What a week! You know when everything hits at once, and you feel like it can’t possibly be Saturday already. I had intended to post about The Garrison on Sunday, and then on Tuesday, and then Thursday, and here it is Saturday and I’m just getting to it.
I’ve watched The Garrison three times now. The writers packed a lot in this episode.
The English, by and large, are buffoons. That’s what I came away with. The commanding generals aren’t in charge because of merit, but by the quirky fate of birth. The most able and competent are most likely subordinate to someone who’s never been responsible for anything.
Now, of course, as with all generalities this isn’t always the case. But I think it is valid in the opening sequence with Claire seducing the generals with charm and a good story. She even manages to take up for Dougal, as he stands there listening to the English comment about the Scottish and their savagery. Unlike, the generals, Dougal is a man who has earned his place in the world. He’s snubbed at the table, and takes his leave from Claire to go downstairs and have a proper drink, knowing for now, she is in no danger.
All that changes when Black Jack Randall, the Garrison Commander, comes stomping into the room announcing that Dougal MacKenzie, a known Jacobite sympathizer, is downstairs. The officers chide Randall on his appearance. Ever notice how the least competent armies always have the most elaborate uniforms. Anyway, Randall sees Claire. Like a cat with a mouse, Randall stares at Claire for a long time deciding exactly how he should play with her. He begins by pretending he doesn’t know her, and then through verbal jousting lures her to express her sympathies for the Scottish. Claire makes the grave mistake of siding with the Scottish and saying that it is their land and that the English have invaded it.
Before this declaration the Commander had thought her a damsel in distress, an English Rose that must be rescued. Now, he’s shocked by her statement and tells her it is the King’s land. Thankfully, for Claire, there is commotion downstairs. A man has been injured by an ambush and she rushes down to offer assistance. Dougal takes her aside, telling her that Randall is about. She tells Dougal to make himself scarce, because they will blame Dougal and his men for it, though Dougal assures her that they have not.
After the amputation is over, Claire returns to the an all but empty room. Randall is there and informs her the others have taken after the attackers. All this is happening while a poor private is giving him a shave with the very blade that her husband, Frank, has. The shaving blade having been been passed down through the generations. It triggers a happy flashback for Claire with Frank, probably on leave during the war.
The nervous private cuts Randalls neck while trying to shave him. Randall is very still, and quiet, like a predator about to strike. I held my breath as he grabbed the boy and took the blade to his neck. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that Randall would slice the boys neck open and let him bleed out. He doesn’t, instead sending him out and ordering him to guard the room.
Claire has heard the stories about Black Jack Randall, and even more importantly, she’s had her own experience with him. Will he rape her? As he tried to do before. She knows he doesn’t believe one whit of her story. Randall’s technique as an interrogator are quite remarkable. He starts by asking for her reason to be in Scotland. When she starts with her story, he interrupts and says he wants the truth, that she will not leave this room until he has it.
Very convincingly Claire tells him it was an affair of the heart. That she followed an officer to Scotland. She thought he loved her, but it turned out he only wanted to seduce her. When she refused, he tried to rape her. Which is why she was running around in her shift.
It could be true. Claire even drops some tears. Randall isn’t a man moved by tears, or not moved in the way that one would hope. He tells her that Scotland has changed him. Made him darker, driven, not that same man that he was in England. We are shown the flashback of Jamie being flogged for the second time. A hundred lashes administered by Randall. It’s a gruesome scene that I’d rather not write about or see again. It does show the sadistic tendency in Randall, and what he perceives as the masochistic tendency in Jamie. No matter how brutally Randall whips Jamie, he will not cry out. That silence from Jamie, stokes the dark desires of Randall. He feels a kinship with Jamie. That they are two parts of the same whole. That Randall could reveal himself to Jamie, could act out his desires with this man who can take as much abuse as he could give.
He plays on Claire’s sympathy asking if there is any hope for him. She is truly crying now. I don’t think it is because she feels sorry for Randall, but because she knows how dangerous he really is. He could do anything to her at this point. Randall says perhaps it would be best if she is escorted to Inverness, something the Commander had promised. He stands beside her chair to help her rise, and delivers are hard blow to her stomach, causing her to double over in pain and gasping for a breath. Grabbing her by the hair, he yells at her that he will have the truth. That she will testify that Dougal has been raising money for the Jacobite cause. Randall calls for the private and orders him to kick Claire. The poor boy has no option and reluctantly kicks her twice. Who knows how long this would go one, but Dougal storms into the room and helps Claire up.
Dougal, even outnumbered, commands respect. He demands Randall release Claire. Strangely, Randall does just that. Randall says she must be back tomorrow to speak with the Commander. Barely able to sit a horse, Claire rides out of the garrison. Thank God! Dougal takes her to a foul-smelling stream to drink from. He asks again if she is a spy. Poor Claire. She tells him that she is just plain Claire. Finally, thankfully, he believes her. But why? she asks. Because she drank from a stream that is magic. It will fry your gizzard – or something like that – if you tell a lie.
He has a plan that will keep her from having to go back to The Garrison. She must become Scottish. If she is Scottish, she can’t be forced to go back without the Laird’s approval. Claire must marry. She thinks Dougal is to be the groom. My favorite line of the night was Dougal’s response. “The thought of grinding your corn does tickle me.” But it’s not Dougal she will marry…..It’s Jamie.
Sitting on a log and reading the marriage contract Claire is interrupted by Jamie. He’s fairly subdued, but he isn’t unhappy about marrying Claire. She asks if he cares that she isn’t a virgin. He gives her a slightly bashful look and says no. He asks if she minds that he is. And adds that someone must know what their doing. Claire’s face is priceless here. She’s shocked and a little intrigued by his admission.
So, because of Frank’s ancestor, Black Jack Randall, Claire must marry another man…Think on that…
Tonight, The Wedding