us to a flashback, through Randall’s eyes of Jamie’s famous flogging.
Disclaimer: I am not going to show his back. I am sure you can find images online if you wish, but it was harsh and has zero comedic value so no. I canna.
Randall opens with the fact that Dougal was there, and even though Jamie had already received 100 lashes for trying to escape, he felt an additional 100 were merited when he didn’t make a sound, feeling that this was not a message he wanted to send into a crowd of rebels.
I can’t even enjoy shirtless Jamie, and that is how you know this was a motherf*ckin crime against humanity. GOD DAMN YOU, BLACK JACK.
Jamie is brought out into a courtyard and chained up to a post, and Randall walks around him like he’s examining a horse he wants to buy, finally coming up by his manacled hands and explaining that he usually “likes to work on a blank canvas” because then he can really see the marks. When Jamie doesn’t respond, he points out that he is shaking, and Jamie retorts that it’s only because he is worried that if he keeps talking it’ll take so long he’ll freeze stiff before it’s done.
You want to cheer Jamie for his cheek, but you also cringe because Randall gives him a half-smile and tells him that he will break him, punching him in the gut before walking around to begin. Back at the Inn, Randall dreamily asks Claire if she has “ever seen a man scourged” and that “the thought of the whip coming down on that pitiful, raw flesh” made his “stomach flutter, my legs shake.” Claire stares at him, and while she seems to think he is repentant, he really sounds transfixed, and once again, IT IS CREEPY.
Randall tells Claire that he had meant to pace himself because whipping someone is hard work, let’s face it, but that Jamie wouldn’t cry out. He wonders if he hoped to stir him to pity, which was a mistake, because he knew he was hurting him. He describes the sensation of the whip going “up [his] arm and exploding into [his] heart” and it is so disturbing because it is then you start to realize that Randall’s pain/pleasure wires are not only crossed, they are very likely tied into knots like a psychotic abacus.
Flash back to the courtyard, where Jamie can barely stand upright because he is slipping in a pool of his own blood and oh Jesus save us WHY WHY WHY. What follows are some screen caps with my train of thought laid over them, and by train of thought I mean the sh*t I was screaming at my TV.
At this point Randall is splattered in blood, Jamie is barely conscious and the skin of his back is in ribbons with great chunks missing and I want to get on a plane, fly to Craig Na Dun, travel back in time, find Randall’s mother and punch her in the uterus. Except I can’t because this is fiction. DAMMIT.
Randall pulls Jamie’s hair to wake him and asks him if he’s had enough. when Jamie does not respond, he resumes flogging him, so hard at one point that he slips and falls on his blood and flogs from the ground as he struggles to get up. It is so violent that one of his men faints at the sight, and it causes a nervous titter of laughter through the crowd.
Laughter of course is emblematic of happiness, so of course Randall puts a stop to it in the most violent way he can. He tells Claire that in that moment, he “determined to bleed him to he bone”. He describes how the world narrowed to himself and Jamie, the whip connecting them both and that the crowd’s laughter went from gasps to crying. More random thoughts laid over these images.
Ron Moore, I’m going to need you to fork up for my therapy. You know you’re a good director when you give your audience PTSD. Congrats.
Back at the Inn, Randall calls the crowd fools for “only seeing the horror” while he “could see the beauty” and “the truth”, that Jamie and he together “were creating a masterpiece, an exquisite bloody masterpiece” which was “the most beautiful thing [he] had ever seen”. His expression and Claire’s could not be more opposite, and you realize, as Claire does, that this man is batsh*t insane.
He then tells Claire that “the truth carries a weight that no lie can counterfeit” and that he had promised to reveal himself to her, and so he has. He also says that no doubt she imagines him a monster, and that “it very well could be so”. Claire answers that the fact that he still cares what she thinks gives her hope for his soul. Randall says that he was not always that way, that he came to Scotland to serve King and country and found himself a guardian of so a “squalid, ignorant people prone to the basest superstition and violence” (takes one to know one) and now he finds himself so consumed with “darkness and hatred of the very world itself” that he hardly recognizes the things he does or the man he has become. Claire tearfully tells him that he can’t undo what he has done, but that he can “win back [his] humanity” and that with his “insight and self-knowledge” can still choose to be the man he wishes to be.
Randall jokes about “the rehabilitation of ‘Black Jack’ Randall and says that maybe he will start with having her escorted back to Inverness. Claire smiles happily, and he orders another soldier, a Corp. Hawkins in to assist him. We soon find out for what.
That’s right. HE PUNCHED HER IN THE GUT and while she lays on the floor gasping for air Randall pulls her head back by her hair, not unlike he did to Jamie, to tell Claire that he lives in darkness, and that’s where he belongs. If she was looking for sympathy from him she will find none, and he will get the truth from her one way or another.
He then matter-of-factly asks the corporal if he has ever kicked a woman, and says it is “very liberating”. When the younger man expresses reluctance and kicks her only lightly, he bullies him into kicking her harder and expresses disdain that Claire is “soft”. He says to kick her again. The young Corporal is crying, Claire is crying and I am punching my pillow pretending it is Randall’s groin when thank God, game changer:
That’s right, Dougal is there and for once I am happy to see him. He tells Randall that he is taking Claire back now that he knows she is not a prisoner of Collum’s, and Randall tells him he has no right to hold to keep her from him since she is an English subject and has to be available for questioning. Dougal says that may be, but that he is not questioning her on Mackenzie land unless he cares to start a war.
Randall relents, but tells Dougal that he must deliver Claire to Fort William before sundown the next day, or he will be accused of “harboring a fugitive from English law and hunted and punished even unto death, war chief or no.” He orders the guards to let them pass, tells Claire he looks forward to their next meeting and they get out of there.
Thank God. My poor heart. Claire tells us via voice over that the last thing she wanted was a gallop through the highlands and that she was close to fainting by the time Dougal stopped. He tells her there is water nearby and they climb down into a lovely sort of grotto that is just gorgeous. Let us stop and restock our souls with its beauty:
Claire balks at the water’s smell, but Dougal urges her to drink since it’ll “wet her throat” all the same. As she drinks, he takes his dagger out and hides it behind the folds of his tartan, once again asking if she is a spy for the English or the French. Claire is annoyed she has to answer that again….
…but Dougal says it is the last time, so she yells that no, she is just plain Claire Beauchamp and can they be done with it now? Dougal says “Aye,” and puts away his dagger. When Claire sees it, she asks if he was going to use that on her. Dougal said he would have regretted it, since she is “a handsome woman” but had she proved false, he would have had to.
Claire asks how he knows she is telling the truth, and he says that the water is St. Ninian’s Spring, and that anyone who drinks from it and lies would have their “gizzard burnt out”. Claire mocks the “magic spring” but Dougal says she should believe in the power of magic, being a healer. Claire snarks that she doubts Captain Randall will be so easily convinced, but Dougal says that if he does what he tells her, she never has to see him again.
Dougal explains he thought it may come to this and so he consulted Ned Gowan, who said that an English officer cannot compel a Scottish person to appear unless they have proof a crime has been committed and even so, not without the permission of the Laird concerned, so the way to get Claire safe from Randall is to convert her from an Englishwoman to a Scots and that way is…to marry one. Claire at first flatly refuses, but when Dougal points out that maybe she would rather go to jail, she asks if it will be he whom she marries. His reaction is delightful, telling her that it would “tickle” him to “grind her corn” but no, he has another nominee which is…..
THAT”s RIGHT, Y’ALL! Time for our OTP to make it official. But first, real talk from Claire, who has been reading the marriage contract like a good 20th Century gal. Once Jamie sits down, she announces in a mopey voice that Dougal wants them to be married.
Jamie surprises her by saying he knows, and already earns hubby points by bringing her hard liquor to help her process. She asks him if he is willing, and Jamie explains that not only has she mended his wounds more than once, but he’d be a crappy friend if he let “that mad bastard Randall” get his paws on her, so he figures he owes it to her. So romantic.
Claire, clearly drunk and forgetting their Sexy Blanket Loan, mentions that certainly a young man like himself has someone in who he is interested. Jamie says that no, he is not a very good prospect for marriage what with the poor soldier’s pay and the likelihood that he will be caught and executed by the English, ha ha.
Claire waspishly says that by him then, they may as well start the honeymoon tomorrow and Jamie says “Aye, whatever suits you”. Seeing that she will get no help dodging bigamy (even though she is technically single as Frank isn’t born yet) she blurts out to Jamie if it doesn’t bother him that she isn’t a virgin.
His response is adorable and not unexpected. I doesn’t bother him that she isn’t, as long as it doesn’t bother her that HE IS. He is verra serious when he confesses it, then his natural playfulness takes over and he whispers that he “reckons one of us should ken what they’re doing.”
Claire stares at the fire, momentarily nonplussed as she thinks about what decision to take and the whopper she just unearthed, but really, when faced with the option of going to 18th-century jail or nailing James Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser like a gazebo, which would YOU take?
That’s right, Claire. Smart girl. Always err on the side of the hawt ginger.
Next week: THE WEDDING. I will be doing finger exercises and picking out my formal wear. Then just one more episode left, I don’t know what I’ll do! (Recap Arrow, but still, I will miss my Frasers). Leave a comment if you can, you know I love them, and if you share, thanks and please credit me! Till next week!