The Highlanders go to war against the Redcoats, but their success comes at a steep cost. Full recap of “Prestonpans”, including new images and clips (first aired Saturday, June 11 at 9:00pm ET|PT on STARZ).
“Prestonpans” opened up with Claire and Jamie on a journey, but pausing in the woods. Claire needed a restroom break; however, she was distracted when she came upon a dead Highlander. He’d been killed by a redcoat patrol and his body was frozen and decaying. It really hit Claire:
“The rebellion Jamie and I had labored so hard to prevent was upon us. Our only hope was that somehow we could change the outcome. I feared in my heart that history would not be rewritten. That no matter how many battles we might, victory would remain forever out of reach.”
This would be the first of many more casualties. Claire picked up the Highlander’s weapon (nothing more than a farming tool), and walked away.
Later on, Prince Charles met with his generals, advisors, and leaders of the clans aligned with the Jacobite cause. Jamie was also there. Since the war began, the Jacobites had seized control of Edinburgh and Perth (without firing a single shot). Currently, they had set up camp on a ridge outside the cities.
The Quartermaster, an Irishman named John O’Sullivan, was adamant that instead of sitting around, the Jacobite forces should attack the Redcoats and finish this war. On the other hand, General Murray believed that their army currently held the high ground and shouldn’t give up that strong defensive position, an advantage. Jamie sided with General Murray… Tranent Meadows sat between the Jacobites and Redcoats, which was really a bog. If the Highlanders crossed, it was possible they would get stuck, making it easy for the British to pick them off with their muskets. Jamie suggested that a cavalry would be useful to test the strength of the ground and also report on the enemy’s position.
O’Sullivan reminded them that they hadn’t established a cavalry; furthermore, if the Lord General was afraid of British marksmanship, he could stand behind their fearless Highland warriors who were ready to do battle for their Prince and King.
Prince Charles suggested meeting with General Cope (of the British Redcoats) to offer generous terms surrender and guarantee the safety of his soldiers: “I am sure he has no more desire to shed English blood than I have. We are all brothers after all.”
It didn’t seem that anyone else in the room shared Charlie’s fraternal spirit. Furthermore, the Quartermaster and Lord General were still at an impasse:
O’Sullivan: “We sailed from France to fight a war. Let us fight and be done with it.”
Murray: “I will not risk destroying our army by ordering to cross potentially lethal ground. Is that clear, Sir? I will not allow it!”
The meeting dispersed and the Jacobites were no closer to an action plan.
Prince Charles asked Jamie to stay behind to chat a little more about strategy. Charles began by admonishing Scots for being so intractable (stubborn). He was adamant that the Jacobite rebellion succeed; he’d promised his father and God. Charles also requested that Jamie tell Claire (who was setting up the field hospital) to provide medical assistance to British soldiers first: “The British are my father’s subjects also, and I will have them well cared for. They must be made to realize the Scots wage war upon them with the greatest of reluctance.”
Jamie agreed that Scots could be pig-headed, but cautioned Charles not to speak that way in front of the other men, who wouldn’t share his sentiment about friendship between the Scots and British. Furthermore, Jamie didn’t think Claire would abide by Charles’ request to tend to the British first.
Charles: “From her prince, perhaps not. But surely Lady Broch Tuarach would prove obedient to an edict from her lord and master.” (meaning Jamie; *SNORT* Obviously, Charlie doesn’t know Claire very well.)
Elsewhere in the Fraser camp, the men were bored. Dougal took a nap, while Murtagh, Rupert, Angus, and two of the Lallybroch men (Ross and Kincaid) sat around a fire. Angus decided to lighten things up by spitting whisky onto Kincaid. But when Kincaid and Ross spoke up to tell them to stop, Angus and Rupert mocked them by saying once the battle started, the two men would probably run away like cowards. Ross and Kincaid stood up and told Angus to take that back, but then Angus pulled out a dagger and threatened them. Murtagh intervened, but then Jamie arrived and Angus put the dirk away.
Jamie shared that the commanders still hadn’t settled on orders. He also indicated that there would need to be some reconnaissance of the marshes separating the Highlanders and British camp. He had a separate conversation with Dougal about the risk involved in having someone ride out to figure out whether the land was firm and how far the British volleys would reach when fired. Jamie couldn’t do it because Charles wouldn’t be pleased with him endangering himself… however, Dougal could. It would be a chance to prove himself to the Prince, commanders, and other men.
So Dougal got on horseback and rode out. On both sides, the Highlanders and Redcoats watched his progression. Even Prince Charles came to watch and was impressed. As Dougal got closer, the horses legs started to sink into the bog. The British also started firing at him. Eventually, Dougal had to get off and physically turn his horse around. Dougal was able to get away unharmed, but his hat was shot off his head, which was also grazed. Dougal’s mission was a success and the Highlanders hailed his return. Prince Charles even embraced Dougal: “Mark me, if I had 100 men like you, this war would be over tomorrow.”
They also now knew the Highlanders couldn’t charge through Tranent Meadows. General Murray suggested the army return to Edinburgh, but Charles disagreed. The Jacobites couldn’t wait for the British to lay siege to the city. They would need to figure out a way to break the stalemate.
Dougal refused to get medical treatment for where the bullet grazed his head; however: “And now, I’m off to change my breeks because the hero of the hour has shat his pants.” (LOL!)
Meanwhile, Claire was getting the field hospital ready. The doctor (MacPhearson) had left a few days ago; however, they still had his medical bag, which would be useful. Claire was joined by five other women and Fergus. She delegated tasks, including making sure the buckets of water were filled, the fire was burning, and the instruments were cleaned.
Fergus wasn’t too happy about being relegated to “women’s work” and said as much.
Later that evening, a young man (Richard Anderson) arrived at the camp saying he had important information. He had grown up in the area and claimed there was a way down from the ridge where the Highlanders were currently, a secret trail that would lead them around the bog and allow them to surprise the British camp. Fergus brought Richard to Claire, who then took him to Jamie, Lord Murray, and Prince Charles.
Richard agreed to lead the Jacobites across the meadow. Even though Charles wanted to wait to hear what Quartermaster O’Sullivan would think, Jamie and the General advised him not to delay.
Back at the camp, Kincaid and Ross spoke with one another. Ross asked Kincaid to take care of his wife and croft if he died in battle. Ross also promised to take care of Kincaid’s wife and six children if Kincaid died. “What’s mine is yours, and yours mine.” They spit in their hands and shook on it.
Angus overheard this exchange and wanted to enter into a similar agreement with Rupert. He said Rupert could have his sword, dirk, sporran, and his favorite part-time whore/barmaid Scarlet. However, Rupert didn’t accept. Rupert also told Angus to be quiet before he brought bad luck upon them.
Elsewhere, Jamie talked to Murtagh about the upcoming battle. Murtagh was concerned that in this war, as one of a 2,000-man army, his death would be meaningless. Over half the men would have to die for there to be any meaning to the battle. Jamie didn’t have any words of comfort… in Paris he almost lost his marriage trying to stop the Jacobite rebellion, but failed. However, Jamie did share Murtagh’s feelings.
While Jamie was speaking to Claire and encouraging her to rest up for the next day’s battle, Fergus came to appeal that he be allowed to fight; he could sneak into General Cope’s tent and steal his sword. A general couldn’t fight without his sword. When Jamie decided that Fergus should stay behind and help with the hospital and protect Claire and the other women.
Murtagh, Angus, and Rupert came to get Jamie so they could begin their march down the trail. Before, leaving, Angus asked for a kiss from Claire… what if it was his final request? Would Claire deny him? She kissed Angus; however, Rupert prefered to save their embrace for when they celebrated their victory. Murtagh promised Claire that he would watch over Jamie (“Always.”)
Murtagh: “We will win the day, correct? It is the promise of history.”
Claire: “Yes, we will win this day.”
Then Jamie and Claire shared their goodbye kiss.
Claire: “On your way, soldier.” (*Season 1 FEELS*)
And the Highlanders were off.
They made their way through the dark, led by Richard. And we saw that Fergus had gone with them (YIKES!)
As dawn rose, the Highlanders had reached the British camp. Jamie requested that General Murray and the Quartermaster keep Prince Charles in the back with them. Charles objected, saying it was his right and destiny to lead his men into war.
Jamie: “Your Royal Highness must realize this rebellion would never survive your death. Besides, regaining the throne would never mean as much to King James if the son that made it possible wasna there to share the moment wi’ him.”
Charles: *whispers* “A touching sentiment James. Mark me, I don’t believe my father is all that fond of me.” (*SNORT*)
At Jamie’s signal, the Highlanders charged through the fog and gave their battle cry. A very bloody battle ensued. The Highlanders cut down many Redcoats, even as the British tried to rally and fire their cannons.Fergus stood in the midst of all this, shocked by the carnage.
The British took off running in retreat, General Gardner shouted for the men to stand their ground. Gardner saw Rupert and charged him, cutting Rupert with his blade. But before Gardner could come back around to finish Rupert off, Angus shot him with a pistol. Afterwards, there was a massive explosion that knocked Angus down. Rupert also fell over from his injuries.
Back at the camp, Claire and the field hospital ladies heard the cry. Claire also gave them a pep talk. She understood their fear and doubt, but the men were counting on them. Soon, the hospital became very busy. Unfortunately, Ross brought Kincaid back, but Claire pronounced him dead. Ross was devastated.
The British prisoners also started arriving at the field hospital for help. At the same time, Angus carried Rupert in and demanded Claire help him. She saw the wound and set about to sew it closed before infection set in. As Claire worked, Rupert wanted to know if Angus was blown up. But Angus said it was just a cannon blast. He looked alright, and when Claire finished with Rupert, Angus watched over his friend, hoping for his recovery. Claire took a look at Angus and saw that his eyes were clear… at most it was a mild concussion. Furthermore, Angus insisted that he was fine.
Jamie and Murtagh finally returned to the field hospital and declared that the Highlanders had won and General Cope was in retreat, and Highlander casualties were minimal. If they had a cavalry, they could have pursued, captured Cope, and put an end to the rebellion.
Claire also found Fergus outside and he was clearly not alright. He wasn’t injured, but Fergus had killed an English soldier with his knife. He was tired and in shock, but Claire promised to take care of him.
Back at the battleground, Dougal was making sure that the remaining English soldiers were dead by stabbing them, even those who were injured but alive. He came across Lieutenant Jeremy Foster, the redcoat who had taken Dougal and Claire to Fort William to meet Lord Thomas and Black Jack Randall (Season 1: “The Rent”, “The Garrison Commander”). Foster asked that Dougal help him get to the field hospital, but Dougal wasn’t finished with his slaughter. According to Foster, the Highlanders had won victory today, but there was no way the Jacobites would win this war (this was said with sincerity and candor). Dougal was not happy with Foster’s claim, and then stabbed him in his stomach until he died.
At the field hospital, Rupert (who was still alive) was laid next to Kincaid (who had died). Angus and Ross were both there, and Ross made sure to say that they didn’t run. Angus acknowledged this. Murtagh and Jamie joined Angus, speculating that Rupert would be fine. Afterwards, Angus took his ale and went to sit down.
While Claire was passing by, she saw a bruise on Jamie’s side…he’d been stepped on by a horse during the English retreat. She told him to urinate in a cup to see if there was any blood in his urine. Of course, Jamie then took wagers with the Redcoats to see if he could make the aim from a certain distance. While Jamie urinated, Prince Charles arrived to observe the field hospital. Charles thanked Jamie for the victory. He also spoke about unifying the English and Scots: “If this victory had been over foreigners, my joy would be complete. But as it is over Englishmen, it brings a damp chill over my heart…I came here in the interests of both our countries, which are in truth, but one country…”
Prince Charles was interrupted when Dougal swept in, cheering the Highland victory, and them trying to kill the Redcoat prisoners in the hospital.
Prince Charles was disgusted by Dougal’s actions, after all, the redcoats were also his father’s subjects. Charles ordered Jamie to have Dougal removed from their ranks: “there is no place for such wanton disregard for Englishmen in my army.”
But Jamie spoke out for Dougal, calling him a true warrior, “despite his foolish tongue.” The Jacobites would need every man to win this war. So instead of banishing Dougal, why not promote him the captain of Charles’ new Highlander Dragoons. He and 15 riders would follow the Redcoats, report British movements, and disrupt their supply lines. That way they could use Dougal’s abilities and Charles would never have to see him again.
Prince Charles agreed, and speaking to Dougal: “You are in his [Jamie’s] debt, rogue. See that he does not come to lament his benevolence.”
Dougal thanked Jamie, but also realized that there was an ulterior motive. Yes Jamie championed him, but he also had Dougal exiled.
Dougal then went to Angus to ask about Rupert, but Angus was not well. He was coughing up blood and couldn’t breathe. When Claire looked at Angus’ abdomen, she saw that he had been hurt in the cannon blast and had been bleeding internally this whole time. There was nothing Claire could do. Angus struggled, almost as if he was begging for someone to save him… Claire held him until he died. Then, as Angus requested, Rupert (who was now OK) got up and took Angus’ sword.
That night, the Highlanders drank and celebrated their victory. Meanwhile, Dougal, Murtagh, Claire, and Jamie mourned Angus.
Murtagh: “I expected the flavor of victory to taste sweeter.”
Jamie: “Aye. War tastes bitter, no matter the outcome.”
Jamie acknowledged that Claire had been right about the Battle of Prestonpans…
Claire: “I was, wasn’t I? That means I’m also right about the disaster awaiting us at Culloden.”
The episode ended with (drunk) Rupert and Ross singing a song and toasting Angus and Kincaid.
If you missed tonight’s episode, you can watch “Prestonpans” on STARZ Play online HERE or via the STARZ Play app.
Tonight’s episode was a very harsh wake-up call…war has arrived and there will be losses on all sides (RIP Angus). In addition, I’m incredibly concerned about Dougal’s zealousness for the Jacobite cause. Watch him… he’s dangerous.
Share your thoughts and in comments below!