Outlander Prestonpans Review
Starz’s Outlander: Season 2, Episode 10: Prestonpans featured the first major battle between the Jacobite army led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Andrew Gower) and an encampment of British soldiers. That clash of swords and boom of muskets spawned many dramatic moments in Prestonpans, the most surprising of which belonged to Prince Charles Stuart. Prince Stuart had always presented himself as someone steady in his beliefs but the viewer had never dared believe him to be brave or willing to fight in an armed engagement. Prestonpans proved the viewer wrong but in a good way because Stuart’s character was enriched. The Prince became more than a buffoon speaking rhetoric about God and the English to anyone within earshot.
Prince Stuart’s treatment of Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) at the end of Prestonpans proved that fact. It also proved that Prince Stuart was impulsive, letting his passion and outrage get the better of him. His aggressiveness toward Dougal showed that Stuart lacked emotional balance and forethought.
During Prestonpans, it was clear that Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) was relied upon as a confidant by the Prince, tempering the Prince and giving the Prince sound counsel. I foresee Jamie’s role in that capacity growing to the extent that the higher officials and military personnel in the Jacobite army begin to resent it.
The mist before battle segment of Prestonpans was like the prevailing ignorance of warfare before actual bloodshed began. The mist battle that followed was a baptism for some, overwhelming and a dire situation for others, and hell realized for a mortally wounded few.
Jamie Fraser was dutiful during combat, Angus Mhor (Stephen Walters) and Rupert MacKenzie (Grant O’Rourke) watched over each other, Fergus (Romann Berrux) was immediately in over his head (his romanticized vision of warfare was no match for its grisly reality), and Dougal engaged in combat porn (I may have just coined that phrase). Dougal gleefully indulged all of his pent up, vengeful desires towards the British with no regard for civility or The Golden Rule. It was a terrible sight, a terrible side of a character that the viewer had grudgingly grown to respect. When Dougal murdered injured and helpless Lieutenant Foster (Tom Brittney), committing a war crime against someone who, if the situation was reversed, would have carried Dougal to the field hospital, the remaining respect for Dougal evaporated. Dougal became a gorging animal that could not be trusted.
Dougal was has own worst enemy, raising himself up in the horse / marsh (bog) scene and destroying himself in the blood hump, hospital moment. Dougal was right, though, during the final moments of his dismissal from the fighting segment of the Jacobite army. Jamie Fraser may be as clever as his grandfather Lord Lovat.
Outlander is a continuously surprising TV series. Sometimes the person whom you think will die lives and vice versa. Prestonpans was no different, with a character whose screen presence most enjoyed, perished by the end of the episode. On the good side of things, it was Stephen Walters’ best performance-to-date on the series e.g. “Now!”
Somber Prestonpans was not without humor: Angus’ kiss for luck, Fergus chiming “Woman’s Work,” etc. but the bulk of the episode was about the battlefield. I was surprised and impressed that Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe)’s Scottish field hospital would take in British soldiers (though Prince Stuart had a hand in that), especially with how deeply Scotland and Great Britain’s mutual hatred ran. Even in war during that century, gentlemen (and gentlewomen) imbued with honor, to some extent, still existed.
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