Review: Outlander S2E11

Vengeance is Mine

Contributed by Julie Chaston

Jamie is angry. As the episode opens he’s desperately trying to help Prince Charles convince his generals that it's worthwhile to press on to London (since winning at Prestonpans, the Jacobites have taken large parts of northern England). The generals are completely against the idea, dismissing Jamie’s arguments and refusing to stand with the Prince. Isn't that mutiny? The Prince is devastated, for all his efforts he only has one man standing by him...and that man has an ulterior motive: to change history.
The next morning, Dougal brings news that they are to go on ahead to Inverness, ostensibly to set up lodging and provisions for the rest of the army…but really just to get rid of Jamie, who the generals think is too close to the Prince. Said Prince has already been spirited out during the night - taking Jamie’s horse. (Sorry Charlie, you just lost any sympathy I had for you!)
So Clan Fraser start back north through some gorgeous scenery. I’m not sure why the director had the horses walk in slow motion for the first couple of shots, I guess they were conserving their strength for the later race through the woods. That was fun, I love when actors get to show off some of their skills; here we had our leads really riding real horses at real speeds.

During the chase, Rupert is shot in the eye. They hide out in a small chapel, where Claire is able to remove the musket ball and sew him up (those Highlanders are tough!), but the British find them anyway. Against Jamie’s better judgement, Claire offers herself up in another “save me from these brutes” scenario. Being men of honour, the British agree - not knowing that the notorious “Red Jamie” is with them. (Sam Heughan was spot-on throughout this scene, culminating in the look on Jamie's face as he handed Claire to Dougal: it was taking everything he had not to grab her back.)

Jamie and Murtagh head out to rescue Claire...who is being taken to a “big house owned by a rich Englishman” instead of the garrison they expected. The Englishman turns out to be one of Claire’s least favourite person: the Duke of Sandringham (not sure why his estate is nowhere near Sandringham...) However, he plays nice - for now - and convinces Claire he also needs rescuing, since he's sort of under house arrest for being a suspected Jacobite sympathiser. With the help of the Duke’s messenger and Jamie’s friend, beggar Hugh Munro, they get word to Jamie.

Earlier, Jamie recited a touching Gaelic prayer to Claire as she slept, asking for her protection. Gaelic is usually not subtitled (the audience is supposed to be in the same boat as Claire: not understanding it) but this was. The writer of this episode said that in this instance, she wanted the audience to know what Jamie was saying. Apparently Claire thinks she’s learned Gaelic though, a notion quickly dispelled by Murtagh as he and Jamie try to decipher the note she sends them. However, it did give us one of the best lines of the episode: “She's even misspelled ‘help’”.

Meanwhile, the dastardly Duke has double-crossed Claire: seeing a way to get back in the British army’s good graces, he’s told them to expect Red Jamie. Things slide further downhill when it turns out he was the one who arranged the attack on Claire & Mary in Paris, as payment for a debt to the Comte. Claire is locked in her room, but later let out by Mary (who is conveniently also at the house, being the Duke’s goddaughter). Claire comes up with a plan - which a babbling Mary initially bails on - and ends up stuck in the kitchen with the Duke. Mary finally does her part, nearly gets caught, and is escorted into the kitchen by the Duke’s servant (who also happens to be her rapist), Danton. At that moment Jamie and Murtagh burst in to rescue them. Everyone is yelling and waving weapons and fists about, and as the truth comes out about the attack in Paris. Mary gets her revenge by stabbing Danton.

Murtagh never had much use for the Duke anyway - and the guilt he’s been harbouring over not being able to to stop what happened to Claire and Mary pushes him to the limit. With a few swings of the axe, the Duke’s head is separated from his body. A fitting end to the character, although Simon Callow played the simpering, duplicitous Duke of Sandringham perfectly. [There’s a wonderful shot of the actor grinning as he holds up his ‘severed head’...a masterful job by the prosthetics department!]

Everyone is stunned into silence as Murtagh kneels and presents the dripping head to the ladies, proclaiming “I kept my word, I lay your vengeance at your feet.” Alrighty then! Quite the ending...and much better than the Duke’s ‘offscreen’ decapitation in the book.

I rarely comment here on the books, I always try to consider and enjoy books and show separately. But this week was unique - because the script for 211 was written by Diana Gabaldon (yes, the book’s author). To this book reader, it was very apparent: there were a few fleeting times I felt as though I was seeing the dialogue on a page, instead of hearing the actors say it. This didn't take away from the experience of the show at all, instead it was like a lot of little easter eggs: Claire describing to Rupert what pirates are like; Jamie’s comment to Claire about being a bad liar and the truth showing all over her face (something he does often in the books) are just a couple of those moments. I was also pleased that two characters who died during these events in the book, were still breathing at the end of this episode.

Of course that may change again next week!

Julie is a British-Canadian, currently living in Toronto. She enjoys walking, reading, wishes she had a TARDIS & believes aliens are probably already here. When it comes to TV "It's all about the characters!" You can follow her on Twitter @JulieChaston
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