Previously on Outlander: Claire interfered in the relationship between Mary and Alex Randall but was then able to save Mary from the clutches of the Duke of Sandringham, so I guess they’re moving towards being even.
We’re just a few days from the Battle of Culloden (and, we later learn, Black Jack’s death, so, sad yay?). While Jamie’s rushing around trying to 1) prevent the battle (since the men are starving and dispirited) and, when that doesn’t work, 2) gathering as much intelligence on the British as he can in order to try and turn the tide at the last moment, Claire’s being tasked with easing a couple of people out of this world.
First up: Colum, who has travelled a very long way to ask Claire for an assisted suicide. He also tells her that Geillis Duncan was allowed to live long enough to deliver her son, and that the boy is being raised by some MacKenzie relatives. Claire gives him some yellow jasmine, for when he’s ready, but first Colum has some unpleasant family housekeeping to do. He calls Dougal and Jamie to his bedside and tells them he wants his son to be the next laird, under a guardianship. And that guardian shall be…Jamie. Dougal’s pretty upset to be passed over so conspicuously, especially since the boy is actually his son, but Colum’s sensible enough to know that Dougal would make a lousy guardian laird, so the situation stands. Dougal goes to his brother one last time, looking for some closure on their difficult relationship, but before he can fully get it, Colum takes the yellow jasmine and quietly dies. Dougal embraces him and weeps.
Second: poor, poor Alex Randall, whose TB is catching up with him, but at least he got to be happy with Mary for a little while. She, having tired of being passed from one odious fiance to another, has run away from her family and joined Alex up north, where he briefly held a job before his health collapsed entirely. Claire finds the girl at the apothecary shop, buying a lot of laudanum, and Mary gives her some well-deserved attitude for claiming to be a friend but undermining Mary’s and Alex’s relationship back in Paris. Mary, sensibly, is not angry enough to keep Claire from tending to Alex. Mary’s a bit frantic to have him better, because she loves him, and also, she’s pregnant.
Also concerned about Alex: his brother Jack, whose tenderness towards the dying man almost makes you forget he’s a horrible monster. Almost.
Like Colum, Alex has one last request for his brother: that Jack marry Mary so her child will have the Randall name and a father. Jack argues that Alex could just marry her and give the kid the name, and he promises to look after the young Widow Randall, but he and Claire both know that Jack’s time is nearly up, and who’ll take care of this young woman and her child after Jack’s gone? If Mary’s Jack’s wife, she’ll at least be entitled to his pension. So it’s a decent plan except for the part that it means poor Mary has to marry Jack frigging Randall, something that would make any sensible person go:
The prospect horrifies both Jamie and Murtagh. So these two men, who barely even know Mary, have more sympathy and compassion for Mary than Claire ever did when she was offering her up as a sacrificial lamb in Paris because ‘Fraaaaaank must liiiiiiive!’ Murtagh, in fact, is so gobsmacked he offers to marry the girl himself, but Claire talks him out of it. So, Mary is married to the guy who was supposed to be her brother-in-law, and shortly after that, Alex dies. Channeling his grief into complete rage, Randall jumps onto the bed and beats the absolute shit out of his brother’s corpse, right in front of Claire and Mary. Enjoy your honeymoon, Mary!
Before Alex expired, Claire managed to wrangle a deal out of Jack: she’d tend to his brother in his final hours if Jack told her where the British were encamped.
Jack: Wow, you’re exploiting this young man’s extreme pain to extract information out of me? That’s extraordinarily disgusting and unspeakably selfish. I like it!
He tells her where they’re encamped, adding that the soldiers will be having a party for the Duke of Sunderland’s birthday in a few days. Jamie suggests a nighttime attack George-Washington-Crossing-the-Delaware-on-Christmas-Eve-style, while the soldiers are all befuddled from the party. Charles loves the idea, but then, worthless moron that he is, Charles and his men get lost while riding to meet up with Jamie and the rest of the forces, and decide this whole thing will be too much of a hassle, so they turn back and decide to wait for daylight, when it’ll be nice and bright and those British soldiers will be rested, for their battle to commence. So, Culloden is on.