Outlander: Prestonpans   Books Included 
June 12, 2016 3:36 AM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Jamie relies upon Claire's knowledge of history to lead the Jacobite army into a crucial battle; Claire is reminded of the true cost of war as she attends to the dead and dying.

A/V Club review (B+):
There are individual scenes that really drive home the true cost of war, but some scenes are too mechanical and detached for their own good, especially in the scenes that precede the battle.
IGN review:
...after so much build up all season to a conflict between the Scots and the British, the first half of this episode began to drag in anticipation of that battle. Fortunately Outlander stuck the landing, with some great showcasing of the horrors of war and a true sense of loss that resonates with the characters and viewers.
The Scots have conquered Perth and Edinburgh through a surprise attack in which General Cope and his men quickly retreated. Now they are gathered on opposite sides of the marshy fields at Prestonpans.

The highlanders are bored and picking fights. Charles wants the English to surrender; Jamie wants the English to come to them. The Scottish lords are fighting amongst themselves. Charles and his generals are undecided.

Dougal, in typical MacKenzie dramatic fashion and to get the attention of Charles, rides into the marsh in daylight to test the ground and gauge the English firing range (presumably the wheel-less cannons are still in transit). He gets a hole shot in his bonnet for his troubles and gets an affectionate and excited hug from the Prince on return. The marsh is too soft and neither side can cross it.

Claire, meanwhile, is marshalling the squad of medics (and a fidgety Fergus). She receives a young Scot who tells of a way to cross the marsh -- which probably would have been valuable information a few hours earlier. It can only be found by someone who knows it. Charles' advisors, Jamie include, push to move quickly, with a disturbing amount of trust and without confirming the truth of the story.

The men, knowing battle is coming, make plans in case of their deaths. Angus offers Rupert his sword and dirk, and his sporran "and all that it contains". Rupert thinks wee Angus is daft, especially when Angus says he can have his hoor -- sorry, "part-time hoor and full-time barmaid". Rupert refuses to take part in such shenanigans.

Murtagh talks about the meaninglessness of one death in a war. Five hundred, a thousand, would have to die before those deaths have meaning.

Claire farewells the men before they leave for battle, and then it's BattleDome time. Luckily it turns out the secret path around the marsh is real, and the Scots (and sneaky Fergus) have the advantage of thick fog and surprise. Charles looks like he's going to crap himself, but he's in the front of the army along with Jamie and Dougal. Jamie has him sent to the back of the troops, and Charles behaves quite nobly for a pasty royal, insisting he stay at the front. Probably this should have been decided before they arrived on the battlefield, though.

The Scots charge in kilts and shirts, with swords and spears, and take the English completely by surprise. Claire and the other women are soon busy tending to the wounded and the dead, including one of the Lallybroch farmers. Fergus and young John Grey are both frozen in the heat of battle on their respective sides.

Rupert is sliced by an English sword and Angus shoots down the soldier before being hit himself by cannonfire. He brings Rupert to Claire, who stitches him up and checks Angus for concussion. Jamie follows soon after to announce that the Scots have won the day. The battle was over in fifteen minutes, with fewer than fifty men lost.

Claire finds Fergus, who is in shock after killing an English soldier. She sends him off to rest. In the infirmary, she discovers Jamie was stepped on by a horse during the English retreat, so she tells him to pee in a jar in order to check his kidneys. He amuses the English and Scottish soldiers present by accepting a challenge to reach the jar from six feet, and of course no one can pee on this show without someone walking in, so the Prince enters midstream.

Charles is making a fine speech about how England and Scotland are one country, and how much it hurts to see Englishmen being injured in battle, when Murderous Berserker Viking Dougal storms in to do some extra damage, having already dispatched any living wounded on the battlefield. The Prince is horrified and takes Dougal to task, kicking him out of the army.

Jamie fights on Dougal's behalf to have him made captain of the Highland Dragoons, effectively forming a raiding party to harass the retreating English and removing Dougal from the Prince's presence.

The Prince leaves, and misses the dirty death of wee Angus, who turned out to have been struck by the cannonball and bleeding internally through the night. Rupert gets up from his sickbed and takes the sword from Angus's side.

Everybody cries, the end.
posted by tracicle (11 comments total)
Even though the death of either Rupert or Angus was telegraphed, along with the death of one of the two cottar farmers from Lallybroch, it was still incredibly sad. The two clowns of the show, Rupert will never be the same.

The battle scene was amazing, but it was weird how the focus was on the Lallybroch/MacKenzie soldiers, with Charles at the front of them, so it seemed like they were the whole army. It felt like they were super short on extras. Still, the image of them appearing out of the fog like the Vikings they descended from was perfect, and the battle itself was beautifully shot. Poor Fergus did an amazing job; the actor is very talented.

I liked the look on Jamie's face when the Prince is all, "just tell Claire what I want her to do; she'll listen to her lord and master [Jamie]". Yeah, that will totally happen.

This is the first episode where I really felt like Claire is actually telling someone her story in the voiceovers; presumably all this time Claire has been telling her story to her daughter or someone else (no spoilers).

I just realised I forgot again to put the "Books included" tag -- can an admin please help? Sorry!
posted by tracicle at 3:42 AM on June 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Got it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:43 AM on June 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

That bow Jamie gives Claire before he goes off to battle. *swoon*
posted by olinerd at 8:12 AM on June 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

So I take it that Angus' death was switched with Rupert's....IIRC in the book Colum died before they went off to fight (he didn't want to ,Dougal did and took control of the MacKenzies because Hamish was too young) and Angus was the one who announced it.

I'm curious to see how Colum's death will be handled.
posted by brujita at 11:16 AM on June 12, 2016

I'm curious to see how Dougal's will...it was Willie who discovered Jamie and Dougal in the books, but they've sent Willie off to America and DG has mentioned that show Willie isn't necessarily book Willie. Will it be Rupert at the important moment, now? That seems like a good fit. Angus in the books was with Dougal at Culloden, but switching out Willie for Angus in show for that moment wouldn't have worked, show Angus is much too much a loose cannon. Jamie would certainly have a better chance at getting Rupert to allow him the time he needs to get Claire to safety.

My stomach was a little too churny to keep a close eye on the battle, so I wasn't clear on if that fair-haired English soldier who lay down and went fetal was John Grey?
posted by angeline at 11:43 AM on June 12, 2016

IMDB lists him in only 1 episode this season; I don't think that LJ would be fighting with a broken arm.
posted by brujita at 12:46 PM on June 12, 2016

Me neither, but he was listed in the recap up there so I just wondered if I missed anything important, what with peeking sideways through my fingers for ten minutes. Eep.
posted by angeline at 1:42 PM on June 12, 2016

The pacing of the episode felt a little uneven, but it was totally worth it for the Claire/Jamie scenes, which were perfect, and Claire and poor little traumatized Fergus. I could have lived without the extended scene at the very beginning with the dudes arguing amongst themselves about battle strategy, I don't think that was a great hook into the episode.

I was sort of expecting Angus to die as the end of that fake-out when I saw how badly Rupert was wounded, but it was definitely still sad and horrifying. I'm going to be a mess when Culloden comes around.

Show Dougal is going so much more off the rails than book Dougal.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:06 PM on June 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oops, sorry. I thought the young soldier was Lord John, but you're right. I don't know what the timeframe is between their capture of LJG and Prestonpans but my assumption was that it was him because he is young and blonde and got camera time.
posted by tracicle at 8:23 AM on June 13, 2016

I totally thought that was Lord John, too, the camera focused on him for a while.

Also, Dougal killed Lt. Jeremy Foster! I liked the call back of having that guy show up again, and I really thought Dougal was going to bring him to Claire. Damn it, Dougal.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 10:43 AM on June 13, 2016

Show Dougal is really, really unhinged. I suppose there's a purpose to that, but I liked how Book Dougal was a bit less of an actual frothing fanatic.
posted by angeline at 12:04 PM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

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