Jamie and Dougal conflict over the best way to prepare the Fraser men for war. At the same time, Claire deals with PTSD related to her time as a World War II army nurse. Full recap of “Je Suis Prest”, including new images and clips (first aired Saturday, June 4 at 9:00pm ET|PT on STARZ).
“Je Suis Prest” opened with Jamie and Claire leading the Fraser men from Beaufort Casle and meeting Murtagh at Crieff. Murtagh had arrived five days before with the contingent from Lallybroch. However, Jamie and Claire had been delayed because several of their party (originally 100 men) had deserted and returned home. In fact, Young Simon was trying to gather the deserters and convince them to return to the Jacobite cause (promising land when the war was over).
After setting up camp, the next day Jamie and Claire set to their tasks—Jamie to oversee the men’s training, and Claire to prepare meals, take care of medical needs, and keep the camp running.
As promised, Fergus came with Murtagh to join Milady and Milord… but interestingly, Dougal MacKenzie had also arrived (with Angus, Rupert, and a few others… we learned that Willy had gotten married to an Irish lady and sailed off to the American colonies with her family). Even though Colum planned to remain neutral, Dougal was chomping at the bit. He couldn’t wait to join Prince Charles.
“When I heard you joined the Jacobite cause, I was so proud. It was as if my own son was taking his first steps as a man. Now I know that you and I have had our differences in the past, but I have been waiting for the day when we would fight together on the same side. It is our time. For glory… for Scotland.”
Jamie reminded Dougal that the men would first need training before joining the Jacobite army. Unsurprisingly, Lovat had kept his best men at Beaufort Castle. These were mostly tradesmen who had joined them, with no combat experience. Jamie and Murtagh had a lot of work to do and they would remain in Crieff to get the men ready. Dougal agreed to stay on and assist.
Jamie and Dougal observed as Murtagh tried to teach the men drills, but they could barely form straight lines and act in a coordinated fashion. Some of the men were upset that they were training with pitchforks and wooden weapons instead of real swords. However, Murtagh argued that they would go step by step: “First, you learn where to stand. Then you’ll learn how to move. And if you can manage the particulars of that, we’ll put a sword in your band and teach ye to kill redcoats.”
As time passed, the men continued their training—they drilled, sparred, fashioned weapons, made rifle ammunition, and learned how to fight using a broadsword. Dougal had a vigorous demonstration using a straw dummy.
Several times, Dougal tried to appeal to Jamie to join Prince Charles immediately: “…more clans are joining our cause every day. And their leaders are jockeying for position within his inner council.
Jamie: “We have more pressing concerns than worrying about securing a seat at the prince’s table.”
The Fraser men were in no condition to engage in any serious conflict. Jamie wanted to wait until they were well-trained and disciplined.
Jamie tried to convince the Fraser men of the necessity for training by telling them about his first time witnessing a modern and methodical military force. Yes the Scots had the heart and maybe even the moral high ground, but if they weren’t organized, they would be gunned down by volley after volley of musket balls “like a sheet of metal rain, cutting down men left and right without mercy.”
Jamie: “It takes more than courage to beat an army like that. It’s takes discipline. It takes a well-trained soldier, an army of soldiers. Now if we have the discipline to stand together, to march together, and to fight together, then by God, I ken we will win together.”
The men seemed motivated… that is until Dougal and the other MacKenzies came running towards the assembly, wielding their broadswords and screaming their war cry. Jamie’s instructions were forgotten as the Fraser men dispersed.
Here we saw a difference of training tactics that brought Jamie and Dougal into conflict. While Jamie believed the formal drills would best get the men ready to face the redcoats, Dougal believed using the element of surprise via a Highland guerrilla raids would work.
Dougal: “I ken ye’re trying to do what ye think is best, but I was teaching men to fight while you were still sucking your mother’s tit, God rest her. So I think I know a wee bit more about this than you do.
Jamie: “No. No, you don’t. I ken what these men will face and I know how to prepare them for it. You don’t. And these are my men, my clan. They’ll answer to me and no one else… if you choose to fight with Clan Fraser then you’ll respect my orders without objection.”
Dougal appealed to Claire, asking her to speak with Jamie and allow him to help with the training. Dougal even brought up Claire’s promise to marry him if Jamie died (perhaps as leverage or blackmail, Season 1 “The Search”). But Claire wouldn’t be cowed. She had already told Jamie about Dougal’s proposal and there was no problem. Claire even called Dougal a narcissist and told him to stop trying to convince everyone of his patriotism. Everyone knew that the only reason Dougal wanted King James restored was for his own selfish gain. Interestingly, Dougal agreed that he was narcissistic, but took issue with Claire calling out his patriotism: “I do love my reflection. But make no mistake lass, I love Scotland more. And I would give everything, everything I have or ever will have, including my life, to see a Stuart back on the throne.”
Later that night, Dougal brought ten local men to the camp as recruits. However, when Jamie talked to the “volunteers”, telling them how dangerous the war would be and that they would be gone from home for months and maybe even years, we started to see that the men weren’t there of their own free will. And when Jamie told them they could leave without facing any retribution, every one of the men left.
Jamie: “A man that fights for his own beliefs is worth ten that are forced to fight for someone else’s.”
The men who were on watch (Ross and Kincaid) were punished the next morning for not properly guarding camp. They were each given six lashes with a belt and Murtagh carried out the punishment while the camp watched. Furthermore, Dougal and his men would be in charge of sentry duty.
In the midst of all this, Claire was experiencing serious PTSD. The flashbacks to her time as a nurse during World War II were leaving her rattled.
As she watched the Fraser men train, she remembered watching the American soldiers who had arrived in Europe after D-Day train.
When she saw Fergus playing shinty with some of the men, she flashed to American soldiers playing baseball in their down time.
When the men ate, she had a particularly vivid flashback to meeting two American soldiers, Corporal Caleb Grant (from Yonkers, New York) and Private Max Lucas (from Texarkana, Arkansas) during a meal. They bonded over the bad food and George Bernard Shaw—“The British and Americans, two people separated by a common language.” (It seems that Claire learned “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ” from Corporal Grant!)
When Claire tried to warn Rupert and Angus about the dangers of not taking proper care of their feet, she flashed back to warning a contingent of soldiers about how to prevent Trench Foot. At one point, she even imagined a WWII soldier sitting in front of her in 18th Century Scotland.
Jamie noticed that Claire was acting strangely, but when he asked, she said she was fine. Even still, Jamie apologized to Claire and made a promise: “I’m sorry… Sorry for bringing you here. I want you to know, whatever happens, we’re going to get through this. I’ll make sure you’re safe.”
However, Claire’s most intense flashback happened while Jamie and the men were having target practice. She had a memory of riding through the night with Corporal Grant and Private Lucas and helping them search for other members of their unit. They came under German fire and had a car accident. Both Corporal Grant and Private Lucas died and Claire hid in a ditch, covering her ears, until the morning when she was found by other American soldiers.
And in the present, Claire cowered from the gunfire until Jamie came to find her. She told him about the memory and the guilt she felt for not going to help Corporal Grant and Private Lucas that night.
“For two years I’ve tried to stop this war from coming. Now that it’s here, I’m not sure that I’m ready to go to war again.”
Jamie told Claire that she could return to Lallybroch, but Claire didn’t want to leave.
Claire: “If I go back then it will just be like lying in that ditch again, helpless and powerless to move, like a dragonfly in amber (*DING*DING*DING*)… except this time it will be worse, because I’ll know that the people out there dying alone are people I know. People I love. I can’ do that, Jamie. I won’t lie in that ditch again. I can’t be helpless and alone ever again.”
Jamie: “I hear ye. I promise, whatever happens, you’ll never be alone again.”
That night while Jamie was relieving himself, he was attacked from behind by a man with a dagger. Jamie was able to subdue him and break his arm and when Murtagh and other men arrived, we saw that it was a 16-year old kid. He was delivering a letter and saw the light from the camp’s fires. When he came to investigate he recognized Jamie as “Red Jamie, the unprincipled and traitorous rebel.”
Jamie tried to question him about the location of the camp he marched with, even twisting the broken arm. The young soldier was prepared to die… that is until Claire came downstairs and put on the act of being Jamie’s captive. She promised that if Jamie let the boy go free, she would give into his advances. Jamie joined the ruse and said that unless the young man gave up the information, he would violate “this English lady’s honor.” (At one point it seemed like Claire got too into it because she kneed Jamie and seemed to really hurt him. *LOL*)
We learned that his name was William Grey, second son of Viscount Melton, and that he was travelling with a contingent of 200 soldiers on their way to Dunbar. He also gave details about their cannons, muskets, and current location.
Jamie asked some of his men to take William Grey to the location of the British camp and if the information was true, to tie him to a tree one mile away. If not, then they could cut his throat.
Jamie returned William’s dagger and said: “I give you your life. I hope you use it well.”
William: “I owe you my life. I should greatly prefer not to, but since you have forced the gift upon me, I must regard it as a debt of honor. I should hope to discharge that debt in the future, and once it is discharged, I will kill you.
Jamie: “Then I must hope, sir, that we do not meet again.”
William: “A Grey does not forget an obligation, sir.”
Later, when trying to figure out how William was able to get into the camp undetected, Dougal and his men took the blame. However, Jamie believed he was careless too, especially when it came to the camp’s unshielded fires (which is what drew William to them). Jamie asked that Murtagh give him six lashes for the unshielded fires then 12 more for his carelessness. Jamie took off his shirt, showing everyone his scarred back, and Murtagh gave him the punishment.
Afterwards, Jamie, Murtagh, and a few other men masked their faces with ash and raided the British camp. They unlatched their cannons from their wheels, burned the wheels, and took the cotter pins. (Dougal and the other MacKenzies would stay behind and guard the camp… and Dougal wasn’t very happy with this order, but agreed, nonetheless).
When Jamie returned, he woke Claire to tell her about their success and thank her:
“Our success tonight was because of your selflessness, Claire. It led the lad to confess his camp’s location. It’ll save lives.”
Then the packed up camp to leave Crieff before the British could find them. They rode to Perth to join Prince Charles army. Jamie gave Dougal the honor of riding ahead to announce their presence to Prince Charles.
Jamie: “No turning back now, Sassenach.”
Claire: “I would say not. Je suis prest.”
If you missed tonight’s episode, you can watch “Je Suis Prest” on STARZ Play online HERE or via the STARZ Play app.
Read more of our thoughts/flails/feels about “Je Suis Prest” (with GIFs!) HERE.