That’s What She Said
With nothing else to do but wait for Charles to give the next orders, Claire once again put her medical skills to good use by yanking out teeth and curing the various ailments of the men, women and children who are also stuck in her position. It was busywork of sorts for her to occupy her mind with knowing what’s to come, but it all took a turn for the worse when she and Jamie were ordered out of town. When the Redcoats threatened to kill them all — especially the notorious Jamie — Claire once again put herself on the line with a risky move, pretending to be an English hostage in order to allow the men a bargaining chip. While her move worked in the short term, it failed in the long run when it landed her at the Duke of Sandringham’s abode, proving yet again that while Claire may know history, she doesn’t exactly know how to play by the rules of this time period.
That’s What He Said
Given everyone else’s failed loyalties, it was only a matter of time before Jamie became a target for the Prince’s other subjects. After an impassioned speech about following his ruler and going forward to attack London despite everyone else’s reservations (all in a bid to change history, of course), the Scotsman’s loyalty was rewarded when he was sent away from the Prince — because the other men were worried about his influence on the ruler. While we’ll see how that little falling out fares in the long run, for now it put Jamie, Claire and the rest of the men in danger from the Redcoats and almost cost them all their lives.
A Hostage Situation
For the first time since the story shifted back to Scotland it felt as though Claire and Jamie were in real jeopardy thanks to Claire’s hostage move. While this series is somewhat reassuring for fans, in the sense that they know Claire and Jamie will be OK in the long run, the couple sure have had a lot of speed bumps to deal with in the second season. We’re at the point where if there isn’t a battle, kidnapping or death that week, it feels like a slow episode.
Unfortunately, with so many crazy twists this year it also feels like the writers are relying on extreme coincidences to solve immediate problems. Saturday night it was the return of beggar Munro, a longtime friend of Jamie’s. The character just so happened to run into Claire while she was with the Englishmen, and as a result he was able to deliver a message to Jamie so that he and Murtagh could save the day. But not before the Duke of Sandringham showed his real cards and attempted to make a deal with the English that would save his skin in exchange for Jamie and Claire hanging side-by-side. You know, real romantic-like.
Losing Their Heads
Speaking of happy coincidences, kidnapping and threatening to kill Claire and Jamie wasn’t enough of a jerk move for audiences to truly hate the Duke. So the story also backed up to make him the guy who ordered the rape of Mary and Claire during their time in France. Perhaps without this vital turn of events, Murtagh and Jamie wouldn’t have reacted as strongly to a man who wanted them dead, but with that little tidbit out in the open we finally saw a non-timid, murder-ey side of Mary… when she plunged a knife into her attacker. Yet even that move paled in comparison to Murtagh’s brutal reaction, which was to take an axe to the Duke and sever his head in retribution to the ladies. Hey — he did make an oath.
Certainly a beheading is one way to fulfill a vow of vengeance. If there were any doubts about Murtagh’s chutzpah or willingness to get dirty up until now, that scene should certain put them to rest.
Duking It Out
Speaking of the Duke, he was never a prominent character in the series, but he always managed to pop up at the worst of times. Considering that this episode was his swan song, it was nice to get to know him as a character a little more before that brutal beheading. Between his love of fine food and drink and his ability to play both sides of the war, it’s no wonder he was been able to schmooze his way along for as long as he did. Spending that time with him would have almost been comical had the rape connection with the Comte St. Germain not been made — it’s almost unfortunate the story took that twist because it effectively eliminated a strong foe for Claire and Jamie in episodes to come. However, with so much else going on for the couple and the battle of Culloden still on the horizon, there are plenty of other story twists to keep Claire and Jamie occupied for now.
And on the bright side, with the Duke’s death Black Jack just lost one of his best allies.
A Revolutionary Cause
While the Jacobites have experienced plenty of small victories so far, that’s about to come to an end, now that the men are finally realizing what kind of stakes are involved. Like most historical wars, the idea of joining for a cause seemed romantic at the outset, but once the men begin dropping and the mental toll kicks in (not to mention the financial burden), people are quick to reconsider. Prince Charles’ men are no exception, as they began to question their incompetent leader, finally refusing to stand by him on the attacks in London. With no armies to march with Charles was forced to retreat for now, but that move will certainly mark the beginning of the end for the Prince. Now, money will begin to run out, which means resources will soon follow and those men who are left fighting won’t stand a decent chance.
Jamie, who was hoping to rewrite history by convincing the other men to fight in London, is safely removed from most of these repercussions for now thanks to the episode’s little detour. However now that he’ll inevitably have to return and solicit more resources for the Jacobites he’ll begin to see just how hopeless things are too, and learn just how right Claire’s history books actually are.
A Stubborn Scot
If Dougal MacKenzie felt slighted by the Prince following his orders at Prestonpans to treat English soldiers over the Jacobites, he wasn’t showing it with his reappearance this week. If anything the clan leader’s commitment to the cause seems to have intensified, proving that he’s ready to make this change of leadership happen no matter what.
Angus’s sudden death last week carried over to this episode thanks to some strong lamenting from Rupert, who is clearly lost without his other half. It was a sad reminder that some of the heart of this show is gone, and there’s no way to resuscitate it. Fortunately, Rupert is at least still around. It was touch-and-go there for a minute when he was among those attacked by the Redcoats, and lost an eye in the process. Thanks to some quick on-the-road surgery by Claire he should be fine… for now anyway. We’ll see how much more he can put his body through.
By the Book
Munro – the character who originally gave Claire the dragonfly encased in amber – played a much bigger part in Claire’s escape from the Duke than translated on screen. His subsequent death was also devastating to Claire and Jamie. With limited time both to develop that character and to actually execute the rescue, those moments didn’t quite go down in the series as they did in the novel, but so long as the Duke’s head came off it was close enough to count. Meanwhile now that Mary has finally been reunited with the crew and saved from yet another terrible marriage match, hopefully her storyline will finish strong in the remaining two episodes.
“Outlander” airs Saturdays at 9pm on Starz.