“The Garrison Commander” is episode six of season one of Outlander.
In the previous episode, “Rent”, Claire finally realised that the money that Dougal and his men were collecting that wasn’t the MacKenzie’s tax wasn’t simply to line Dougal’s own pockets. It was actually to support the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Charles Edward Stewart, the son of James Francis Edward and the grandson of the deposed James II and VII.
On working this out Claire, with her knowledge of the future, didn’t please people with her comments on how that fighting the English was doomed to failure. It wasn’t simply nay saying on her part, of course, even if that’s what the others thought. It was the knowledge of what would happen at the Battle of Culloden in only a few years time, where the Highlanders and the Jacobite Uprising were utterly crushed (it wasn’t a battle of Scots versus English either, there were English on both sides and a significant number of Scots, including Highlanders, fought on the British Army side – and there were other nationalities too).
At the end of the episode, an army lieutenant who had confronted Dougal over his treatment of Claire but lacked any forces with him ad backup appeared again, this time with troops, and demanded to know again if everything was alright. This would provide an easy out for Claire, allowing her to get away from Dougal and perhaps back to her own time as a result, but it would perhaps have unfortunate consequences for Dougal and the others.
This episode opens with the lieutenant asking again if Claire was there by her own choice. She replies that she is a guest of the clan MacKenzie. The lieutenant says that he is sure that his commander would wish to speak to her. Claire enjoys being surrounded by British Army Redcoats, as she had not long back spent six and a half years surrounded by British Army Tommies. Dougal is the one who now feels out of place, despite being in a Scottish village.
Claire is made welcome by the Brigadier-General commanding, and offered good food and drink. The commander and his men poke fun at Dougal and his accent – except for the lieutenant. Claire points out that there are other places in England where the local accent is equally hard to understand. The Brigadier-General does not make a good impression, being a rather stereotypical upper class twit. Claire pulls them all up for behaviour unbecoming. Both Dougal and the brigadier do seem to share a moment when they both seem to agree that Claire has skill at ordering men around. The brigadier says that the lieutenant, Foster, would be able to escort her to Inverness.
Claire’s pleasure does not last long though, when the meal is interrupted by Captain ‘Black Jack’ Randall, her husband’s ancestor, the man who assaulted Claire in “Sassenach” and who whipped Jamie bloody in his past. Black Jack says that he doesn’t recognise her and Claire says the same. One is definitely lying; probably both are. Black Jack does not seem like a very nice person (and he barely conceals his contempt of his commander) and the brigadier suggests that he accompany her to Inverness. Matters get a bit heated as Randall provokes Claire, and she gives vent to some of her true feelings. When Scots – not Dougal’s – attack several redcoats outside the camp, Claire volunteers to help with one who is seriously injured. She also tells Dougal that he should make himself scarce so that he doesn’t become a scapegoat.
Lord Thomas, the brigadier general, and lieutenant Foster have gone out hunting rebels. Leaving Black Jack behind. He does apologise for his actions though. Whether or not it’s a genuine apology is a different matter. He isn’t so interested in escorting her to Inverness. The captain would seem to think that Claire is up to something – he seems to sense that she isn’t telling the whole truth, but the whole truth is unbelievable. So Claire has to come up with a plausible lie.
Lots of verbal sparring between Claire and Black Jack, during the course of which he reveals that he is a monster. A philosophical monster, one who knows and acknowledges the monster he has become, but a monster all the same. Dougal and Claire’s relationship finally seems to improving. Dougal has a way of helping Claire that is rather unexpected.
There is a really nasty flogging scene in this episode.