It is time for war. No way around it. In this episode, the battle of Prestonpans, which we know in history and from Claire, it is a definite win for the Scots. They have already taken Edinburgh and Perth without a shot fired, but Prestonpans will be a battle. There will be bloodshed and some loss. This episode is, in short, preparing the viewers of what is to come.
Jamie and Claire are starting to see that they can’t ignore the signs any longer. They haven’t been able to change history and Culloden will happen. Granted, they still have a glimmer of hope that something will be able to change it for the better, but doubt is definitely starting to set in.
This episode is a foreboding one. Yes, the Scots win a battle, but at what cost? It opens with death and ends with death. The opening scene has Claire staring at a decaying body of a Highlander on the ground in a forest. She starts to question whether they have or will still be able to change the outcome of this war. She is beginning to have doubts and thinks of how many men she has seen die at war. Far, far too many she concludes. In the background, Jamie is impatiently waiting for her and wonders how long does it take for her to take a piss? She snaps too, and yells to him she will be right there. She bends down and takes the dead man’s weapon. He won’t be needing it any longer and they can certainly use all the weapons they can get.
Back at the camp, we see Prince Charlie, who seems to like to snack an awful lot, dressed in a pompous frilly tartan outfit. It fits his personality perfectly. There is a meeting at hand and we are introduced to Prince Charlie’s two main advisors, Sir John O’Sullivan and Lord George Murray. O’Sullivan is an Irishman who, on the behalf of France, used guerilla warfare in Corsica which gained the notice of Prince Charlie. Charlie made him General and Quartermaster….ugh. Murray on the other hand is a native Scot from the Clan Murray and the Lieutenant General. Seems he was a favorite of Prince Charlie….meaning he kissed ass big time.
O’Sullivan and Murray are at odds of how to proceed with General Cope’s army just down the hill within sight. O’Sullivan wants to just rush in and attack. Murray says to hold the high ground. Jamie says that it doesn’t matter, because they have a problem in between them and the English….Tranent Meadow. This so-called meadow is nothing more than a boggy marshland that will entrap horse and men and leave them sitting ducks for cannon and bullets.
Prince Charlie quiets the room with an idiotic idea. They managed to take Edinburgh and Perth without a shot fired, so perhaps he should go and have a sit down with General Cope because they “are brothers after all”. O’Sullivan says the Prince has always had a big heart, but that they should just go and fight and be done with it. This angers Murray and the two fight again. Jamie rightfully point out, and Murray agrees, that that their victories there were due to the element of surprise and General Cope is no idiot, he won’t be caught off guard again.
When there doesn’t seem to be headway, Jamie walks out and the Prince with him. Prince Charlie wonders at the stubbornness of Scots and that his cause must succeed because he promised not only his father but also God. He them asks Jamie if Claire will be attending to the wounded to which Jamie confirms that she is and she is in the middle of setting up a hospital as they speak. Here, again, we see the stupidity of Prince Charlie and what seems to be favoritism towards the English. He says the English wounded should be seen and tended to before the Scottish army. He says they need to show that they are attacking the English with great reluctance in hopes that they might be friends in the future. Jamie smirks, but then gives the Prince some solid advice. Lay off the English love around the men. They won’t appreciate it.
Jamie also adds that Claire will not take such an order to tend to the English first above anyone else. Charlie says that perhaps not from her prince, but definitely from her “lord and master”. May you never see the wrath of Claire Fraser, Charlie!
Meanwhile, the Frasers vs Mackenzies rages on, as the men start to get ancy. Angus decides that spitting water like a fountain in the direction of Ross and Kincaid is hilarious, and Rupert agrees. However, the other two had had enough and a fight starts and ends with Angus’ knife and Kincaid’s throat. Murtagh steps in and threatens Angus with the knife being shoved so far up he can taste it. Gotta love Murtagh!
The fight is loud enough to wake a napping Dougal, but that is okay, as Jamie walks by and gives him a little kick and asks to speak with him. Overlooking the meadow in question, Jamie suggests that someone needs to perhaps ride out there on horseback to test the ground. If the bog can support a man on horseback, then it can support men.
Dougal comments that the English would be too happy to shoot someone between the eyes and Jamie agrees they would love target practice on a live target. So, it comes down to who would go down and Dougal volunteers. It is suggested that all they need to do is stay out of range of the flying bullets. Jamie suggests about 125 yards, but Dougal, wanting to show off like a man, thinks 105 is a better bet.
Dougal slowly rides, with his arms outstretched, down the hill towards the meadow. Once there, the English get up and take up arms. Not even a quarter of the way in, his horse sinks to its knees in the muck. The English begin to fire as Dougal tries to turn his horse and get them both out of there. The bullets are coming dangerously close. Dougal is forced to dismount and pull his horse free. Before that happens, a bullet shoots his bonnet off his head and Dougal reaches down and picks it up. He looks at the hole and touches his head which was grazed by the bullet. He decides they have all the information they need. He gathers the reigns of his horse, gets it unstuck and hops on and rides away back up the hill to the cheering of all the men watching, including Prince Charlie.
Upon his return, Dougal is congratulated by the men and Charlie gives him an awkwardly long hug and tells Dougal how impressed he is with him. They have the knowledge that there cannot be a charge across the meadow unless someone wants to commit suicide. Charlie tells Murray that he needs to figure something out or lose his position. Jamie congratulates his uncle and tells him to have Claire look at his head. Dougal rejects the offer saying “the hero of the hour has shant his pants”. Probably one of the top lines of the night!
Later that night, Claire is still setting up shop and trying to teach some of the women the fine art of healing her way, is interrupted by a Richard Anderson wanting to speak to a commanding officer. Claire tells Fergus to go fetch Jamie who then takes Anderson to Prince Charlie, Murray and the others. Anderson tells them that this is his family’s land and he knows it like the back of his hand. There is a small path that will take them past the bog and to the English on the other side. It is not on any map, but it is there if you know where to look. He says he is willing to take them to the path in the morning. Prince Charlie in true fashion wishes his trusted advisor; O’Sullivan was there as he wants his opinion. Jamie tells Charlie that it would be deadly to delay and convinces him to proceed with the plan.
Meanwhile, around the fire, Angus overhears a conversation between Ross and Kincaid, where they promise to take care of each other’s families and can have each other’s belongings if either one should die. “What mine is yours” is agreed upon with a spit handshake. Angus turns to Rupert suddenly and starts telling him that he can have his sword and “part-time whore, full-time barmaid” Scarlett. Rupert teases him and asks him what this is all about and Angus tells him. Rupert refuses to spit shake Angus’ hand when offered and says to shut it because it is a bad omen to speak of death before a battle and that neither one of them are dying there.
Murtagh is also having thoughts. In true dour Murtagh-ness, he is attempting to sharpen his knife to a toothpick while in deep thought. He wonders aloud to Jamie if his death will be all for not given that he has the knowledge of the future of this war. What is one man’s death in an army of thousands? Jamie thinks it is a bad thing to talk like this on the eve of battle and tries to comfort Murtagh by telling him that he almost lost his marriage over trying to change the outcome of this war. He failed. Murtagh looks at him and says “We failed.” Jamie agrees and lays his hand on his godfather’s shoulder.
Early the next morning, Jamie is telling Claire to try to get some rest. She thinks it is highly unlikely anyone will sleep much. They are about to kiss when, with that impeccable timing children seem to have, Fergus arrives and begs to go with Jamie and his men tomorrow. Jamie tells him that there is no one he values more to guard the Lady as he.
They are further interrupted by Murtagh, Angus and Rupert to tell Jamie it is time to go. Angus begs for a kiss, on the lips of course, from Claire. When she tries to argue, he says he could be dead in a ditch and he would hate for his last thoughts to be of her denying him his last request. She calls him “shameless” and gives him a big kiss on the cheek. Rupert is superstitious and refuses to say goodbye, but will catch her later for a “stiff dram”. Claire turns to Murtagh and tells him to watch over Jamie, to which he replies, “Always”.
Left alone finally, Jamie and Claire share some deep, desperate kisses. When they finally pull apart, they look deep into each other’s eyes. Claire finally says “On your way soldier” to Jamie who gallantly bows to her and leaves.
Back at the camp, Claire tells the nurses to try to get some rest as they will surely need it. She looks around and discovers Fergus is MIA. No one seems to know where he is. We see him amongst the men with a knife in hand, about to march into battle with Jamie and his men.
The Scots have the advantage of not only the unknown path, but the morning is thick with fog. The enemy will not see them coming until it is too late. As daylight comes upon them and they ready to go, Prince Charles wants to lead his army into battle. However, Jamie stops him and asks Lord Murray to keep the Prince safe. Prince Charlie is offended, it is HIS army after all. Jamie simply tells him that the army would not survive this war with him dead nor would regaining the throne mean as much to his father if his son does not help obtain it. Charlie appreciates the sentiment, but he does not think his father is all that fond of him. I have always wondered if Charlie’s father even really approved of this whole rebellion and might have been able to stop it if Jamie and Claire had gone to Italy like they had planned originally.
Jamie gives the signal and he and the men start down the hill. At the bottom, they come out of the fog like living nightmares at the sleeping English camp. The English are cut down left and right. I know this was actually filmed in a huge tent in a field, but it looks like it wasn’t and it was beautifully choreographed. I somehow get flashbacks to Braveheart. Maybe it is just me.
Several minutes in, back at the Scottish camp and hospital, Claire receives the first casualty on their side. Ross comes in carrying his bestie Kincaid on his shoulders. Claire has Ross lay him on a bed and she checks Kincaid, but it isn’t good. Kincaid is dead.
Back on the field, poor Fergus realizes he probably should have stayed back with Claire. He is pale and has a look of panic and terror on his face. He gets knocked down by a soldier. The English start to retreat and run away. A commanding officer sees them retreating and screams at them to hold their ground. The officer looks ahead and sees Rupert kneeling over an English soldier and charges at him, sword drawn. Rupert isn’t fast enough and gets a slash across his side.
Back at the hospital the English wounded have just arrived and Claire orders them to be separated out by order of severity of their wounds. Just as she starts to examine one of the men, Angus comes in fully carrying Rupert and yells to Claire that he needs her. When she says she will be there in a moment, he screams at her “NOW!” This gets her attention and she comes over and examines Rupert. It is a bad gash, but he just needs Claire to stitch him up. While she is stitching up Rupert, he wakes and asks where Angus is and if he was blown up. Angus explains that it was nothing, just a cannon blast.
We get a flashback to earlier in the battle when Rupert gets his injury. The officer on horseback has turned around to finish him off, when he is shot in the head. Rupert looks in the direction of the shot and it is Angus. Then Angus gets thrown from where he stands by a cannon blast which sends him airborne and landing face first in the dirt. Rupert sees this and proceeds to pass out and falls to the ground.
Claire tells Angus that Rupert’s chances of survival are good as long as infection doesn’t set in. She then wants to take a look at Angus, who insists he is fine. Claire thinks he may have a concussion, so he should not fall asleep. He tells her that won’t be a problem and is happy to watch his friend’s belly rise and fall.
Jamie and Murtagh arrive with big grins on their faces and Jamie claims the day and victory is theirs. Jamie gives a brief synopsis of the battle and Murtagh revels in the fact it only took them 15 minutes and probably only that many casualties. Claire is very happy to see her husband alive and well and there is much kissing of course. She does a quick assessment of Jamie and remembers about Fergus. Jamie tells her the lad is just outside and Claire runs out to find him.
Poor Fergus bit off more than he could chew this time. Claire arrives and finds him almost non-responsive to her questions as he is in shock. He tells her that he thinks he killed an English soldier and Claire cries and hugs him close and tells him she is sorry. When asked if he is injured, Fergus says he is just very tired. Claire holds him close and takes him with her back inside to find him some food and a place to rest.
Back on the battlefield, the battle now over, Dougal is the official Grim Reaper. He is going around helping the injured or almost dead English soldiers to hurry along to the afterlife. He hears his name and turns to find Lt. Jeremy Foster. He was the English soldier who escorted Dougal and Claire to the village of Brockton and inadvertently into the clutches of Black Jack Randall back in season 1. Dougal remembers him to be “the only honorable redcoat in Lord Thomas’ staff” and sits down beside him. Foster asks Dougal if he is going to take him to the hospital, but Dougal says no, he has additional work here to do. And this is where it goes to hell in a handbasket for Lt. Foster. He asks Dougal if his thirst for blood is not yet satisfied and tells him that the Scots won a battle, but they won’t win the war, because they cannot defeat the all-powerful English army. Dougal rises and takes out this dirk and stabs Lt. Foster in the heart and tells him that only God knows the answer to that. All this, just to remind us that Dougal Mackenzie is still an asshole.
Back at the hospital, Ross finally pulls the sheet over Kincaid’s face and sees Angus watching him. He informs Angus that they did not run to which Angus raises his glass to him. Angus turns to Rupert and jokingly tells Jamie that it was likely the blubber on his belly that saved him. Jamie chuckles and says “the man could eat” and quickly corrects himself to “can eat”. Claire sees Jamie’s back and comes over and asks why there is a horseshoe imprint on his back. He says in the chaos of the English retreat he got knocked over and stepped on by a horse. Claire hands him a glass jar and tells him to fill it so she can see if he has any blood in his urine.
Let the contest begin! Jamie ponders at the jar as he starts to walk and decides to hand it to a wounded English soldier and tells him to hold it while he takes aim. This turns into a bet when the man puts the jar down a few feet from Jamie and bets him he can’t make it from where he stands. Jamie takes the bet and with other men cheering him on, he lifts his kilt and proceeds to piss in the jar. All sounds good and Jamie has his face to the sky and eyes closed when suddenly everyone gets quiet. Prince Charles has entered the building. Jamie looks over and quickly stops.
The Prince says that victory is theirs, but it has put a “damp chill” on his heart as he sees both countries as one. The guy can’t be any more out of touch with the men he is supposed to represent! He is about to continue, when an overly enthusiastic Dougal arrives. He does a quick touch and feel with one of the nurses. He becomes enraged though, when he sees the English wounded receiving care and pulls out his dirk to finish them off.
I am assuming that Prince Charlie either grew a pair, or in my own opinion borrowed a pair for this next part. He effectively stops Dougal in his tracks by rebuking him and then grasping his face and telling Dougal that the English are also his father’s subjects and therefore brothers and should be treated accordingly. He chastises Dougal for his “lack of Christian charity” and tells Jamie to remove the man from the roster immediately for there is no room in his army for such men. Dougal starts to walk out.
Jamie intervenes on his uncle’s behalf, first stating that Dougal is a fine warrior and that they need all the men they can get. He makes a suggestion that perhaps the prince could see fit to assign Dougal the Captain of the newly formed Highland Dragoons. Give Dougal 15 horses and men and let them follow the English. They will report back where the English are and disrupt any and all supply lines to them. This will keep Dougal in the army, but will keep him out of sight from Prince Charles. The Prince, pleased with Jamie’s thoughts, agrees to the plan and tells Dougal that he is Jamie’s debt and don’t make them regret the decision.
Dougal goes up to Jamie and tells him that he will not regret it. Jamie is about to walk on, but Dougal stops him and tells him that he knows what he is up to. “You champion me and you exile me, both at the same time. That’s a plan worthy of my brother.” I guess Jamie’s Mackenzie is showing.
Dougal walks away to check on Angus who is slumped over and thinks the man is totally drunk or fell asleep. However, it becomes apparent right away that it is not either one. Angus falls back and is coughing and choking on blood. Claire and Jamie rush over and upon inspection, Claire finds a very large bruise on his side. The cannon blast had hit him hard and caused internal bleeding and organ failure. Jamie asks Claire if there is anything she can do. She just has the “nope” look on her face and continues to look at Angus as he is trying to speak. It is very garbled, but according to Diana, she says that it is something like “Save me Mistress”. Excuse me as I have to go cry some more now. Happy endings are not in the Outlanderverse vocabulary.
Angus dies shortly after trying to speak and Jamie and Dougal cross themselves. Then a large groan as a determined, but hurting Rupert rises from his cot to come over to his friend. Remembering what Angus was trying to get him to promise earlier, he takes the man’s sword and holds it with the tip on the ground, like he is kneeling and making the promise to his best friend now. He then takes it and sits, cradling the sword and crying for the loss of his friend.
Later that night, the men are getting drunk around the fire. Some celebrating and others, like Rupert, mourning the loss of friends. Jamie and Claire watch from a distance and Jamie tells Claire that she was right about Prestonpans. She says, yes, but that also means now that she is right about what awaits them at Culloden.
Rupert starts to loudly sing a song along with Ross, both trying to drown out their sorrow of loss. Ross sings the last line and the men cheer. All but Rupert, whose face remains distant and somber.
I will definitely miss Angus, who, along with Rupert became so much more than what they were in the books. This was “little Angus” who did not exist in the books. “Big Angus” did and was the personal bodyguard to Colum and Rupert was Dougal’s. We never saw a friendship between the two. Both became fan favorites, but more so with Angus who had some great lines and the actor, Stephen Walters did an exceptional job at making us love his character. He will be sorely missed.
We know it is inevitable and the last three episodes are going to be a hard pill to swallow for some. Culloden is coming and with that knowledge, Jamie will send Claire back to keep her safe, thinking he is going to die with his men on that moor. We know that he does send her back, because of the first part of the very first episode this season. However, I am looking forward to two more characters I have been wanting to see on screen and will get more and more screen time as the seasons march on…..full grown Roger Wakefield (Mackenzie) and Brianna Randall (Fraser)! Time for #TeamBiscuit to shine!