Banished: Stand Your Ground

8235510-low_res-banishedPreviously on Banished: Major Ross helped himself to MacDonald’s girl, Kitty, and James, Tommy, and Elizabeth finally got rid of Marston.

Quick shot of Marston, floating just beneath the waves. In case you didn’t get it, HE WILL RETURN.

Some of the convicts are gathered on the beach for someone’s funeral. While Johnson reads the service, Mrs J gives Anne a quick side-eye. Tommy, James, and Lizzy, meanwhile, are more concerned with a boat full of soldiers that’s rowing back and forth along the shore, near where Marston was dumped. James is kind of starting to panic.

Johnson finishes the service and cheerfully asks if they want to know what he loves about this place. Probably not, but they indulge him. He says that up in England there are hundreds or even thousands of churches, and all that noise is just babble to God’s ears. But in NSW, there’s just one congregation, so God can get a break and actually hear each individual voice. Rev, you’re talking about an omniscient being with the ability to create entire worlds on a whim. You really think he can’t discern anything through the babble? Eh, whatever makes the Rev happy, I guess. He asks them who’ll help him build a church and Letters Molloy (the convict who can actually read and write) immediately volunteers. Meanwhile, the soldiers in the boat have found something and start signaling to Collins, back on shore. James is now fully freaking out, assuming that the body’s been found. Collins can’t hear what the men in the boat are shouting back to him. He dispatches MacDonald to fetch Ross.

At this particular moment, Kitty is being marched to Ross’s tent, hauling a ten-ton attitude along with her. Ross sends Buckley for Timmons and ducks into the tent, asking Kitty where she was the day before. ‘Here and there,’ she sassily responds. He knows she’s been avoiding him. As Timmons arrives, Ross tells her that he has pride and will be obeyed. He dismisses Buckley, who steps way out of line and starts lecturing her about obedience and following orders. Ross dismisses him again and Buckley finally shuts up and leaves. Ross asks Timmons what number he was when women were chosen. Nineteen. Ross asks him why he didn’t choose Kitty and Timmons admits she wasn’t around when he was choosing. So, she did hide herself away until it was MacDonald’s turn to choose. Apparently, that’s a court martialling offense. Ross threatens to arrest MacDonald, who chooses that moment to arrive and call Ross down to the beach. Ross looks questioningly at Kitty, who acknowledges that she’s trapped and promises to come that night. Ross tells her to make sure she comes with a smile on her face. Don’t push it, Ross.

James, Tommy, and Elizabeth watch from the beach as Ross is rowed out to where the body is. James snarls that he only has about an hour left to live, and he’s going to live it up. He goes to the governor’s house and lets himself in, startling Deborah. The soldiers just let convicts wander into the governor’s cabin? I don’t think so. Somebody would be keeping watch over that building. He promises he’s not there to hurt her and asks where the rum’s kept. She asks if Philip’s sent him for it and he says yes, ‘in a way.’ She points the way and he pours himself a large glass. She warns him that he’ll be hanged for taking the governor’s rum and James basically just shrugs. He then asks if it’s true that she and Philip have a thing going on, and that Philip sent her husband to Cape Town so he could have her for himself. She insists that’s not true. ‘Would you like it to be?’ James asks with a smirk. She looks offended and asks him to leave. He drops the cocky demeanor, promises to return the cup, and leaves, apologizing again for having startled her.

He returns to the beach and shares the rum with Tommy and Elizabeth. Ross and the others are coming back. Philip arrives on the beach and Ross lands and shows off…a net that’s been ripped up by the natives. And now James has stupidly gone and stolen the governor’s rum for no reason. He immediately realizes how deep the shit he’s in is and rushes back to the cabin to return the cup. Deborah immediately notes the change in his attitude. He begs her not to tell the governor what he’s done. She takes the cup back and asks what he did to end up there. It was for the dreadful crime of…pickpocketing. Damn, they really were harsh back then. She asks him to put the word about that she is not, in fact, sleeping with Philip, and furthermore her husband volunteered to go to Cape Town. James readily agrees. She also asks him to pick her pocket, as she’s never had her pocket picked before. Honey, I’m pretty sure if he were good at what he did he wouldn’t be standing in front of you right now. And yet, he does so, easily. She wonders how he was ever caught. Now I’m wondering too.

James makes his way back to the men’s quarters and he and Tommy tell the others that Marston is at the bottom of the sea. One of the other men tell them that they all swore an oath of silence. Elizabeth asks if that’s really necessary, since surely they wouldn’t grass on each other. Another man asks Tommy to speak to the governor on their behalf and ask for better rations. Tommy points out that anyone who complains to the governor is a marked man. Marked for what? As a troublemaker, I guess. The first guy says that Philip respects Tommy for being a man willing to die for principle, so he’ll listen to him. He goes on to say that the convicts are ready to revolt if the cut in the rations isn’t rescinded. Guys, do you really think Philip’s cutting your rations for fun? Because he couldn’t think of any other way to fill a Tuesday afternoon? Does he really strike you as the type? Tommy’s not willing to go threatening the governor, since he and Elizabeth have to make their lives here from now on, and neither of them are interested in getting on Philip’s bad side.

Johnson sends for Anne and asks how she found out about their children. She says she pretty much just guessed. He warns her that people thereabouts are unsophisticated, to say the least, and when they hear ‘I can speak to dead babies,’ they tend to immediately think, ‘burn this witch right now.’ Anne looks alarmed and agrees to keep her mouth shut.

Elizabeth and Tommy go to have their marriage blessed by the reverend. It’s a whole big thing, with a crowd and music and bridesmaids and everything. Don’t these people live on a penal colony? How do they have all this time to have parties and hang around on beaches watching the soldiers troll the waters? Johnson is super stoked about this, of course, and also excited about the church that’s going to be built. And then Philip and Collins come along to ruin Johnson’s fun. Philips takes in the sight of all the convicts there and asks Johnson if he’s had them come out in the heat of the afternoon, in their own time, to help him raise a crucifix. He has. Philip announces that they should really take advantage of their day of rest and find some shelter and relax after all this is over. Collins notes that Elizabeth’s looking a little peaky and asks if something’s wrong. She says no. Philip tells Johnson to come see him later. In the voice of a small child about to be scolded by his parent, Johnson asks if they’ve done something wrong. Philip and Collins leave and Johnson continues with his little ceremony. But now it’s Elizabeth’s turn to interrupt things, by fainting. She comes around immediately and tells Tommy she thinks she might be pregnant. Or, you know, it could just be the fact that you’re standing out in the sunshine in the Australian afternoon heat. But no, we’re going with a baby. Tommy kisses her and announces to the crowd that he’s gonna be a dad. Everyone cheers. Kitty and MacDonald are so excited they go off to a nearby lake to have sex.

William, one of the convicts, goes to Philip and says he briefly apprenticed at a forge and is willing to try his hand at being the blacksmith. All he knows how to make is nails but he promises to practice endlessly and should be able to make anything they need within a year or two. In the meantime, he’ll fix whatever they need. Philip’s fine with that and tells him to find an apprentice (something they probably should have had Marston do) and get started. William asks for something in return: he’s got a wife back home who promised, in a letter he keeps with him, to wait for him, but 14 years is a very long time to wait. Philip promises that, if the man works hard, he can be home in 4 or 5 years. Wow, that’s quite the reduction there, Philip. William is, as you can imagine, elated and promises to do all he can. He leaves and Deborah and Philip smile at each other.

William goes outside and just hugs pretty much whomever he can find. Collins passes him, smiling indulgently, and goes into Ross’s tent. Ross wants to ask about Kitty’s crime and whether she might actually be innocent. Collins replies that she isn’t, because she was found in the lord’s bedroom, when, in fact, she was a downstairs maid. What, downstairs maids were never sent to cover an upstairs maid’s duties? Also, there are 1000 convicts here, how the hell does Collins happen to know the details of this one woman’s case. And then, holy crap, it turns out the writer actually thought of that too, because Ross asks that exact question. Wow, a writer who actually considers how human beings would act in certain circumstances? How refreshing! Collins says he acquainted himself with her case when Ross started taking an interest, figuring some details might come in handy. Or maybe that’s just his story and he’s really interested in Kitty as well. We shall see.

Later that night, Buckley intercepts Elizabeth and reminds her that her child could be his. She doubts it. He threatens to tell Tommy and she calmly informs him that would be a bad idea. He persists, offering to keep his mouth shut if she continues to sleep with him. She turns him down and calls his bluff, suggesting they go talk to Tommy right there and then. Buckley incredulously tells her that Tommy might kill her. He might, she allows, but he would definitely kill Buckley. He wisely backs down, but he isn’t too happy about it.

He heads for his tent, passing Ross along the way. Ross orders him to bring Kitty to him and Buckley goes off to fetch her.

In the soldiers’ tent, MacDonald suggests to Kitty that they run away, like one of the convicts, Jephson, did. As Buckley comes in, calling for her, she reminds MacDonald that she’s terrified of everything and couldn’t cope with a country full of frightening, poisonous things. He promises to protect her from all of that (as he can’t protect her here). Buckley gets impatient and keeps insisting she come with him right that second, even as MacDonald tells him to chill out. Buckley threatens to use force and finally Timmons steps in and tells Buckley to just shut up and tell Ross that Kitty will be with him in half an hour. He also tells Buckley that he’s an ugly man inside and out. Harsh, Timmons. But frankly, this little shit needs to be taken down a few pegs.

Buckley goes out, and then comes right back in and challenges Timmons to a fight. Timmons calmly (and fairly awesomely) declines. Buckley, all worked up, calls him a coward, so Timmons takes off his shirt (wow, he’s really fit!), takes a boxing stance, and tells the younger man to proceed. He then swiftly kicks Buckley’s ass, because Buckley clearly doesn’t know a thing about boxing, while Timmons could teach a master class in it. Once Buckley concedes, Timmons goes and puts his shirt back on while Buckley pulls on his jacket and returns to Ross to deliver the message about Kitty. Timmons is totally one of my favourite characters on this show right now. Ross notes the messy state of Buckley’s face and asks what happened. He claims he fell over. Ross also notices that the man’s crying. Buckley claims they’re just tears of anger, because he fell over. Ross gives him an incredulous ‘are you seriously going to sell that story?’ look and dismisses him.

Later that night, Timmons finds Buckley crying by the water. Buckley immediately asks him to teach him how to box. ‘Why?’ asks Timmons. For one thing, to defend himself. Since so many of the men saw him get his ass handed to him, Buckley figures he’ll now be an easy target. Good thinking, actually. ‘You should have thought of that before you challenged me,’ says Timmons. Buckley tells him that he had no choice but to challenge him, because there’s only so much contempt a man can take. Timmons takes a seat beside the boy and says that, if people hate him, there must be a reason. Buckley claims he’s no worse than anyone else there, but in a place like this, people just need someone to crap on. Actually, Buckley, people seem to need that anywhere. Buckley realizes he’s drawn that particular short straw and asks again to be taught to box. Timmons figures the teacher will just become the victim but Buckley promises he’ll never attack him. And I do think he’s sincere in that. Timmons asks the boy what he hoped to find there and Buckley says he was really after native women, naked and carrying bowls of fruit and lining up to sleep with him. Man, what brochure did you pick up? Obviously, that didn’t happen. Buckley asks Timmons if he likes the kind of man he is. He does. He asks if boxing helps him to do that and Timmons says it does. Buckley asks again to be taught to box, so he can become a better man. Timmons tells him they start tomorrow. Wow, is this show…giving characters dimensions? I think all these years of recapping Downton Abbey has really brought my expectations low, because I’m rather surprised and delighted by this. Here I thought my soapy shows were just supposed to be about one-dimensional idiots doing the same damn thing again and again and again. This show’s turning out to be way better than I anticipated. I don’t know why the critics are crapping all over it while also singing the praises of Indian Summers.

William has gone to Letters Molloy to write a letter to his wife, announcing the good news that he might be back in just a few years (and on a side note, damn do I wish I had handwriting even a tenth as nice as Molloy’s). William adds a line saying he hopes to be able to write his next letter himself. Molloy’s surprised to hear that and William explains that Collins has been teaching him to read and write. Misreading Molloy’s alarm at being upset William won’t need him anymore, William reassures the man that many others will still require his services, and that he’s sorry if he’s hurt Molloy’s feelings. Molloy pulls himself together and adds the last line.

Deborah’s necklace breaks, sending pearls rolling across the floor of the governor’s house. Philip helps her collect them and tells her about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, saying that back in England that would be a scandal. Married people having babies was scandalous? My understanding of 18th century morality has been quite backward. He wonders why it’s not a scandal in NSW and Deborah says it’s because they’re 10,000 miles from home, and married. He wonders how far from home one has to be for the rules to change. What, it’s not cheating if it’s a different postcode? Apparently that rule’s older than I thought. She clearly starts to get uncomfortable. Fortunately, Johnson arrives just then to talk about the church. Philip sits down with him and invites him to have a bit of rum. They both miss Deborah’s ‘oh, shit’ face as she goes to fetch it from the clearly half empty bottle. As she starts to serve, Philip tells Johnson it’s a bit of a hardship to ask people who are half starved and pretty hard worked as it is to spend their precious free time building a church. He interrupts himself to note that someone’s been at the rum. Deborah lies that it was her, because she was feeling unwell, and Philip’s like, ‘eh, whatever, no biggie.’ She finishes serving and Philip hands a glass to Johnson. Johnson insists that the convicts’ spiritual strength will sustain them in this endeavor. Johnson, do me a favour. Go without food for a day or so and work on building a church and then tell us all how well spiritual strength worked for you. Look, I’m not trying to be unkind, because he’s not a bad person, he’s certainly in earnest, he’s just clueless and bordering on zealotry, which is making him seem a bit loopy. Philip tells him that there is only one kind of strength, and that’s straight-up strength. Deborah excuses herself and hurries away. Philip continues that the convicts’ strength is needed to clear the land, so he can’t have them expending it on this project. Johnson says that he and his wife will do it themselves, then, to show Philip what spiritual strength can achieve. Johnson bids Philip good night and puts down his untouched rum, saying he doesn’t drink, as he doesn’t feel the need. Zing, rev.

MacDonald walks Kitty to Ross’s tent and she promises not to speak to Ross at all. He can have her body, but not her mind. He hugs her before sending her in. Johnson, on his way home, sees what’s happening.

Kitty undresses and Ross mentions the details of her case, asking what she was doing upstairs, if she was the downstairs maid. He accuses her of having enticed the lord, planning to wait until he was asleep so she could steal his wallet. She says nothing. Doesn’t even look at him. He quickly realizes what she’s doing and reminds her that he’s a soldier, and naked and dumb is how he likes his women, so this isn’t going to put him off. Takes all kinds, I guess. He angrily asks her why she’s not speaking, and when she still doesn’t respond he tries a different tactic, asking what food she wants as payment. Still nothing. He tells her that MacDonald doesn’t love her, this is just lust. He adds that this is silly, because he knows she just wants to get this over with, but he refuses to start things until she speaks, which could mean she’ll be there until morning. She finally gives in and asks what he wants her to say. He asks her to say something truthful. She says she hates him, but she has more than contempt for him. She also, occasionally, has pity. Ballsy, Kitty. ‘I think I will begin now,’ he says tightly.

Tommy, Elizabeth, James, William, and some other guy are playing cards and discussing why anyone would want to learn to read. Tommy thinks it’s a waste of time. One of them mentions that Tommy left a letter for Elizabeth, when he thought he was going to be hanged. She asks what it said but he refuses to tell her.

Molloy goes to see Collins and return a book Collins lent him. Collins offers up another one. Aww, that’s really nice of him. Nothing exciting (The Annual Register of 1762), but when you’re desperate, you’ll read anything. Molloy asks about the reading lessons Collins has been giving and tries to tell him there’s no need for that, because Molloy’s happy to keep writing their letters for them. Collins says they’re super grateful, but they want to be able to do this for themselves. Molloy comes completely clean, telling Collins that William’s letter, which he received just as they were about to set sail, was actually a Dear John, but since William seemed so sad, Molloy lied and told him his wife was promising to wait for him. Now, he’s afraid William will realize soon what the letter really says and kill himself in despair. He and Collins realize they’re in a tight spot now. Molloy apologises sincerely for having caused this. No good deed, eh gentlemen?

Kitty gets dressed while Ross chatters about how he’s a major and highly respected and how he would never even look twice at Kitty if they were back in England, where he’s got a good, refined, educated woman waiting for him. She asks tearfully if she can go and he roughly tells her no, that he will now be having her three nights a week, and to take her dried peas and leave.

Interesting how this situation is mirroring that with Buckley and Timmons earlier (bear with me here). Buckley told Timmons he fought him basically to save face, because a man can only take so much contempt. I think that’s what’s happening here. Yes, Ross is a dick, we can all agree to that, but at the beginning of this arrangement he did show himself to be flexible, agreeing to just the two nights when she insisted. But now she’s been defiant, exhibiting attitude, avoiding him, refusing to speak, and there’s only so much contempt a man can take. Especially a man in a command position. So, he’s pushing things, to prove that he is, in fact, the big man. But unlike Buckley, he’s actually winning. Maybe. He’s acting so agitated here, talking about how in-charge and great he is, that I can’t help but wonder if he wasn’t able to get it up this time.

Before she leaves, Kitty pauses to tell him that the usual chambermaid was off, taking a personal day so she could abort the baby the rape-happy lord impregnated her with, and Kitty was covering for her. That’s what she was doing upstairs. See? It happens.

MacDonald waits for her down by the beach. Kitty joins him and he immediately goes to her and embraces her. She tells him Ross wants her three nights a week now, and she couldn’t exactly say no, could she? These two poor kids. They both know how utterly screwed they are. She kisses him, and then turns and walks into the surf. He calls her back, weakly, as she goes further out. And then a wave comes along and she disappears completely and he panics, diving into the water and thrashing around, calling for her. She, meanwhile, calmly swims out to deeper water and dips gracefully beneath the waves…

…and immediately encounters Marston. She starts to freak out, screaming her head off as soon as she breaks the surface. Her cries bring MacDonald, who swims out to her and helps her get back to shore.

The next morning, he leads Ross and some of the others out to the spot. Ross guesses that Kitty was trying to drown herself (MacDonald denies it) and takes it as a personal affront. Well, I guess it is kind of hard not to take it personally when a girl tries to kill herself immediately after having sex with you. Marston is located, now bobbing at the surface.

James comes down to the beach, where Kitty is sitting on the sand, looking pretty wrecked. She says she’s sorry and tells him that they’re bringing in Marston’s body, explaining that she swam into it during a botched suicide attempt. James turns and races back up the beach, towards Tommy and Elizabeth, who are coming. Tommy stops him and says he’ll either have to stand his ground or run. Elizabeth grabs some water and James says he’s going to have to run. He hugs Tommy, tells Elizabeth she made living in this hell worthwhile (I have to admit this love triangle is one aspect of this show I’m not buying) and runs just as Ross reaches the shore. The soldiers open fire at James’s fleeing figure and pursue him into the woods.

He hides behind a log for a bit, but then sees…a leech, maybe? attached to his arm and starts to panic, which catches the attention of the soldiers, who start opening fire again. James runs deeper into the woods, with Timmons and his men just behind.



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