Come on, ride the train
Woo woo, hey, ride it, woo woo
Come on, ride the train
It’s the Choo Choo, ride it, woo woo
Jamie, Claire and company are “riding it” alright, all the while continuing their frantic search for the emergency brake. As boredom sets in camp tensions flare, pitting advisor against against, bromance against bromance and Princes against prudent courses of action. Will they be able to thwart disaster?
Dude, if C-Stu could be this scary, he might just win this thing
In order to continue our celebration of being back in Scotland, I have peppered this post with authentic Scottish insults! So sit back and let the humorous disdain of Scotland – or as the Scots like to call it, “England but farther North” (hahahaha! I’m kidding. They HATE that!) – wash over you, as we roll out this week’s Top Ten Moments:
1. In the land of silly wigs, the guy with the plausible hair is king
This week finds Jamie right smack in the middle of Charles Stuart’s war council, trying to find his footing among the “yes” men, the “no” men and the “for fucks sake can everyone stop flapping their gums so we can go get pissed” men (Archie Cameron, I’m looking at you). Tiffs break out, as the men try to balance caution with surprise, especially between Quartermaster John “ill-tempered leprechaun” O’Sullivan and Lord General George “groundskeeper Willie” Murray.
But Jamie forcefully underscores that the terrain is too treacherous to risk, proving he has what it takes to be in the Prince’s inner circle. Jamie has spoken! Now the council will fall in line with what he said, the troops won’t die in a tragic bog-slaughter and everyone will be free to go and get pissed!
But they don’t, because these people are new to the concept of James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, and are unaware of this important fact: he is always right! I say that without sarcasm – he always has the perfect comeback, the perfect strategy and the perfect prayer for any situation. Which is why I love him . . . and also intermittently want to throttle him. Seriously, if my husband was that right all the time, I would be forced to secretly book him a seat on that one-way mission to Mars! Right?! Up high, ladies!
So take note, war council: always do what Jamie says.
And take heart, Claire: in the future it will be possible to send Jamie into space.
We noticed that too: Ric-rac is the it trim of 1745! It’s on collars! It’s around buttonholes! It adorns pockets! And cuffs! Too bad General Murray stormed out early, because he would have trounced O’Sullivan in a ric-rac throwdown!
2. BPC gets a catchphrase!
So you’re jockeying for control of what is to become one of the most powerful empires in the history of the world. You have money, you have men, but you do not have a catchphrase – WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
If you are Charles Stuart, I suspect you are going to spend some quality time in front of a mirror and in focus groups comprised of servants who were really quite busy before you roped them into this, trying on phrases until you hit upon magic! And it appears that the Bonnie Prince has done just that!
Introducing: Mark me®, the registered catchphrase of the dude who totally effs up Scotland for the next 200 years. Employed no fewer than 5 times during this episode, this catchphrase works well in the following scenarios:
- Alerting your war council to the fact you have a reckless plan to attack the English troops over dangerous terrain
- Alerting Jamie to the fact you have a reckless idea to treat the wounded English soldiers before treating the wounded Scots
- Alerting Dougal to the fact that you recklessly underestimate the manpower necessary to defeat the English
Doesn’t matter, baby – you got this Prince-thing nailed down!
3. Dougal soils his trewes
I don’t really understand why we had to spend 6 minutes and 40 seconds to set up and accomplish Dougal’s “slog through the bog,” especially when we all knew that Richard Anderson was going to swoop in in the end and save the day.
Ugh, I’m talking about Richard Anderson, local-yokel and bog-guide, NOT Richard Dean Anderson, actor famous for playing MacGyver! Although, come to think of it, “MacGyver” sounds like a Scottish name, and he could totally spice up future episodes – just sayin’. (You’re welcome, showrunners)
Curious plot choices notwithstanding, this scene gave us the great moment when, after having his hat shot off within spitting distance of the English, Dougal admits to Jamie that he needs to go change his breeks because “the hero of the hour has shat his pints.” Hahahaha! Love the humor – this epi needs it!
I understand that this scene sets up Dougal’s rise and fall in the eyes of the Bonnie Prince, but it took up a lot of temporal real estate that I think could have been better used (*cough* Claire taking a Jamie for a bareback ride in the woods *cough*).
We noticed that too: In order to properly thank Dougal for his service, Bonnie Prince Charlie re-enacts (pre-enacts?) the famously awkward McCain-GWB hug of 2008.
We noticed that too, also: Rupert suffers some major second-hand embarrassment for Angus during his ridiculous attempt to show deference to the Prince.
4. Bromance versus bromance
For reasons that will become apparent soon, this episode should have been subtitled “Rupert and Angus bromance their way through battle.” But watch out! They are no longer the only bromance in town! And the 18th century’s answer to Beavis and Butthead can’t resist picking a fight with their more refined, more earnest bromance rivals, Ross and Kincaid. A good-natured game of “how mad will Ross get when Angus repeatedly spits ale into his beard” predictably devolves into attempted murder, causing a rudely awakened Dougal to do a spot-on impersonation of the “Cursing Mommy.”
But things turn more somber between the dualing bromancers as Ross and Kincaid pledge their support for one anothers’ families in the event of death, inspiring Angus to bequeath to Rupert his prized possessions, namely his sword, and the affections of a part-time hooer named Scarlet.
Both deals are sealed with a legally binding and totally sanitary loogie handshake. Well it looks like everything turned out for the best for this ragtag band of man pals!! *cue ominous bagpipe chords*
We noticed that too: For a show with such a strong female presence and fan base, having Kincaid dissing on his wife and family (albeit somewhat good-naturedly?) was a questionable choice.
5. BPC has a moment
I think we can all agree that this is the face, wig and rigorous cuticle upkeep of a man who is on a serious quest for some paternal approval.
And it has been pretty easy to judge him harshly for it, as he hurtles our beloved characters headlong into grotesque disembowelment. But when Jamies attempts to dissuade Charles from joining the battle by invoking King James’s desire to rule with his son by his side, my heart broke a little for him in this moment:
Bonus points for sneaking your catch phrase in!
Charles reveals this with self-awareness, not self-pity, which helps me understand him without losing respect for him. And while we’re on the subject, lemme take a moment to give a shout out to Andrew Gower (@) for his portrayal of Charles Stuart. This is a really tough role to get right – having to embody BPC’s narcissism and destructive imperatives, while also making him believable as a figure who would inspire followers is no mean feat. That fact that I actually end up liking him amazes me. I salute you, sir!
6. Scotland fog does JAMMF a solid
In last week’s episode, Beth noted how Scotland saved the day by being, well, Scotland. This week, natural phenomena once again play a pivotal role in the action, proving that nature clearly sides with the Jacobite cause. By providing dense cover from which the Scottish could catch the English unawares, fog made this awesome smack down possible, and paved the way for a quick, decisive victory over the English:
I love that moment when JAMMF emerges for the gloom like an em-effing Cu Sith! Take that you scabby English walloper!
We noticed that too: The sentry totally looks like a startled penguin, which makes the attack kind of funny to me, because this:
Hahahaha! Penguin fall down!
Which is totally, totally inappropriate considering that poor sentry probably got ripped apart and scattered across the battefield like a photo of Justin Bieber at a Selena Gomez concert. But, c’mon, penguins!
7. Dougal’s battle face
The attack on the English was easily my favorite part of the episode. It was fast-paced, gory and gave great facial expressions, like this one:
Dougal has literally unhinged his bottom jaw in order to maximize the size and number of English troops he can chew up and spit out. Nom, nom, English soldiers! Mark me®, history will not see another jaw unhinge like that until Julia Roberts gets her hand snapped by a jewelry case in Pretty Woman.
We noticed that too:
8. Jamie’s “business time” face
Battle-fresh Jamie is an amorous Jamie, doncha know! After Prestonpans, he sweeps into the infirmary to find Claire, and the look on his face leaves no doubt about how he plans to celebrate!
His face is long and lean, his lips are at the ready and his gaze is intense, but not crazy. MMMHMMM! I can’t wait to see J+C make sweet love at the end of the episode like it happens in the book!
9. Jamie finds a way to solve his Dougal problem
JAMMF has a scheming, mutinous, Santa-bearded, anger management-challenged whopper of a problem in the form of one Dougal MacKenzie. In order to conduct his war shit without interference, Jamie needs to get ole’ Doug-E-Mac gone. Sending Dougal into the bog by dangling to promise of Charles’s good graces could be construed as Jamie’s first attempt to end Dougal. That failed, but fortunately for Jamie Dougal cannot read a room, and provided another opening when he destroyed the rapport Charles Stuart was trying to build with his English subjects.
Smoooooooth mooooooove, Doooooooog
Yes! Jamie finally has the chance to get rid of him, humiliating him in the process, by promoting him! BURN!
My thoughts exactly, Laoghaire!
Jamie takes this opportunity to fashion a solution to his Dougal problem, which is, of course, perfect, because Jamie is always right (bastard!). In lieu of letting Charles Stuart cut Dougal loose, and risking that a rogue Dougal will come up with a way to fuck things up, Jamie arranges to have Dougal act as the Commander of the Scottish Dragoons. Riding around the countryside, keeping tabs on the English will keep Doogs out of Jamie’s hair, while still keeping him under his command.
Smell the brilliance – SMELL IT!
10. All the dying
This episode saw the end of Alexander Kincaid Fraser, and making a surprise appearance on the death roster: Angus Mhor! The deaths of these beloved characters profoundly affected the other half of their respective bromance teams, Rupert and Ross, and were clearly meant to connect with Claire’s opening monologue about the never-ending stream of dead men left in the wake of war.
Unfortunately, the choices made around these deaths really flat with me. First of all, I get that Ross and Kincaid were lifelong friends, and the loss was devastating to Ross. But at the risk of sounding like a dick, I kind of don’t care how Ross feels about Kincaid’s death, I care about how Jamie feels about Kincaid’s death. Why? BECAUSE OUTLANDER IS THE STORY OF JAMIE AND CLAIRE, not of Ross MacWhoeverYouAre. To be clear, I do not need the show to adhere to the books (in fact, I’d like to put in a plug for blowing that shizz wide open and putting it back together again), but in making this be about Ross, the show traded a moment that not only celebrated the sacrifices made by all of the nameless Scots who perished in Charles Stuart’s quest, but also squandered yet another opportunity to reveal a small piece of Jamie that we can fit into the puzzle of who he is, and make us love him more.
After we spent the second half of the episode thinking Rupert was a goner, the sensational aspect of Angus’s sudden death seems ripped straight out of the Thirtysomething playbook of 1991. Yes, bishes, I just invoked the “Gary Dies” episode.
I get it: it was shocking and sad after we have gotten to know these characters as a team over the past 2 seasons. But what was lost in the “gotcha” strategy was the quiet power of mourning found in the book. The image of Jamie cradling Alexander’s dead body on the hillside has the power to punch me in the gut in a way the sensational treatment of Angus’s passing does not. Again, I am not after a replication of the events of the books, but of the emotional power communicated through the actions, relationships and choices made by the characters.
It’s times like these where I find my level of excitement for the show hovering somewhere between that of cleaning mung out of my sink drain and waxing my leg hair. Like these tasks, watching Outlander promises to keep my pipes flowing clean and make me appear to be less of a cagey hermit, but I’m a little wary of how rage-ified I get at some of the choices. And also of ingrown hairs.
Or maybe I’m just clot-heided eejit?
Well, that’s it for this week! Tune in next time when Charles Stuart sez: