Previously on Banished: James’s attempt to escape into the bush ended quickly, but he was given a last-minute reprieve by the governor provided he serve as the camp’s new hangman.
Close up of a tarantula or some other enormous spider scurrying along, to remind us that everything in Australia is out to kill you before…
…we go into the men’s barracks, where the soldiers who have come to rouse everyone are surprised to see James. So are the other prisoners. Everyone stops to stare for a moment before getting their days started. One of the other convicts tells James that Tommy is out digging his grave right now. James goes to tell him it won’t be needed and another convict pretty much says, ‘won’t it?’
Outside, Anne’s surprised to see James alive as well and is pleased for a bit, but then suddenly gets all spooky and tells him he’s a dead man.
James goes down to the beach, where Tommy’s hard at work on that grave. James helps him out of it and tells his friend that they let him go. Tommy asks how that can be. James stupidly says they just did. You know, out of the goodness of their hearts. Tommy figures he’s turned informer. James denies it. Tommy offers him the opportunity to explain the situation to everyone that evening and then tells him to finish digging the grave himself. Harsh, Tommy.
Word has reached Elizabeth, who’s the only person to be genuinely happy to hear the news. She runs into Tommy, who tells her what James told him. Elizabeth insists that he would not turn informer. Another convict comes along and tells Tommy they have to get rid of James. Tommy says he’ll explain himself that night. The other guy’s not willing to wait that long and goes along to the forge, where William is training his apprentice, Molloy and multitasking by practicing his spelling. The other convict arrives and tells William to make him a knife. William says he can’t make knives, he just repairs things. When he hears the knife is to be used to kill James, he flat-out refuses to do it, because he doesn’t want to jeopardise the reduction in his sentence. The other guy, Spratt (I believe) promises he won’t tell anyone where he got the knife and William is like, ‘how stupid do you think everyone is? Where else would you get a knife made?’ Molloy, too, refuses to help. Spratt leaves.
Ross is leading some soldiers through the bush on some expedition or another. One of them, Michael, spots a kangaroo and shoots it. He’s so excited he runs off to collect it, ignoring Ross’s repeated warnings to walk. As he’s tearing through the underbrush, Michael is bitten by a snake. Ross and the others come over, but there’s no way to help him. Michael gasps that he was too hungry not to run.
Ross carries Michael back to camp himself, which is pretty impressive, and lays him outside the Johnson’s tent. He’s already dead. Rev comes out and tells Ross how sorry he is before starting last rites. Ross, gasping for air after his exertions, struggles to hold himself together as he stands by and others gather around to watch.
The flag is lowered to half staff and a bugler plays Last Post while Ross goes through Michael’s things and lists them off for Collins to inventory. There’s not much there: a prayerbook, some letters home, a rosary, and a tiny statue of the Virgin, which he doesn’t mention to Collins, pocketing it instead. Molloy arrives, having been sent for, and Ross asks him to write a letter on his behalf to Michael’s parents. Kind of crappy of you not to do this yourself, Ross. Molloy promises to do so, and make it sound like Michael died in battle.
Outside the tent, Collins has a chat with Molloy, telling him he read the man’s file, which said that Molloy stole from a widow with two children. Molloy readily cops to it, explaining that he did it to feed his own children. He asks Collins if he has kids of his own (he does) and asks what he would do for them. Die for them, of course. Molloy asks if he’d also sacrifice his reputation and honour? Because he would, and did. Do you think of him as less human, Collins? Unable to act nobly? Also, I can’t help but wonder what Molloy’s background is. He’s clearly an educated man, judging from his rare abilities to read and write, not to mention the amazing handwriting. I’m guessing he was a clerk of some kind who fell on hard times.
It’s the end of the day. Tommy and Spratt eye James as they all go to stash their tools and return to the barracks. There, James finds a large bucket of water waiting. Spratt asks Molloy if he really wants to witness this. He does not, so he’s sent to guard the door. Some of the women have gathered there: Elizabeth and Anne, naturally. James’s hands are bound behind him and he asks Tommy if he thinks so little of their friendship that he would drown him. And would Elizabeth watch? What happened to the guard Philip promised anyone who agreed to be the hangman? Is he really not at all worried about this person being killed, leaving them without a hangman again?
James asks them what they want him to say, because he’s not interested in being drowned into a false confession, he’d rather just go right ahead to the confessing. Spratt tells him to confess to being an informer and James says again that he isn’t, but if that’s what they want to hear, then fine, he is. Spratt tells him to say it and mean it but James can’t do it. Tommy asks why they let James off and James says they didn’t, they actually completely and utterly terrorized him. Tommy doesn’t care, because he’s kind of a shit. James claims that he can’t remember the Governor saying anything to him, having been too traumatised. He suggests Philip bought the self-defence he pleaded but Tommy isn’t buying it. James points out that he’d be a terrible informer, because he doesn’t know anything useful anyway, aside from the fact that Tommy, he, and Elizabeth killed Marsden, and clearly he didn’t give up that little titbit. Tommy ducks him anyway, and while he’s holding James’s head under the water, he calls for anyone else to offer up a plausible explanation for why James is still alive. While this is going on, Molloy steps back in. Tommy pulls James out of the water and orders him to tell them the truth, has he turned informer or not? James says no and gets ducked again. So, if he says no, you’ll drown him, but if he says yes, you guys’ll kill him, right? This is some messed-up medieval logic at work here. Tommy pulls James out and warns him again to confess to being an informer, and Tommy won’t drown him right then and there. Elizabeth is crying. Tommy begs James to confess again, to spare Tommy the terrible task of having to drown his friend. Oh, you poor thing, Tommy. I’m really starting to hate that character. He’s terrible. He shoves James under again. Elizabeth screams at him and he pulls James out just in time. James weeps and confesses to being an informer. Spratt orders Tommy to kill him but Tommy says he gave his word. Elizabeth steps in and desperately says they may be able to use this to their advantage. Molloy speaks up and suggests they vote, telling them all that they would all do what James did, to save their lives. Tommy roughly shoves James out the door while they vote. Once he’s gone, he asks who wants him down.
Michael is buried on the beach. Guess they found a use for that grave after all. All the higher ups are there, even Deborah and Mrs J. Ross gives the eulogy, apologizing for not managing to get Michael safely home as he promised. He’s really sorry that the man died because he was hungry, because that just sucks, and he asks Philip if there’s anything he wants to say to that. Philip just says that soldiers have dealt with deprivation before and managed to maintain discipline, but Michael didn’t, so here he lies. Ouch, gov. Ross adds that they’ll cook the kangaroo and feast that night and tell all the convicts that Michael died from snakebite, so they’ll fear the bush as much as every other part of this place.
Everyone’s dismissed and Macdonald starts filling the grave. Ross goes over to Macdonald and asks about Kitty, saying she’ll be sad to hear about Michael’s death, because she saw him every time she went to Ross’s tent. He gives Macdonald the statue of the Virgin that he took from amongst Michael’s things and Macdonald asks if it has any significance. Ross is all, ‘oooh, she hasn’t told you that story, then? Well, maybe she will someday.’ Oh, Ross, you sly bastard.
Elizabeth is campaigning hard to let James live, reminding everyone that if they know the guy’s an informer, he’ll be pretty useless because they just won’t tell him anything. She calls out Anne for voting to kill James (really, Anne? The hell?) and points out that this all started because of Anne herself, who was having her food stolen and was defended by James. That’s so incredibly shitty, Anne. Also, at this point, why doesn’t James just tell them he’s to be the new hangman? They want to kill him anyway, was being hangman actually worse than being an informant? Why?
Anne has exactly zero defense for her choice to vote against James. Her defense is, seriously, ‘I’m Irish.’ WTF? Elizabeth begs her not to be an asshole.
Outside, James tries not to just completely lose his mind. At last, Tommy and Elizabeth come out to tell him he’s allowed to live after all, as long as he only passes along the info they feed him. Tommy warns James that the governor will figure it out eventually, and when he does, he must tell the other convicts everything. James readily agrees and shows them the tobacco he got as a reward for becoming the hangman, suggesting they use it to buy into a poker game some of the soldiers are playing that night. They’re all besties again. That’s kind of horrifying. Tommy tried to drown you, James. Jesus.
Mrs J goes to see Anne again and asks Anne to tell her anything that might help her. Anne gently takes her hands and tells her that there’s the world of the unborn out there, millions of souls waiting to pass into the kingdom of heaven. The life on earth is nothing, just a time waster until they can reach paradise. So, the babies who are born and die immediately are really the most fortunate, because they get to go to heaven instantly, and thus Mrs J is the best mother to them. Well, that’s an interesting take on a horrifying string of tragedies. She urges Mrs J to rejoice and not to blame herself in any way. Mrs J admits that’s comforting but warns Anne that this is a sort of heresy. Anne reminds her that they once said claiming the earth was round was heresy. Good point. Mrs J asks how she can find joy, then, in a child who lives and Anne says that the child who lives will be happy with Mrs J as its mother, while the children who are dead are happy in heaven. Mrs J asks if she feels the children’s presence now (she does) and asks what they’re doing. They’re watching over her. Of course they are. Mrs J thanks her. Anne gets serious for a bit and suggests that the rev might want to look into getting a gun, because Philip will have to cut rations again soon, and when he does, things are going to get violent. Normally they wouldn’t go after a man of god, but once people get desperate for food, who knows what can happen?
Philip takes an evening stroll through the bush before returning home to a concerned Deborah. He reassures her kept close to edge. He sits down and tells her that there’s no ship coming to replenish their stores, so what should they do: let everyone feast and then die, or eke out what they have for months and then let everyone die? She merely says he’ll do what needs to be done, because he’s brilliant and always has the right answer. He thanks her.
Johnson asks his wife if they’ll be getting busy again that night. She says yes, but first, she wants to talk about this theory of Anne’s, that there are all of these unborn souls floating around waiting to be born. He asks if she’s been speaking to someone and she gets huffy at the implication that she couldn’t have come up with something like this herself. Well, you didn’t, Mrs J, so what’re you getting so mad about? He backpedals and she calms down a bit, then suggests he ask Philip for a gun. He’s not at all on board with that and reminds her that God will protect them. Oh, heavens. Now she’s really in a huff and gets into bed. No sex tonight.
Katherine waits for Macdonald down by the beach. He kisses her, then tells her that Ross is looking for her. He hands her the little statue and asks what the big deal is with this thing. She admits to having told him the story about the wobbling statue and he gets annoyed, because she said she didn’t speak. She confesses to having lied, saying she doesn’t know why she did it, and tells him the story. He gets even angrier, asking why she didn’t tell him the story—did she think he would mock her or something? Nice chats, swapping stories, what’s next, falling in love with Ross? She probably lied, Macdonald, because she was afraid you’d react in just this manner. He reminds her that he risked his life for her and she retorts that she prostituted herself to save him from being shot. Zing, Macdonald!
Molloy reads the letter he’s written about Michael aloud to Ross. It’s a good letter, painting Michael as a hero who sacrificed himself so his fellow soldiers could live. It includes a line about Ross and Michael having spoken of how Michael wanted to test himself in battle, which gives Ross pause. When Molloy is finished, Ross asks how he knew about those conversations and Molloy says he just made that up. Good guess, Molloy. Ross says that he owes Molloy a favour. That’s nice.
Timmons, Buckley, and Macdonald are playing poker. Tommy and James come in and ask to join the game, proffering their tobacco against their rum. Buckley wins a hand and is pretty obnoxious about it, but he deals the boys in on the next hand. Buckley deals, asking where they got the tobacco. Tommy claims they found it. The others know that’s a lie and Buckley asks who they stole it from. Not that he really cares. He’s getting some suspiciously good hands, Buckley. He asks Tommy if Elizabeth was a prostitute back in England and Tommy gets really serious and warns him not to push it. He does, of course, asking how it feels to be married to a woman who’s slept with so many men. Tommy says she was never on the game, she punched a duchess and that’s how she ended up here. Tommy goes on to say that she had men, before him, but far fewer than any tart Buckley would have been with. Buckley gets a knowing look and turns to James, who gives him a hard stare back. Buckley wins the hand.
As he’s collecting his winnings, Tommy grabs the deck of cards and starts shuffling them. Elizabeth suddenly comes in and is upset to see Tommy playing poker, when he promised her he would never play again. Tommy tells Buckley to cut the deck, because he now has something else to bet: Elizabeth. James suggests they all call it a night, but Tommy’s determined. He puts Elizabeth up against all their rum and the tobacco they just won off of him and James. Macdonald chastises him, saying he should be ashamed of himself and should be down on his knees thanking God for having a woman like Elizabeth in a place like this. Quick round of applause for the young man, there. Tommy accuses Macdonald of having sold his own woman, which Macdonald naturally is very offended by. Timmons confirms that Tommy is actually proposing to bet his own wife and asks Elizabeth if she’s willing to go along with this. She says there’s no greater betrayal than seeing Tommy playing poker again, so yeah, why not? Timmons agrees to play the hand, but Macdonald tells Tommy to go to hell and stomps out.
Macdonald goes right to the women’s tent, where he finds Kitty and apologises desperately for having been a dick, begging her to forgive him. She hides the statue of the virgin she was holding behind her back, drops it onto the floor, and embraces him, forgiving him. Aww.
Cards are dealt. They’re on the last bet. James has nada. Elizabeth asks Tommy if he can beat Buckley’s prile. He’s only got two pair, so no, I guess. The only hope for her is Timmons winning the hand. Nonetheless, Tommy sees the bet, which James can’t understand. Buckley is literally licking his lips at the idea of having Elizabeth in his bed again. He shows his hand: a full house. He chuckles. Elizabeth begs him not to take his winnings, because she loves Tommy, despite the fact that he just gambled her away in the hope of booze. Buckley asks if she’ll think more of him if he agrees. She will. But will she think enough of him to sleep with him? She will not. He’s going to just take his winnings, then. Tommy tells him not so fast, because it turns out his two pair is a very special two pair: it’s actually four of a kind. He, Elizabeth, and James laugh and celebrate and Elizabeth totally forgives her husband for gambling her. Jesus. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t really like Tommy at all. What’s he done in this show, anyway, besides risk his life in order to get laid, strangle a man, and nearly drown his best friend? When Collins said he looks at convicts’ files to be reminded of what horrible people they are, I feel like he’s thinking of Tommy.
Timmons follows Buckley out of the tent and tells him that they were both just totally played. Elizabeth showed up, claiming to be surprised to find anyone in the tent, but the tent they were playing in was the camp’s mortuary, and what the hell was she doing there? Timmons calmly informs Buckley that they’ve both been had, then strolls off home.
Buckley doesn’t take this nearly so well and barges back into the tent and accuses them of having cheated. Tommy denies it, but does accuse Buckley of cheating by dealing off the bottom of the deck. Buckley demands the rum back and they’ll call it all square. Tommy turns him down, so Buckley, who has clearly reached peak IDGAF tells Tommy that he slept with Elizabeth. Tommy scoffs at the very idea, so Buckley tells him that he knows about a birthmark she has on her bottom. Tommy starts to get a dangerous look in his eye, and Elizabeth, it turns out, has a terrible poker face when it really matters. Buckley asks where her protestations of innocence are. The tent is overwhelmingly silent. Tommy walks over to Buckley and warns him that he’s a dead man, if this turns out to be true. Buckley gets out of there, and Tommy turns to Elizabeth, who’s holding the queen of hearts card and tearing up, and asks her if it’s true or not.