Previously on Outlander, “Prestonpans”
Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army is marching towards what we know will be the epic slaughter at Culloden–well, they’re inching. Okay, technically, they’ve come to a complete standstill, since none of the northern English or other Scottish Jacobite support has come through. They just don’t have enough men to take London, plus they’re almost completely surrounded by British armies just waiting for them to make their move. It’s a bad time to usurp the throne. For some reason, Jamie agrees with Chuck’s terrible military tactics even though it’s clearly the wrong move, but it’s a last-ditch effort to change the future. It fails miserably, and Jamie and his men are sent back to Lallybroch to wait out the winter. That’s good news! If they’re at Lallybroch they won’t be fighting, and they won’t die in battle–everyone lives!
If only everyone and their mother didn’t have it out for Jamie. At the height of petty, Prince Charlie’s other advisors convince him to send the lot to Inverness instead of home and then disappear before Jamie can confront them. This episode should have come with a fold-out map for any of this to make sense, so the thing to know is that Inverness is a hell of a lot closer to Culloden than it is to Lallybroch. It makes pretty grim marching orders for the few who know what’s coming.
Halfway back to Inverness the Lallybroch men are ambushed by the British, and they have to make a mad gallop through the woods to hope for any chance of escape. I would never have believed that you could hide a horse behind a tree, but Jamie and company do just that and manage to lose the Brits in the woods. They make it out alive, but not before Rupert gets shot through the motherfucking eyeball.
This war business is starting to get real; people are dying for this snot-nosed, weak-chinned, tantrum-throwing royal brat who sneaks off in the middle of the night instead of facing any of the dangers.
Our men take refuge in an empty church, and through the miracle of “we can’t lose another character”, Claire manages to save Rupert’s life (though not his eyeball). When they discover they’re surrounded by the British, Claire uses her English-woman-hostage ploy again and Dougal bargains her away for their safety. She knows Jamie will always come for her, even though just about every time he does he almost gets killed, and the soldiers whisk her and her English virtue away from danger. When the soldiers stop for the night, she runs into Monroe, the mute beggar from last season, who you probably forgot about completely, and as she’s redirected to her new location she slips him a note to tell Jamie where she’s going.
That new location? The house of the Duke of Sandringham. Sonofabitch! It’s lucky for us that the Duke is one of the very best characters to kill a half-hour with, and the chewed up scenery drips from his jaws while he and Claire tête–à–tête over drinks. He doesn’t give Claire up to the British–she is Red Jamie’s wife, after all–so he can use her to escape his house arrest when her inevitable rescuer arrives. Seems the Crown remembers when the Duke was a Jacobite loyalist, and they’re not gonna get burned twice. Since we’re dragging old characters out of nowhere, Mary Hawkins is here, too! She’s the Duke’s Goddaughter, and to further cement his British sensibilities he’s promised her second-rate hand in marriage to some old British guy.
Claire attempts to talk the Duke out of it, because she wouldn’t be Claire if she minded her own damn business, and the next fifteen minutes get blown all to hell. She discovers that the Duke’s valet is the rapist from Paris, and that the whole incident was arranged between the Duke and the Comte St. Germain (rest his soul) to settle a debt. The letter she and the Duke sent to Jamie earlier is really a trap, and the Duke is going to turn him over. She gets locked in her room, and in her attempt to escape she gets caught by the Duke again (and not because she didn’t take off those clacking heels).
Mary interrupts right before Jamie and Murtaugh burst in, because of course they knew it was a trap. Mary recognizes the valet as her rapist, and as the whole story is screamed out by Claire, meek little Mary straight up stabs him in the kidneys. While everyone watches, a little bit aghast, Murtaugh picks up the kitchen axe and takes a swing or five at Sandringham when he turns around. When the Duke and his head are no longer attached, Murtaugh picks up the bloody head and puts it in front of Claire.
“I lay your vengeance at your feet.”
Outlander S2E11 = 8.6/10