Beautiful Lies

In the Outlander episode, The Garrison Commander, lies and half-truths weave back and forth into a multi-layered tartan of deception and introspection.

At the stream, Claire tells Lieutenant Foster that she is a guest of the clan MacKenzie and not being held against her will. One one level, she’s telling the truth, but she wasn’t exactly invited. She was brought to Castle Leoch by Dougal, and Colum has decided to keep her around so that he can take advantage of her healing skills while keeping an eye on her. As resentful as she is at this confinement, she defends Dougal and the clan when she holds back information that she knows the English want – proof of Dougal’s efforts to raise a Jacobite army.

Once Claire is at the table with General Sir Oliver Lord Thomas and has told her mesmerizing tale, she asks for transport to Inverness – that very afternoon, if possible. She has already agreed to marry Jamie to avoid an English prison, but she’s ready to leave him and the others behind in her eagerness to get back to the stones, and Frank. I couldn’t help but feel like Claire was turning her back on them in her desperation to return to her own time. She deceived all of them (she had to, I guess), but I had the feeling that she had invested something of herself in the relationships that were forged. Could she so easily cast all of that aside?

Enter Black Jack Randall, and the lies permeate the room. Randall demands honesty, and Claire does her best to keep to her story now that she knows what BJR is capable of. But she embellishes and turns it into something she hopes BJR will believe. I thought about this possibility as I watched the exchange between them – can BJR recognize so easily that Claire is lying because he is a liar himself?

In a surprising turn, some intense introspection emerges and it’s from BJR. He tells Claire about the darkness that grows within him, a hatred for the very world itself. He admits that he no longer recognizes the man that he’s become. Is this a ploy, or is he being genuine? For a moment I thought so, and I wanted to believe him. I actually began to feel sorry for him, but then when Claire talks about the chance of rehabilitating himself, he says that, “you could make a fortune betting against that.” And, the real BJR is back.

If we needed further evidence, he sketches Claire’s face on a napkin and names it Beautiful Lies. So Claire is back at square one and insists to be allowed to wait for Lord Thomas’ return. In a final, reinforcing gesture that leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who BJR really is, he delivers a punch to Claire and tells her as she gasps for breath, “I dwell in darkness, and darkness is where I belong.” At the last, a shred of honesty emerges.

Image credit: STARZ

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