'Outlander' season 2, episode 10: A bitter taste of victory
Death opens and closes this episode, titled "Prestonpans," named after a real Jacobite battle against the British. Claire first shows us the weight of war, but as the show unfolds, more characters carry the load as they understand the price of victory.
This ragtag team of clansmen form Prince Charles Stuart's army, and they are a shouty bunch. None of the leaders can come to an agreement as to how to start their war. Jamie, the youngest one in the room, by far, has the baby prince's utmost respect. Jamie, once again, proves he's got the slick intelligence of a seasoned war chief. He convinces Dougal to trudge the murky swamp partition the Highlanders and the Redcoats. It's a tense 125-yard divide and the Scots are again reminded they are outmatched. But they do have one thing on them: higher ground. But Dougal realizes that they'll need to find another way over there.
It was hard for Dougal to out-do the great photo from last episode, but this is amazing:
Meanwhile, Charles gives Jamie other marching orders: Hospital care goes first to the British soldiers, because they're also his father's subjects, too. Jamie knows Claire won't do that. Lol, duh. As Claire preps a group of women, she faces their skepticism as to how much help they'll even be.
As things continue to look grim, a boy finds a secret path to the British army camp. They jump on this knowledge and soon enough, the men leave in the middle of the night to surprise their enemy.
Oh man, those goodbyes. Rupert and Angus, our beloved comedic duo covered in sweat and mud have become great fleshed out characters in the show. Which only foreshadows that one of them won't make it. But as those two joke around, it's Murtagh who struggles to find meaning in all this. He's in the know with Jamie and Claire, and even though they know that history says they win this battle, it's still going to be a tough win. And even with history on her side, the history she's been trying to change, Claire apprehensively encourages her boys before they leave to fight. But it's when she says goodbye to Jamie that leaves me in tears.
This battle scene is historically accurate. It was a 15-minute battle through the fog. It's great cinematography, complete with slow motion and a superb soundtrack. Bu, I gotta admit, t the blood spurts are kinda funny sounding.
But in those 15 minutes, the men's lives are forever altered. Even little Fergus, who snuck his way onto the field and probably killed a British soldier. Angus ends up saving Rupert's life, but losing his own a few hours later. But it's the uninjured men who must now live with that pain.
But not Dougal. He celebrates the victory by mercy killing wounded British soldiers. And when he finds a familiar face that reminds him that there is no way they can defeat the Redcoats, that only infuriates him more.
He storms into a somber infirmary as Prince Charles is trying to make a delicate victory speech. The prince kicks him out after Dougal shows no regard for the British. But our clever Jamie promotes Dougal to lead a group of men to follow the enemy. Dougal knows the move Jamie just played: "You champion me and you exile me." But Claire was right about this battle. And so it's possible she's right about another: Culloden.
In the end, it's Murtagh, our poet, who reminds us that the taste of victory isn't as great as expected. And the surviving soldiers solemnly drink to those they lost.
One note: It's been fun watching the season unfold and picking out the moments they took and slipped into the new opening sequence.