Jamie returns to Culloden prepared to fight to the death. Meanwhile, Claire makes a new beginning, but finds her grief overwhelming and expectations from Frank (and society) restricting. Full recap of “The Battle Joined”, including new clips (first aired Sunday, September 10 at 8pm ET|PT on STARZ).
Sing me a song of a lass that is gone… Was I the only person crying from relief because Outlander is back???!!!
“The Battle Joined” begins in at the end of the Battle of Culloden, with heartrending scenes of Scottish soldiers dead on the moor, while the British walk through to collect valuables (loot) and ensure the Scots are really dead by shanking them with bayonets. In the midst of this, we come to Jamie, who seems to have just come to. He’s barely breathing, but able to observe some of what’s going on around him, including the continued violence being done to his fellow Scotsmen around him. Time passes (who knows how long…), but as Jamie begins to recall what happens, we see a series of vignettes of the battle.
As soon as Jamie descends from Craigh na Dun (after sending Claire through the stones), he returns to Culloden to fight to the death. Jamie is less than pleased with Prince Charles’ big words about celebrating his success when the day is done, especially when Charles dawdles about giving the command to charge while the British rain cannon balls down upon them. Eventually, the face-to-face combat begins. The Scottish put up a fierce fight, but you know they’re out-gunned by the British forces. It’s devastating to watch. While Jamie fights, he comes across Murtagh who has returned after seeing the Lallybroch man safely home. They lose track of each other in the fight, but then Jamie and Black Jack Randall see each other across the battlefield. Both just know that this will be the face-off they’ve been waiting for. Jamie and BJR charge towards one another, clashing swords and daggers, striking and parrying, around and around. Jamie (quite deeply) in his thigh, but Jamie responds by stabbing BJR in the gut. Even when the fighting around them has stalled (because the other soldiers are mostly dead), Jamie and BJR continue. It’s violent, exhausting, and strangely erotic. Eventually they collapse… the entire time Jamie has been on the moor, there has been a dead Red Coat on top of him, and when Jamie shifts a little, we see that it’s BJR. A fitting end to an abhorrent man, no?
When we come back to Jamie laying on the moor, it’s night time. It’s starting to snow a little and Jamie can see a little rabbit sniffing about. He then sees Claire dressed in white, crossing the field between dead soldiers, and approaching him. Claire asks “Are you alive” But it’s really Rupert who is asking, who has come back to save him. Jamie really just wants to be left alone to die (his grief is so palpable), but Rupert is insistent. As he and another fellow soldier lift Jamie (still bleeding from his thigh), Jamie drops the dragonfly in amber (the wedding gift from Hugh Munro).
Later, we see Rupert has brought Jamie to an abandoned shack where other Highland soldiers are in hiding from the British patrols. Jamie asks about Murtagh, but no one has any news.
Lord Melton and his patrol of Red Coats find the Highlanders and declare that they have been ordered to execute all men who participated in the rebellion. Rupert, speaking on behalf of the soldiers, admit to being traitors. Lord Melton gives them an hour to prepare and write letters before they will all be shot.
One by one the men give their name to Lord Melton’s secretary and are taken out and shot. At one point, Rupert tries to ask for mercy for two young men, Giles McMartin and Frederick McBean, but not even youth will be granted clemency.
Gordon Killick asks if Jamie wants to send a letter to his family or to Claire, but Jamie replies that she’s gone. When Lord Melton asks if any man wants to volunteer to be next, Gordon says a final goodbye to Jamie, who promises to see him again soon.
Then Rupert makes his final goodbye to Jamie too. They make jokes about Angus’ snoring and how it will be nice to see their friend again. Rupert doesn’t necessarily forgive Jamie for killing Dougal, but leaves the judgements to God. Then Rupert Thomas Alexander MacKenzie volunteers to meet the firing squad next… (RIP!)
When the only Highlanders left are those unable to stand on their own, Lord Melton announces that they will be propped up to be shot. Jamie volunteers to go next. As he’s reciting his name to the secretary, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, Lord Melton freezes. When Jamie confirms that he’s also known as Red Jamie and that he spared the life of a young man John Grey, Lord Melton reveals that Grey is his brother. And because of the debt on honor on his family, Melton can’t kill Jamie without discrediting his brother’s word. Jamie insists that he wants to be shot, but Melton makes another plan. He bribes a local man with a wagon to transport Jamie home to Lallybroch. Melton doesn’t expect Jamie to survive, but at least his death won’t be on the Grey family.
Yet Jamie does make it home to Lallybroch and is reunited with Jenny and Ian.
In 1948, Claire and Frank have arrived in Boston and just arrives at their new home. Things are still awkward between them, but both are trying. Frank even makes jokes about American-isms “rustling.” A few months later, Claire is visibly pregnant and becomes frustrated after having difficulty lighting the gas stove. As she sits down in front of the fireplace to calm her nerves, a memory becomes an epiphany. Claire ends up getting firewood so she can cook on an open flame, like she’d do in the 1740s. Claire also meets her neighbor Millie Nelson, a friendly, kinda nosy woman. Millie is a little surprised that Claire would just decide to cook without clearing it with Frank (something she’d never dare with her own husband, Jerry). Millie insists that Claire is lucky to have someone as progressive as Frank: “You won’t find another man like Frank again.” Yet Claire (and we) know that there’s another man much better suited for her *sigh*
Soon Frank takes Claire to a mixer at Harvard’s History Department. Things seem to be going well. Dean Jackson (Frank’s superior) is a pompous man who disdains Henry Truman’s election as president. Interestingly, Frank argues that Truman stands a better chance in his re-election campaign against Thomas Dewey. Claire backs Frank up, citing an article she read in the Boston Globe that suggests Truman has more support with working class voters. You can feel the tension rising in the room as other professors and their wives are shocked that Claire would openly challenge the Dean’s assessment. Dean Jackson admonishes Frank to watch what Claire reads and makes a joke warning that she will soon be advocating women get into Harvard Law School. Claire responds that the Medical School started admitting female students just three years prior (of course Claire would have researched that!). Frank offers some support by sharing how Claire was a combat nurse during World War II. Dean Jackson’s offers some ridiculous response about how it’s nice that Claire was patriotic in time of need, but surely must be happy to return to more suitable domestic activities. UGH. Misogynist AF. Claire is incensed, but she lets it go and allows the conversation to transition. But the constraints society is placing upon are chaffing…
Yet Claire settles into her new life. One morning as she’s making breakfast, she uses the stove with no issues. Frank joins her, now lamenting American tea bags. But Claire likes it. America is young, eager, always looking to the future (Did anyone else hear Hamilton’s “I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry?” 😉 ). Claire still gets distracted from time to time with longing for Jamie…seeing a beautiful bird chirping by the flowers outside. But she’s trying. Claire even suggests to Frank that they apply for American citizenship. She wants their child to have a real home. Hearing her say this makes Frank a little emotional. It’s the first time Claire has referred to the baby as theirs. When Frank moves to touch her baby bump, Claire tenses and shifts. UHOH. Frank refuses to relinquish their English citizenship (he just fought a war to defend his country), but he and Claire know that the conversation between them is much bigger. Frank accuses Claire of using her pregnancy to distance herself from him. Claire is frustrated too. They agreed to never talk about the past, what else does he want from her? Is it about sex? Claire advises Frank that the girls of Radcliffe (Harvard’s sister school) would die over his accent. When Frank responds that he isn’t the one who’s been “fucking” other people, Claire throws an ashtray at his head. YIKES. Frank leaves the house for work, but before doing so, reminds Claire that he isn’t forcing her to stay with him. The decision has always been, and still remains, hers.
That night, Frank (on the couch) is having a hard time falling asleep. He decides to write a letter to Reverend Wakefield asking for some research into James Fraser. Before he can finish writing, Claire interrupts because her water has broken. At the hospital, Dr. Thorne continues the misogynist BS, only asking Frank questions. Claire does reveal that she had a miscarriage about a year ago (Faith 🙁 ), but Frank takes the news in stride. He’s more concerned that Claire will try to smack that annoying doctor. When Claire is taken to the delivery room, she is put under against her will and told not to worry her pretty little head about anything. Claire tries again to assert her ability to decide how she wants her baby delivered, but she’s given anesthesia anyway. (Ugh, what a violation!)
When Claire wakes up, she’s frantic, asking about her baby. For a second, she thinks the baby died, but Frank enters the room with their little girl. In that moment Frank and Claire vow that this will be a new beginning for them, together. It’s a beautiful moment… that is, until the nurse comes in and asks where the baby gets her red hair from and reinserts all sorts of tension back into the situation… LAWD.
For me, three things stand out most in “The Battle Joined”. First, Sam’s performance is brilliant, the shining star in a poignant episode. Even after watching several times, I’m still blown away by Sam’s ability to convey Jamie’s grief…his eyes, his breaths, his sparsity of words. It’s devastating to watch because he’s lost Claire, his best friends, and his countrymen. Where can Jamie go from here?
Second, as I’ve said, 1940s American was misogynist AF. I know the scene with Dean Jackson is offensive, but I’m more upset by the hospital scenes. The fact that a woman would have no say in the delivery of her child, be put under anesthesia against her will, shocks me to my core. It’s infuriating and scary, because this wasn’t *that* long ago. And of course, Cait is phenomenal as she portrays Claire’s determination to assert her agency.
Finally, I don’t know what to with with my Frank-feels. I really despise Book-Frank. He’s abusive, racist, and, in my opinion, his one redeeming quality is his care for Brianna. With that said, Tobias’ Frank calls my disdain into question. I sympathize with his frustrations with Claire because he just wants his wife back. There’s so much hope at the end of the episode that maybe Frank and Claire can reclaim some of what they used to have. But then the nurse with her ill-timed comment reminds us that the huge gulf between Claire and Frank might not be so easy to traverse.
For even more of my thoughts (and LOTS of feels and laughs), please take a look at the my video review of “The Battle Joined” with Katie below!
If you missed tonight’s episode, you can watch (or rewatch) “The Battle Joined” on STARZ Play online HERE or via the STARZ Play app.
How are you doing Sassenachs? Share your thoughts and flails below!