‘Outlander’ Recap Season 2 Episode 9: Je Suis Prest

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

Episode nine of Outlander season two is titled for the Fraser motto, Je Suis Prest, I Am Ready. The entire episode is about just that, being ready or, more accurately, getting ready. There is a wealth of activity in this episode, and so much of it unlike the book; I won’t dwell on the comparison. I will point out a few more interesting deviations though. The first addition of note is there is a great deal more reference to World War II. Before the episode even gets going you see a puddle and then wheels roll through the puddle. They are not wagon wheels as you might expect, they are rubber tires from an armored vehicle. I must say that I did enjoy the flashbacks for Claire because it touched on several items that, thus far, only book readers knew.

The scene begins with a gorgeous view of the Highlands again. The Scotland mountains are simply breathtaking…but I digress. The marching men…focus, focus!!! You see Claire and Jamie pick up right where the Old Fox left them. The men are on the march to the encampment. As will happen with the clans, about half of Simon Fraser’s (James Parris) forces deserted before they even got the men combined with the 30 men Jamie (Sam Heughan) pulled together from Lallybroch lands. Simon was dispatched to try to gather back in as many men as would be willing to return. A soldier is much better when they want to fight for the cause, not when they are forced to fight.

With a snappy wisecrack, they are welcomed by the always warm, and typically fuzzy, Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix). He has some choice words for the men who walk into the camp, not the best of Lord Lovet’s (Clive Russell) crop. Jamie remarks that the ol’ fox kept his best men at home. Then Fergus (Romann Berrux) bursts out of the door with shouts of welcome for his Lord and Lady Broch Tuarach. Claire (Caitriona Balfe) bestows a radiant grin on the boy and a rather sizable hug. Everyone goes about getting settled in and making a place for themselves to rest before the training and preparations begin the next day. The music in this episode is such a gift in the moment, love the Highland songs and how they give incredible ambiance to the show. Bear McCreary does such am amazing job in every episode. Okay, back from fangirl land…

As Claire and Jamie come out of their quarters the next day, they are welcomed by two highly missed characters: Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) and Angus (Stephen Walters). After that last totally inappropriate kiss Angus bestowed on Claire at the end of season one, Claire heads off another such mishap. She grabs Angus by the jaw and turns his head to kiss him on the cheek. Rupert gave her a big bear hug and picks her up off the ground. Joyful reunion all around. And then who do we see but none other than Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) walking down the hill to join the gathering.

Dougal is just the same, overbearing and completely full of his own ego. This part is considerably different from the book. The circumstances in the book for Dougal joining the troops is done in a different way from the show – no spoilers so don’t ask for more details on how they are different. Dougal is so kind as to remind Jamie of the torture he experiences at the hands of the British in Wentworth. Such a compassionate man Dougal is. {You know I’m being completely sarcastic, right?} He also entertains with a fine speech about how Jamie is like a son and how proud he is that Jamie has joined the Jacobite cause. Did anyone else throw up little at all that declaration, or was that just me? Jamie bursts Dougal’s bubble a bit by telling him how much work they will need to do to get the men ready to join the Jacobite forces. Jamie is being realistic; Dougal is itching to get into battle and thinks they can handle it like a clan confrontation is always handled. You need to crawl before you can walk big man, and the walk this time is more disciplined British war. Not clan cattle raiding.

As Murtagh starts to work on the men, Claire is walking about the camp. What she sees reminds her of activities that WWII soldiers were also doing in down times. Some men were playing Shinty, but she saw men playing baseball. She tries to shake it off and continues to take care of preparations that the women and healers are doing about the camp. Jamie and Murtagh continue to instruct and drill the men. Dougal continues to press for joining Prince Charles (Andrew Gower), but Jamie and Murtagh both tell him that the men are not ready. Not quite Suis Prest! {I don’t know French so pardon any mis-application of the language, but you probably get my meaning.}
Then we see Claire tending to food for the men, and she has a flashback. I like that they included this one. You see an American Corporal, Grant (Billy Griffin Jr.), in WWII saying Claire’s famous line, “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.” Book readers knew this is where she picked that up, the WWII American soldier. Of course, what he was cussing about is different in the show versus the book. In the show he was not happy about the food; in the book it was in the hospital. In war, I would imagine either place it would be an appropriate declaration. Back in their room, Jamie enters to see Claire sitting in front of the fire. He remarks that she has been overly quiet the past few days, very much out of the norm for our heroine. She tries to excuse it away with activities and preparations taking up her time. Jamie knows something more is going on, but doesn’t press the issue.

Jamie watches Murtagh trying to drill the men the next morning and decides to fill them in on why they should focus more on their activity at hand. Jamie is fully aware of what is ahead of them. He has been in battle, been trained as a soldier in a formal army with the French, and knows what it feels like to see and hear volleys of muskets firing directly at you like a metal cloud of hail. This group of farmers and clansmen have no idea of what they are going to face and neither does Dougal, really. Jamie rallies their attention and hearts to the task at hand. Dougal pulls out the Highland charge on them, and the group scatters. Dougal knows the typical Highland skirmish; Jamie knows the formal battle stance the British will take. Jamie pulls Dougal to the side and lays down Dougal’s choices once and for all. Dougal is to either leave with his men OR he will stay and heel to Jamie’s command. As you can imagine that did not go down well, but Dougal didn’t argue the point. He just decided to take a different tact.

Dougal goes to Claire to try to get her on his side to convince Jamie to listen to him. He actually tries to threaten her in typical Dougal fashion, but Claire has had his number for a very long time. She pretty much breaks it off in his arse! She goes so far as to recount the Greek Mythology of Narcissus and how Dougal is so full of his own ego and self-worth that he cannot see anything else.
Next we see Murtagh trying to teach the men how to load and fire a musket. Highlanders typically use a hand pistol, so this is new to all of them. Jamie comes up and warns that the British can get off three shots a minute, so they will have to do better and soon. Jamie turns to notice Claire stirring a pot and remarks how out of sorts she is to Murtagh. Both men know she is not one to hold back her opinions, so her quiet demeanor is worrisome to say the least.

Next, Claire comes upon Angus messing with his feet, filthy slabs that they are, and expounds on the dangers of trench foot. Trench foot is not a term they would have heard of during this time. She flashes back and forth between Angus and a class in which she was training WWII soldiers about the same thing. It was paramount that a soldier take care of their feet in any time period. All the mud, standing water, and just plain sweat could cause a person’s flesh to melt from their bones. It could lead to losing the foot all together. Claire barks loudly at Angus and then turns on her heels and leaves. She throws a few F-bombs out this episode too; the fine WWII nurse that she is. Claire walks out of the room and is hearing WWII around her and seeing the Highlanders in front of her. She is experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress, but doesn’t realize it. She did fall through the stones about six months after WWII ended. She hasn’t even had time to deal with it and now she is thrust into another war.

Later that night Jamie is brought a batch of new recruits from Dougal. Dougal just does NOT get it. This is Jamie’s command, not his. Jamie asks them if they want to stay, explains the dangers such as being hung for treason if the cause fails, and (as you would expect) they turn and leave for home again, not to mention these men are NOT of clan MacKenzie. It’s simply Dougal trying to continue to force his will in the situation. Jamie then has to make Dougal get the point that it is Jamie’s command! He orders Dougal to oversee sentry duty from that point forward. He and his men are to be accountable for it. The next morning, Jamie has to punish the two men on sentry duty that let Dougal into the camp with all the other men in tow. Discipline has to be adhered to strictly and at all times. Both the sentries get six lashes with a strap for the oversight. He makes a display of it in front of the rest of the men to prove the point; this is what you will face if you do not follow orders.

Later that day while the men were at target practice again, Claire is walking behind them and starts to panic. She walks faster and faster, even lays down her basket, and eventually leans on a wagon of hay nearby. All of a sudden she hits the ground, and the scene goes to her riding in a jeep with the American Corporal. The jeep suddenly takes heavy fire and they crash. She wakes to see the Germans coming down the road. She is forced to hide all night after she sees the soldier she was with gunned down by the Germans. The Germans then fire on the jeep and make it explode. She is rescued the next day by Americans but is in shock, curled up in a ball on the ground.

The scene comes back to Jamie kneeling over her as the rescuing soldier had just been doing. Jamie gets her up off the ground eventually. She finally tells him about the jeep and the soldiers being killed right in front of her. She felt cowardly hiding and not going to help. Jamie points out that if she had she would have been killed too. She admits she knows that, and she tried to just close the night out of her mind. The war preparations have forced it back again. Jamie says he will have her taken to Lallybroch, but Claire resoundingly refuses to go. She has to stay and help; she will not be helpless and alone again. The PTSD that Claire is living in the show, to me, is a tool to help rush through many chapters the book had around her involvement in WWII. She never really had those symptoms in the book, but it makes sense for the show because you have to get into her head quickly.

Later that night as Jamie is out in back of the building he and Claire are staying in, Jamie is almost assassinated from behind by a fairly young lad. He is a British soldier, so that means Dougal’s men failed as sentries. Jamie breaks the boy’s arm in the attempt of cutting his throat. And, the interrogation begins. His name is William Grey (Oscar Kennedy) and he admits he was drawn to the area by the fires. He got close enough to see “Red Jamie” and took the opportunity to strike down a man the British have already put out notice is a danger. Jamie works to get information out of the boy, but he refuses to answer the questions put to him. Claire enters this little scene just as Jamie is about to burn the boy’s face with a heated dirk blade. She makes out like she is captive of these Highlanders and if he would let the boy go free she would give herself to him. Jamie picks up quickly on the ploy to make the boy talk without harming him. The book had it as Jamie’s idea. An honorable soldier would not stand idly by and watch a filthy Scot ravage an English Lady. Jamie wrestles around with Claire a bit, pulls up her skirt {way too high for a hubby to do in front of his men}, and Claire gives him a nice knee in the groin for it. Way to almost give up the game, Jamie! He uttered ‘Sassenach’ under his breath when she kneed him…giggle-snort. He pins Claire against something and the boy finally relents to the demand for information. Jamie has two of his men hold Claire so as to keep up the ruse until they find out what they need to know.

The boy does spill all he knows: the count of soldiers, cannons, cavalry, and position of their encampment. Jamie gave the boy back his life {so to speak, tying him to a tree a mile from the British camp constitutes giving him back}, so the boy says he has a life-debt to repay someday if they ever meet again. Jamie has to punish those who made the mistake that let the boy into the camp. You would think it would be Dougal or his men that Jamie punished, but no. Jamie admits it was his fires that drew the boy to the camp, so he takes six lashes for the fires from the strap and then a dozen more for carelessness. All the men look around in bewilderment. Jamie is showing what a true leader does. He is not above admitting a mistake and taking the punishment for it. Poor Murtagh, his own godfather, had to do the honors.

The men prepare to make a commando raid on the British camp. Dougal strolls in, sword in hand, and is ready to get into some fun. Jamie says that he will remain and perform his ordered sentry duty along with his men. Not happy but agreeing nonetheless, Dougal and his men turn and head back to their posts as sentries of the camp. Jamie, Murtagh, and several other men go to the British camp. They take the pins out of the wagon wheels and take the wheels themselves from beneath the cannons. They can’t take the cannons with them, but the Highlanders have made sure that the British cannot either. They have a nice large bonfire of the wheels.

Jamie bursts in on a sleeping Claire and throws the string of pins on the bed. He admits they went on the raid and that she better be getting dressed before the British come looking for their wheels. Jamie thanks Claire for her selflessness in tricking the boy to give up the information. In the book that scene played much more harshly on Claire. Jamie even ripped her bodice to expose her chest to his men and the boy in order to induce the boy to speak. In the book that was another reason for some of the lashes on his back, but the fire reason was the same in both places.

Now looking much more like a unified force, the camp marches to join their kinsmen with Prince Charles. Jamie gives Dougal the honor of announcing their arrival at the camp to His Majesty Prince Charles. Je Suis Prest! Tulach Ard!!!

Outlander Season Two Recaps:

  • Episode One – Through a Glass, Darkly
  • Episode Two – Not in Scotland Anymore
  • Episode Three – Useful Occupations and Deceptions
  • Episode Four – La Dame Blanche
  • Episode Five – Untimely Resurrections
  • Episode Six – Best Laid Schemes
  • Episode Seven – Faith
  • Episode Eight – The Fox’s Lair
  • Episode Ten – Prestopans
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