In Sam Heughan’s favorite episode of the season, the Scots take on the English army at a high cost to the MacKenzie clan. Break out the tissues…
Recap – Episode #210 “Prestonpans”
War is coming. There’s no way around it. Claire and Jamie can only hope that they can change the outcome since Bonnie Prince Charlie is in Scotland. The prince clearly doesn’t have a head for battle and neither can he organize his advisors. His generals are split on the idea of attacking the English army or waiting for them to come to the Scots. The two army camps are within sight of each other, but this huge marsh stands in between.
Jamie and a few generals want to stay and keep the high ground. They don’t know if the marsh is solid enough that the men, horses and equipment can get through. If the ground is too soft, they’ll get stuck in the mud and be easy pickings for the English rifles.
Prince Charlie is puffed up with easy victories in Perth and Edinburgh when they had the element of surprise. Charlie thinks he can chat with the British general and offer him kind terms of surrender and he’ll accept. Um, the English won’t surrender when they haven’t even started to fight. These past few months haven’t made Charlie any smarter about what’s going to happen.
Charlie’s also surprised that the Scots are so stubborn (aren’t these your people, Your Highness?!?!). He also tells Jamie that, when the time comes, Claire should treat the British wounded before she treats the Scottish. Uh huh. He wants to make peace with the English and apparently making a gesture towards them is more important than saving his own men.
Jamie advises Prince Charlie not to tell his troops about this order and that Claire might not like it. Charlie thinks Claire will obey Jamie, “her lord and master.” Jamie shuffles his feet to avoid saying “you clearly don’t know Claire…”
Jamie joins up with his men and reports that there is no decision on what to do yet. He explains that they need to explore the marsh to figure out if it’s stable and wouldn’t it be nice if someone scouted it out? Since Jamie is one of Prince Charlie’s favorites, he can’t go, but Dougal is eager to secure Charlie’s favor.
The Scottish army and the British army watch Dougal as he bravely rides solo into range of the British rifles. Bonnie Prince Charlie expresses his admiration for the lone rider’s bravery. Although Dougal keeps his hands empty, the Brits grab their rifles and take shots at him just when he hits a particularly muddy patch. He has to dismount to get his horse out of the mud and an English sharpshooter shoots Dougal’s side cap off his head. It’s time to turn back!
Dougal returns to camp with the rousing approval of the Scottish army and their prince. Dougal gets his moment in the sun when Prince Charlie hugs him and strokes his beard. Dougal brings news that the land isn’t stable. Although they can’t charge the British army. Prince Charlie insists they stay and figure something out.
Claire sets up an infirmary and briefs the women on twentieth century medicine. A disappointed and restless Fergus will be helping in the infirmary doing “woman’s work.” He finds a local Scot that knows a path through the marsh so that the Scots can move their troops to the English. Ha!
With this new knowledge, the Scots plan a surprise attack and they prepare to leave that night. Angus hears Kincaid and Ross, two new Lallybroch recruits, make plans to take care of each other’s families in case something happens in the battle to come. Angus tells Rupert “what’s mine is yours” which includes his sword, dirk and woman if he’s to fall. Rupert does not accept since this talk of death is bad luck.
Murtagh is melancholy that being part of a bigger fighting force means that each individual death is less meaningful. These guys are definitely not going to war for the glory…
Claire knows that the Scots are supposed to win, but she doesn’t know who may survive and maybe the future has changed. Jamie and Claire say a tender farewell when Fergus interrupts. He asks to join the fighting, but Jamie turns him down. Like that’s worked with Fergus before!
Angus, Rupert and Murtagh say goodbye to Claire. Angus, as always, hopes for a kiss from Claire. She rolls her eyes and agrees. Rupert refuses to say goodbye since he wants to focus on a victory cheer later. Murtagh and Claire share a quiet look and she reaffirms that history is on their side. Then she and Jamie finally get that smooch before she sends him out with “on your way soldier,” to paraphrase her words to Jamie on the night they met and the night she decided to stay with him.
It’s a foggy morning which provides good cover for the Scots who have secretly traveled to the British camp. Jamie talks Prince Charlie out of joining the charge because that man is no soldier. Jamie says regaining the crown won’t mean as much to King James without his son at his side. Prince Charlie says his dad doesn’t really care for him, but it’s enough to convince him to stay back.
The men (and Fergus) charge the unsuspecting and sleepy English army. It’s bloody as the Scots invade the camp. Horses are charging and falling. Chaos, blood and bodies everywhere.
Claire’s infirmary is filling with patients when she notices that Ross is back with Kincaid slung over his shoulder. She examines Kincaid, but it’s too late. There’s nothing she can do for him.
Then the English wounded arrive at the infirmary and Claire gets ready to attend them when Angus appears with an injured Rupert. Rupert wakes up momentarily and wants to know if Angus is okay. Angus shrugs off his injury and is anxious that Claire work on sewing Rupert’s gut wound.
Flash back to battle: An officer on horseback charges and slashes Rupert across the belly. The officer returns for a killing blow when Angus shoots the officer. Then Angus gets hit by a cannonball.
Claire finishes Rupert’s stitches and says that he has a chance. She examines Angus who has a mild concussion, but he shrugs her off and wants to focus on Rupert. Claire wants Angus to stay awake which he promises as he watches over Rupert.
Jamie and Murtagh appear with the news: they’ve won with thousands of English dead and less than 50 Scots dead! A clear and decisive victory! Yay! But Claire is worried about Fergus. Jamie points her towards the courtyard. Fergus is healthy, but shell-shocked with his first kill. Poor lad!
Meanwhile, Dougal is still on the battlefield, even though the battle is over. He’s stabbing all the English bodies to make sure they are dead and not dying or playing possum. An injured Lt. Jeremy Foster recognizes Dougal and calls out his name. (Remember Foster? Back in season one, he was the chivalrous British officer that offered to rescue Claire if she was being held against her will by the Scots/Dougal. He brought Dougal and Claire to check in with his superior officer and that’s when Dougal met Black Jack for the first time.)
Dougal remembers him and calls Foster the only honorable redcoat. Lt. Foster requests medical assistance, but Dougal’s not done stabbing people and doesn’t want to leave. Lt. Fosters says he’s already had a great victory and Dougal beams that it’s the first of many. Man to man, Lt. Foster says that a war chief should know that the British will prevail in the end. Dougal stabs him and makes sure Foster is dead. Oh Dougal…
Back at the infirmary, Murtagh and Jamie join Angus and chuckle about past Rupert stories. Murtagh prepares to take a turn watching Rupert. Claire notices a horseshoe imprinted on Jamie’s shirt and Jamie admits that a horse stepped on him. Claire hands him the equivalent of a 18th century glass specimen jar and orders Jamie to fill it to see if he’s peeing blood – a sign that his kidney’s been injured.
Jamie sees an wounded English officer and jokes that the officer should hold the cup while he takes aim. The officer laughs and challenges Jamie to fill the cup from a distance. (He puts it in on the ground). Jamie goes to work when Bonnie Prince Charlie enters the room. Jamie finishes and Prince Charlie praises Jamie.
With the English wounded present, Prince Charlie starts to monologue about being one country when Dougal, still pumped up on bloodlust, enters and attempts to stab all the English. Prince Charlie interrupts (oops, Dougal didn’t see him), and he grabs Dougal by the beard. (He has a thing for stroking Dougal’s beard…don’t we all?)
Charlie is ashamed of Dougal and wants him banished. Jamie suggests that Dougal is a great warrior and should be put in charge of a troop of dragoons who will shadow the English troops and promises that Prince Charlie will never see Dougal again. This way, Prince Charlie can use his skills, but avoid the barbarian. Charlie agrees and in one move, Jamie has promoted and exiled Dougal. Dougal thanks Jamie for saving his face in a move that’s “worthy of Colum MacKenzie.”
Dougal goes to grab Angus when Angus falls over and starts to choke on his own blood. Claire gets a good look at Angus and sees that the cannonball struck him straight on and he’s been internally bleeding overnight. There’s nothing she can do for him as he violently chokes to death.
Suddenly Rupert gets up and makes his way over to Angus to grab his sword, as Angus had wanted.
That night, the Scots celebrate their victory. Rupert and Ross are completely drunk as both men lost their BFFs. Dougal is shell-shocked and stares into the fire. Murtagh, Jamie and Claire are melancholy. Claire was right about Prestonpans which means she’s probably right about Culloden, too.
Reflection – what did we think?
Erica: Not Angus!!!!!!!!! He was such a fun, crazy character and more fully fleshed out than in the books. RIP Angus! RIP Angus’ eyebrows!
Alicia:I’m still crying. Literal tears streaming. I’m gonna miss that crazy wee man
Erica: This is Sam’s favorite episode and I can see why – its more Jamie-centric than any other this season and its more about showing wisdom and strength. My favorite episode in Scotland this season…so far!
Alicia:Yeah, Jamie really gets to show off his intellect and cunning in this episode. We hear about how’s been trained but now we get to actually see it.
Erica: I loved the cameo by Lt. Foster from season one! He was such a vivid character in a small part that it’s nice to see him again. However brief, it was nice to see he was noble until the end.
Alicia: I feel everyone did a great job in this one. Last episode was a little flat, but this one was exciting, and heartbreaking…ANGUS!!!! :’-(
Erica: With Dougal in exile from Colum and Prince Charlie and with Angus gone (sob!), the MacKenzies won’t be the same.
—–BOOK READERS DISCUSSION – (Spoiler Alert!!)———————————
Erica: Well, this is the biggest departure yet from the book. As a TV show, I think this story make sense on its own. I’m curious to see how things progress. They did promise to keep book readers on their toes! I think some of these changes are to set up the big Dougal/Jamie fight scene. If Dougal is more of a bad guy, then Jamie is less of a bad guy for killing his blood-thirsty backstabbing uncle. I’m curious as to what Dougal’s exact trigger for the attack will be.
Alicia: I guess, but I don’t think you need to vilify Dougal more than he does himself naturally. But I can see how they’re playing up the split and growing animosity toward Jamie from Dougal’s perspective. Not to mention they took out his whole visiting France and helping Claire get Jamie out of the Bastille…so it’ll be interesting to see what they continue to do with this relationship leading up to that big moment.
Erica: Do you think we’ll see Colum again? I think his character already said goodbye.
Alicia: Which I take issue with because the actual scene when Colum shows up is kind of a big deal in the book and the fact they – for some reason – shied away from it makes no sense to me. So we probably won’t get that scene. Shame.
Erica: In Dragonfly in Amber, we don’t see Culloden since the flashbacks and the immediate aftermath are in Voyager. For the 90 minute season finale (OMG!), I think we’re going to see Culloden. I wonder how much we’ll see. Will we see Jamie vs Black Jack? We have to see Murtagh!
Alicia: I’m wondering if they’ll show us some of it. Or end the season with the battle starting. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate cliffhanger? I don’t know if that’s what they’ll do and I’m already getting angry and thrilled with the idea. How dare they? That’s awesome! 😛
Erica: Lol! This whole season is about Culloden so I think they have to include it. If they don’t, I think the fans may riot.
Alicia: While some of the changes they’ve made have bothered me, for the most part I like that there are some surprises thrown in for the readers, and that some characters do get a bit more screen time than they did page time. However, some did not need more screen time…*cough* Laoghaire *cough*
Erica: There was definitely a uproar about Leghair coming back. We have to wait quite some time to see the payoff of that new thread. Most of these changes are centered around justifying some of Jamie’s tougher choices — Dougal’s death and marrying that harpy. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a different emotional impact when it happens.
—–END OF BOOK READER DISCUSSION ——————————————————
Next week’s episode is the one we’ve been waiting for since they announced it at the Outlander panel at Comic Con last July! We finally get the episode that Diana Gabaldon wrote (with a very bloodthirsty title)!
Here’s the official Starz peek at the episode:
#211 “Vengeance is Mine”
Claire and the Highlanders are sent north after the Jacobite leaders decide to halt their march on London. A band of redcoats makes trouble for the Scots, leading to a most unexpected reunion for Claire.
Book readers can guess what this reunion will be about and we can’t wait to see how Herself will write this one!
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