Season Two, Episode Nine: “Je Suis Prest”
Written by Matthew B. Roberts
Directed by Philip John
All photos courtesy Starz.
Greetings and good day, Outlander fans! It’s a new week which means a new Outlander episode and a new recap from me! I’ve got a full mug of tea and a full heart of feels so let’s get started.
Just to bring you up to speed, last week we:
~ Arrived back in Scotland. Had all too brief Family Farming Fun Times with Jenny Fraser and her husband.
~ Met Jamie’s jerk of a grandfather, Lord Lovat.
~ Met Laoghaire MacKenzie. Found out she is still completely crazy-pants over Jamie, just quieter about it.
~ Watched Jamie do a series of dumb things. Including play up Claire’s reputation as a “white witch”. As far as I know, “white witch” is still “burnable witch” so I obviously have problems with this strategy.
~ Saw Jamie and Claire convince Lord Lovat to provide his men for the Jacobite cause while pretending he’s not. He does this by allowing his Jacobite son, Simon, to take the men, supposedly against his wishes. If the Jacobites lose, his son will be hanged but he himself will be fine. He’s pretty happy about this. Did I mention that Lord Lovat is a jerk?
And that brings us up to this week.
As we begin, Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) ride into a camp of Highlanders, young noble Simon (James Parris) and the Fraser men in tow. They are greeted by Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) and Real Life Actual Angel Fergus (Romann Berrux). Everybody is all smiles and hugs. I store this moment deep in my brain to comfort me when everything inevitably turns horrible later in the season.
It’s not long before there’s another reunion, this time with Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) and his sidekicks, Rupert MacKenzie (Grant O’Rourke) and Angus Mhor (Stephen Walters). As you probably remember from last season, Dougal is the on-again/off-again ally of Jamie and Claire. He was the one who first brought Claire back to Castle Leoch and helped save her life a couple times. But he has also attempted to assault her and maybe helped get her tried for witchcraft??? He is a suspicious character at best. Rupert and Angus are good men and even better sources of comic relief so they are all clear in my book. Which, let’s be honest, is the only book that matters.
At this point, I would like to note that we have only been in Scotland for two episodes and it has already proven to be miles better to us than Paris ever was. Paris is now dead to me. Much like King Louis.
Dougal tells Jamie that Colum is still dedicated to neutrality, which is why he could only bring four men with him. Despite this fact, Colum is all kinds of ready to march off and join Prince Charles so that he can start slaughtering Redcoats as soon as possible.
Jamie: Not so fast, Uncle. These men are brave but they are an undisciplined rabble at best. Nobody’s going anywhere until we’ve had a few good training montages.
That’s right, dear readers, we receive not one, but multiple training montages this week. It is unclear what we have done to deserve such good fortune. Saved a virgin from a volcano? Reversed global warming? Resisted eating that entire jumbo bag of peanut M&M’s so that our friends could get a handful? I really don’t know but whatever it was, I am proud of us. Proud of us all.
So begins Murtagh’s Boot Camp of Fun and Fighting. While I find this delightful, the Highland men are less than impressed. Their fighting style is more of the “surprise the enemy by running down a hill and screaming very loudly” variety rather than the “stand in lines and march towards muskets that are firing at you” tactics of the British. And they aren’t very keen on changing it up.
Claire is also not very keen on this whole “training for a war” thing. It seems that preparations for the Jacobite rebellion are bringing back memories from her time serving in World War Two. It’s finally hitting her that this is a real war with real bullets and eventually real casualties. And she’s not handling it very well. Jamie notices her odd behavior and tries to find out what’s wrong but Claire, tough cookie as she is, brushes him off.
Yes, Claire, please keep quiet about your raging case of PTSD. I’m sure that will end well.
Back on the training grounds, Jamie delivers a stirring speech to the troops, explaining why it’s crucial for the Scots to fight the way the British do. He’s seen what modern armies can do, he tells them, and it isn’t pretty. The only way to confront that is to play by the same rules.
But just as Jamie seems to be getting through to the men, Dougal and his gang come charging down the hill, half naked and screaming like banshees. The men understandably scatter out of their way. Dougal takes this as proof that the Highland fighting methods are superior. Jamie, of course, disagrees and takes Dougal to task for disrupting training, which is pretty awesome to see.
Not one to be easily deterred, Dougal goes to Claire and insists that she convince Jamie to set out for Prince Charles’ camp at once. If she doesn’t, he threatens to tell Jamie about that one time she promised to marry Dougal if Jamie was executed at Fort Wentworth.
Claire: Uhhhh, you go ahead and do that. He already knows.
Dougal: Wait, what? Are you telling me you communicate with your spouse? What sort of bullcrap is that?
Claire: It’s pretty simple? You just like…open your mouth and explain what’s in your head?
Me: Do you mean what you should be doing re: PTSD?
Dougal: Yeah, but like…he’s not mad jelly that you’d marry another man if he was dead?
This rather boorish behavior kicks off such an impressive smackdown from Claire that I’m pretty sure it would take all the ice in Greenland to fix Dougal’s massive burn. Dougal only cares about his own advantage, she says. The only reason he’s eager to get to the Prince is to get a spot on his counsel and power for himself. Dougal couldn’t care less about the welfare of his family, his men, or his country.
Somehow Dougal avoids melting into a puddle on the floor in the face of Claire’s wrath. He admits that he may be an ass but damned if he doesn’t love Scotland. He’s here to defeat the British and he won’t let anybody say anybody different.
To prove this fact, he disappears and returns to camp with a group of “volunteers” from the surrounding area. Jamie figures out pretty quickly that these men were actually pressed into service and have no desire to go get shot by Redcoats. Jamie lets them go and tries to explain the concept of “quality over quantity” to a frustrated Dougal. As punishment, he puts Dougal and his men on sentry duty. In the meantime, Jamie has the original sentries whipped for allowing Dougal to enter the camp with strange men.
The next day, the men practice firing their muskets. This sends Claire into a vivid flashback of her WW2 years. Nurse Claire was helping two American troops return to their regiment when their Jeep was attacked by a German tank. Claire survived by hiding in a ditch, listening to the screams of the dying American men, powerless to help them lest she be shot herself.
Claire finally explains this to Jamie, who insists she return home to Lallybroch. Claire, predictably, refuses. She doesn’t want to wait at home because that would make her just as powerless to help as she was that night in the ditch. She needs to stay and do what she can to help win this war.
That night, Jamie goes to pee and ends up narrowly escaping an assassination attempt because that’s the sort of thing that happens when you try to pee on Outlander. The would-be killer is a young English nobleman named William Grey (Oscar Kennedy) who wanted to defend his country by taking down “Red James” the notorious rebel.
Jamie asks for information about the English forces: where, what, how many? To his credit, Lord Grey keeps his mouth shut, even when Jamie threatens to torture him. Luckily for Lord Grey, Claire swoops in and turns on her acting skills, pretending to be a good English lady in the captivity of a cruel Scottish rebel. In order to save her honor, Lord Grey spills the beans on the location of the English camp and their armaments.
Jamie tells his men to have the kid guide them to the camp and then leave him tied up for his friends to find. Little Lord Grey solemnly informs Jamie that he owes him a life debt that he hopes one day to repay before killing Jamie as originally planned. Foreshadowing, anyone?
Ashamed at having let an assassin slip past the sentries, Dougal insists the Jamie punish him. Jamie, however, tells Murtagh to whip him (Jamie) instead, since Jamie didn’t tell everyone to shield their fires and thus protect the camp from enemy eyes.
After that bit of unpleasantness, Jamie takes a small group of his men to the English camp to steal the wheels from their cannons and ammunition carts. While this seriously hampers the enemy’s progress, it means that the Highland men finally have to move on to join up with Prince Charles. As they approach the main Jacobite forces, Jamie tells Dougal to ride ahead and announce their arrival to the Prince himself, which Dougal is only too happy to do.
Pros of this episode:
~ This week is an excellent balance between fun and feels. There are plenty of amusing and/or heartwarming moments, especially since most of our favorite characters are now reunited. It reminds me of the early episodes of Season One, when Claire was getting used to the 18th century and that meant quite a few montages of life at Castle Leoch. Since this is Outlander, we of course got our dose of sad things in the form of Claire’s PTSD flashbacks. But this did not take over the entire episode, which means viewers leave feeling upbeat rather than depressed.
~ Both the script and Caitriona Balfe treated Claire’s PTSD very well. As I said in my preview video on Facebook, I enjoyed these scenes not because they were amusing to watch but because they offered an unflinching look into the world of war veterans, especially those who are asked to serve again. Outlander is one of the few shows I have seen that has given adequate time and appropriate treatment for characters to deal with their trauma. It certainly stands out from its competitors in this regard.
~ General Jamie! When we first met Jamie, he was a young outlaw on the run from the British, unable to return home or really do anything apart from hide in his uncle’s clan. Even with all his physical prowess, he struggled to protect Claire from the dangers they face. Now he has taken control of the Fraser forces, not only training them but also earning their respect by showing that he is willing to follow the rules he puts on them. Seeing him repeatedly put Dougal back in line only emphasizes the growing he has done since we started.
~ Claire telling off Dougal.
~ Fraser Power Couple. Seriously, look at them:
~ Holy training montage, Batman! SO MUCH TRAINING MONTAGE.
Cons of this episode:
~ Entirely too little Fergus. Seriously, we saw him for like three minutes. That is not enough Fergus to get me through the week, Outlander.
~ We have to talk to Prince Charles next week and I’m mad at him for taking us away from the gripping reality show, “The Frasers Plant Potatoes.” So that will be unpleasant.
~ Le Comte St Germain is still dead. Starz has not responded to my repeated requests the I receive his wardrobe. They don’t seem to believe that I am his long lost heir. Perhaps I should start wearing a powdered wig? Thoughts?
That’s it. That’s all the cons. And I’m not even that upset. Because, you know, TRAINING MONTAGES.
Outlander airs every Saturday 9/8c on Starz.
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