Previously on Outlander, “Je Suis Priest”
Jamie and Claire have been talking about stopping this war for so long that it’s hard to believe it’s finally happening (and something other than just talking is going to happen). None of the men believe it, either, because they won’t get to see any battle action until Bonnie Prince Charlie and his war council can come up with some orders. It makes sense why there’s a dilemma: Perth and Edinburgh were taken without a single shot fired, but they were also taken by surprise. From where the Scottish camp is sitting, no one is going to be sneaking up on the Redcoats this time around, and the ground between the armies is too soft to walk right through it.
The delay in action at least gives Claire a chance to set up her hospital with the other camp women and one extremely reluctant Fergus. Tending fire is women’s work, obviously, and running amok on a battlefield is more of what he had in mind when he insisted on making this trip with them. He’s not the only one, either; all of the menfolk, soldiers and farmers alike, are getting restless, and the excess energy has got everyone up to a boiling point.
Since the men will probably end up fighting each other before they even get a chance at the British, Jamie “convinces” Dougal to take a ground sample of the marshy area. He does a good job, too, until he and his horse get stuck about 100 feet from the Redcoat camp. Unfortunately, 100 feet is the same distance that a musket ball from a British gun will shoot, and Dougal barely makes it back with all of his skin. Maybe this is a mission that could have been done at night, without the entire Scottish army lined up and cheering? His return to camp is triumphant sheerly because he’s still alive, but victory is short lived: the ground is absolutely too wet for marching, and since the British still know they’re there, sneaking is out.
Remember learning about deus ex machina in high school English? Today his name is Richard Anderson, a Scottish farm boy who grew up on the land and just happens to know about a secret twisty path around the marsh. It’s convenient, but it works, and before long the Scots are tiptoeing through the woods and the mist and come screaming out on top of the British army.
It’s a gorgeously shot piece of battle, but it’s bloody and messy and before long the Redcoats who are still vertical are retreating for their lives. Angus gets a sword through a bit of his side, and Rupert gets in the way of a cannonball to save him, but everyone in the top billing makes it out alive. One sad loss was the giant ginger crofter from Lallybroch, who took his new role of soldier far more seriously than either of Dougal’s puppies did. An even sadder loss was sweet Fergus, who didn’t die or even get wounded but had to kill a man to defend himself. That poor kid has lost more of his innocence since the day he met Jamie Fraser, and the look on his face shows just how much therapy he’s going to need to come back from it, if only therapy were a thing back then.
As the wounded make their way into the hospital, Claire does what she can for all of them, Scottish and British alike. She stitches Angus back up and tries to take care of Rupert’s probable concussion, and when Jamie walks in with a hoofprint on his back she takes pretty swift action to make sure his kidneys are in working condition. Even Prince Chuck, who was not allowed in on the action, comes by to check everyone out, and it’s remarkably bad timing that Dougal swoops in at just that second to celebrate their W. He’s covered in blood, as he’s been savagely killing any Redcoat left even a little bit alive on the battlefield, and Prince Charlie is so turned off by the bloodlust that he banishes Dougal. He clearly has no idea that soldiers like Dougal are who win the wars, disgusting as they may be. Quick thinking and clever wordplay from Jamie keeps his uncle in the game, and he even gets him a promotion to the brand new Scottish Dragoon. Chuck keeps himself the kind of soldier he needs, and Dougal gets to keep on fighting for his country; it’s a pretty win-win scenario, and he might even owe Jamie a little bit of a debt for that one.
If things weren’t tense enough, all of a sudden Angus keels over with blood pouring out of his mouth. That cannonball to the back was a pretty serious thing (who wouldn’t have thought that?), and he’s been sitting around internally bleeding this whole time. It’s a sad, useless skill to be able to know the outcome of a war and future of a country but not be able to save your friends, and Claire watches helplessly as Angus dies in her arms. Angus was irritating, gross, and sexist, but they didn’t have to kill him off. Or was this a favor to him? Is dying after a victory an easier way to go than dying on a battlefield of a fight they’re going to lose? The remaining men sing a dirge, which sounds suspiciously like a drinking song, and Claire and Jamie and Murtaugh know they’re one step closer to the war that’s going to kill Scotland.
Outlander S2E10 = 6.8/10