Previously on Outlander: Claire and Jamie gathered the beginnings of a little army and set off to join Prince Charles’s rebellion.
Claire VOs that they and their 100 men headed for Murtagh and the others, losing some along the way because, as it turns out, people kind of hate being forced to leave their families and farms to go fight a war they really don’t care about. Simon was sent to try and persuade them to return with gifts of land when the war was over.
They reach their destination and are greeted by Murtagh, who doesn’t think much of the men Lovat sent (unsurprisingly, the old men kept the best for himself). Fergus appears and gets a happy hug from Claire and complains about how awful it’s been having to serve Murtagh. He had to mend socks and everything!
The next morning, Claire and Jamie find Angus and Rupert, who haven’t changed a bit. She asks after Willie and everyone looks all sad, like Willie’s died or something, when in reality he just went and got married to an Irish girl and moved to America.
And here’s Dougal, who also hasn’t changed much. Jamie asks if his presence there means that Colum has changed his mind, but it doesn’t: Dougal, Rupert and Angus are there because they believe in the cause. Dougal is so, so proud of Jamie for joining The Cause and tells everyone this is their time, for glory and for Scotland. Jamie manages to smile and says they all have their work cut out for them training this bunch. Dougal’s not delighted to hear they won’t be marching right away, but Jamie’s in charge, so he goes with it.
Murtagh gets to work training the men in the fine art of queuing. Baby steps. Watching him from afar reminds Claire of her own army days, watching officers drill the men.
She walks away and sees Fergus playing lacrosse with some of the other guys, which also reminds her of young soldiers playing, so she goes and meanly drags Fergus away, scolding him for not getting the water she sent him to fetch.
Murtagh, Jamie, and Dougal train the men while the women prepare bullets and other battlefield necessities.
Dougal decides things are going well enough for them to join Charles. Murtagh says the men are nowhere near ready, so Dougal tries to work on Jamie, hinting that going now would help guarantee him a seat on the prince’s council. Jamie doesn’t care about that and won’t be swayed. He agrees with Murtagh.
Claire sees the men eating and hating the food and flashes back to the army camp, where she befriends a pair of young American soldiers—Grant and Lucas, both in the airborne and separated from their unit since D-Day. Lucas asks what the hell black pudding is and Grant is befuddled by the British method of calling things ‘pudding’ that don’t resemble that viscous slop Americans call pudding. Claire quotes Shaw, and Lucas recognises the quote because his mother loved Shaw.
Back in the 18th century, Jamie finds Claire trying unsuccessfully to de-stress in their room and asks if she’s ok. She lies that she is, there’s just a lot to do and a lot on her mind. She examines Jamie’s brooch, with ‘Je suis prest’ on it—I am ready. Jamie apologises for bringing her to the camp and promises they’ll get through this and he’ll make sure she’s safe, no matter what. She reassures him she’s fine. She’s so not fine.
Jamie watches Murtagh drill the men. It’s not going terribly well, so Jamie stops them to give a Rousing Speech and warn them that a well-trained army is a formidable thing and maybe they should take this seriously! It works! Of course! For about five minutes, and then Dougal and some of his men come running amongst them, topless, screaming, and wielding swords and scatter Jamie’s men, telling them that this is how you scare some Redcoats: with a highland charge! Yeah, you might throw them off for about five seconds, and then they’ll regroup and shoot you all dead. Jamie points out that such a charge requires the element of surprise, which they aren’t necessarily likely to have. He dismisses the men and asks for a word with Dougal.
Dougal totally talks down to Jamie, doing the ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time’ thing, but Jamie says he knows exactly what these men will face, and also, these are his men, so Dougal needs to not only back down, but to start obeying Jamie’s orders, or get lost. Dougal reluctantly accepts.
Dougal finds Claire making some food and sits down by the cooking fire. After a brief silence, he suggests that Jamie needs help but is too proud to ask. He asks Claire to help out and have a word with her husband, see if he can get him to listen more to Dougal. He then tactlessly brings up the promise he once squeezed out of Claire, to marry Dougal if Jamie ever died. She informs him that Jamie knows all about that and that she was forced to go along with it. He’s surprised Jamie has no problem with that. Claire calls him a narcissist and accuses him of wanting James on the throne out of his own selfish desires, not patriotism.
He lets her have her say, admits she’s right about him loving himself, but says he loves Scotland more and would give everything he has, including his life, to see a Stuart back on the throne.
Training continues. The men begin to improve. They finally get to start using proper weapons.
Jamie watches Claire listlessly tending a cooking pot from afar and admits to Murtagh he doesn’t know what’s up with her. Murtagh agrees she’s not herself and says it’s unlike her to beat about the bush. Jamie says he’s asked her what’s wrong and Murtagh thinks it’ll take more than just asking to get the truth out of her this time.
Claire finds Angus and Rupert laughing over Angus’s feet, which are in a sorry state. She warns him he needs to take better care of his feet, or risk losing them to trench foot and gangrene. Claire starts to get angry with them and they’re briefly startled, then start laughing.
Flashback! Claire leads a class in foot care with some of the young soldiers. One of them is smiling at her and she accuses him of not listening.
In her new present, she screams at Angus and Rupert and stomps outside, where the camera starts twirling around her while her ears fill with the sounds of roaring trucks and gunshots.
Dougal joins Jamie and some of the other men by the fire with some new men and Jamie asks how Dougal managed to get into the camp with ten new men without a challenge from the sentries. Dougal says he just smiled and they let him pass. Probably because they knew him. I’m fairly sure they’d not have done that with a stranger or even with someone who wasn’t their commanding officer’s uncle. Jamie orders the men on duty to be brought to him and others put in their place. Dougal points to the new men and says they’re volunteers for their cause. Jamie doubts it and asks them if they’re really prepared to leave their families and homes and fight and possibly die, committing treason all the way. He tells them they can leave, if they want to, and they all do.
Jamie dismisses the others and tells Dougal they won’t be recruiting another clan’s men an they won’t be forcing anyone to fight. Dougal says that sounds great on paper, but isn’t hugely realistic. He accuses Jamie of doing a crap job at training, considering Jamie’s men just allowed ten armed men to wander into camp. Jamie acknowledges it and puts Dougal in charge of security.
The men who were on sentry duty are brought in and Jamie tells them they were lax and are now under arrest until their punishment in the morning.
The following day, the men are gathered and told what happened. The two men on duty will receive six lashes a piece for their negligence. Claire can’t watch. Even some of the men flinch.
Claire walks past some men drilling in shooting and clearly starts to have serious problems hearing the gunshots. Jamie watches her duck behind a hay cart to have a panic attack.
Flashback to World War II. Claire’s driving in a jeep with some of the young recruits, including Lucas. They suddenly come under fire and when Claire comes to, she can hear Lucas screaming for help. She’s been tossed into a ditch with Grant, who warns her to stay down and quiet, because there’s a German tank going by. Lucas keeps screaming for help and the Germans search for him (it’s nighttime). Grant tells Claire to stay put and goes to try and find a way out of this. He doesn’t get very far before he’s machine gunned. Then the Germans blow up the jeep. Claire drops to the ground, clapping her hands over her ears, begging Lucas to just be quiet.
The next day, she’s found by some of the Americans. One of them asks if she’s ok and asks what she’s doing there alone. Claire shakes and can’t seem to move.
In the 18th century, Claire has fallen to the ground in a fetal position, sobbing. Jamie lifts her up and comforts her.
Later, after she’s told him the whole story, he tells her there’s nothing she could have done. She knows, but it doesn’t make it better. She just tried to put that night behind her, but watching all these young men being turned into soldiers all she can hear is a young soldier crying out for his mother in the night. She’s not sure she’s ready to go to war again. I can’t help wishing some of this had come earlier. It feels oddly like it’s just jammed in here, and coming a little out of nowhere, having never been seeded even the teensiest bit earlier in the show. It would have done a lot to help explain her serious motivation to derail the rebellion, because honestly ‘preserving the Highland way of life’ never quite felt like a strong enough reason to me for her to be going so crazy in France. Yes, she wanted to see the people she’d come to know stay safe as well, but not wanting to see young men march off to yet another slaughter is pretty powerful motivation, and her apparent experience makes it all the stronger.
Jamie offers to send her back to Lallybroch, but she refuses to leave, saying she’ll just feel helpless while people she knows and loves are out fighting and dying. Well, Claire, I hate to say it, but your PTSD is likely to keep you from being hugely helpful here. Nevertheless, they both agree she can stay.
That night, while Jamie’s taking a leak, some young guy tries to jump him. Jamie manages to overpower the lad, breaking his arm, and holding him at knifepoint until Murtagh, Angus and Rupert appear. They find a letter on the kid addressed to a British officer and accuse him of being a spy, but the boy says he isn’t. He saw the light of their fires and came to investigate, and when he got closer he recognised Jamie as Red Jamie, the rebel. Jamie asks who the boy marches with and presses on the kid’s arm to get him talking. The boy says he’s prepared to die but Jamie’s not ready to kill him. He brandishes a wicked looking knife and begins heating it in the fire, asking again who the boy marches with, demanding to know how many they are and which direction they’re headed.
Claire comes upon them and immediately begins some credible playacting, calling Jamie a sadist and offering to ‘surrender herself’ to Jamie if he lets the boy go. Jamie plays right along, grabs Claire and threatens to rape her right in front of the boy before handing her off to his men to do as they like. Claire starts to fight back a little too convincingly, suggesting to me that this might have gone a teensy bit too far and tapped into some other traumas, but the ruse works and the boy suddenly offers to talk, in order to protect Claire. Jamie tells the guys to hold onto Claire until the boy answers his questions. She gives Jamie a ‘you’ll be sleeping on the sofa tonight’ look. The boy tells them that he’s a viscount’s son and travelling with 200 men to Dunbar to join Cope’s army. He warns them they have heavy armament and a company of 30 cavalry. Jamie asks where the men are at present and the boy says they’re 3 miles to the west. Jamie tells the guys to tie the boy to a tree one mile from the camp so his friends can find him the next day. Before he goes, the boy acknowledges that he owes Jamie his life and sees that as a debt of honour, but once that debt is discharged, he’ll kill Jamie. Jamie tells him to basically go ahead and try.
The men are brought together so they can find out how this latest security lapse happened. Jamie says that their unshielded fires drew the lad to them, and Jamie sees that as his own fault, so he takes off his shirt and has Murtagh give him 18 lashes. And after that, they’ll go take care of those British troops. Busy night.
Jamie takes his beating, then takes some of the men (not Dougal, who’s not happy about being left behind) to the British camp, where they remove the wheels from all that heavy ordinance and make a big bonfire out of them (seems wasteful—surely they might need wheels at some point?).
Jamie bursts into his and Claire’s room, clearly still on an adrenaline high, wakes her and vies her some pieces from the wheels, I think. Ahh, yes, they’re the pins. He tells her that their success that night was because of her selflessness. Her actions will help save lives. She’s pleased to hear it and gets ready to get busy, but he tells her they all need to get on the road, because the British will be waking soon.
Off they all march, presumably to join Charles. Ready or not. Jamie gives Dougal the honour of riding ahead to announce their presence to Charles.