Monday, June 13, 2016

Outlander 2x10 Review: “Prestonpans” (Win the Battle, Lose the War) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

Original Airdate: June 11, 2016

This entire season has been built around the Scottish rebellion, and now that the battles have finally started, I’m not sure I care about this war. Perhaps it’s that the focus during the uprising is on Jamie and his clan, who have been missing from the first half of the season. Perhaps it’s because there are so few scenes with Jamie and Claire together, which provide the emotional sparks for the show. This war provides a lot of kindling for a story, but nothing lights it up. Instead we’re left with plot and moving parts that make up a war story — a death, a sneak attack by night, a child who joined the fighting when he was told not to, patients in a hospital — but not enough emotion to tie it all together.

Upon some Googling, it looks like much of this episode was historically accurate. The leaders of the war arguing about how to attack, the Jacobite and British positions on a mushy field, the sneak attack by night and cover of fog, and the excellent care provided to the British wounded is all true. So is the length of the battle (minutes) and the number of men lost by the Jacobites (not many). It’s interesting to the history major in me to learn this much about the Jacobite uprising, even though it’s a fictionalized account. If I were a professor teaching about the uprising, I would definitely show this episode in class.

When the leaders of the Jacobite army can’t stop arguing about what to do, Jamie helps get things going by convincing Dougal to take his horse out into the muddy land, close to the British Army, to test the ground and see if it would be solid enough to bear horses and soldiers. It’s a risky move to go that close to the British, who surely would fire on a moving, living target, but Dougal is up for the task to prove his mettle to the king.

The ploy works, and Dougal impresses Prince Charles. But he also discovers the ground is too soft to support their army. It’s also too soft to support the British army, who won’t cross it either. So Jamie has to find another way in, with the help of a boy whose father owns the land they are on.

With his instructions, the army finds a solid way to the British troops, so they attack that night. Fergus, who doesn’t want to be left out and feels useless doing “women’s work” at the hospital, goes with the Jacobites, even though Claire and Jamie told him he couldn’t join the fighting. I was worried that the show would end up killing Fergus, a child who’s been through so much already. He survived, but he killed a British soldier, and that act leaves its own mark on him.

Claire heads up a makeshift hospital to tend to the wounded, and she cares for the British just as well as her own men. But she isn’t able to save everyone. Jenny’s husband looses a man, and Angus has an injury Claire can’t see that proves fatal. Angus brought Rupert in for care after the battle because Rupert had giant gash in his side from a sword. Claire sews it up and told Angus he likely had a concussion and to stay awake, but Angus assures her he is fine. So Claire didn’t realize that he had been hit by a cannon and had internally injuries until it was too late and he was drowning in his own blood.

One thing I did like about this episode was the focus on friendship. Angus and Rupert had mirror counterparts among the Jacobite army, who they of course didn’t get along with. But this other pair of best friends was going through the same fears and uncertainties as Angus and Rupert, and cared about each other just as much. The men seemed to come to a sort of truce at the hospital, when they were both watching over someone they loved.

All the clues were there that Angus wouldn’t make it: He said goodbye to Claire before the battle and asked for a kiss, and he went over everything he was leaving to Rupert (including a barmaid, who Rupert reminded him wasn’t Angus’ to give). He also left Rupert his sword, which he had never used, and which Rupert picked up and took with him after his friend died.

“How many men had I seen killed in war?” Claire asks. She’s been through this before, and the effects of war are catching up to her. No one can escape the fear and pain of war, and as Jamie says, war always tastes bitter — even when you win.

Jamie was injured as well, though he came back to Claire bounding with the energy of victory. But Claire sees a mark on his shirt and learns a horse had stepped on him. She asks Jamie to pee in a jar so she can see if there is blood in his urine, but this urine test gets interrupted when the prince walks in to the hospital. But Jamie seemed unfocused and off to me, and I wouldn't be surprised if his injury is more than it seems, like Angus’ injury was.

Jamie was able to show off his diplomacy and skill at strategy, along with his skills at fighting. He gets Dougal to test the ground when the army needs to take action, and he gets the prince to agree to promote Dougal and send him ahead to scope out the enemy after Dougal interrupts the Prince’s victory speech and tries to attack a British soldier. Jamie is the prince’s greatest asset, and I’m sure he will need his skills many more times in this war.

Aon rud eile:
  • The prince tells Jamie to order Claire to treat British soldiers before the highlanders. Jamie knows Claire wouldn’t obey an order that interrupts care at her hospital, and the prince tells Jamie that surely Claire would obey an order from her lord and master. Yeah, right.
  • This is 30 years before the American Revolution, but the British army is already showing they can be defeated by a rebel army. 
  • The color of the Redcoats looked especially bright among the grays and blues of the foggy Highland landscape.


Post a Comment