Previously on Outlander, “The Fox’s Lair”
After last week’s Outlander-shaped nap of an episode, I was really dreading the rest of this season, so this episode was a relief when it (finally) got interesting and stayed interesting. When Claire and Jamie and what’s left of Lord Lovat’s men finally meet up with Murtaugh and Fergus and the Lallybroch gang, they make a pretty pitiful version of an army. There’s barely enough of them for a pickup game, and the majority of them are farmers. Farmers historically don’t make for good soldiers (or basketball players). Dougal MacKenzie shows up with his “army”, which is just Rupert and Angus and a few other fellas who don’t mind disobeying Collum’s Indifference Treaty.
Jamie has to prove to the men that he’s their General, especially Dougal, who is chomping at the bit to get in on the war action. He spends a lot of his time undermining everything Jamie says and does and thinks and orders until Jamie finally has to whack him with a rolled up newspaper. It works, though, because every time Dougal gets a shit order from Jamie, his eye gleams a little with pride… maybe even respect? The men also have to learn to be soldiers, and they’ve got Drill Sergeant Murtaugh and a few wicked training montages to make it happen.
It’s during all of this training that Claire realizes–or maybe doesn’t realize, but we do–that she is suffering from some post-traumatic stress. Every crack of a rifle or yelling of an order brings back pieces of memories she has purposefully squashed down. Everyone at camp notices Claire’s weirdness (especially Angus, who receives a whole new asshole when Claire notices his impending trench foot), and Jamie finally forces her to talk: after making friends with two very young American soldiers, she had to hide in a ditch and watch them die when their car came under enemy fire. She was helpless and alone and stuck “like a dragonfly in amber”, and then I have no idea what she said after that because I was so distracted by that clunky name drop (spoiler: there are a lot of books, and book two is called Dragonfly in Amber).
I then started a mental list of all of the terrible times a title of a thing has been said in the thing, and wondered if there is some sort of writer’s room bet where everyone puts in 5 bucks and whomever’s name drop makes it through the rewrites wins the pot. Was her speech important? Possibly. Will I sleep tonight never knowing what she said? I’m going to have to.
Even though Dougal’s men are on sentry duty, one tiny little British soldier sneaks his way into camp and has his knife at Jamie’s throat before he’s discovered. Luckily, Jamie has cat-like reflexes and the assassin, who in the light is really just a kid, becomes the captive. Claire walks in on Jamie about to torture some location information out of the him and plays a charade on the kid to get him to talk, which he does; when Jamie spares him, he swears that he owes this Red Jamie a life but also promises to kill him, and William Grey never goes back on his word.
With the location of the nearest British troops at hand, Jamie leads an old-school raiding party (sans Dougal, to Dougal’s nostril-flaring dismay) to the Redcoat camp, but instead of slaughtering them in their sleep, he steals away all of the cannon wheels and pins. Cannons can change the direction of a war, but only when you can roll them into place, right?
The Brits are going to wake up and know someone has been sleeping in their bed, so Jamie has his army pack up that night to head to Bonnie Prince Charlie’s main camp. Another sick montage of the boys marching, because by now they’ve totally got marching down, and Dougal is given the honor of flying the Frazer colors into the camp to announce their arrival and their allegiance.
Outlander S2E9 = 6.7/10