Season Two, Episode Ten: “Prestonpans”
Written by Ira Steven Behr
Directed by Philip John
All photos courtesy Starz.
Hey there, hi there, ho there, Outlander fam! It’s the beginning of the week, which means another installment from me, your intrepid recapper. Let’s roll right in!
~ Jamie had gathered men from Broch Tuarach and the rest of Clan Fraser to join Prince Charles’ Jacobite army.
~ Jamie was joined by his uncle, Dougal MacKenzie, and Dougal’s men, Angus and Rupert.
~ Claire dealt with some PTSD from her service in World War Two.
~ TRAINING MONTAGES.
This week opens with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) staring at the rotting corpse of a Jacobite scout who got caught by a British patrol. She wonders sadly how many men she has seen die from war. I wonder sadly how I’m supposed to keep eating the dinner I stupidly decided to eat while watching Outlander.
From there, we head to the Jacobite camp and meet back up with Prince Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower), who is now wearing a kilt and the Most Fanciest Jacket Ever so that everyone knows he is a Very Important Person.
So Charles has made Jamie a trusted member of his council along with General Man (Lord General George Murray played by Julian Wadham) and the Irish One (Quartermaster John O’Sullivan played by Gerard Horan). I know, I know, they have real names but I’m going to keep using my nicknames because, you know…
It turns out that the Jacobite forces have taken the cities of Perth and Edinburgh thanks to the element of surprise. The Jacobite and English armies are now sitting across from each other, separated by a stretch of swampy ground. Irish One wants to cross this bog to attack the English. Jamie and General Man helpfully point out that you can’t attack someone if you’re gonna get stuck in waist-deep mud on the way. Irish One won’t listen to reason, prompting General Man to say some truly amazing lines, including such winners as, “Damn my liver, what are you implying, sir?” and “You pompous toe-rag”, which will now be my insult of choice for people who drive under the speed limit.
On the way out of the meeting, Charles catches up with Jamie. It’s clear that Charles still has a massive crush on him, as evidenced by his weird touchy-feely-ness and the way in which he stares deeply into Jamie’s eyes.
In order to ignore this behavior, Jamie says:
Jamie: Hey, Claire’s setting up a field hospital, isn’t that cool?
Charles: Totes, bro-mato. Hey, actually, can you tell her something for me? Can she just like…treat the wounded Redcoat soldiers before the wounded Scottish ones?
Jamie: Wait, what?
Charles: Yeah, see, it’s like this, bro-tato chip. I want the English people to like…like me, ya know? So we’re gonna treat their guys first? Like, before the people who are actually fighting and dying for me? And then the English won’t mind so much that Scottish people are invading their land. Ya dig?
Jamie: Dude, no. Claire will not be into that.
And then Charles, I kid you not, says that surely Claire will not ignore “an edict from her lord and master” AKA her husband, Jamie.
Further into camp, the men are restless and tensions are mounting. Jamie shows up and says that they need a guy to ride a horse onto the bog and find out how stable the ground is. Doing so is near suicide, since it will put the rider in range of the Redcoat “Brown Bess” muskets. Naturally, his uncle Dougal (Graham McTavish) volunteers. Because Dougal.
As the Jacobites look on, Dougal heads into the bog. It isn’t long before his horse slips into a muddy patch of treacherous nope-land. With musket balls landing all around him, he manages to retreat, taking only a glancing blow to his bald head. Everyone is suitably impressed with his bravery. This includes Prince Charles, who gives Dougal a giant bear hug because that’s how Charles rolls.
Later that night, Fergus (Romann Berrux) turns up at Claire’s field hospital, bringing along a young Hot Guy named Richard Anderson (Alex Hope). Hot Guy says he lives in the area and he knows a way past the bog. He is willing to lead the Jacobite forces through so that they can launch a sneak attack on the Redcoats. Jamie and Charles are all about this.
Preparations are made. Serious talks are talked about the nature of war and the possibility of dying. Nervous goodbyes are said. Fergus insists on coming with the soldiers. Jamie tells him no since Jamie finally understands what is and is not appropriate for children. Or Jamie finally heard my yells of, “PROTECT FERGUS, 2K16.” It is unclear which.
But this all becomes a moot point when Fergus sneaks off to join the march anyway. Which was, of course, just wonderful for both my blood pressure and overall anxiety levels.
Just before the British picket lines, the Jacobites halt. A brief discussion ensues:
Hot Guy: Hey, Older Hot Guy, can I…like…go? I’m like…not super into being killed today.
Jamie: Yeah, sure, whatever, kid.
Young Hot Guy runs off.
Jamie: Hey, your Highnessness, why don’t you hang out with General Man and the Irish One and watch the battle from here?
Charles: WHAT – I NEVER – HOW DARE – I WILL LEAD THIS ARMY!
Jamie: First off, keep it down. This is a sneak attack, not a yell-and-get-us-caught attack. Second, your jacket is super duper fancy. And if you die, who will we have left who can pull off that amount of fanciness?
Charles: Oh man, good point, Bro-co Polo. I’m so glad you’re here to point these things out.
Charles being safely stashed away, Jamie and Co creep into the thick fog and the battle begins. It’s a fast-paced, traumatic business and the British, caught totally unawares, are quickly routed. We see various small scenes of our heroes, appearing and disappearing in the mist, including little Fergus, who apparently thought he could march to battle with only a steak knife, God bless his adorable idiot brain.
Claire, meanwhile, is delivering an amazing pep talk to her group of nurses. As the wounded come streaming in, they get to work, treating Redcoats as well as Jacobites. The two men from Brach Tuarach show up, one of them dead. Angus (Stephen Walters) appears, half-carrying Rupert (Grant O’Rourke), who has a slashed stomach. Luckily, Claire patches him up before it gets too bad.
Jamie and Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) stride in and declare victory, which is all very exciting. Jamie and Claire have an intense romantic moment while I throw chicken at the television and demand to know where Fergus is. Fergus is outside, as it turns out, looking thoroughly shell-shocked because he is a pre-teen who just stabbed a Redcoat soldier. So that’s fun.
Back at the battlefield, Dougal is busy stabbing wounded Redcoats, because Dougal. He ends up finding a familiar face: Lieutenant Foster (Tom Brittany), the soldier who brought Dougal and Claire to Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) way, way back in Season One. Foster tells Dougal that the Jacobites won the battle but will never win the war. Dougal stabs him. Because Dougal.
Dougal’s Dougal-ness continues when he arrives at the field hospital and sees that Claire has been treating Redcoat prisoners. He decides that the only course of action is to try to stab them Redcoats dead. Unfortunately, in so doing, he interrupts Prince Charles, who was giving a really quite nice speech about how the Scottish and the English are all brothers under the Stuart monarchy and he doesn’t want to hurt English soldiers and blah, blah.
Charles is understandably upset with Dougal and throws him out of the army. Jamie speaks in Dougal’s defense, advising Charles to make his uncle the new head of dragoons (a unit of mounted soldiers). That way, Dougal can make use of his skills where Charles doesn’t have to ever see him again. Charles is cool with this.
Charles leaves and I start to think that maybe, just maybe, we’ll all get out of this okay. And then poor Angus keels over, spitting blood. He’s taken a cannon blast to the back and sustained massive internal injuries. Unable to help, our heroes watch him die.
The show closes with Rupert and the remaining Brach Tuarach man drinking and singing a sad song about dead friends. Because Outlander.
Pros of this episode:
~ This episode is very well crafted in general. I particularly like the cinematography and sound design. When we first see the Jacobite forces, they are grouped around campfires, waiting for orders. We hear nothing but the wind and damp canvas flapping in the breeze. The simple sounds draw the audience right into the shot; you really feel like you’re sitting on the cold, wet grass with the men. It also offers an excellent sense of tension; this is the calm before the storm, or, in this case, before the battle.
~ The fighting scenes are also amazing. The dense white fog makes it seem like Scotland itself has risen up for the Jacobites. It muffles the sounds of combat so you never get a full idea of what’s going on and the audience definitely feels the terror and confusion of battle. Hats off to cinematographers Neville Kidd and Stephen McNutt as well as the sound department, led by Vince Balunas.
~ The cast offers spot-on performances, hitting just the right emotional notes. I found myself actually growing very nervous as everyone said their farewells. And Angus’ death was completely gut-wrenching.
~ It was nice to see the Jacobites win one battle. Even if you know they’re gonna lose the next one.
Cons of this episode:
~ We know the Jacobites are gonna lose the next one.
~ Campaign PROTECT FERGUS 2K16 has failed yet again.
~ I still have not received Le Comte’s wardrobe. Sending selfies of myself wearing a wig to the head Starz office has proved ineffective. Any and all suggestions are welcome.
And that’s a wrap for me. Until next week, my friends!
Outlander airs every Saturday at 9/8c on Starz.
Not enough to tide you over till next week? Feel free to check out our other Outlander coverage! Or head over to the official Outlander website for clips, full episodes, and behind the scenes goodies.