Last week’s episode of Outlander was slow going, with an hour devoted to training seemingly untrainable men. While Jamie and Murtagh had their hands full with that job, Claire was troubled by memories and flashbacks of her time spent in World War II. Did the pace pick up in this latest installment?
From the opening discussion and subsequent disagreement on the plan of attack, this episode already had more action in it than last week. The leaders are at odds over how to proceed, and as a result the troops still await their orders on what to do.
Prince Charles Stuart wants Claire and her ladies to give the British troops priority for care over the Jacobite wounded. The prince suggests that if she won’t comply at his direction, surely she will do it for Jamie. Her husband, of course, knows his wife much better.
Tensions are high among the men poised for battle. Their anxiety over the pending skirmish is causing them to squabble with each other. They are still awaiting word on when to move on the British, and until that time, they are ready to explode with anticipation.
A marsh separates the Scottish and British camps. It alone is holding up the battle’s commencement. Jamie sends Dougal on horseback across the bog to see if it can support the weight of both horse and rider. Assuming it can, Jamie believes it can also support the weight of the troops. Eager to win favor with the prince, Dougal gladly trots across the marsh. His horse gets stuck part way through, causing the Scot to dismount and lead his horse out of the muck. The British see Dougal and fire at him. Their musketballs have a longer reach than first thought, and one knocks the hat from Dougal’s head, his scalp beneath suffering a graze wound.
Prince Charles Stuart is unhappy with the latest development, and threatens the general to find a way to get the sides together to get the battle underway. He would like to lead the charge, but Jamie reminds him that the prince’s safety is most important.
Meanwhile, Claire is in charge of setting up the field hospital. She goes over the responsibilities of each woman under her watch, and tells them that the job of young Fergus will be to keep the fires burning in the hospital. The boy isn’t happy with this, as he would much prefer to fight with Jamie and his men.
A Scot by the name of Anderson comes to the hospital. He tells Claire that his father owns the land they are on. He works the land, and because of that, he says he knows a way to get the Scots over to the British army. Skeptical at first, Jamie takes his countryman up on his offer to show them safe passage to the enemy camp.
Led by Anderson, the Scots make their way to the British camp in dense fog. Just as the British don’t see them, they do not see that Fergus has joined their ranks. The precocious boy wasn’t content to do “women’s work,” as he called it, at the makeshift hospital.
The battle of Prestonpans begins, with Fergus killing his first man, a British troop. It’s a difficult realization, and Claire comforts the boy, who is more of an adopted son at this point, rather than just Jamie’s hired help.
Jamie is pleased to tell Claire that the Scots were victorious, but it comes as no surprise to either of them. They knew from Claire’s ability to time travel that they would win, but they also know they are doomed to defeat at Culloden.
Dougal wants to kill the British wounded in Claire’s hospital, but the appalled Prince Charles Stuart reprimands him. Jamie comes to Dougal’s aid by suggesting he be promoted, so he is no longer a nuisance to the prince. His Highness agrees with Jamie’s proposal.
Angus is in the hospital, worried about his friend, all the while dismissing the cannon blast he suffered. His friend recovers, but Angus goes downhill fast. What he thought was a minor injury resulted in major internal bleeding. By the time anyone was aware of the extent of his injury, it was too late; the beloved Angus was gone. The death of a popular character proves that no one is safe when it comes to war.
Does anyone else find it irritating when Prince Charles Stuart says “mark me” before he speaks, as if everything out of his mouth is the most important thing about to be said? He says it in almost, if not every, episode in which he appears, oftentimes more than once. I lost count at four in this episode. Maybe it could be an Outlander drinking game.
This season of the time travel historical romance is nearing the end. With only three episodes left, how many loose ends will be neatly tied? Jamie and Claire know that Culloden is a bloodbath their side will lose, but will they find a way to change the historical outcome? We know Outlander will be back for at least another two seasons, so it makes sense that history will somehow be altered. Will more notable characters be killed off? I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out.