Previously on Banished: Marston the bullying blacksmith started stealing James’s food purely because he’s a dick and James stood up for a woman named Anne (who then totally sold James out), and Tommy and Elizabeth got married.
On the shore, James sharpens an oyster shell to a knife’s edge, then goes into the dormitory and holds it to the sleeping Marston’s throat, waking the man and warning him not to move. He tells Marston he’d sooner hang than starve and demands his food back, but before anything can happen, the bugle starts blowing to wake everyone up. He warns Marston that this’ll get easier the hungrier he gets. Yeah, but the weaker you get, the easier it’ll be for Marston to fight you off.
Tommy helps Elizabeth get dressed while reciting a joke. The whole time, she’s begging him not to make her laugh, because it hurts when she laughs. But he totally ignores her, which is shitty, and she laughs and then groans in pain. Nice, Tommy. Afterwards, they kiss and get started with their day.
James wanders around outside, watching everyone else making and eating their breakfasts, looking like a caged animal. He stumbles around a bit, then goes into the married folks’ tent and finds Elizabeth, who offers him a bite of bread. And when I say a bite, I really mean just a bite. She thanks him for offering to look out for her if Tommy were to die and he brushes it off, saying it was no big deal. He says Tommy offered to help him kill Marston and wants to know if the offer still stands. She warns him that he’ll hang for it, because if Marston’s found dead, he’s the most likely suspect. James plans to bury him and claim he ran off, so no problems, right? Tommy arrives and James promises he’ll never give up his role in any of this. Tommy gets right down to business, discussing likely places to do this thing while his wife begs him not to go killing people.
The arrival of the Major interrupts the discussion. Major dismisses James and confirms that Tommy is not only still alive, but now a married man. This really pisses him off and he ducks out of the tent in a snit. Once he’s gone, Tommy tells Elizabeth that they can’t just stand by and let James starve to death.
Rev and Mrs Johnson pray together. He tells her that she showed herself the most thoughtful, intelligent, god-fearing woman on earth when he was up on that scaffold, and declares that there’s nothing he can’t endure with her by his side. She tears up and tenderly kisses him. Aww.
Major Ross shows up at Johnson’s tent and asks if he really married Tommy. He readily owns it, saying that Tommy is the most Christ-like man he’s ever met. Uh, ok, Rev, whatever you say. Ross next stomps off to the Governor’s cabin, where the door is opened by his housekeeper, Deborah, who explains the Governor is currently asleep and suggests Ross return sometime in the afternoon. Ross turns to stare at Joanna Vanderham, who’s going into the soldiers’ tent with Anne to collect laundry. He follows them in and asks her name (Katherine) and how long she’s there for. Fourteen years. Damn. What did she do? He kind of offers to cut down her sentence if she hooks up with him, but she explains that she already has a soldier, and they love each other. His name is Private MacDonald. Ross leaves and Anne whispers that all Katherine’s troubles are over.
Ross summons MacDonald and offers him an instant promotion to corporal, backdated some months, so he gets a nice payout as well. MacDonald can’t believe his luck, but then Ross tells him this comes at a price: Mac’s gotta share Katherine with him. MacDonald isn’t willing to play ball, because he loves Katherine. Ross sweetens the deal by offering some rice. MacDonald gallantly turns down the promotion, to Ross’s surprise. Ross asks where on the list of choosing ladies MacDonald was. On hearing he was 23rd, he accuses him of having hidden Katherine away until his time came to choose, because it’s unlikely that such a beauty would still have been available. MacDonald denies it for a while, but then confesses that they only did it because they love each other. Ross tells him to discuss this matter with her, and in the meantime, take his new epaulets with him. MacDonald does, marching smartly out.
Elizabeth goes to see Marston and warns him that James and Tommy plan to kill him. (I’m apparently a bit slow here, but I only just realised this is the same actor who played The Hound on Game of Thrones. And I only first recognised him by his voice. Hi, Hound!) She tells him to steal someone else’s food, but Marston refuses. She asks if there’s anything she can do to keep this from happening, because she doesn’t want Tommy or James getting hurt. He asks for a shag, and in return will stop taking James’s food. She suggests they go down to the rocks late that night. He immediately accuses her of trying to lure him somewhere to have him killed, roughly grabbing her wrists. She promises that won’t be the case, so he orders her to show she means business and strip naked. She refuses, so he threatens to rape her, telling her that nobody would stop him, because he’s too important, being the only blacksmith and all. Terrified, she begs him not to, and he lets her go, his point proven.
The men trudge through the woods, James just barely managing to stay on his feet.
Deborah brings Philip a reviving cup of tea and gently wakes him. He can’t believe she’s actually managed to scare up some tea (apparently they haven’t received supplies in a while) and offers to share it with her. She turns him down and tells him Ross wants to see him. He takes a sip and thanks her for the cup of life.
Ross is summoned once Philip’s up and asks if it’s true that Elizabeth and Tommy are married. Philip’s like, ‘yeah, so what?’ Ross pouts and then plunks a sack of spoiled grain on the table. There’s some sort of fungus on it. While Philip looks at it, Ross goes all glass-half-empty and says that now convicts will be lining up to be married, and we can’t have that, can we? Philip says that in order to be married the convicts will have to give up any hope of going back to England, so he doubts there’ll be some sort of marriage rush. He turns to more pressing matters, asking how long they’ll last on current rations. Just a few months. He sighs that they’ll have to cut them again. He plans to announce it in the morning and says he wants soldiers there when he does. He briskly dismisses Ross, telling him to take his fuzzy wheat with him.
James is in really bad shape, hauling logs around. He collapses onto the ground and Tommy goes to help him up.
Mrs J teaches some of the female convicts their alphabet, asking them to list words with the letter ‘a’ in them. Collins, meanwhile, is teaching one of the male convicts. Anne offers up the word ‘sad’, which throws Mrs J a little. She’s even more thrown when Anne says she can see sad in Mrs J’s eyes. Mrs J tries to recover and go on with her lesson, but definitely gives Anne some side-eye.
Katherine sews the new epaulets on MacDonald’s uniform while he desperately tries to think of a way out of this. He tells her she can refuse to sleep with Ross, but she says that would mean a court martial for him, which would mean he’d be dead, and then she’d have nobody to protect her from Ross. He’d have her all to himself, and she sure as hell doesn’t want that. Neither does he. She promises that the entire time she’s with Ross, she’ll make it clear this is strictly business, not for love, not for pleasure. Poor MacDonald looks like he wants to cry. He puts on his coat and takes her, hand in hand, to Ross’s tent.
Ross emerges and tells her to go inside, where she blanches at the sight of the bed and the two glasses of rum waiting nearby. MacDonald is dismissed and reluctantly walks away. Ross goes inside and offers Katherine one of the glasses of rum. She asks if she can drink it later, but he refuses, so she downs it. He asks what she did to get sent to New South Wales. She asks if they can just get this over with, but he presses, so she says she was accused of stealing a wallet belonging to a lord. But the real story is that said lord tried to rape her, only to have his wife walk in. And then Katherine got thrown under the bus and wrongly accused. They threatened to hang her, but offered to transport her instead. She got 14 years for stealing a wallet? Damn, they weren’t messing around back then. Apparently, she begged to be hanged instead of sent away, because she didn’t want to leave her family (though, death would be leaving them too, right?). Ross threatens to hang her if she tries to rob him in his sleep. The poor girl looks so terrified I doubt she’d be capable of it, but she agrees. He gets down to it.
Elizabeth meets James and Tommy on the beach and tells them Marston isn’t coming, because he sensed the trap. He reaches for her wrist, and when she flinches, he demands to see what he did. She refuses, but he forces her to, and when he sees the bruises on her wrist he gets good and mad. She runs after him as he stalks towards the dormitory, screeching that if he kills Marston now all three of them will hang. He bursts into the dormitory and strangles Marston to death while Elizabeth and James hold down the man’s arms and legs, apparently figuring this thing’s going to happen and they may as well do what they can. The others in the dormitory watch in shock. Once the thing’s done, James gets up and basically says, ‘he talked about running away, RIGHT?’ and the others all nod. This guy clearly wasn’t popular.
Tommy and James drag the body down to the beach, which seems like a terrible place to bury a body. Elizabeth and Tommy dig up the grave while James struggles to stay on his feet. And then Marston returns from the dead and starts coming after James, who screams in terror. Tommy dispatches the man (for good, this time) with a couple of good blows from the shovel.
Katherine gets dressed while Ross watches from the bed. She asks about the rice, which he attempts to screw her over on, but she pushes so he gives it up, tossing her a little pouch. Once she has it, she accuses him of being a hypocrite for treating her like shit for trading her body, when he’s the one who forced her to do so in the first place. He apologises. She asks how often he’ll want her. He proposed two or three times a week and she holds him to two, and just straightforward sex, nothing kinky and presumably little foreplay. He agrees and she gets out of there as fast as she can go.
Tommy and James finish burying the body. Before they return to their beds, they see Katherine walk out into the surf and kneel in the water, sobbing. Elizabeth goes over to her and asks what’s wrong. Katherine lies that she’s just homesick. Elizabeth nods and helps the girl onto her feet.
Katherine pulls herself together and goes to the soldiers’ tent, where MacDonald’s stirring a pot of something. He can hardly look at her, so upset and ashamed is he. Not of her, but of his inability to protect her. She hands over the rice and he babbles a bit about whether or not to add pork. She thinks they should save it, and he agrees. She fiercely tells him how much she loves him, and he steps forward, all teary, and kisses her. She cries a little and suggests they go ahead and have some pork after all.
Elizabeth cooks some food for James and yells at her husband for killing a man in front of dozens of witnesses. Tommy’s sorry, but it’s done now. He turns to James and tells him that he can’t be hanged for killing a man who was stealing his food, because the authorities refused to believe Marston was stealing his food. Oooh, clever! See how that works, Philip? I bet he and Collins will actually appreciate that. Ross’ll be pissed off though. James agrees and promises not to give the other two up if he’s hanged anyway. He’s handed the food and digs into it like, well, a starving man.
He returns to the barracks, where he’s actually given a slow clap. Man, Marston was really hated.
The next morning, of course, Marston’s absence is noted by Timmins, who asks James where the man is. James lies that he escaped. Timmins asks if James killed him and James denies it. MacDonald steps in and accuses James of lying but James distracts him by calling MacDonald a pimp who sends his woman to Major Ross. MacDonald almost rips James’s head off right then and there, but Timmins holds him back.
MacDonald takes James to the jail, where James taunts him a little longer by asking if Katherine sewed the epaulets on for him. Damn, James.
Mrs J strolls around the area where the female convicts do the laundry and asks for a word with Anne. She asks Anne what she sees when she looks at her and Anne guesses that Mrs J has lost children, asking how many. Four, all in childbirth. Yeesh. ‘You poor thing,’ Anne says sympathetically before offering to let Mrs J speak to them. Mrs J freaks out and accuses Anne of exploiting her. She figures someone told Anne about the dead children. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Mrs J bursts into tears and hastens away. Anne, too, tears up, though it’s possible she’s now terrified of some kind of backlash.
MacDonald asks James how he managed to kill Marston. Of course, James says nothing, just figures that MacDonald kind of admires him for killing a man for taking his food and wonders if he, too, could do something like that under the right circumstances. MacDonald claims he could. James says that if he would really kill a man for taking his food, he’d surely kill him even more quickly for taking his woman. Pvt Buckley appears in the doorway and smirkingly tells MacDonald he’s to take James to Philip.
Before Philip, Collins, and Ross, James repeats the lie about Marston escaping. Philip asks why he’d talk of escaping to a man who hates him. James says everyone hated him, because he made their shackles. Ross calls him out on the use of the past tense ‘made’ and, as if he’s talking to someone really slow, James repeats that Marston has escaped. Also, he clearly made the shackles in the past, so the use of the past tense here is actually correct. Collins asks how James came to get food today. James claims Marston left it behind. Collins points out how unusual that is for someone who’s escaping into the wild and James pretty much just shrugs. Ross votes to hang him, of course. James uses the ‘you said he wasn’t stealing my food’ defence quite effectively and Philip’s face says, ‘got me there.’ He orders the shackles removed and James released. Once James is gone, Philip says they’ll hang James if and when a body is found. Ross goes a bit off the deep end and says they should hang him no matter what, because they need to rule by terror and hanging innocent men totally instils terror. Or foments rebellion. Philip clearly doesn’t adhere to that particular line of thinking. He leaves, and Ross tells MacDonald he’s dismissed. But MacDonald starts fingering his bayonet and looking down at Ross, who clearly feels the stare and turns to look at his subordinate, repeating his ‘dismissed’ order. MacDonald asks what would happen if he gave back the epaulet. You tried that, MacDonald, remember? Ross tells him it would make no difference. MacDonald leaves.
James returns to work and he and Tommy smile cockily at each other. But there’s no time for celebration because the order sounds for a general assembly.
Deborah helps Philip get ready, Philip commenting how before he left England people kept asking him when he was setting sail, when what they really meant was ‘when are you getting these convicts away from here?’ He knows that England doesn’t care about them, but now he somehow needs to convince all these people that England does care and won’t let them starve to death. He puts on his coat and hat and wig. You know once the wig goes on he means business.
Outside, the soldiers all take their positions between the convicts and the Governor’s cabin. Johnson starts a prayer, as one of the men whispers to James that dogs have been scratching around on the beach, so he’d better put Marston somewhere else. Philip comes out onto the porch and starts out by asking for a new blacksmith, seeing as James has murdered theirs. He says that once the body is found, he’ll have to hang James, which he doesn’t want to do, because James was driven to murder by having his food stolen and his pleas ignored. Philip now feels really badly about that and promises that there will be no more double standards. He goes on to say that, in New South Wales, the law is bright and shiny and he wants to keep it that way. He reassures them that a ship is on its way from England and should be there in a few months, but in the meantime, they need to cut rations back a quarter. This does not go over well, but there’s not much anyone can do when faced with a barricade of armed soldiers. Philip ends on a high note, telling everyone that what they have here is the birth of a new nation, not just a penal colony.
Everyone is dismissed, and Ross goes to intercept Katherine. MacDonald notices and joins them. Ross says he wants Katherine again that night, which she’s not ok with. She begs him not to take her that night. Ross disingenuously says he’s doing this for her, letting her get her time with him over and done with so she can have a nice run of five nights with MacDonald. She starts to break down, telling Ross she can’t bring herself to sleep with him that night, and he offers to think about it. He walks off and MacDonald sweetly comforts her.
James and Tommy go to the beach—in broad daylight, mind—and find that something’s been digging at the body. They hastily fill the hole that’s been dug, just as Johnson wanders along and gives Tommy a bible. Tommy reminds Johnson he can’t read. ‘There’s no better book with which to learn,’ Johnson tells him eagerly. Tommy takes it and thanks him and Johnson reminds him of how his wife said that Tommy’s hanging was a crucifixion. Johnson agrees with that, saying that Tommy was giving his life for the love of another, which he finds quite Christ-like. He was giving his life for sex, Johnson, which isn’t hugely Christ-like. Ok, yes, he does love Elizabeth, but he waltzed right into his own hanging by basically being stubborn, which is a bit foolish. Also, has Johnson been spending too much time in the sun? Because he’s sounding pretty loopy. Is this going to be like the reverend on Deadwood who got a brain tumour? James and Tommy basically just nod. Johnson asks Tommy to help him build a church, but Tommy turns him down, at least until rations improve. Johnson offers to at least bless Tommy’s marriage, which he does agree to. Before he goes, Johnson reminds them that Jesus was the son of a carpenter, so why shouldn’t a convict be…the second coming of Christ, I guess? Yeah, something’s strange with this guy. He walks away and James tries not to bust out laughing. Tommy jokes that James should show him a little more respect in future.
MacDonald looks sadly out to sea and no doubt thinks murderous thoughts.
Late that night, James wakes Tommy and tells him wild dogs have dug the body up. They rush to the beach and fund an uncovered hand. What, did you think the dogs would just give up, guys? They pile Marston onto a raft of some sort and swim him out to sea, where they dump his chain-wrapped body into the water and let him sink. They paddle back to shore, threateningly filmed from underneath, so we get to anticipate a shark attack that doesn’t happen.
Mrs J wakes her husband up and asks what he sees when he looks into her eyes. He looks confused and says she just has beautiful eyes. She tells him about Anne seeing sadness and how she knew about the dead children. He urges his wife to stay away from Anne. She persists, saying that Anne said she might be able to speak with them. Johnson says they will, but in the kingdom of Heaven, which they’ll reach by leading good Christian lives that have nothing to do with witchcraft of dead baby chatting. She agrees and turns onto her side, away from him, so he can’t see her tears. He warns her to be wary of Anne, who’s a clever woman.
Tommy and Elizabeth cuddle in bed. She asks if he trusts James. He does. And he knows that James would never sell Elizabeth out, because he loves her. She’s surprised to hear that and thinks about it for a minute, then has sex with her husband.
One last shot of Marston, floating just beneath the waves.