Outlander S1, Ep6 “The Garrison Commander”

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GUEST REVIEWER – teachergirl73

Episode 6 – The Garrison Commander

This episode begins with a significant departure from the book as Claire and Dougal are discovered by some red coat officers, one of them the lieutenant who tried to help Claire back in Episode Five, when Claire was having a good row with Angus and Dougal. That same lieutenant appears again just as Claire and Dougal are arguing once again and it is clear that the he believes that Claire is being held against her will. One would have thought that this was Claire’s chance to break free of the Mackenzie clan, she does not take it. Whether it was her previous encounter with Captain “Black” Jack Randall or because her time with the highlanders has not been all bad, she declares that she is a guest of the Mackenzie.

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Tobias Menzies, who plays Capt. “Black” Jack Randall, gets to display some fabulous acting skills he gives us a look at the deeply disturbing nature of Black Jack’s character. The scene where Jamie was flogged by Randall was truly horrific, which for anyone who’s read the book would know.  The show’s decision to change the retelling of the event from Dougal to Randall, certainly provided Menzies with the opportunity to show his breadth and depth as an actor. The problem is, when actors get to play characters that are as polarizing as Black Jack, I think that it’s sometimes hard for audiences to see them any other way.

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This is where Menzies will get the chance to prove his acting ability. We have only seen bits of Frank Randall, Black Jack’s future heir and much nicer, kinder alter ego, as after the first initial episode we have only seen Frank in Claire’s memories. This has allowed the truly twisted and demented personality of Black Jack to dominate. By getting to play both characters, Menzies has the role of a lifetime where he gets to play both sides of the coin within the same production. I’m really hoping for more glimpses of Frank in future episodes and to see if Menzies can make me like Frank again or at the very least feel compassion for him, because right now my response to the question, “What about Frank?” is “Who cares!“.

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