Outlander: Je Suis Prest

Dougal thinks the redcoats are a joke. Jamie knows that they are not.

Much of this episode was Jamie at loggerheads with his uncle, pretty much the opposite of the more typical "wise older man versus hotheaded youth" scenario. Since they only recently had a much different dynamic when they were on MacKenzie land and Dougal had all the power, Dougal was still seeing Jamie as someone young he could manipulate. Certain that the men could be readied as they marched, Dougal insisted that they leave for Crieff immediately.

Despite his youth, Jamie is a natural leader as well as a veteran soldier. It was Jamie that insisted on waiting, on drill, practice and discipline, and he connected with the soldiers by explaining why it was important. He'd gotten through to them, too, until Dougal ruined the lesson by interrupting with a Highland Charge. I'll readily admit that five Highlanders stripped to the waist covered with mud and charging with swords in their hands was pretty impressive. But it's now Clan Fraser, not Clan MacKenzie, and Jamie prevailed.

So like the loathsome Lord Lovat, Dougal tried to get at Jamie through Claire. He cornered her alone and tried a wee bit of blackmail, suggesting that if she didn't back his authority, he would tell Jamie about their agreement to marry back at Glen Rowan Cross.

Dougal must have thought Claire had a soft spot for him, or that her marriage to Jamie wouldn't be able to handle such a revelation, or both. And no. With scorn practically dripping from her voice, Claire told Dougal that she told Jamie everything, that Dougal cared only for himself, and told him to fuck himself, whether he understood the word or not. Dougal told Claire she was wrong, that he would die for Scotland. It would be pretty to think so.

Clearly unhappy but doing his best, Jamie never, ever stopped thinking. Assigning Dougal to manage sentry duty after the man himself had broken the rules was so clever. And then after the second sentry incident, Jamie showed amazing leadership when he had himself beaten in front of the men for not being more careful with the fires at night. Even Dougal was shocked by that. Once upon a time not that long ago, Dougal tore the reluctant Jamie's shirt off and showed his scars to raise money for the Rebellion. This time, Jamie took his shirt off himself, and used those same scars to deliberately manipulate the emotions of his own men.



With all of these new responsibilities and dealing with his difficult, recalcitrant uncle, Jamie still noticed immediately that Claire wasn't herself, and he eventually pried the truth out of her. She was experiencing PTSD relating specifically to an incident with two American soldiers during World War II. After their Jeep was attacked by the Germans, Claire was trapped in a trench and unable to help as she listened to both men dying, one of them screaming for his mother.

Maybe Claire should have stayed behind at Lallybroch, but the flashback explained why she did not. She cannot deal with the thought of people she knows and loves dying out of her reach when she might be able to do something about it. Or more accurately, even though she didn't say it outright, she cannot bear the thought of it happening to Jamie while she was miles away at Lallybroch. And who could blame her? Jamie and Claire and their extraordinary marriage are why I watch this series.

There was one particular scene with the two of them that I enjoyed the most. A sixteen-year-old British boy named William Grey got past the sentries the second time, recognized "Red Jamie," and tried to kill him. After breaking Grey's arm, Jamie interrogated the boy. As he was about to do something awful with a knife, Claire interrupted with a spur-of-the-moment subterfuge, pretending to be a captured Englishwoman. Jamie immediately picked up her cue and villainously threatened to molest his own wife. I loved Jamie's and Claire's faces as they carried out the playacting, as he pretended to force a kiss on her, and her expression that told him he'd pay for it later. All of the Scots stayed silent and played along. I also loved how Murtagh had to keep himself from smiling.



That boy turned out to be quite a guy. Only sixteen, and he was ready to endure torture and die for his country without telling Jamie anything, but he gave it all up for the sake of a countrywoman he thought was about to be assaulted. Jamie let the boy live, had him tied to a tree near the British camp. And yes, I write my reviews without spoilers for later episodes, but the set-up told us clearly that we'll see this boy again.

Jamie gave Claire credit for her clever trick saving the entire camp, and then totally enjoyed himself leading a commando raid on the British. Maybe Jamie enjoyed it so much more than drilling and target practice because it was wily subterfuge. Covered with soot, the Scots stole the cotter pins out of cannons and burned the wheels, and Jamie brought the pins back to Claire as a trophy. That was adorable.

Carefully avoiding the British camp, Jamie led his now ready soldiers to Crieff, and allowed his rebellious but well-managed uncle Dougal to announce their arrival to Prince Charles. Job well done. At least until the actual shooting starts.

Bits:

— "Je suis prest," the motto on Jamie's family crest, means "I am ready." The perfect title for this episode.

— After France and Lallybroch, it was fun to see Angus and Rupert again. And I loved Murtagh as a drill sergeant; when he couldn't get the men to even line up, I kept thinking of Monty Python.

— Claire apparently inherited her favorite expression from an American GI: "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ."

— William Grey is the second son of Viscount Melton.

— Trench foot. Gag.

— Claire is worried that Fergus will fight. She's right to worry.

— We heard that the courageous Willie married an Irish girl and went to the Colonies.

— Claire mentioned that her time in that trench made her feel like a Dragonfly in Amber, her wedding present from Hugh Munro and the title of Gabaldon's second Outlander book.

— The score included a mournful song in a minor key. I don't know what it was, but it was quite effective, making us feel anticipation of the horror to come.

Quotes:

Dougal: "Plenty of time to teach that on the march."
Jamie: "Well, they dinna march. They walk, they stroll, they caper about, but they dinna march. They'll need to learn before they join the Prince's army."

Claire: "That's what we think you Yanks have for chow every day: giant steaks, baked potatoes drowned in butter, tomatoes the size of cricket balls, and vats and vats of chocolate ice cream."
Suddenly I'm hungry.

Private Lucas: "What kind of food is this trying to be?"
Claire: "Well, that, Private Lucas, is trying to be black pudding, though you would probably call it sausage."
Corporal Grant: "Then what do you call what we call pudding?"
Claire: "Pudding. (quoting George Bernard Shaw) 'The British and Americans, two people separated by a common language'."
And suddenly I'm not hungry.

Dougal: (re: Jamie) "He took no issue with it?"
Claire: "None."
Dougal: "Well, he is a better man than I."
Claire: "Truer words have never been spoken."

Dougal: "They're true Scots. Every man prepared to fight and die for their true king."
Jamie: "I much prefer they fight and live for their king."
And that's the two of them in a nutshell.

Claire: "Now I look at Ross and Kincaid and all the others being turned into soldiers, being trained, putting up a brave front. All I can hear is Max Lucas crying out for his mother in the dead of night."

Jamie: "I give you your life. I hope you use it well."
Grey: "I owe you my life. I should greatly prefer not to, but since you have forced the gift upon me, I must regard it as a debt of honor. I should hope to discharge that debt in the future, and once it is discharged, I will kill you."
Jamie: "Then I must hope, sir, that we do not meet again."

Claire: "Where have you been?"
Jamie: "Commando raid. Commando? Is that the right word?"

An excellent episode. Three out of four cotter pins,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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