Okay, Outlanders, let’s just hold hands and try to get through this one together.
That’s right, we’ve spent the last few weeks watching the slow build of Claire and Jamie’s relationship, witnessing our time traveler being eye-balled by the MacKenzies (is she a spy? a witch?) and getting a sense of Jamie’s horrific backstory (pun intended...I know, I'm awful) through carefully placed flashbacks.
But now, friends, it's clear that we’re finally at the point where, basically, shit gets real.
At the end of Outlander Season 1 Episode 5, Dougal was confronting Claire about who she really is when the red coats showed up. Aw, hell...
So that's how we start Outlander Season 1 Episode 6. And if you were waiting to get a real, full sense of Captain Jack Randall, you couldn't have been disappointed after tonight's episode. You may have nightmares, though!
(And, in case you missed it, check out my 5 things to know about Tobias Menzies, posted earlier today)
This episode, the best of the season (and the first to rate a 5.0 by yours truly), was written by Ira Steven Behr and directed once again by the fabulous Brian Kelly. And - another warning - this post is quote-heavy because there honestly were just too many good lines not to include them!
We pick up where we left off with Lt. Jeremy Foster asking if Claire is alright. She says she's fine, but Foster insists that she come to see his Commander. Claire shares her feelings of feeling liberated. Dougal insists on joining.
And for the first time since I passed through the standing stones of Craigh na Dun I found myself surrounded by my own people. They might be called Red Coats instead of Tommys but they were still the British Army I'd been a part of for six long years and somehow it felt liberating to be looked upon with sympathy and respect instead of hostility and suspicion.Claire
Claire and Dougal arrive and meet Brigadier General Oliver Lord Thomas, Commander of the Northern British Army. This is initially a friendly enough bunch, though a good adjective for Thomas might be "slimy" when he calls Claire an "English Rose" and there is a lack of respect in the officers' group over Dougal’s brogue and the kilt. Not cool, dudes.
That said, once Dougal leaves to quench his thirst, a montage shows that the meal goes well with lots of conversation, Thomas practically swooning over Claire as she shares her story. She’s hoping she can finally be returned to Inverness and it looks like she may get her wish..
Inverness. And from there only a brief journey would take me to the stones at Craigh na Dun and a chance to return to my own time.Claire
... but then Jack Randall bursts into the room. Buzzkill. He stops when he spies Claire and there’s a long gaze between the two of them. Randall says he thought he knew her but was mistaken. Claire plays the game and agrees that she felt the same way..
Randall moans like a little bitch about Dougal being on their site drinking ale and Thomas informs the Captain that MacKenzie is the one who brought Claire to them. Thomas mentions that maybe Randall can accompany Claire to Inverness (Noooooooooooo!)
(Jamie-watch: he has yet to appear fifteen minutes in. Almost as un-cool as Randall!)
In talking of morality and politics, Randall sticks around the room and subtly tries to turn the men's favor for Claire the other direction. He suggests that Claire has shared a bed with Dougal MacKenzie. Claire is outraged and doesn’t hide it one bit - but she makes an error in something she says that takes the shine off of Thomas.
The Scots just want the same freedoms we enjoy, freedoms we take for granted. They are not the aggressors, Captain, we are. It is their land and we are occupying it.Claire
Thomas; I believe it’s the King's land. I must say, Madam, I find your sympathies extraordinarily puzzling.
News of an injured soldier prompts Claire to go help with the wounded, as the Brits suggest the Scots are responsible. Dougal takes a moment to warn Claire to watch out for Randall while she suggests he make himself scarce. Claire helps with an arm amputation.
While we’ve seen in the past that Claire helping the wounded has been her way into the good graces of the MacKenzies, will the same be true for her time in the company of the Red Coats? Don’t hold your breath with Randall present.
Claire returns to the dining room and finds that Thomas and Turner are both away and Randall is alone in the room, getting a shave from a soldier. It sparks a memory for our time traveler of a time she lovingly shaved husband Frank on of their breaks together during the war.
We’re reminded not only that Tobias Menzies is one hell of an actor (and pretty damn sexy) but also that Frank is a very different man from Randall. Remember that.
You control your nerves. Your nerves do not control you.Randall
Randall throws out some damn good Claret to spite Thomas and then does what we’re not expecting – he apologizes for his attempted rape of Claire in Outlander Season 1 Episode 1.
Randall: I am not a casual person with women. I look forward to the opportunity to reveal my true nature to you. I can only hope that honesty will be met with honesty.
Claire: My honesty will match yours, Captain.
Randall starts his questioning of Claire and wants to know who she is. She tells a sympathetic – and false – story of why she was in a state of undress upon their first meeting, due to a scoundrel she had fallen for who proved to be less than honorable. Claire is quite the actress here, too, with tears so convincing that I almost believe her.
But does Randall? We’re not sure…but can you feel the tension in this scene? It's utterly fantastic and why this show is so damn good.
We're not sure if Randall believes Claire or not but he does move a few seats closer to her and does something else unexpected - he starts drawing on a napkin. It’s revealed that's he's quite the artist and has sketched Claire.
Claire: You captured my likeness.
Randall: You think so? I'm glad. I shall call it ‘Beautiful Lies’
Randall, unimpressed with her story, tells Claire that he wants her to furnish him with information that the MacKenzies are raising funds to build a Jacobite army, which we know is true. Claire protests that she has no idea what he’s talking about. Randall says he will do more than just talk to find out what he wants to know.
Claire knows what he means since she's very aware of the brutal lashings that Randall gave to Jamie and this launches us into Randall’s story (and flashback) into beating Jamie nearly to death.
[Jamie-watch: 34 minutes in and we finally see Jamie in the flashback…sure, he takes off his shirt but it's to receive his second 100 lashes so, well, this isn’t the sexiest we’ve seen him or the sexiest of scenes by a long shot!]
Randall makes a point of telling Claire that Dougal was present at the time of the second lashing and we see the horrific, scabbed over lashes on Jamie's still raw back from the first 100 lashings. This is gonna be tough.
I will break you.Randall to Jamie
Randall recounts the beating and, well, it’s one of the hardest scenes we’ve had to watch on the series. Jamie holds strong, even as we see his back ripped open more and more. Randall describes the beating to Claire and how Jamie would not beg for mercy.
We even see Randall physically tired and Jamie barely able to stand, but it's not over. Even the watchers – including one of Randall’s soldiers – faints and members of the crowd look away.
I think all they could see was the horror but I could see the beauty. I saw the truth. That boy and I, we were creating a masterpiece. An exquisite, bloody masterpiece.Randall on beating Jamie
Randall goes on and on and says something about how war has changed him and how he doesn’t recognize the man he is now. Are we supposed to feel sympathy? Is he regretting his behavior? We’re lead to maybe think so and Claire seems to feel that way, thinking there is maybe a decent man still inside him.
(Sure, she’s hoping he’ll still let her go to Inverness but I know I was hoping for the same thing.)
And then he sucker punches Claire in the gut. And gets a soldier to kick her. Yep, he’s the devil.
I run in darkness, Madam. And darkness is where I belong. I need no sympathy and you'll get none from me. One way or another, I will get the truth out of you.Randall to Claire
Claire would probably be beaten worse if Dougal didn’t storm in to take stop the madness. Dougal and Randall have words but Dougal holds his own and takes Claire out. (Go, Dougal!)
Randall does tell Dougal that he needs to bring Claire back for more questioning the next day and this is a British order.
Claire and Dougal are on horses but, before returning to the others, he takes her to a secluded creek to get some fresh water. But, wait, why is Dougal taking out his knife? He asks Claire one more time if she’s a spy for the English or the French. Claire contends that she is not a spy and Dougal accepts her word and says he won’t ask again.
Why does he believe her at this point? Well, because she drank from the magic creek, of course,; it would show if she were lying!
And, listen carefully, folks: Dougal has a plan. And it can legally help Claire’s case. All she has to do is change from a Brit to a Scot. How? Marriage! To Jamie! (*squeals of delight*)
Well, I must admit, the idea of grinding your corn does tickle me but it is not myself I'd be nominating for the position.Dougal to Claire
Next up, Claire and Jamie sit, talk and have a glass of wine. Jamie is fine marrying her, but Claire asks if there’s someone else he’s interested in. Jamie says he is not promised to anyone, has no money and has a price on his head.
So, since he's not exactly in demand as a worthy husband, why not?! Looks like we're going to see a wedding!
Claire: Doesn't it bother you that I'm not a virgin?
Jamie: No, as long as it doesn't bother you that I am.
Oh dear!! Next week's installment should be mighty interesting, don’t ya think?
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.