In the latest episodes of Outlander, the Frasers return to Scotland and the promise of war.
Now that I’ve paid tribute to the men and women of our Armed Services (including many in my family) and also stuffed myself silly, it’s time to get back to it. Let’s go!
After suffering the loss of their daughter Faith, the Frasers left the beauty, color and treachery of Paris and returned home. To Scotland. To Lallybroch. To the beautiful Highlands. Even though I’ll miss seeing the Frasers in such finery (I’ll never forget Claire’s red gown), the beauty of Scotland is a welcome sight. It truly is a beautiful country and the wide open spaces make me want to run and run until I lose my breath.
Claire and Jamie return to Lallybroch and to Jamie’s sister and brother-in-law, Jenny and Ian. The Murray’s have had another child while the Frasers were gone, and Jenny is as stubborn and tough as ever. But the trip is to be a short one, as Prince Charles and the Battle of Culloden are coming. While at Lallybroch, however, the Frasers made sure to keep the family and friends they hold dear as safe as possible. The crops of potatoes finally came in and, as history has told us, they will be the difference between life and death. Jamie checks on livestock, the land and anything else that needs tending. But will it be enough to save the people of Lallybroch?
As they get closer and closer to the inevitable war, Jamie and Claire use the time to rebuild their relationship. Although I love seeing those two hotheads argue, the tender moments between them really tug at my heartstrings. Corny? Yes. True. Absolutely. But the moment that practically broke all of our heartstrings was when Jamie was sitting with Jenny’s newest baby in the middle of the night. He was talking to the wee babe in Gaelic, pouring his heart out. Jenny and Claire watched as this already-manly man sat with the baby and quietly spoke about his troubles. If I had been wearing pearls, I would have clutched them.
Unfortunately, we all had to get back to the real world. Jamie receives a letter that shows his forged signature on a muster roll, which obligates him to form an army and fight. Knowing how desperately he needs men to help the cause, Jamie decides to visit his grandsire, Lord Lovat a.k.a. The Old Fox. Jenny thinks asking that codger for help would be a mistake, but what choice does her brother have? So the Frasers leave the comfort of Lallybroch and head to Lord Lovat’s home. When they arrive, they run into Jamie’s uncle Colum, who’s there to convince Lovat to sign an agreement of neutrality. It’s bad enough Colum is there but he brought Claire’s old rival Laoghaire (pronounced “leery”). The last time Claire saw her, she was accusing Mrs. Fraser of being a witch, an accusation that almost cost Claire her life. Laoghaire, claiming to be repentant, apologizes for what she did to Claire, but that goes in one ear and out of the other. She doesn’t trust the young girl for one second, which is a smart move. Laoghaire begs for Claire’s forgiveness and asks that she speak to Jamie so that he may forgive her, as well. Yeah, good luck with that.
Jamie meets with Lovat to see if the old man will let go of his men to fight. But the Old Fox will only do it if he can have Lallybroch. Yup, he wants Jamie’s home or there’s no deal. Jamie has no desire to give up his home but it may come to that. However, Lovat tells Jamie that if he won’t give up Lallybroch, then maybe he can have a go at Claire. Ummmm, what? He really does not know his grandson at all if he thinks Jamie would allow that to happen. Hell, Claire would eat that old man alive if he came near her. Jamie tells him that, too, but also reveals that his wife is La Dame Blanche. Apparently, Lovat is extremely superstitious and knowing that Claire is a white witch freaks him out, which will come in very handy later.
At dinner, Claire notices that Lord Lovat’s son, Simon, has the googly eyes for Laoghaire. She uses that to her advantage and tasks the young woman with using Simon’s affections to convince his father to fight for the Stuarts. But Laoghaire was always forthright when it came to getting what she wanted, and poor Simon couldn’t handle it. He ran off before she could even talk about his father or the Stuarts. The plan failed. Or did it?
The next evening, Jamie is about to sign away his ancestral home when Claire decides to go all white witch and claims to see a vision. Colum knows it’s BS but Lovat wants to hear. Earlier that day, Claire spoke with Lovat’s seer Maisri, whom the Old Fox had beat up when she tried to tell him what she saw. Claire learned that Maisri saw someone standing over Lovat with an ax, which most likely meant someone was going to kill him. When Claire told Lovat about her “vision,” he promptly pulled out his knife to stab her but was stopped by his son. Simon stepped up and said if he wanted to avoid the vision coming true, he should fight for the Stuarts. Lovat, not used to his son standing up to him, promptly signed the neutrality agreement and told his son to fight for the Stuarts if he wanted.
The next day, as they all were getting ready to leave, Claire told Jamie that he should thank Laoghaire for her help. He didn’t want to at first, but Claire insisted. Jamie walked over, said his thanks, took a bow and then left Laoghaire with the hope that he’ll one day love her. Still? Come on, girl! Let that one go!
On the road, the riders are met by a group of men who appear on a hill. The Old Fox rides down and tells his son to look after his men. They don’t call Lovat the Old Fox for nothing. With the neutrality agreement he’s safe from prosecution should things go south. But he can claim his son’s victory with the Stuarts should they prevail. Win-win for Clan Lovat.
Which leads to the next episode, Je Suis Prest, which means, “I am ready.” And they will have to be in order to face what is coming. Jamie, Claire and the rest meet up with Dougal, Angus and Rupert to train the men. Dougal, who is the War Chieftain for Clan MacKenzie, is now under Jamie’s command, which proves a bit difficult. Jamie is a soldier, through and through, and that will come in handy as he recruits men to the cause. He has seen battles and has fought alongside organized and trained men. He’s seen what they can do with proper training. But Dougal wants to do things the Highland way, which has worked in the past against other clans, but may not against the British.
The two men start to butt heads when Dougal oversteps. When Dougal comes into the camp with a few clansmen, Jamie is pissed because they were able to walk in easily. The men Dougal brought with him, turns out, were forced to join the cause. Jamie lets the men know that if they do not want to fight, they can go home without shame. Some of them do, and Dougal is ticked. The next day, the men who were on watch are given six lashes each so they know Jamie means business. Again Dougal tries Jamie’s patience when he and his men interrupt Murtagh’s training session when they run in screaming their war cry, shirtless and covered in war paint. Jamie takes his uncle to the side and explains that if he can’t support him, he should just go home. He then puts his uncle on watch, which is like a serious demotion in rank. When Dougal and his men screw that up when a young spy named William Grey (remember that name!) sneaks into their camp, Jamie has had enough. But before he takes action, he tries to get information out of Grey about his camp. When the young man proves tougher than he looks, Jamie turns to more brutal tactics. Fortunately for young Grey, Claire jumps in and saves him. She pretends to be a prisoner and Jamie eggs Grey on by threatening to ravage Claire if he doesn’t talk. Grey falls for it and reveals the location of his camp, and for that, Jamie spares the young man’s life. Like I said, remember that name. Later that night, Jamie, Murtagh and the others infiltrate the British camp and remove all of the wheels and bearings to the artillery carts. They burn the wheels and then return to their own camp, leaving Grey tied to a tree. When they return, Jamie wakes his wife and thanks her for helping them. When it looks like they may have some sexy time, Jamie reminds Claire that they need to get ready to move in order to give themselves a head start before the British seek revenge. But there’s just one more thing that needs to be done.
Jamie gathers the men together to find out how Grey made it through their watch. Dougal admits it was his fault and his men and will take the punishment. But before he does, Jamie takes his punishment first. He believes that he was not a proper leader and it was this lack of leadership that allowed Grey to sneak into their camp. So he removes his shirt, exposing his already-marked back and takes his six lashes. The men are deeply disturbed by this and from then on, it’s smooth sailing as far as training is concerned.
While all of this was going on, Claire was going through her own sort of hell. She started having flashbacks to her time during World War II, which got worse and worse as the days wore on. I thought this was brilliant, as we never really see how women are affected by war, whether they see combat or not. Not to lessen what men go through (my stepfather was deeply affected by his time in Vietnam, so I’m definitely sympathetic to their suffering), but we rarely see or hear about women suffering from PTSD. Claire was clearly suffering and thankfully, Jamie was there for her. She told him of the men who died during an ambush and how she always wondered if she should have tried to save them. She also told Jamie that this time, the war would be more personal, as people she knows and loves will be fighting. Jamie assured her that this time, no matter what happens, she would not be alone.
The camp heads out to meet with Prince Charles and the rest of the army. As they march, the men are now a more organized army, ready to do battle. When they arrive, Jamie tells Dougal to go ahead and announce their arrival. Dougal, with a smile on his face, rides out and does just that.
Now that Jamie and his army have arrived, what’s next? What else will Prince Charles ask of our redheaded friend? Will Claire be able to keep it together even though she knows what will happen?
Outlander airs on Saturdays at 9pm on Starz.
Photos courtesy of Starz