After a couple of humdrum episodes, Outlander returned to fighting form this week with “Prestonpans,” a bloody, emotional hour that found Jamie and his clansmen mourning one of their own.
But before the Jacobites charge in to battle, they must agree on a strategy, which, thus far, has been elusive. Sure, they took Perth and Edinburgh without firing a single shot, but they had the element of surprise working to their benefit. With the British Army within spitting distance of the Jacobite’s Prestonpans encampment, however, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his commanders don’t have that advantage.
As the men strategize, Claire works with several other women to set up a triage center to care for the future fallen. She’s clearly in her element and seems to be managing her PTSD.
Not so contented? Jamie’s clansmen, who are sitting around the fire just waiting for something to do. (Something other than, say, spitting ale at one another.) Thankfully, Jamie returns with a mission for Dougal. Well, not an explicit mission for Dougal, but Jamie uses a bit of subterfuge and flattery to get Dougal to agree to the task. Basically, Jamie needs someone to test the marshland separating the Jacobites and the Redcoats. Is it crossable?
Jamie tells Dougal to keep back at least 125 yards from the British encampment (so, you know, he won’t get shot). Dougal being Dougal thinks he can get within 105 yards. (He really wants to prove his mettle to the Prince — though what will it matter if he gets a bullet to the brain?)
So, as Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites watch, Dougal mounts his horse and sets off for the marsh. In broad daylight. Why couldn’t he have done this test under the cover of darkness? Wouldn’t it have been safer if the Redcoats weren’t able to see him? I scratched my head a bit at this. But, no matter. The British Army does indeed spot the advancing Dougal and takes up arms. And just as his horse gets caught in the mire of the marsh, Dougal starts taking fire. In fact, his cap is even blown off by a bullet! After weathering several shots, Dougal (finally!) prudently retreats, receiving a hero’s welcome from both the Jacobites and Bonnie Prince Charlie.
“If I had a hundred men like you this war would be over tomorrow,” Charles says, embracing Dougal before he heads off to change the pants he’s “shat” in.
But that still leaves the Jacobites unable to charge the Redcoats. That is, until an unexpected visitor arrives at camp. His name is Richard Anderson, and he grew up on that land. He knows about a small hidden trail that will lead the Jacobites straight to the British — unaware.
The Prince, for one, is ecstatic about this news: “We shall not return unless we bring victory with us!” he promises.
NEXT: Courage under fire