Episode 106, “The Garrison Commander,” is not one for the feint of heart. Claire’s meeting with Black Jack Randall is expanded from the book version to take up most of the episode. Ron D. Moore’s expanded adaptation was intended to help shed light on the diabolical behavior and nature of the infamous Captain of Dragoons. The flashbacks to Jamie’s flogging as Black Jack Randal recounts the events to Claire are disturbing and difficult to watch. Two of our favorite scenes occur at the end of the episode and offer some much needed levity from the brutality of most of the subsequent scenes. Therefore, rather than focusing on the darkness in which BJR tells Claire he belongs, we will focus on a scene that illustrates Jamie’s strength and defiance of his tormentor.
“The boy would not beg.”
UGH! This scene was both the best and the worst for me. It was awful to watch, yet so masterfully played. From an acting standpoint it is exceptional. We have not just the voice over from Tobias (as BJR) in that flat affect, but Sam really sells so convincingly the pain of the flogging and Jamie’s stubborn determination not to acknowledge it.
From a narrative POV, THIS small but effective scene is the crux of the relationship between Black Jack Randall James Fraser. This moment is what precipitated BJR’s fascination/obsession. Jamie’s strength of will became Jack’s white whale. And we know how THAT turns out. Grrr.
This scene, this horrible, awful, beautiful scene so perfectly showcases and explains everything that comes after it. Everything. All of Black Jack’s subsequent actions (and words) to both Jamie and Claire are predicated by what he says here. We see that he likes to hurt. He likes to break. He attempts it with Jamie in the actual flogging. He attempts (and perhaps succeeds) in the recounting of it to Claire. I don’t believe that it was a moment of self-reflection for him. It was a moment of pride. He was gloating to Claire, and thereby breaking her trust that somewhere inside him was a decent human being. He set her up perfectly for the literal/metaphorical gut punch that comes next. BJR is literally the worst.
Even though this passage is less than a page in the book, I love that they devoted an entire episode to it in the series. It was important not just to learn the lengths that BJR will go to, but we learned a lot about Jamie and Claire as well. We actually learned a great deal about Jamie, more so than we have probably learned up to this point. Yes, we were told of the flogging, but Jamie brushes it off. He does not want people (Claire, Alec) to be uncomfortable or pity him for it. But we never see the strength of character or stoic nature that Jamie has until we see the moment. We see EXACTLY what Jamie is willing to put himself through for the people he loves. We see the pride that Jamie has. This pride is not a character flaw. It is a pride of WHO he is… not just as a man, but as a Scot. He is a symbol of the Scottish people. They are beaten, shackled, and abused, but they are not broken. They will not beg. -S
“Well, I must admit, the idea of grinding your corn does tickle me.”
I love Graham McTavish, but his character, Dougal, is not a favorite of mine. That said, in Episode 106, Dougal has a line of dialogue that has become iconic in the Outlander fandom. “Well, I must admit, the idea of grinding your corn does tickle me…” Truthfully, with the possible exceptions of Father Bain and the Duke of Sandringham, who among the male characters wouldn’t like to grind Claire’s corn?
People who had not read the Outlander books before seeing this episode must have been anxious to learn exactly who Dougal had nominated for the position of Claire’s husband. They must have breathed a sigh of relief to learn that it was not Angus, Rupert, or even Murtagh, but Jamie. Don’t worry, Claire. Everything is going to work out just fine.
“I reckon one of us should ken what they’re doing.”
Claire, you are a lucky woman. Dougal nominated Jamie for the job. (Though I must add that Jamie is also lucky because God is giving him a “rare woman.”) This is one of my all time favorite scenes. Claire isn’t pleased about the forced marriage, but with the aid of a bottle of whisky she reconciles herself to it. Jamie isn’t nearly as bothered about it. Their mutual attraction is strong, but he is willing to do anything to protect Claire from Black Jack Randall. The look on Claire’s face when Jamie informs her that he is a virgin is simply priceless. The thought of de-flowering the young highlander clearly makes her anxious, but as we will see in the next episode, “The Wedding,” Jamie is a quick learner. In fact, in the book, Claire reflects that “Virgins are highly underrated.” -D