Welcome back! This week, the Jacobite army plans their strategy, Jamie leads his men into battle, and Claire attends to the wounded soldiers. If your eyes stayed dry through this episode, you did better than I!
We open with bagpipes and drums, snow, and a maggot-infested body that Claire has stumbled upon in the woods. Claire reflects on death, and how many men she has seen die as a result of war. Too many. She’s afraid that history won’t be rewritten after all. The scene is fairly graphic, and Claire’s reverie is gratefully disrupted by Jamie’s irritated yell. “Claire! How long d’ye need to take a simple piss?” Despite Jamie’s comic relief, the tone has been set.
“We sailed from France to fight a war. Let us fight!”
Back at camp, there is dissent among the ranks. A bog separates the Jacobite army from the British. The leaders argue. Should we attempt to cross the bog? Go back to Edinburgh? Make the British come to us? Bonnie Prince Charlie (BPC), who is proving to be a terrible leader, says that they’ve taken cities without firing shots. Jamie points out that it was because General Cope wasn’t expecting them, and they won’t have the element of surprise again. BPC wants to politely ask the English to surrender. Of course, that’s completely batshit, but the men gloss over it, telling him that he’s too kind. The men continue to argue, making no progress.
BPC pulls Jamie aside for a word. “Our cause must succeed, James. I’ve promised my father, and I’ve promised God.” BPC asks if Claire will be providing medical assistance. Jamie replies yes, she’s setting about constructing a field hospital as we speak. BPC drops a bomb. He wants the British soldiers attended to before the Jacobites. Jamie is appalled, and warns him not to say things like that in front of any of the men, nor will Claire follow such an order. “From her prince, perhaps not,” BPC snivels, “but from her Lord and master, yes.” Ugh! Jamie kisses his hand, disgusted. “Aye.”
The natives are restless
The men of the camp sit in stormy silence, drinking, eating, and napping. Rupert and Angus are up to shenanigans as usual, and annoy one of the other soldiers–Ross or Kincaid, the failed guardsmen. The situation escalates until Angus pulls his dirk, and Murtagh gets pissed. “Put that blade down, or I’ll ram it up yer arse until you taste it!” This wakes up Dougal, who is in no mood for nonsense. Jamie happens by and scolds the lot of them. “Ye are getting along as well as our commanders,” he jokes. The men ask if they finally have orders. Nope.
“I want to prove my mettle to the Prince, to Lord Murray, and the rest of these jackaknapes.”
Jamie mentions that what might actually be useful to them is reconnaissance of the marshland that stands between them and the British army, to see if the earth is firm enough for them to cross. Bear in mind, the British are visible beyond the bog. The two armies are simply camped on opposite sides of an maybe-impassable wetland. Dougal thinks that recon would be suicide, and the two discuss the practical range of British rifles. Jamie says it can be done, the recon man just has to be “prudent, and lucky.” Dougal asks if he’s volunteering himself for the job, then jokes that BPC would have Jamie’s head for risking his life–he’s too much a trusted part of the Jacobite leadership. Jamie agrees, but says he’s going to do it anyway. Dougal decides he’d rather do it himself, and figures that riding out 125 yards or so and staying out of the way of any bullets ought to do the trick.
Jamie agrees to the insane plan, and Dougal starts across the marsh, in broad daylight, as the men look on. The British men are there, too, watching from the other side. They’re starting to get nervous. The British rank up and march towards the bog. Can Dougal stay out of range? Even BPC is in on it now. “What an extraordinary fellow…” Angus tells him that it’s “Dougal MacKenzie, an old friend of mine. And you are?” BPC introduces himself and Angus pretends to fangirl a little bit.
“The hero of the hour has shat his pants.”
Dougal starts (literally) getting bogged down, and the British start firing. The bullets are within inches. Dougal drops off his horse and starts pulling the animal out of the mud. A bullet whizzes through his hat, knocking it off and nicking his head. Dougal chuckles. “I think we’ve learned all we need to know. That’s quite enough.” He narrowly makes it back as the Highland army cheers. BPC fangirls for real over Dougal, then basically says yeah, eff that, we’re not charging through that swamp. The rest of the higher-ups lose their shit, and one suggests that they just go back to Edinburgh if they’re not willing to fight. BPC isn’t impressed with that plan, either. “And wait for the British to lay siege to the city?” Jamie hands Dougal a drink. “You’re a lucky bastard.” Dougal smirks and jokingly excuses himself to change his breeks.
Mr. Anderson, I presume.
Meanwhile, Claire is schooling a group of ladies on how to attend to the wounded, when the time comes. She puts Fergus in charge of keeping all of the fires lit for hot water, and he’s disappointed–he wants to fight with the men. Later that day, Fergus brings a young man in to see Claire–Mr. Anderson. Anderson lives on the land and has knowledge of it, and says that there’s a small, hidden trail that the highlanders can use to catch the British unawares–and it bypasses the bog. Claire is visibly nervous, and you can see her considering whether or not to let this one go. The young man asks to see an officer and she reluctantly sends Fergus to fetch Jamie.
“Fortune falls out of the sky and onto our heads. Convenient, is it not?”
We cut to Claire and the men strategizing with Anderson. The General is skeptical of the whole enterprise. The kid says he can’t fight, but he can get them to the British. BPC is nervous, but says hell with it, let’s go for it. Outside, Murtagh broods. He and Jamie talk, and Murtagh reveals that he’s troubled by the concept of fate, and a meaningful death. Their army is so big that their deaths won’t matter in the grand scheme. Jamie doesn’t have any comforting words for him. “In Paris, I almost lost my marriage, trying to stop all this from happening. I failed.” Murtagh corrects him. “We failed.”
Murtagh’s Snape moment
Fergus begs Jamie and Claire to be allowed to fight with the men. Both say no. Angus wants a kiss from Claire. She obliges, calling him shameless, and Rupert refuses a kiss, thinking it’s bad juju to even pretend you might not be coming back. Murtagh and Claire have a moment. “Watch over Jamie,” she says. “Always,” says Murtagh. Cue the tears from me. Claire tells the men that they’ll win, this day. She and Jamie kiss, and it’s steamy. She chokes back tears and whispers in his ear, “On your way, soldier.” At this point, I was fully sobbing. He bows to her on his way out as the tears stream down Claire’s face.
“All of Scotland is in your debt.”
The army sneaks through a foggy night, led by Jamie and Anderson. Claire orders the ladies to get some sleep, but nobody moves. Fergus has gone missing–he’s stolen off with the army, of course. As the sunrise begins to pierce the fog, Anderson takes his leave. Jamie sends him off with thanks, then asks Lord Murray to make sure that BPC stays put and out of harm’s way. The Prince is, of course, indignant. “Must I remind you that this is MY army?” He wants to lead his own men into battle. Jamie manages to talk him out of that particular disaster.
“There’s nothing more I can do.”
The mood is somber as Claire prepares for her day. She pep-talks the ladies. “Our men are depending on us. We will not let them down!” The men prepare to do battle, and I haven’t stopped crying yet. Wee Fergus has a knife! Jamie is out in front of the men. He gallantly pulls his sword and shield, and leads the charge. It’s an eerie, emotional scene, which almost immediately becomes bloody. The women can hear the shouting from the battle all the way back at camp. We swap back and forth between Claire stitching up wounds and the men fighting for their lives. Ross or Kincaid dies on Claire’s table, and it’s ugly.
Post-heat of battle, the dead lie everywhere. Fergus looks traumatized. The redcoats are shouting to stand their ground, and the British prisoners arrive at Claire’s hospital. Claire has them sorted according to severity of injury. Angus comes in, supporting Rupert on his shoulder. He shouts for Claire’s help. “You must save him, missus!” It’s a bad wound, and Angus is crying. Claire sews Rupert up, but is noncommittal about his chances. Angus refuses to leave Rupert’s side.
“I had a knife. I struck him.”
Jamie and Murtagh return, all smiles. “The day is ours, Sassenach.” The two embrace, and Jamie excitedly describes the battle while she inspects him. Thankfully, he is whole. She asks about Fergus and rushes outside to find him looking even more traumatized than before. He confesses that he killed an English soldier. Claire holds him in stunned silence.
Meanwhile, Dougal is surveying the dead, stabbing anyone who is still drawing breath. The young redcoat that helped Dougal and Claire in an earlier episode is there, dying. He asks for Dougal’s help in getting him to safety, and warns that while the Scots have won the battle, they’re sure not to win the war. Dougal says he’ll see him in hell, and guts him. Holy crap, Dougal.
True warrior, or bloodthirsty barbarian?
Back at the hospital, BPC arrives and praises Claire and Jamie for their work. Dougal storms in, charged with adrenaline, and interrupts. He spots a redcoat and becomes furious that Claire has been sewing up both sides. He tries to stab the British men as Jamie holds him back. BPC is appalled, and reminds Dougal that they’re his father’s subjects, and also human beings. “My God, sir, where is your Christian charity?” He chucks Dougal out of the army. Dougal is ashamed and turns to leave, but Jamie takes up for him. “Dougal MacKenzie is a true warrior.” BPC isn’t having it, but Jamie suggests they promote him: “Captain of the newly formed Highland Dragoons.” He proposes that they give Dougal some men and have him follow the British army and report back. The best part? BPC won’t have to lay eyes on him again. The Prince goes for it. “You are in his debt, rogue.” Dougal thanks Jamie profusely, then pulls him close. “You champion me and exile me at the same time. That’s a plan worthy of my brother, Colum.” Jamie smiles wryly.
Down among the dead men
Slumped at the bedside of his best friend, Angus begins seizing and spitting up blood. He’s been bleeding internally all day from a cannon blast he failed to mention, and there’s nothing Claire can do. She holds him through his terrifying death. As the group sits there in shock, Rupert awakens with a mighty groan, sees Angus’ body, and silently takes up his sword, just as they planned. Outside, the men celebrate their victory, which is far less sweet for our heroes in the wake of Angus’ death. “War tastes bitter no matter the outcome,” Jamie remarks. He adds that Claire was right about their victory that day. She reminds him that unfortunately, that means she’s also likely to be right about Culloden–the future is more set in stone than they had hoped.
- Angus was tremendous this episode (and R.I.P.!), but I’ve got to give a shout-out to Roman Berrux, the actor playing Fergus. He is truly wonderful.
- Ross and Kincaid making arrangements with one another should they die in battle was a nice touch. It inspired our favorite dynamic duo, Angus and Rupert, to do the same. Angus leaves Rupert his sword, his dirk, his sporran, and “Scarlett the whore.” Nice. Ross and Kincaid weren’t much more eloquent. One asks the other to take care of his wife should he die, and that he’ll do the same. The other replies “You mean she-devil and the six bairns? I wouldna wish them on any man!”
- She-devil and the six bairns is a stellar band name. Maybe after the war, Rupert and Ross/Kincaid can get that going.
- I enjoyed BPC’s remark as Jamie was cajoling him off of the battlefield. Jamie says that the King won’t enjoy the victory if it costs him his son. “Mark me, I don’t believe my father is all that fond of me,” BPC muses. Yeah, I know how he feels.
- I enjoyed the initial celebrating of the victory. At one point Jamie had a literal pissing contest with a British soldier, which had no right to be as charming as it was.
- My heart broke at the last scene as Rupert and Ross or Kincaid–whichever one that survived–drank and sang together, each mourning the loss of their best friend. Perhaps they can find some comfort in each other.
Join me next week for Episode 11, “Vengeance is Mine,” as the rebellion continues.
Image Credits: Sweatpants & Coffee.