The sixth episode of Starz Outlander, The Garrison Commander, covers more of the events in Chapters 10 through 21, again changing a lot of the story line, adding characters, and recrafting events in intriguing and fascinating ways.
From the moment I first started reading the book the character Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) fascinated me. In most current Romance novels his alpha character introduction would have signaled his being a major player, and male interest for our female lead. Because I knew I was reading the book in anticipation of the television series, and at the recommendation of a friend, I had opted not to read the back cover text about the novel. As a result I entered the story blind, not knowing who was a major player in the story, and who was minor.
As a result, when Claire (Caitriona Balfe) first met Dougal (Graham McTavish) I was both intrigued and curious. Who was this man, and what role would he play in Claire’s attempt to survive life in the 1700s? Dougal (Graham McTavish), as portrayed in the telvision show, is slightly different than in the book, the nuances to his character fascinate me. His loyalty to clan and country and never in question, but his motivations, and what he is seeing and how he will act on it is constantly of interest.
I assumed Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) would be the Garrison Commander for whom this episode was named, in part because he was the highest ranking Red Coat we were familiar with thus far. I expected him to be the predominant face of the British troops, and thought I understood a great deal about the scenes that would unfold in this weeks episode.
As has happened so often in this series, the episode contained some scenes directly from the book, and portions from the book shifted to other characters and other positions.
I said last week that it was best to have read up through Chapter 21, and while I now realize that does cover into the next episode (The Wedding), I think some of those scenes have been merged and shifted into this week’s episode, and last week’s. For instance, one character from this week’s episode is at the very end of chapter 20 (Corporal Hawkins).
Where the first episode of Outlander felt almost like an abridged presentation of the book, each episode since has felt less and less bound to the novel, and yet they have maintained the spirit and spark of the prose so well, that it can be difficult to fully recognize while you are watching the show which parts are created from scratch for the series, and where dialogue has been pulled from Dougal speaking to Claire beside the spring in Chapter 13 and given to Black Jack Randall in episode 6. Hard to believe, and yet, so well done that each scene plays well, conveys the same scene with great power, and presents two different perspectives on the same scene and gives Claire very important knowledge about the world she is now surviving in, and the people around her.