[SPOILER WARNING: Episode 'Je Suis Prest' of Outlander is discussed here. Turn back if you don't want it to be spoiled for you]
It wasn't a full action-packed episode of Outlander, as much as it was a character - and troops - development one. There was the formation of the Highland army, the reappearance of old friends - plus an old 'frenemy' - and, finally, the first glimpse at the Jacobite army itself.
This one was a slow-burning episode, still there were a couple moments worth mentioning, so here are the top ones.
Exit Lovat; Enter MacKenzie
Last episode, we saw Lord Lovat, the Fox, send some of his men to fight alongside his son for the Jacobites. This week, however, there are no Lovat men or Simon Fraser, who apparently went after his deserting soldiers.
We do get, however, the comeback of Dougal MacKenzie, Jamie's uncle - and Claire's stalker. Defying his brother's Colum's orders, Dougal joins the Jacobites of the Fraser troops, bringing Rupert and Angus in tow. As it would be, Dougal takes issue with Jamie's leadership, which Jamie settles by explaining that it is his way, or the highway.
The Highland Army
Although it focuses on the Frasers, this episode does a great job of historically portraying the Highlanders as strong and fierce, albeit completely untrained and impulsive. Jamie and Murtagh, later joined by Dougal and his men, do their best to train the volunteers for the Jacobite army. They teach them to march, to wield a sword, to defend and to engage in hand-to-hand combat, to shoot and even how to respond to the pipes.
Clearly they're not seasoned soldiers, but they fight for their country and their King, which basically means that they fight for their right to remain Scots. That can work as a huge motivational factor, which Jamie knows darn well how to take advantage of. He explores the emotions and the dreams of his fellow highlanders, priming them for the mighty British army.
We also got a nice introduction to the famous Highland charge, when Dougal and his men descend upon the soldiers-in-training, bare chested and howling like animals, swords drawn. I'm guessing we'll get to see some more of that later in the season.
Jamie's Leadership And Claire's PTSD
The Laird and his Lady Broch Tuaragh had a tension filled episode to live through. On his end of things, Jamie became his own man - as presumably he's always been - at the head of the Fraser army. He was a true leader, teaching, training, motivating and disciplining whenever needed. This was one of the best episodes for Jamie ever, since Wentworth prison and Black Jack Randall, as we got to see a strong, determined and just commander in Jamie.
Claire, on the other hand, began having some flashbacks to her other time of war, back in the 1940s. She spends the whole episode reliving her traumas of WWII, replacing familiar highland faces with the young and inexperienced American soldiers she'd dealt with. She suffers from a severe PTSD case, and it is Jamie who helps her get through it, promising her "she'll never be alone again", no matter what happens.
Caitriona Balfe has been nothing short of exceptional in her performances this season. She's shown such a range of emotions in her acting that I'd be surprised if she didn't get nominated for, say, a Golden this year.
This is the one sequence I had some issues with. First, because Jamie has already been dubbed 'Red Jamie' without having to do pretty much anything in Scotland to earn this nickname. In the books, Red Jamie is a force of nature, a Highland beast who sheds a great amount of British blood before being referred as such.
Then, there's the matter of the reversing of the roles in that particular scene, between Jamie and Claire. Upon catching William Grey intruding the camp and going for his throat, Jamie confronts the young man, demanding information. In the original story, this is a nice moment that shows Jamie's cunning and cleverness, but in the show it is Claire who takes the lead and is, once more, the one with the bright ideas. Honestly, a wasted opportunity to show viewers that Jamie Fraser is more than a bulky and sensual sex toy for Claire.
Next week's episode of #OutlanderSeason2 will bring up Prestonpans - the first significant victory of the Jacobites against the British army in History - and there's hope for some witty and strategic Jamie for a change.
Outlander airs every Saturday, at 9pm, on Starz.