The Battle of Prestonpans was one of the Jacobites’ greatest victories and Outlander Season 2, Episode 10 showed exactly why.
Diana Gabaldon has always shown she’s not willing to sacrifice real historical events just for the storyline. The Outlander showrunners continued that with the adaptation through “Prestonpans.” Season 2, Episode 10 is, by far, one of my most favorite episodes of the whole of the series. While Season 2 is actually my least favorite overall so far, “Prestonpans” picks it up.
The episode showed exactly what could happen if the Jacobites could actually work together and agree on matters. In real history, this is one of the biggest successes of the 1745 uprising. There would be others, but Prestonpans remains the forefront of memories. And this episode showed exactly why.
More from Recaps
- Outlander Season 7, Episode 8 recap: Is Rachel in love with Young Ian?
- Outlander Season 7, Episode 7 recap: The First Battle of Saratoga
- Outlander Season 7, Episode 6 recap: Roger finds something to do
- Outlander Season 7, Episode 5 recap: Bree is trapped in a tunnel
- Outlander Season 7, Episode 4 recap: William and Young Ian meet (again)
Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most heartbreaking episodes of the series to date. After all, I lost half of my favorite duo.
Strategizing to win
The episode starts with the Jacobites preparing to battle. They all have their different views, especially when they know the British are in sight. All that stops either side from getting to the other is a swamp. Just how can they get to them? Can they even go through the swamp?
Well, Dougal gives it a shot. He volunteers to see how far the muskets can fire, and gets a graze on the head from a bullet for it. What it does prove is that he’s a strong supporter of the Jacobite cause and Bonnie Prince Charlie loves him for his bravery. Bonnie Prince Charlie says something that isn’t quite true: “If I had a hundred men like you, this war would be over tomorrow.”
There are plenty of brave men, but they need tactics. And they need to stay together.
All that Dougal’s actions do prove is that the swamp isn’t crossable. They need to find another way across to the British.
A boy shows them the way
It doesn’t take long for a young boy to show up. His father owns a farm in the area and he knows the way to get around the swamp. There’s a hidden trail that will get the Jacobites to the British.
Firstly, let me say that the hidden trail is based on history. It was the farmer apparently that told them, but that trail was still there. This is exactly how the Jacobites won the Battle of Prestonpans.
Meanwhile, Murtagh is having a crisis of his own. There’s nobody connect to him. His death will have absolutely no meaning at all. It’s that moment of mortality that starts affecting everyone. Later on, Rupert and Angus and a couple of other Jacobite soldiers make pacts with each other that all their belongings will be left to one another. It’s a sweet moment that foreshadows something bad. Yes, this was the moment I got that dreaded feeling that not all would make it out of this episode alive.
As a show-first fan, I had no idea about Fergus at the time. I was more worried about him, as he decided he wasn’t going to stay behind and do “women’s work.” He wanted to fight with the men. And he sneaks off in the middle of all the men, with Claire not realizing until it’s too late. Fortunately, Fergus makes it out alive and returns in shock from the sights he’s seen. But he will make it through.
The Battle of Prestonpans takes place
Just as dawn approaches and the fog covers, the Jacobites take the hidden trail to the British. Jamie convinces the Bonnie Prince to stay behind, telling him the rebellion would die without him, and leads the men into battle.
The British have no idea what’s about to happen (and no centuries on duty, it seems). The Jacobites race through the fog and cut down as many British as possible. As the Redcoats start to retreat, there are others who fight and Rupert gets a sword in the gut for his efforts. Angus carries Rupert back, despite getting a blast from a canon from behind.
While it’s a victory at Prestonpans, Claire is worried about Rupert. Stitching him up, she does the best she can. She’s also worried about Angus, who likely has a concussion. He’s too concerned about his best friend though—and yes, this is foreshadowing.
Murtagh and Jamie return, while Dougal remains on the battlefield to stab all the corpses to ensure they’re dead. He then runs into Lieutenant Foster (from Outlander Season 1) who is injured. Rather than following expectations of today, Dougal kills the lieutenant. Not something Bonnie Prince Charlie would want, as he wanted all British to be treated since they were all his subjects.
It’s not surprising that Dougal ends up on the wrong side of Bonnie Prince Charlie, when he returns and sneers at the British. That does take the attention off Jamie, who was about to aim to pee in a jar as the Bonnie Prince walked in to deliver a speech. Dougal is removed, but Jamie offers Dougal the chance to spearhead the Highlander Dragoons. That way, he’s part of the rising but nowhere near the Bonnie Prince. Charlie agrees.
Unfortunately, they can’t celebrate the victory, as Angus calls out in distress. Just as Claire thought, the canon did more damage than initially expected. However, it’s more than just a concussion. He’s been bleeding internally and it’s at the point that Claire can do absolutely nothing but be with him as he drowns on his own blood.
His heartbreaking last words are “save me, Mistress,” as he realizes he’s about to die.
That death scene is still one that affects me the most in Outlander. It is only surpassed by Elias Pound’s death in Season 3.
What did you think of “Prestonpans” the first time you saw it? What do you think of it now? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Follow Claire and Jamie on Twitter for more recaps of past Outlander episodes and more to get you through Droughtlander.