Outlander's Dougal Is Back And Balder Than Ever
While ramping up for war, the Frasers continue to catch up with old friends.
Alert Type: "You Call This An Army?" Alert.
Issue: Jamie and Claire bring their newly conscripted soldiers to join Murtagh and the MacKenzies outside a small village.
Complicating Factors: On their journey, a large chunk of the hundred men Lovat ordered to join the war effort abandoned the cause. It turns out men are less willing to risk their lives in war their landlord signed them up for.
Resolution: Who really cares? All that matters is that Fergus is alive and well!
Spoiler: Holding on to enlisted men will continue to present issues.
Reunited And It Feels So Bonny
The day after arriving at camp, the Frasers catch up with our old Season 1 friends, Rupert, Angus, and, most importantly, Dougal. (Willie bagged himself an Irish lass and sailed for the Colonies, the lucky bastard.) Everyone is thrilled to be reunited, especially (and uncharacteristically) Dougal. It certainly seems like he's removed that chip from his shoulder, although Claire still regards him cautiously. That shouldn’t come as too big a surprise, considering the last time they saw each other he tricked her into promising her hand in marriage were Jamie to die in Wentworth.
Dougal is ready to march their battalion to Charles's stronghold and get this war started already, but Jamie, as the Stuart-appointed leader, wants to whip them into fighting shape before presenting them to Charles. Most of them have never held a weapon in their lives. Dougal questions Jamie's decision, but when Jamie makes it clear that his mind is set, Dougal folds relatively easily.
Okay, Bagpipes. That'll Do.
Dougal believes the Scottish rebels will be able to trounce the British purely with their passion and love of country and all that good stuff, but, based on the rebels' inability to stand in a line, Jamie and Murtagh are correct to suspect that heart alone won't cut it. Murtagh gives their troops the Sergeant Hartman treatment, to no avail. When he's not yelling at them to stand up straight, godamnit, he's teaching them how to take directional orders from a bagpipe.
I've never seen Braveheart (and never will lest it somehow adds even one cent to Mel Gibson's net worth), so I apologize if it's common knowledge that 18th century Scottish fighters took directions from nightmarishly shrill musical instruments, but I almost jumped out of my third-floor window to get away from this scene. In particular, the bagpipe word for "left" ("BLEEEEEEEBAAAAAAHHHEEEEEERBAAAAABLLEEEEE") had me strongly considering pulling a double-Picasso. I can’t definitively say whether bagpipe music is worse than jazz, but it's close.
Hey Lady, Don’t Take Your Issues Out On Fergus!
Eager Beaver Dougal
Alert Type: Opportunistic Uncle Alert.
Issue: After a training montage that includes Murtagh showing the men how to properly stab a horse in the eye (sheesh), Dougal feels the recruits are finally ready to join the Stuart army.
Complicating Factors: Neither Murtagh nor Jamie feels any more comfortable putting their men in the line of danger yet, which invites the question: why does Dougal? Surely he, as MacKenzie war chieftain, should have higher standards for a soldier. But when Dougal points out that more clans are joining Charles every day, the reason for his restlessness becomes clear: he wants to curry favor with the Stuarts and secure himself a position of status in their potential new Britain.
Resolution: The men won't march until Jamie says so, and Dougal once again stands down without much of a fight.
Spoiler: Thank Scottish Jesus, there's a lot more Dougal to come.
A Special Relationship
The sight of Angus choking on his porridge (full of fiber!) pulls Claire back (or forward) in time to WWII again. In a mess hall, Claire meets nice two American soldiers, Max Lucas and Caleb Grant, the latter of whom we learn is the originator of "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ." After Claire and the soldiers exchange pleasantries and playfully insult each other's home country cuisine, the men tell Claire they were recently separated from their airborne division after D-Day. I do not have a good feeling about the ultimate fate of these two Yanks.
Ready Sassenach One
The Scene: Claire is dealing with her resurfaced PTSD by staring intently into the flames, like all sane people are wont to do.
The Symbol: Jamie's episode-titular "Je suis prest" ("I am ready") family crest.
The Meaning: Claire is not as prest as she thought she was to take part in another war.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Jamie vs. Dougal
Another day, another marching drill. The men are no closer to constituting an organized fighting force, but at least they've ditched the bagpipes. Sensing the men's discontentment, Jamie decides to rally their spirits with some good ol' fashioned inspirational rhetoric.
Jamie regales the company with the tale of his first encounter with a British army. Before he saw what the British were capable of, Jamie found their shiny uniforms and military precision precious and pointless. That all changed when they fired their first volleys and the Scottish/French forces were lost to the chaos. "It takes more than courage to fight an army like that," Jamie tells them. "It takes discipline."
Just as Jamie reaches the conclusion of his rousing speech, though, his ranks are set upon by this band of rogues:
Dougal and the other mud-covered MacKenzies surprise the men from behind and make a mess of everything (hee hee). The men scatter in different directions to avoid the faux assault, proving Dougal's point (in Dougal's eyes, at least) that wild-eyed fierceness tops organization every time. Jamie, resentfully, points out that the chances of their successfully mounting an attack like that on the British army would require sneaking thousands of soldiers just outside their camp, not just five.
"I ken you're trying to do what you think is best," Dougal says once Jamie's relieved his men, "but I was teaching men to fight while you were still sucking your mother's tit, so I think I know better than you." Considering that Dougal's never faced a British army, Jamie doesn't see how that's possible. He tells his uncle to cut the shit and get in line behind him or scurry back to Castle Loch (assuming he's still welcome there). Dougal is shamed by his nephew's stern lecture, but, for the third time, agrees to follow Jamie's orders.
Who called the meeting? Dougal.
What's it about? He would like Claire to persuade Jamie to let him play a greater role in the training. When Claire asks him why he thinks she would ever take his side over Jamie's, he reminds her of their "agreement."
How'd it go? Claire bluffs and tells Dougal that Jamie is aware of their little arrangement, and Dougal buys it. He can tell that Claire still holds a grudge against him, but Claire wants him to believe that he doesn’t pop up in her mind as often as he'd like. "If I ever thought of you, then I might hold a grudge for all the things you've done to me, but I don't." She lady-splains the tale of Narcissus to Dougal and tells him to stop trying to convince everyone that he'd ever put patriotism and love of country over the love he feels for himself. For good measure, Claire throws in a "go fuck yourself."
Once again, Dougal is chastened by the Frasers, and ONCE AGAIN, he accepts his verbal lashing like the soldier he is. "Aye, I love my own reflection," he says, "but make no mistake, lass: I love Scotland more." Claire is thrown off by Dougal's newfound earnestness, but he seems to have gotten his point across.
This time it's Angus and his gross, wrinkled "trench foot" that have Claire reflecting on 1944. Like the soldier who stared blankly back at Claire while she lectured his platoon on the proper way to prevent trench foot, Angus laughs off Claire's concern that he might contract gangrene and require amputation. Angus's easygoingness sends Claire over the edge she's been teetering on since they arrived. She screams at him, "Did you hear what I fucking said?!" and leaves the room in a huff.
Very Useful Stats
Not Even One Good Man
That night, Dougal presents Jamie with ten new "volunteers" for their cause. When Jamie notices the men shift uncomfortably at the notion that their presence is voluntary, he walks down the line and asks if they are willing to die to see Edward Stuart on the throne. When all he gets in return are downward glances, Jamie tells the men to leave if they aren't actually there on their own accord.
Number of Dougal's ten "volunteers" who stick around after Jamie gives them permission to return home:
"We will not reave another clan's men," Jamie tells Dougal. It's unclear whether Dougal took these men by force or struck a deal with their laird similar to the one that Jamie made with Lovat, but, either way, Jamie refuses to risk the lives of men who aren't passionate about the Jacobite cause. When Jamie tells him they should be focusing on training the men they have, Dougal points out that he just marched ten armed men into their camp with nary a word from the sentries. If their men can’t even keep guard, how does Jamie expect them to fight George's army?
On that front, Jamie agrees. As punishment for his insubordination, Jamie orders Dougal and the other MacKenzies to take over sentry duty indefinitely. You'd think being overruled by his nephew for the fourth time would be the last straw for Dougal, but, miraculously, he just pats Jamie on the shoulder and says, "Done."
As for the guards who allowed Dougal to bring the men into camp without consulting Jamie, they don't get off quite so easy. The next morning, Jamie has Murtagh give them each six lashes in front of the whole camp. Apparently, Jamie doesn’t subscribe to Ned Stark's rule about the man who issues the punishment carrying it out himself.
As Claire walks past Jamie teaching the men how to fire rifles, the sound of the gunfire causes her to have a full-blown panic attack and collapse. Just as Claire's memories of WWII were starting to make war-torn France seem like a relatively carefree locale, we come to the real reason for these flashbacks.
On her way to a nearby field hospital with her new American friends, Claire's vehicle is fired upon by Germans. While Max bleeds out on the road waiting for the Krauts to finish him off, Claire and Caleb hunker down in a nearby bunker. Claire wants to help Max, believing that the Germans wouldn't harm a woman, but Caleb knows better...until he doesn't. He jumps out of the ditch in search of a better hiding spot after barely any time has passed, and is immediately gunned down. Alone, Claire remains in the fetal position until help arrives the next morning.
Once recovered, Claire tells Jamie everything she's been holding back. Since they arrived, she's struggled watching Lovat's men being trained, knowing that a horrific death is likely awaiting them on the battlefield. She knows she couldn't have prevented the deaths of those American soldiers, but now she's actively helping to send men into a war they might be destined to lose. Jamie tells Claire they will arrange for her to return to Lallybroch ASAP, but that doesn't satisfy her either. In fact, being out of danger and unable to care for the soldiers would be worse. She'd feel helpless, like a "dragonfly in amber." Oh, hey! That's the name of the second Outlander book! What a coincidence.
Claire makes Jamie promise that he won't send her home or put her in a position in which she loses her agency. He agrees, and swears to protect her, as if that wasn't already implied by their whole star-crossed lovers deal.
You Might Want To Remember This Guy
Name: Lord John Grey. Age: 16. Occupation: Soldier in his older brother's British regiment. (Also, the protagonist of Diana Gabaldon's other books set in this universe, the Lord John series. Goal: To murder the man the British call "Red Jamie" (at which he fails). Sample Dialogue: "I saw the light of your fires and when I came to investigate, I recognized you: Red Jamie, the unprincipled and treasonous rebel."
Wrap It Up
With John in custody, Jamie intends to do whatever is necessary to get information about his battalion out of him. Claire, though not as horrified by this new brutal Jamie as I would have expected, would still rather not watch her husband torture a teenager, so she comes up with an alternative. She pretends to be a fellow captive at the mercy of Jamie and his men. Instead of using his heated knife to force info out of John, Jamie plays along and pretends to ravish a desperate Claire in front of him. Unwilling to see a gentle British woman like Claire hurt, John gives up his camp's location and the number of soldiers there.
Even though it was Dougal and the MacKenzies who missed John sneaking into camp, it was Jamie who failed to realize that keeping their fires going at night would alert the British to their location. So, instead of lashing the sentries, Jamie decides to take the punishment himself. It's a smart move on his part. Not only does it show everyone that he is a fair leader, it gives him the opportunity to flash his mangled back to his ragtag group of soldiers. The sight of Jack's work on Jamie's body did the job when Dougal was trying to win Jacobite supporters last season, and it works to inspire everyone -- including Dougal -- this time too.
With the specs they've gotten out of John, Jamie and an elite crew prepare to invade the British camp and sow a little chaos. Dougal is over the moon that they finally get to DO something, but Jamie's not about to let him join in on the fun after he let John sneak into their camp. Dougal, still impressed by Jamie's leadership, takes his order like a good soldier.
Since they don’t have enough able men to take on two hundred British soldiers, Jamie and his platoon instead focus on their transportation capabilities. In the middle of the night, they sneak into the British camp, remove the wheels from their carriages, and burn them in a pile.
Jamie arrives back at the Scots' camp with a keychain of wheel pins and a hankering for victory sex. Yet again, though, we are denied a Fraser fuckfest. By morning the British will find John tied to a tree near their camp and put two and two together. It's finally time for Jamie's army to move out and head for Charles's HQ.
Once there, Jamie sends Dougal ahead to announce their presence to Charles, and Jamie's grinning galoot of an uncle does.