Previously on Outlander: The rebellion began, Jamie gathered his men, and they trained for battle.
Claire stumbles across the fairly long-dead body of a Highlander who had the misfortune to run into a British patrol. She stares at the body, VOing her fears that they’d fail to change history for the better.
Charles meets with his lords and generals, who are all arguing one way or the other: attack now, don’t attack. Jamie points out that an attack would have to cross boggy ground, which is not good, so he suggests sending some cavalry ahead to check the ground and the British positions. Unfortunately, they don’t really have the dragoons to share. Predictably, things descend into a pissing/insult-hurling contest. Charles suggests meeting with General Cope and offering generous terms of surrender, to avoid a battle. The quartermaster tells him the time for talk is done, and now’s the time for fighting. A general doesn’t want to risk a bloodbath which earns him some more insults from the quartermaster. More arguing. Everyone leaves in a pissy mood.
Once alone, Charles asks Jamie why the Scots are so intractable and then they chat about Claire’s plans to set up a field hospital. Charles asks Jamie to send a message ordering Claire to tend to the British wounded before the Jacobites. Woah, Charles. Are you an idiot? Yes, treat all the wounded, by all means, but purposely treat the British before your own supporters? You’ll have no supporters left once that news gets out! Jamie warns him not to talk like that within earshot of the men.
Angus and Rupert are being assholes, Angus spitting water at one of the other men sitting around their campfire. The guy finally tells them to desist, like any sensible adult. Angus mocks them for being mere cotters but they remind him that they’re all there for the same cause, so maybe lay off? Angus calls them cowards, they yell back, he threatens to cut the poor guy’s throat, Murtagh intervenes. These guys clearly need something to do. Jamie swings by and tells Angus to chill. They ask if there’s any movement anticipated and Jamie says no, but mentions that someone needs to go on the suicide mission that is checking out that marshy ground.
He pulls Dougal aside and asks what he figures the odds are for a man riding out and testing the sturdiness of the land. Dougal doesn’t think they’re great and warns Jamie not to get any crazy ideas in his head. Dougal offers to go, which is pretty much what Jamie intended. Dougal says he needs to prove himself to Charles and the others anyway, so this’ll be a good opportunity to do so. Jamie warns him not to go any closer than 125 yards. Dougal’s like, ‘yeah, I’ll just estimate.’
Dougal mounts up and starts riding, attracting the notice of the men, who follow him to the edge of the marshy land. Dougal spreads his arms wide, to show the British he means no harm. They point and laugh, then lazily get up, load their muskets and get in place. Charles joins Jamie and comments that Dougal’s an extraordinary fellow. Angus proudly tells him who Dougal is.
Dougal’s horse gets caught in some deep bog, just as the British begin firing away. His horse gets too scared to move, so Dougal dismounts and leads it away. One of the soldiers shoots straight through Dougal’s hat, just skimming his head with the bullet. Dougal figures they’ve learned all they need to know, remounts and gallops back to his friends, who all cheer loudly. Charles grins and applauds, then embraces Dougal as soon as he dismounts. Dougal regretfully tells him the ground is no good and Charles agrees. The Quartermaster is not happy, but the General suggests they return to Edinburgh. Charles vetos that, telling the General to find a way to break the stalemate, or he’ll be replaced.
Jamie gives Dougal a well-earned bottle of whisky and tells him to go ahead and get that head wound looked at. Dougal shrugs it off as a scratch, but admits he’s just shat himself. Can’t really blame him for that.
Claire has gathered some of the ladies for Field Hospital 101 orientation. They have no doctor, so it’s all on them. She starts delegating responsibilities while Fergus screws around, clearly bored and annoyed that he’ll be left behind.
Later, Fergus comes running in with a man, Anderson, who apparently has some important information for someone in charge. Anderson tells Claire that there’s a way down through the ridge that the Highlanders could use to surprise the British. Claire sends Fergus to find Jamie.
Anderson is taken to see General Murray, Jamie and Charles and tells them where this secret spot is. Murray wonders if they can trust Anderson, but since Anderson’s willing to show them the way personally, I think they probably can. Claire thanks him for his help. Charles frets and wishes the Quartermaster was there to share his thoughts, but since he’s not, they have to press on. Charles is nervous but issues the go-ahead.
Ross, one of the crofters from earlier, tells his friend and fellow crofter that he’ll gladly look after his friend’s farm and family should the worst happen, and he hopes his friend will do the same for Ross. Angus and Rupert overhear and Angus gruffly tells Rupert he can have his sword, dirk and sporran, if Angus should fall. Rupert doesn’t seem to want to consider the worst possible scenario and tells Angus not to go calling the fates down on their heads here,.
Jamie finds Murtagh sharpening his dirk over and over again and invites him to speak freely. Murtagh admits that this feels empty, somehow. In a raid, every man has a role to play and the success or failure can hinge on just one person’s actions. But in something huge, like a battle, you’re just one of a bunch of men, and a bunch of deaths, and it would take a lot of deaths for any of it to have meaning. It bothers him is all. Jamie has no comfort to offer and can only say that he feels much the same way Murtagh does.
Jamie goes to Claire and urges her to get some rest, but she really can’t. Fergus comes running over and offers himself up as a soldier, but Jamie says he’s needed back at the camp to protect Claire. Fergus is not pleased.
Angus and Rupert come by to collect Jamie and Angus requests a kiss from Claire, reminding her that he could very well die and this may be his last request. She kisses him on the cheek. Rupert refuses to acknowledge the possibility of any of their deaths and tells Claire they’ll see her when they’re victorious. They leave and Claire quietly asks Murtagh to look after Jamie. He will, of course. He asks her if history says they’ll win this day and she says it does. They do not acknowledge the fact that they’ve already messed with the timeline so much it’s very possible that outcome has been completely changed, but it makes him feel better, I guess, to have the reassurance. He, too, leaves, so Claire and Jamie can have a tender parting.
Anderson leads the men through the woods, and I have to say, they’re remarkably quiet for such a large crowd. Charles is with them, and I have to give him credit for that.
Claire goes to the field hospital and orders all the women to get some rest. They totally ignore her and continue with their work. She looks around and asks if anyone’s seen Fergus.
Of course not, because he’s snuck away with the men.
At foggy daybreak, Jamie thanks Anderson and sends him on his way, then tells Murray to make sure Charles stays well back and safe. Charles protests that it’s his right and his destiny to lead his men into battle. Jamie agrees, but also points out that this rebellion needs its focal point, and the Stuart dynasty needs an heir. Charles reluctantly agrees.
Claire moves around the hospital, checking on preparations, then gives the ladies a little rallying speech.
The Highlanders get ready to move, shrugging off cloaks, readying weapons. Jamie waves them forward and they charge through the mist, surprising the sleeping Redcoats.
The women at the hospital can hear the screams of the charging men. One woman begins to pray.
The battle’s getting fierce. Blood is spilled, men cut down and sliced open. It’s pretty brutal. The British start to pull it together and start firing cannon.
Claire finds Ross at the hospital, carrying his friend. She checks on the friend, but he’s already dead. She tells Ross how sorry she is. He just looks down at his pal, sadly.
Back at the battle, Fergus is starting to look dazed and like he’s really regretting having tagged along. He’s sprayed with blood. The British are fleeing, despite one of their officers urging them on. Frustrated, he goes after the first Highlander he sees: Rupert.
Redcoats begin arriving at the field hospital. Claire orders them looked after. Angus comes in, helping Rupert limp along, and screams for Claire to help them RIGHT NOW. She checks him out and finds a giant gash in Rupert’s side. She calls for needle and thread so she can close the wound immediately. Rupert weakly asks if Angus was blown up and Angus dismisses that as just a cannon blast—nothing at all! Yeah, 18th-century artillery was nothing to worry about! Claire gets to work stitching the wound shut. Angus flashes back to the British officer turning around to take another swipe at Rupert, only to be shot dead by Angus. As Angus admires his own shot, a cannonball lands nearby, blowing Angus into the air.
Claire has finished up with Rupert. Angus asks if he’s likely to survive and Claire gives him fairly decent odds before checking out Angus, who seems remarkably ok. She tells him he can sit by his friend, but not to fall asleep.
Jamie bursts in, absolutely covered in blood, and tells Claire that they’ve won and General Cope is retreating. British losses were high, but the Highlanders only lost about 50 men. Claire asks if he knows where Fergus is and Jamie tells her to look outside. She hurries out and finds Fergus sitting there amongst the wounded, looking a bit shocked. Claire embraces him, scolding him for going and asking if he’s ok. He stammers that he killed an English soldier. At least, he thinks he did. She hugs him again and tells him how sorry she is, then checks him out for any injuries. He reassures her he’s ok, just very tired. Next time, you tend the damn fires, kid! Claire takes him off to get him some food and a bed.
Dougal, marinated in bloodlust, wanders the battlefield finishing off the wounded soldiers he finds. One of them knows who he is: it’s Lieutenant Foster, who accompanied Dougal and Claire to Brockton, waaaay back in early season 1. Dougal remembers him as the only honourable Redcoat in General Thomas’s staff. Foster asks Dougal to help him to the infirmary but Dougal’s not interested in helping any Brit. Foster, probably figuring he’s a goner anyway, tells Dougal this is a lost cause. He may have won the battle, but he won’t win this war, because the British army can’t be defeated. Dougal responds by knifing the kid in the belly. Nice, Dougal.
Rupert’s apparently been put right beside Ross’s buddy. Ross finally brings himself to cover the dead man with a blanket. Angus solemnly crosses himself. Ross makes sure he’s aware that they fought bravely. Angus nods.
Murtagh comes in to see how Rupert’s doing and he, Jamie, and Angus agree that Rupert will probably be fine. They all have a drink, and Angus wanders a little way off. Claire notes a hoofprint on Jamie’s back. He says he was run over by a cavalry officer. She orders him to provide a massive urine sample so she can make sure his kidney wasn’t damaged. Jamie hands the jar to one of the Brits nearby and tells him to hold it while he takes aim. The Brit plays along, turning it into a bet about how far and how accurate Jamie can be. But before the literal pissing contest can begin, Charles shows up to thank Jamie for everything he did that day and to say how sad he is that they have to fight the British. He’s trying to extend a serious olive branch here, and it seems to be getting somewhere, but then Dougal comes in to start screaming about how they just won a great victory over a bunch of bastards. He then notes the British soldiers there and goes to attack them. Jamie intervenes and Charles sends him away in disgrace.
Jamie speaks up on Dougal’s behalf, saying he has a foolish tongue, but they need every warrior they can if they’re to win this war. Charles doesn’t see what he can do with some bloodthirsty barbarian and Jamie suggests they promote him to commander of a select group of dragoons whose sole purpose is to ride around making nuisances of themselves and harassing the British supply lines. Charles loves the idea and tells Dougal to mind he’s now in Jamie’s debt. Dougal does not seem all that delighted by the idea, but he does sincerely thank Jamie and says he hopes he won’t screw this up. But he does know that Jamie’s playing a political game here, getting Dougal banished.
He goes to ask Angus how Rupert’s doing, but Angus collapses onto the floor, choking up blood. Claire notes that his entire torso is now red and realises he’s been bleeding internally from the cannon blast. There’s nothing she can do. He slowly expires right before their eyes, clearly panicked, and it’s horrifying to watch. He was never my favourite character, to be honest, but geez, that was awful, and that must be an absolutely awful way to go.
Rupert has apparently woken up just in time for the show, and he hauls himself out of his bed and picks up Angus’s sword, clasping it sadly to his heart and stumbling back to bed. Aww.
The rest of the men drink and carouse and celebrate. Dougal sits moodily by the fire with Claire, Jamie and Murtagh, who all agree that this wasn’t as sweet a victory as they’d hoped. Claire stresses that the timeline will continue as she always knew it, and that Culloden will be a disaster.
Ross and Rupert come stumbling out of the infirmary, drunk, singing about dead men. Fitting, but still pretty depressing.