Synopsis for 2×09: Claire and Jamie reunite with the Lallybroch and MacKenzie men during training; Jamie and Claire wage personal battles; an Englishman arrives in camp with new information.
With the troops on the move and the men headed towards Prince Charles’ camp, Jamie and Claire meet up once again with Murtagh and Fergus. Some of the men from Lord Lovat have abandoned the grup and they’ve sent young Simon to get them back with the promise of land so they can have something to fight for again.
At camp, we are greeted with more familiar faces. Dougal, Angus, and Rupert all appear in high spirits, and we learn that Willie has married an Irish girl and sailed off to America. Dougal looks happier than ever now that Jamie has joined the cause. Despite that, he seems to be out of touch with Colum and only the three of them have come as support for Jamie and Charles.
Dougal is immediately eager for the ear and favor of Prince Charles, ready to take the men to Prince and gain the reward of praise. But after the march from Lovat’s castle to the camp, we’ve quickly learned that these are not able bodied soldiers. They desperately need training and they need to learn how to march and fight as a unit. Jamie, Dougal, and Murtagh teach the men every step of the way as they slowly learn to pick things up one by one.
Despite their hard work, the men find the idea of marching ridiculous. Jamie tells them his story of his time in France when he fought against trained soldiers and how he witnessed the power of fighting as one and as a unit. His message seems to rouse the soldiers, but Dougal comes charging in Braveheart style from the mists and interrupts training by leaning on tradition.
Although Dougal is a trained warrior, Jamie’s experience in France will help them more than Dougal’s method. The two of them face off in a battle of wills. Dougal is not comfortable to simply take orders, and Jamie respects his uncle but does not want to be undermined by him.
Frustrated by a loss of power, Dougal comes to Claire to try and convince her to talk to Jamie and play her off of him. He talks about their promise that Dougal would marry Claire should Jamie die and attempts to blackmail her with this knowledge. Claire has no time for him, and completely cuts him off, insults him by calling him Narcissus. “Your ego to your self gratification drive your desires, you want King James restored to the throne, but not for Scotland for you own selfishness. So, please stop trying to convince everyone of your patriotism, it’s tedious.” And then she tells him to go fuck himself.
Damn Claire, tell us what you really think.
Dougal seems affronted by her belief that his patriotism is really just a manifestation of his ego. He passionately tells Claire that he would do anything for his country, and while he sounds convincing his actions speak louder than words. His constant push and pull of wills with Jamie undermines their operation and his thirst for acknowledgement even makes Murtagh roll his eyes.
While the men train, Claire begins to experience bouts of PTSD from her time as a World War II nurse. She is extremely protective of Fergus, she’s acting differently, she is short with Angus after he complains about foot pain, and eventually she collapses while the men are training. During the flashbacks into Claire’s past we see her befriend and settle herself into a camp of soldiers, with two particular American soldiers who have been separated from their men. She has a good camaraderie with them, and being in the camp with the highlanders seems to bring up all her dark memories of the past.
We learn during her panic attack that while traveling at night Claire and her convoy — a driver and the two American soliders — are attacked. The driver and one of the American soldiers is fatally injured while she and another soldier lie at the bottom of a hill while being shot at. The soldier attempts to reach his comrade who is crying out in pain and anguish near their overturned vehicle. The attempt fails as he is shot and soon the vehicle explodes and she is forced to listen to them scream in agony the entire night as they die in pain.
When she is found in the morning she is visibly traumatized and can barely speak when American soldiers find her. She relives this as she hears the guns firing from the men’s training and Jamie finds her lying in the grass in fetal position. She tells him her story and he is deeply concerned for her. He wants to send her back to Lallybroch, but there she will feel even more helpless. She name drops Diana Gabaldon’s second book, Dragonfly in Amber, to describe being helpless and never wanting that feeling of lying in that ditch alone again. She’d rather stay with the men, then be left alone.
As the struggle between Dougal and Jamie continues, Dougal conscripts ten men for the cause late at night, but Jamie is left unimpressed. He allows any of the men to go who have been persuaded against their will to fight for something they don’t believe in, and the men leave. Jamie expressly explains this to Dougal, who angrily replies that, “You and I can make them believe.”
As much as I hate to say that Dougal is right, their side needs way more men, and conscripting them is key to preventing Culloden from becoming a bloodbath. Jamie is not willing to bend. He calls forward the guards who allowed Dougal to bring his ten men in and they each get flogged for breaking the rules.
When a perpetrator comes and sneaks into their camp to kill Jamie, he thwarts the assailant and they capture him, ready to torture him for information. The British soldier, William Grey, seems unwilling to relent. Claire sees them and comes in pretending to be an honorable British lady who has been captured by the Scots and is terrified of being ravished by them. With some playacting, they’re able to squeeze out where the men are stationed and how many there are.
Jamie lets Grey go, and Grey promises he will one day pay him back for sparing his life, and after that he will kill him.
Because someone has once again been let in while the men were on guard duty, Jamie once again asks who is to blame. Dougal’s men have been sentenced to guard duty, and he says this, preparing for the lash. However, Jamie acknowledges that he is also at fault and that they should have extinguished their fires. He takes many lashings for the transgression, and this act in acknowledging some of his faults rallies the men together.
They go out at night and sabotage the British camp and Claire’s actions end up saving men’s lives. They march forward from the camp stronger than when they arrive and by the end of the episode they have reached Prince Charles’ camp. Dougal rides ahead to signal their arrival and we are that much closer to Culloden.