Outlander throws “The Hail Mary” in the penultimate episode of the season
On last week’s installment of Outlander, two characters who deserved to die were killed off. I’m sure no tears were shed for the loss of the Duke of Sandringham or his servant. Both were instrumental to the Paris alley attack, but Murtagh and Mary saw them both to a fitting end. Did anyone else die this week?
The latest episode has Jamie, Claire, Murtagh, and Fergus on their way to Inverness. Claire remarks how the struggle is taking its toll on the men. Weather beaten, and with food in short supply, the robust men who found glory at Prestonpans are long gone.
Jamie sends Dougal to locate the British troops, and find out their position. Jamie knows a war council will be called soon, so he sends Murtagh to retrieve Prince Charles Stuart. Claire laments the fact that all their scheming appears to be for naught; the Battle of Culloden is only three days away.
To prepare for the conflict, Claire leaves to replenish her medical supplies. She is surprised to see young Mary Hawkins in the apothecary. Mary was sent home after the incident with her godfather, the Duke of Sandringham, but her beloved Alex Randall contacted her. Mary explains that Alex has employment in the area, and she has joined him. Mary scolds Claire for interfering in her love life, and Claire tells her friend she would like to apologize to Alex in person for her meddling.
Meanwhile, the advisors to Prince Charles tell him that Culloden is the best place to meet the British. In a last effort to prevent the Culloden massacre, Jamie tells everyone that the terrain favors the Red Coats and not the Scots. Jamie also tells the prince that the men are in no condition to take up arms. Supplies are on their way, and Jamie believes once they are received, and the men are able to eat and sleep, they can form smaller groups to fight the British. The prince considers Jamie’s words, but disagrees.
Claire visits the boarding house where Mary and Alex are staying. While tending to the ill man, Claire finds herself in the company of Jack Randall, who also has come to visit his younger brother. She learns that since Alex is no longer able to work, Jack has been paying the bills of Alex and Mary. Alex’s chronic illness is worsening, and Claire informs both Mary and Jack that he cannot be saved. Mary insists that Claire do something to cure Alex, as she is carrying his child. Jack Randall implores Claire to help ease his brother’s suffering, but Claire wants something in return—the location of the British troops.
Armed with this handy information, Claire returns to Jamie. The Frasers hope Jack Randall is being truthful. True to her word, Claire wants to tend to Alex. Fearing the fallout should Alex die while under her watch, Murtagh goes along to prevent any trouble.
Dougal’s brother Colum arrives at camp in sad shape. The man knows he is dying. He tells Claire that he is happy for her union with Jamie, a sentiment not expressed before. He asks Claire to put him out of his misery, as the pain is unbearable. Claire is uncomfortable with the idea, but puts a bottle of yellow jasmine in the old man’s hand for whenever he feels the time is right to end his life.
Claire and Murtagh visit the ailing Alex. She reiterates that he cannot be cured, but she does her best to make him comfortable. Alex asks his brother to look after Mary and their unborn child. Jack promises that they will want for nothing, but Alex wants Mary to receive the protections only a marriage can provide, and appeals to his brother’s softer side to marry her. Jack cannot find it in his heart to marry the girl and leaves his brother’s bedside.
Dougal returns from his mission only to be told by Jamie that he already knows the British troops’ location from Jack Randall. Jamie’s scouts say the British have been preparing for an upcoming birthday party.
Chivalrous Murtagh volunteers to marry Mary, as it seems Jack Randall has refused. He thinks in time they could learn to get along, although they are not suited for each other. He reasons that having experience as Jamie’s godfather can help him raise Mary’s baby. Claire points out to him that he could die in the war, leaving Mary destitute. While his offer is generous, being the widow of Jack Randall would be more beneficial to a young woman left to raise a child alone.
Claire argues with Jack Randall about Mary. She urges him to go through with the marriage, telling him he will die at Culloden anyway; at least he will leave the girl in a better position than she is in now. Jack has his doubts that Claire’s prediction is correct. What if he does survive? Jack reminds Claire of his abuse of Jamie. He tells Claire that he enjoyed every bit of it, regretting nothing. Would she want Mary to suffer the same treatment in his bed?
Dougal believes his brother has arrived to help with the rebellion, but Colum delivers a devastating blow to Dougal. He wants his son Hamish (actually fathered by Dougal) to be the clan chief after he dies. To ensure that, he has appointed Jamie as the boy’s guardian.
Jack Randall relents and marries Mary in Alex’s bedchamber. Since she believes Mary will be widowed in a matter of days, Claire doesn’t seem too worried about Jack’s potential brutality.
Jamie floats his idea of a surprise nighttime attack during the British birthday party to the council. The prince wavers, but his chief adviser concurs with Jamie. The only caveat is that Prince Charles lead one of the groups. It’s a small request to grant given that doing so may delay, if not prevent, Culloden.
Frail Colum meets with his brother one last time before he succumbs to his illness. Dougal is alone again, with so many things left unsaid to his brother.
The second death occurs when Alex Randall’s suffering comes to an end. Jack Randall brutalizes his warm body to the shock of both Claire and Mary. It was an unexpected reaction to his brother’s death.
Jamie isn’t happy that Mary married Jack Randall. He fears that their nighttime sneak attack will prevent Culloden, leaving Jack alive. Claire vows to help Jamie bleed Randall if he isn’t killed in the war.
Jamie’s group rides out to interrupt the birthday party. Prince Charles and his men got themselves lost, so the chief adviser decides to call off the attack in light of their lack of numbers. This all but assures that Culloden will be the place of their next meeting with the enemy.
Next week’s episode is the 90-minute season finale. Unless Jamie and company come up with another plan to thwart it, the Battle of Culloden will commence. Will it be the bloodbath recorded in the history books? I can’t wait until next week to find out.