‘Outlander’ Recap Season 2 Episode 12: The Hail Mary

Outlander Season 2 Episode 12 Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe
Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in ‘Outlander’ (Photo © 2016 Sony Pictures Television Inc)

Outlander season two episode 12’s title has several parallel meanings. ‘The Hail Mary’ is about the last ditch effort to prevent the battle at Culloden Moor. This week also involves two sets of brothers and their relationships before one of the brothers in each pair dies. As we know, this is a horribly difficult period for our dashing Highlander and strong-willed Sassenach. The Jacobite army has traveled to Inverness. They are weakened by lack of food and supplies, by the months of traveling north, and the loss of moral due to the retreat.

Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe), Rupert the almost pirate with the eye patch, Dougal (Graham McTavish), Ross (Scott Kyle), Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix), and Fergus (Romann Berrux) all arrive at Inverness to rejoin the army. Jamie sends Dougal after intelligence about the British army. Fergus basically passes out on a desk when Claire sets him down in the chair in front of it. Claire, Murtagh, and Jamie all contemplate the situation at hand. They are but a few miles from Culloden Moor. The situation they now find themselves in was EXACTLY what they have sacrificed, plotted, lied, murdered, and compromised every ounce of their pride to prevent. The date of the battle is now but three days away.Claire goes into Inverness to replenish her medical supplies for the battle she knows is coming. While in the apothecary shop, she finds Mary Hawkins (Rosie Day). Mary informs her that she’s there living with, and taking care of, Alex Randall (Laurence Dobiesz). The tone is unmistakably harsh as Mary hurls the news at Claire that they are to be married. Mary tells her that Alex informed her of Claire’s interference of them being together in Paris. Claire, of course, apologizes for the interference and inquires after Alex’s health. Mary doesn’t know the highly complicated web she has thrown herself into. Claire all but begs to come and see Alex, so Mary informs her of their location in a nearby boarding house.


Back at the camp, a war council has been called for Prince Charles (Andrew Gower) and the other army leaders to determine the next course of action. Jamie does all he can possibly do to deter the Prince from taking the action of battling the British on Culloden Moor. Jamie points out a very sound strategy of divide and conquer, at a later time – and on ground of THEIR choosing – after some promised French gold arrives. The Jacobites don’t have the arms, men, or supplies to have an open ground battle with the British.

Claire goes to see Alex, and his illness is far advanced. They don’t really say it outright in the show, but in the book Claire knows he has congestive heart failure. Hard to live with any quality of life or long length of years in modern times, rapidly fatal in the day of the Jacobite cause. As Claire goes to the fire to try to brew up something to ease Alex’s cough and chest pain, they all hear a pair of boots enter the room. Claire turns and sees what could be considered the spawn of the devil standing in the doorway. Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) and Claire lock eyes for a second; Claire’s eyes are filled with horror and revulsion. Alex greets his brother with joy, as much as he can muster anyway.

Mary reveals to Claire that Jack is helping to provide for them while they stay at the boarding house. The one decent spot in Jack Randall’s entire being is his affection for his brother. As Claire tries to get out of the room Mary stops her from leaving to ask her when Alex will get well again. Claire has to tell her that Alex cannot get better; he will only get worse. Mary reveals that he must get better because she is pregnant. Claire is relieved that THIS will be Frank’s ancestor, though she does not say so to Mary. Claire takes her leave of the room, finally, but she’s followed by none other than BJR to beg a request. Claire gets the slightest sliver of pleasure out of the cloud that crosses BJR’s face when she also informs him of Alex’s impending death. Jack begs her, in his own way, to ease his brother’s suffering at the least. Claire agrees but at a cost, she wants to know of the British army’s location. With that trademark BJR smirk firmly placed on his features, Jack remarks at how she can quibble about such things over a poor man’s fate. Claire remarks that she is not the same woman he once met. The inference is that the hard deeds he has put her through brought about this coldness.

As Claire is recounting these events to Jamie back at the encampment, Jamie understandably has an outburst. Claire does reveal the information that she gained about the British army. This calms Jamie, slightly. BJR’s very name is poison to Jamie, and he practically spits his name out each time he says it. Claire wants to go back and help Alex, but Jamie is fully against this risk in BJR’s presence. Claire suggests that Murtagh go with her for protection. In that case, Jamie allows it. In the book Murtagh knows nothing of any of this, but I do like this change from the novel. I am on Jamie’s side on this one, BJR is NOT to be trusted at all…about anything. Jamie will work to corroborate the intelligence they received while Claire will go back to tend to Alex and try to easy his pain.

Later that night, Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis) arrives at the encampment. Colum is in a dire way with his health, too. We knew this from the beginning, given Claire’s knowledge of his illness. Colum insists on a bed, his brother, and his nephew. Claire and Jamie go to see him right away. Claire gives him an exam to assess his situation. They both know the situation is near its end, but not before the pain has gotten so bad in Colum’s body that he makes an amazing request of Claire. Colum sends Jamie out of the room so he can speak with Claire privately. Colum remarks to her that he’s pleased that she and Jamie are happy together. A brief moment of compassion that Colum rarely shows, but he has always had a particular liking for Claire; whether he wanted to or not. Her healing abilities have given him the greatest help of any other healer he has had in his life. He asks her charity in giving him a more peaceful way of ending his painful torment than the lingering death filled with agonizing pain he now endures. She gives him a vile of yellow jasmine that will end his life at a time of his choosing. Colum does share one ray of light with Claire. Geillis Duncan’s child by Dougal was allowed to be born before she was put to burning after being judged a witch in the first season.

Claire goes back to help Alex at the boarding house. Mary and Jack are there, with Murtagh watching over the activities very carefully. Alex is coughing so much he can hardly breathe. Claire gives him a breathing treatment that might be used for a modern day asthmatic. His coughing eases off a bit. Jack gets up from the bed to speak to Claire but gets angered (shocker) when she reminds him that she cannot cure Alex, only ease his symptoms temporarily. When BJR puts his hand on Claire’s arm, Murtagh comes across the room like a juggernaut. Murtagh offers to relieve Jack’s frustrations for him. {I bet he would, knowing what this man did to his godson.} Just then Alex calls for Jack so he rushes back to his brother’s bedside. Alex has a very surprising proposal to make. He wants Jack to wed Mary. Initially Jack is taken completely by surprise, but Alex knows that the only way to ensure legal protection and position for his love and his child is through marriage to his brother. Jack turns his back and leaves the room. Claire sends Murtagh after Jack because she needs to speak with him. Alex begins his coughs again so she cannot leave to stop Jack herself.

Back at the camp, Dougal arrives after his scouting expedition. Jamie tells him of the intelligence Claire has learned from BJR about the location of the British army. Dougal remarks that it would have been nice to know that before he had taken all that time scouting out their whereabouts. Jamie informs him that Colum has arrived and wants to see him. The look on Dougal’s face is not one of pleasure or excitement.

Claire and Murtagh leave the boarding house to hunt for Jack. Claire is trying to explain to Murtagh the reasons for trying to make Jack wed Mary; Frank’s future is dependent on it. Murtagh is still against giving the poor girl to such a villain as BJR, so he offers to marry her himself. This is not something that is proposed in the book, but I do find it a cute development. We get much more of Murtagh in the show than in the book, and I’m loving every minute of it. I love me a surly Scot! Claire is surprised by the suggestion, but tells him how kind and generous his offer is. However, they both know it is not the ideal solution given the war being waged and the fact that Murtagh has no position or home of his own. Jack does have position in the British army, and is son to an English nobleman. Even if Jack were to be killed in the war going on around them, it would give Mary a place to go and a life with the Randall family to raise the child in safety.

Claire goes to the tavern that Jack went to after leaving Alex’s room, asking Murtagh to wait outside. Claire has to convince Jack to do this for his brother. He’s in his cups and feeding on self-pity, again. Jack asks Claire to help him persuade Alex to wed Mary himself. Claire asks what happens to her and the baby when Jack is no longer alive to care for her and Alex is gone. This reminds Jack of the little fact that Claire cursed him with the knowledge of his own death date. She told him he would die on the same day as the battle of Culloden. Show enthusiasts do not know yet if it is during the battle or during other events on that day, but is the day she saw while looking at Frank’s genealogy those few short years ago – and all those centuries ago at the same time. Claire has a bit of a smug smirk while reminding him of this fact. Jack has to take things back to his torture of Jamie just to hurt Claire with the words. Claire gets up to leave and Jack grabs her by the arm again. She will not entertain his vial sentiments about Jamie. Jack asks Claire if she honestly thinks he can restrain his dark tendencies with Mary. Claire’s last remark to him is that she believes his single tenderness for his brother is what gives her hope that he can control himself with Mary and the baby.

Jamie and Dougal are in the bedchamber with Colum. Dougal thinks that Colum has come to bring the MacKenzies to the rebellion. Colum reveals his purpose of planning for his death, and that his succession will be his son. The boy is not old enough yet so there has to be a guardian for him until the boy is old enough to take the Lairdship. Colum wants Jamie to take this guardian role. This news enrages Dougal, naturally. Dougal has to remind Colum that his son is actually sired by Dougal because Colum was not able to bear a child. Colum knows that Jamie would put his men’s lives above the cause or any other personal drive. Dougal is not able to do the same.

At the boarding house Murtagh and Claire are witnesses to Jack and Mary being wed as Alex watches from his death bed. In the book Jamie is forced to be witness, but I like this much better. I never really agreed that Jamie would put aside his hate for Jack enough to stand there and put Mary through this union. I know he understands the impact to Frank, but I still feel his hate would win out. This is my own opinion, but there it is nonetheless.

Back at camp the war council is meeting to discuss the tactics for attacking the British at their encampment just 12 miles away. Jamie has maneuvered the situation to prevent the clash on the Moor. The strategy is agreed upon to have two columns go to take the British by surprise. But one stipulation is placed upon the plot: the Prince and the Quartermaster (Gerard Horan) would lead one column and Jamie and the Lord General Murray (Julian Wadham) lead the other. Jamie was to lead one of them and the General the other, but apparently the Quartermaster wants his page in the history books. Jamie has no choice but to agree.

Dougal enters Colum’s room alone for a private discussion with his brother. Dougal is apparently set to pour out his heart to his dying brother. Colum is even weaker than before. Dougal remarks on and remembers what injured Colum to make his legs begin the process that now causes his death. Something as simple as being thrown from a horse at the age of 10 started Colum down the path of the crippling syndrome that plagued his life. Dougal remarks on how much it wounded him to see his stronger and invulnerable older brother grow weaker and weaker with age because of it. Dougal, ever thinking of himself. When Colum does not respond, Dougal gets angry and tries to draw his attention, but Colum is beyond it now. Colum is holding the vile that Claire gave him, but he can hear no more of what his brother is saying. When Dougal realizes that his brother is gone he lays his head on his chest in sorrow, but rises accusing him of leaving him alone in the world and causing his words to be stuck in his throat forever.

Back at the boarding house, everyone stands around Alex’s bed listening to him rasp out his last breaths. As the sounds stop you see Mary start to weep and Jack’s face stricken with grief for the first time ever. Jack and Mary look at each other briefly. Then Jack, always going to the shocking and extreme, jumps on his brother and starts pounding him in the chest. Poor Mary turns and practically falls into Claire’s arms. The look of revulsion on Claire’s face is profoundly obvious. Jack finally steps back and straightens his coat and hair, then turns and leaves the room.

At the encampment Claire has to tell Jamie about the marriage, and Jamie is just astonished at all of it. Claire reminds him that Mary will be his widow, not his wife. Jamie tells her that if they succeed that night with the surprise attack on the British, there will not be any Battle of Culloden. Claire then reminds Jamie of her promise to help bleed BJR to death and give Jamie his revenge one way or another.

That night Jamie and the General make it to their position in the surprise attack on the British, but the Prince does not. They got lost and had to turn back. Murtagh had to bring back the grim news, and this means the battle will take place on Culloden Moor as Claire had warned.

Join me for the heart-wrenching season finale on July 9th. Having read the book, I can truly warn you to stockpile Kleenex now!

Outlander Season Two Recaps:

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