This week on Outlander: Training for the Jacobite Rising. Farmers trading in their scythes for swords and learning to march in time to bagpipes...We’re gonna need a montage!
The episode’s title, “Je Suis Prest,” alludes to the idea of being ready for the war to come. Some are ready (Jamie, Murtagh), some think they are ready (Dougal, Rupert, Angus), and some aren’t ready at all (pretty much all of the soldiers). And Claire...Claire is both ready and not ready.
Jamie and Claire and the Lovat Frasers meet up with Murtagh and the Lallybroch Frasers at their encampment. Jamie decides to stay and train the men so they can be ready to fight by the time they meet with Prince Charles. So they spend lots of time drilling, training with sword and musket, and generally learning to be more disciplined. Jamie tries to impart everything he learned from soldiering in France to this ragtag band of Highlanders before they face a well armed, well trained English army.
You know who’s not a fan of this plan? Dougal MacKenzie.
Yes, that’s right! Dougal is back! But not in the seat of power. He has come to fight for Clan Fraser since officially Clan MacKenzie is remaining neutral. (Dougal is most decidedly NOT at his estate as Colum thought last week.) Dougal is here to be Jamie’s antagonist - he is constantly undermining Jamie’s authority with his men, negating Jamie’s orders, and challenging every decision he makes. If Jamie is measured, calculated, and strategic, Dougal is brash and eager for bold strokes. (It’s interesting that the stereotype or trope is reversed - here the older, more experienced man is eager to run into battle without thinking, but the younger commander is cautioning patience.)
But there’s one good thing about the MacKenzies showing up - Rupert and Angus!
Young Willie - with his delightful plaid pants, I’m sure - is off in America with his new Irish wife and not here for the fighting, but never fear...Rupert and Angus are here! Comic relief, ho!
In the books, much fuss is made over Jamie’s ability to lead, and to lead in battle. Here I really saw the first glimpses of that from Sam Heughan (and the writers). He made inspiring speeches, he stood up to Dougal, and he bore lashes for not enforcing more covert tactics (shielding fires) in the camp. I’m beginning to believe this is a man who can inspire others to fight.
While Jamie and the others are training, Claire is helping to run the camp, but quickly succumbs to WWII flashbacks as she finds that 18th century soldiers are not that different from 20th century ones. They don’t take care of their feet, they play games to pass the time, they complain about the food...
In WWII, Claire was traveling with some soldiers at night when they were attacked by German troops. Their car was overturned and some of the soldiers were hurt. Claire and another soldier escaped the wreckage and hid in a roadside ditch as the German troops went by. When Claire tried to attend to one of the wounded soldiers lying in the road after the Germans passed, her comrade in the ditch went in her stead and got immediately shot. Not only that but the Germans shelled the remains of the car, which exploded, and Claire cowered in the ditch with her ears plugged against the man screaming for his mother until the next day when she was found by some other friendly troops.
Yeah, no big surprise that PTSD kicks in.
Claire spends the episode getting more and more affected by the surroundings of the camp and the flashbacks they bring on, while insisting to Jamie that she’s fine. But after yelling at Fergus, cursing at Angus, and getting completely debilitated at the sound of gunfire - to the point that she reenacts her time in the ditch with her ears plugged - she must admit that something is wrong.
After finally relaying the truth to Jamie, who has been wondering about her all episode, Claire declines his offer to send her back to Lallybroch to avoid the battles to come. She can’t bear to be “helpless and alone” again as she was in that ditch. He promises that she will never be alone.
One more fun feature to this episode - the attack on Jamie by a teenage English soldier by the name of Grey.
The young soldier sneaks up on Jamie and puts a knife to his throat, looking to take out one of the most infamous Scottish rebels, “Red Jamie.” He fails, but not for lack of trying. Jamie decides to try and get some intel out of him; he heats his dirk in the fire and approaches the lad, who remains steadfast in the face of torture. Claire walks in, sees the situation, and “offers herself” to Jamie in exchange for the boy’s safety in her nice English accent. Jamie dives right into the ruse and “threatens” to attack her unless Grey gives up some info.
It seems the threat of bodily harm is no match for defending a lady’s honor; Grey spills the beans about where his regiment is, how many men and arms they have, and where they’re encamped. Jamie sends his men to tie up Grey along the regiment’s route of march so they’ll find him; before the lad departs he tells Jamie he owes him a debt of honor because Jamie didn’t kill him - but he’s none too happy about it. Jamie then uses the information from Grey to sneak over to where the British regiment is camped and dismantle their cannons.
(Book sidenote: Well, this went a bit differently. First, it was Claire’s idea to use chivalry against the little lord, instead of Jamie’s as in the book. Nice change. But then there’s no reveal, after Grey confesses, that Claire was really Jamie’s wife. I wonder if they’ll somehow work that in later? It seems important for Grey to find out that the lady he was “ravishing” was in fact his wife. However, I will forgive all sins for the hilarious “Sassenach” that Jamie grunted while they were pretending to tussle. End book sidenote.)
By the end of the episode, the Frasers are marching to meet up with Prince Charles. One can only hope Jamie has done enough to prepare them so that they can make a difference in the battles to come.
Next week - the Battle of Prestonpans. Hey, Johnnie Cope, are you wauking yet?
One last sidenote: Did anyone else absolutely love the music this episode? Were they all songs of the Rising? I hope they end up on the soundtrack so I can find out what they are. Just beautiful.
“They dinna march. They walk and stroll and caper about, but they dinna march.” - Jamie
“I have more pressing concerns than worrying about securing a seat at the Prince’s table. I’ll not send these cottars into battle until they’re well-trained and disciplined.” - Jamie
“I’m from, well, all over, really. Not sure where home is, to be honest. Anywhere but here, that’s for sure.” - Claire
“When they fire the first volley, first you see the flash of metal in the sun. Together as one, an entire line of men raise their muskets, aim, and let loose. The musket balls come tearing across the field like a sheet of metal rain cutting down men left and right without mercy. The sound of gunfire, rolling thunder across the hills. By the time the last of it fades, the second volley is already on its way. I realized it takes more than courage to beat an army like that. It takes discipline. It takes a well trained soldier. An army of soldiers. Now if we have the discipline to stand together, to march together, to fight together, then by God, I ken we will win together.” - Jamie
“A man that fights for his own beliefs is worth ten that are forced to fight for someone else’s.” - Jamie
“Now I look at Ross and Kincaid and all the others, being turned into soldiers, being trained, putting up a brave front. All I can hear is Max Lucas crying out for his mother in the dead of night.” - Claire
“No turning back now, Sassenach.” - Jamie
All images via screencap.