Outlander Season 2, Episode 10
Posted by Kim
“I feared in my heart that history would not be rewritten. That no matter how many battles we might win, victory would remain forever out of reach. How many men had I seen killed in war? Far too many.”
What’s been so masterful about this season of Outlander is the fact that we KNOW the ending and yet the show has never lost its sense of urgency or momentum. In fact, KNOWING that Claire is destined to go back through the stones has only added to the impending sense of doom as we have built towards the Jacobite Rebellion. We KNOW that they are going to lose. We KNOW that Claire is going to be separated from Jamie and we know that she’s going to go back to the future. We know and yet we still want to believe that things will end up differently. We know but try not to acknowledge that we are hurtling towards the inevitable end.
So here we are. The Battle of Prestonpans. This is it. Don’t get scared now.
The British and Scottish armies have both set up camp with only a marshy swath of land separating them. Bonny Prince Charlie and all his higher-ups meet and strategize and there’s a whole lot of male posturing as the various officers try to earn the favor of the prince. Honestly, it’s a whole bunch of talk that had my eyes glazing over, only catching words like “defensive” and “strike now”. Men and their war talk, amirite? What it boils down to is that no one knows just HOW muddy that marsh is and whether or not the infantry can march through it. Some of the advisors are like “Yo we should be careful,” some are like “FUCK IT LET’S JUST GO,” while The Prince is all “God will lead us to victory!!” (Can I just how PERFECT Andrew Gower has been as the Prince? He’s pompous yet incredibly shrewd BUT STILL always has the crazy eyes.) Thus, the army is left at an impasse until SOMEONE makes a decision.
Later, in a private conference with Jamie, the Prince starts to reveal his true colors…and it’s troubling. He inquires about the field hospital that Claire is setting up and tells Jamie that he needs to tell her that she should tend to the British wounded before the Jacobite wounded? Um? Excuse me? Jamie’s face says as much as the Prince continues to dig himself into that hole. “The British are my father’s subjects also, and I will have them well cared for. They must be made to realize the Scots wage war upon them with the greatest of reluctance. They are our enemies now, but one day soon they will be our friends again.” This is disturbing because it shows just how little the Scots who are FIGHTING FOR HIM matter in the long run. Jamie warns the Prince that he should not be so open with this among the other men because the Scots and Brits have never been friends and the chance of them becoming so are slim to none. He also says that Claire won’t follow such an order, even if it comes from her “lord and master”. HEY JAMIE THERE IS STILL TIME TO GET THAT BOAT TO AMERICA, JUST SAYING.
Jamie senses the mounting discontent in the camp regarding the lack of action, so he decides to do something about it. Jamie pulls Dougal aside and says that it would be easy for someone to ride out into the marsh to test its viability. The TRICK is to do it and stay out of the range that the British muskets can fire upon. Jamie can’t do it because god forbid one of the Prince’s most trusted advisors put his life at risk. Dougal picks up on what Jamie is selling. “Oh, aye, it’s a gamble, but it’s worth the risk. Besides, I’d like to prove my mettle to the prince and Lord Murray and the rest of these jackanapes.”
The next morning, Dougal proudly rides out on his own, in front of both his men and the British Army. (This reminds me of a movie and I can’t place it, so someone HELP ME.) sure enough, the land proves difficult for his horse to navigate. Dougal reaches the distance that he and Jamie agreed on and the British Army take target practice at him but are unable to hit him, much to the delight of the Scots. Point proven, Dougal makes to return to camp but his horse is stuck in the mud. Thus, I start having flashbacks to the Swamps of Sadness. (ARTAX NOOOOOOOOOOOO!) Dougal dismounts and struggles to free his horse all while the British continue to fire on him. One soldier manages to shoot Dougal’s HAT clean off his sparkling bald head (YO shit just got real). Finally, Artax manages to think a happy thought and frees himself from the mud and Dougal rides back to safety. His bold move manages to win favor with the Prince (“Mark me, if I had 100 men like you, this war would be over tomorrow.”) but it also confirms their suspicions. There will be no glorious charge from the Highlanders. So now what?
The solution comes via a young soldier who shows up at the field hospital as Claire is preparing the women of the camp for their upcoming duties. (Foreshadowing: Fergus is grumbling at being relegated to tending the fires, calling it women’s work. BABY DON’T DO IT.) It turns out the young soldier’s father owns the land and he knows that there is a hidden trail that will lead them around the marsh, allowing the Scots the means to launch a surprise attack. The trail is not marked but young Mr. Anderson assures Jamie and the Prince that it is there. “I’m no much for fighting but I’ll get ye from here to there without a misstep,” he assures. The Prince wants to check with his wishy-washy Quartermaster before agreeing, but Jamie urges that a delay could prove costly. This is their chance. Laurens, do not throw away your shot.
With the plan set, many of the men begin making “If I die in battle” pacts with their friends. It’s all very “Drink with Me” and I’m not okay. Angus tries to make one such pact with Rupert, willing him his sword and his whore Scarlett. Rupert is not having it though. He tries to play it off that Angus is offering him a bum deal (“What use would I have for a sword that’s never been used?”) but you can tell that it’s REALLY because he doesn’t accept any sort of outcome where a deal like this would be necessary. My heart hurts.
Meanwhile, Jamie and Murtagh have a heart to heart as Murtagh pensively sharpens his blade. This whole thing has a different weight for these two men as they ALSO have the burden of history weighing on their shoulders. This isn’t just an ordinary battle. This is the initial spark on a date with destiny that they’ve desperately been trying to avoid. “In a raid, every man has a part to play,” Murtagh muses. “You tell yerself that the raid’s success or failure is dependent on yer actions. And if ye’re forced to wound a man, kill him even, chances are…ye stare into his eyes when doing it. And if you were to be killed, ye’d die knowing that yer memory would live on within yer clan. Yer death would have meaning. But this…this is different. We’re but part of a 2,000 strong army. My death, your death, alone would be meaningless.” Jamie has no comfort to offer his friend because Murtagh speaks the truth. He almost lost his marriage trying to keep this from happening, after all. “I failed,” Jamie says. “WE,” Murtagh stresses, loyal to the damn end. “We failed.” BFF FOR LIFE PROTECT MURTAGH AT ALL COSTS.
“Drink with me to days gone by. Can it be you fear to die? Will the world remember you when you fall? Could it be your death means nothing at all? Is your life just one more lie?”
Jamie urges Claire that she should get some sleep, but she knows that it’s a futile exercise. There will be no sleep for anyone this night, not when they are on the precipice of history. Fergus tries to convince Jamie that he would be worthy on the battlefield because he could sneak around undetected (“And little people know when little people fight! We may look easy pickings, but we’ve got some bite!” I NEED TO STOP) but Jamie stresses that he’s needed more at camp. “And what of our Lady Broch Tuarach, huh? There’s no one I trust with her safety more than you. Looks like you’re going to have to stay and like it. Is that understood?” Fergus agrees reluctantly but does not look convinced. HOE DON’T DO IT.
The time comes for Claire to say goodbye to all her men. Angus, shameless to the end and never one to give up on a bit, asks for a kiss. “Must I remind you, Mistress, at this time tomorrow I could be lying in a field bleeding to death?” NOT FUNNY. Rupert clings to his belief that they are all going to be okay and refuses to say goodbye to Claire. “When we meet again, it’ll be to embrace in victory.” And Murtagh. Murtagh, I think I’d miss you most of all. “Watch over Jamie.” “Always.” YOU NEED TO STOP. Murtagh looks to Claire for assurance that history is on their side here. (“History has its eeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyes on yoooooooooooooooou.”) “Yes, we will win this day,” she promises. Then she turns to Jamie. What can she say to him really? (“Stay alive. Stay aliiiiiiiiive.”) They embrace and she kisses him like she’s never going to see him again. “On your way, soldier.” I’m fine. Then Jamie fucking bows to her because he refuses to let me live in peace.
As the army makes their way down the ridge, Jamie orders the Prince to stay behind with the infantry. The Prince throws a bit of a hissy fit at this, declaring that he’s TRAINED to wield a sword and besides this is his right a destiny. God said so. Jamie tells him that the rebellion wouldn’t survive his death but what he really means is that his training in the confines of the Palace courtyards doesn’t mean shit here. He clutches his shield in front of him like he’s Captain Fucking Scotland and leads his men through the fog. I shouldn’t be as turned on by this as I am. Remember how Ross tried to go all “RED ROSS” when he played rugby with Emily’s friends? Ladies and Gents…meet RED JAMIE. He fine. And don’t get in his way.
Claire gets the women organized and prepared. “Just keep going. I know what you’re all feeling. I’ve been there myself. The fear. The self-doubt. But our men are depending on us. And we will not let them down.” She also notices that Fergus is nowhere to be seen and we see him standing among the soldiers all smol and determined like Merry going into the Battle of Pellenor Fields. Fuck me sideways.
The men charge through the fog and all I can think is GOD this cinematography is beautiful. Seriously. Well done show. The Scots have the advantage of surprise and gain the advantage in the battle swiftly. Despite their clear advantage, injuries start pouring into the hospital and Claire is in her element. (I also loved how she had ZERO patience for the praying, now is not the time, people.) She is always on the lookout for the people that she loves and fear is constantly etched on her face. History may be on their side when it comes to this battle but it makes no promises as far as all of them surviving. British wounded arrive at the hospital and while Claire doesn’t prioritize them in the way that the Prince requested, she doesn’t turn them away either. Angus and Rupert stumble in, Angus clutching Rupert close. “You must save him, Mistress. I’ll no allow that fat bawbag to die on me!” Claire pulls his tunic back to reveal a GAPING wound from a sword. She knows she has to move quickly and sew it shut. Rupert is delirious, muttering about Angus being blown up. Claire looks to Angus and he’s all “It’s just a cannon blast. It’s nothing.” YEAH RIGHT. I watch Grey’s Anatomy. I know how this shit is going to end. Once Rupert’s wound is stitched up, Claire tries to examine Angus but he brushes her off, claiming he’s fine. He’s completely lucent and his eyes are clear. He’s tired but then again he’s just been through battle. Claire diagnoses him with a mild concussion and warns him not to nap.
The door swings open and in storms Red Jamie, covered in blood but unharmed and sporting a manic grin. The British are routed and victory is theirs. The whole thing took 15 minutes and had they had the cavalry with them, they probably could have ended right then. Once Claire knows her husband is safe, she goes in search of her adopted son. She finds Fergus outside, dazed but in one piece. She reacts how any mother would: she hugs him to her, grateful he alive while at the same time threatening to kill him for scaring her so. “I killed an English soldier, Milady,” he stammers and it’s heartbreaking to see what was left of Fergus’ innocence shattered. It’s easy to understand WHY he wanted to kill some red coats: the trauma he suffered at the hands of Blackjack Randall is reason enough. But while Fergus had the desire to kill and fight like a man, he didn’t understand that no amount of killing is going to take away his pain. He didn’t understand what actually killing would be like. But one look in Fergus’ eyes NOW says that he does. Claire asks him if he’s injured and he says no. “I’m just tired. Very, very tired.” Me too, baby. Me too.
In the hospital, the Prince makes an appearance and gives a pompous speech about how the victory isn’t as sweet because he hates fighting AGAINST the British, his people. Again dude, why are you making this so well-known that the Scottish are really only your attack animals that are a means to an end? Y-I-K-E-S. Dougal, who is still on the warpath, killing the wounded, is set off by this. Revealing his true nature obviously doesn’t sit well with the Prince. He tries to get Dougal banished but Jamie argues that the only thing to do with such a blood-thirsty is to promote him. Jamie says that Dougal should be given their best riders and horses and he can lead an advance team…that way they don’t lose one of their best warriors AND the Prince doesn’t have to see him. Luckily, he agrees and he warns Dougal that he is now in Jamie’s debt. I CERTAINLY HOPE THAT DEBT IS DOUGAL SAVING JAMIE’S LIFE LATER. Dougal sees Jamie’s master manipulation and can’t help but admire it. “Ye champion me and ye exile me, both at the same time. That’s a plan worthy of my brother Colum.”
That settled, they all turn to Angus to find out how Rupert is doing. Naturally, because Angus said he was fine, Angus keels over unconscious because he most definitely was NOT fine. Claire finds his abdomen is distended and FINALLY realizes that he’s been bleeding internally this whole time. There’s nothing to be done but hold his hand and be there for him in his final moments. I was waiting for Claire to lean down and kiss him, granting his final request, but I’m guessing all the blood pouring from his mouth stopped her. RIP Angus. I’ll miss your cheek.
“War tastes bitter, no matter the outcome,” Jamie muses. There may be victories but with them come losses. Angus is the first and he surely won’t be the last. How many more will they suffer? Claire was right about their victory at Prestonpans but this means she is ALSO right about the upcoming disaster at Culloden. Can it be stopped? I doubt it.
“At the shrine of friendship, never say die. Let the wine of friendship never say die. Here’s to you and here’s to me…”
Swoon Worthy Jamie Fraser Moment of the Week
OH TO HAVE SOMEONE KISS ME THIS WAY.
Did Ye Ken That?
- Claire Fraser is not here for things being called “Woman’s Work” okay? (Also, she’s such a good mum.)
- Nice to see that not even Jamie is above a literal pissing contest.
- Dougal MAY have been set off by his encounter with a Lieutenant Jeremy Foster, a soldier who accompanied him and Claire to Brockton last season. He tells Dougal that they may have won today but they will never be able to beat the British in the long run. “A war chief should know better.” Welp. Don’t go insulting Dougal’s pride, buddy.
We’re in the final stretch of the season y’all. Claire has a date with the future and Jamie’s got a date with destiny. Are you ready? Let us know in the comments.