Episode 209: "Je Suis Prest" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 209 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Je Suis Prest".


There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.









The opening shot of a very obviously 20th-century vehicle is a little jarring, but it makes perfect sense after seeing the episode.

I liked Murtagh's bantering with Jamie in the first scene. "No much to look at, are they?"  Indeed they are not! And it was good to see Fergus again.

The music throughout this episode is just wonderful! I recognized the tune the man is singing immediately as the same one Gwyllyn the bard played on his harp at the end of Episode 103, "The Way Out".

Good to see Angus and Rupert! They have definitely been missed this season.

I am more ambivalent about seeing Dougal again, and I couldn't help but notice that Claire is less than thrilled to see him.

"Did Colum change his mind, then? Is the Clan MacKenzie to join the cause?"
"Colum's mind is his own. It's no concern of mine. We are here to pledge our hearts and swords to the glorious cause."

This makes no sense to me, in terms of the way the Highland clans operated. Dougal had no authority to take any of the MacKenzie men to war without his chief's approval, but here he doesn't seem to care one bit about what Colum thinks.

"They dinna march. They walk, they stroll, they caper about, but they dinna march." Good line.

I loved watching Murtagh as drill sergeant! He's terrific in that first training scene.

Claire's first brief flashback startled me, but it makes sense that she would be thinking about her previous experience in WWII.

"OK, Fergus, show us what you've got!" Apparently this clansman has been spending too much time with Claire, and her use of 20th-century slang has rubbed off on him. <g>  (Diana Gabaldon has commented on the fact that it's almost impossible to keep the actors from saying, "OK," even though it's not in the script.)

I liked the montage of the training sequence. The music was very good.

I laughed at the American soldier saying "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ." So that's where Claire got it from!

The contrast between the Fraser clan badge with "Je Suis Prest" on it and the WWII Airborne insignia was very effective in showing Claire's inner turmoil. I liked the quiet little scene between J&C. But when Jamie apologized for bringing her here, I wish Claire had pointed out that she insisted on coming with him, or something to that effect.

I liked Jamie's speech to the men (beginning, "Foolishness and games") VERY much! Sam did a tremendous job with that scene. It reminds me very much of Jamie's speech at the Gathering in FIERY CROSS chapter 15 ("The Flames of Declaration"), and you can see in this scene, finally, why he's a born leader.

And then, of course, Dougal's Highland charge (which looked like something out of BRAVEHEART) a moment later completely undercuts Jamie's message to the troops. No wonder Jamie was annoyed! But the timing made me laugh.

I liked the scene with Jamie and Dougal. Jamie seems finally to have found his confidence (perhaps having a taste of real leadership of a group of men for the first time helped with that), and he's no longer willing to defer to Dougal.

"If ye canna abide to these terms, take your men and be on your way."  Dougal looks rather stunned as he replies, "As ye say."

I was 100% on Claire's side in her confrontation with Dougal. I loved the way she met his gaze straight on when she said, "My husband and I share everything."  I think Claire, too, is much more confident than she was when she last had dealings with Dougal MacKenzie, and I saw flashes of La Dame Blanche when she looked at him.

I loved Claire's reaction when Dougal says, "He is a better man than I." I wanted to applaud when she grinned and said, "Truer words have never been spoken."

I was not expecting Claire to say "F*ck yourself," but I'm not surprised that she finally told him off. She's probably been wanting to say that to him since Wentworth.

"He's no your friend, OK?"  Another slip, this one by Graham McTavish. Oops. 

Another good montage of the men learning to fight.  The music in this scene is wonderful, and very fitting.  I liked Murtagh's line, "I am starting to feel proud!"  (As well he should!)  And when the men raise their pikes and other weapons into the air, we see where the bit in the opening credit sequence comes from.

"Claire doesn't usually beat around the bush. She speaks her mind, whether ye want to hear it or not." Good line from Murtagh, and something he learned from experience during the search for Jamie.

I loved Claire's reaction to the sight of Angus's feet. The transition to her memory of giving a lecture to WWII soldiers about foot hygiene was very effective, and I liked the look on her face as she steps outside. Very good performance by Cait!

"Ross and Kincaid" -- we're more than halfway through this episode, and this is the first reference to something specific from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER.

And again, Jamie has found his "leader of men" voice, talking to the new recruits. <g>  His line, "This is treason. If we fail, then all those who support the Stuarts are likely to end up on a scaffold", is based on a line from DRAGONFLY chapter 35, "Moonlight", in the scene where Jamie talks to Jenny.

"I'll not reive another clan's men." Good line!  The term "reiving" refers to the Highland tradition of cattle-raiding, and I liked Jamie's use of it here.

"You know, all I hear is talk, and talk, and more talk, about fighting and war and bein' a soldier, but I don't see any action." This sums up pretty succinctly how I felt about this episode on the first viewing. But I liked it much better the second time around.

I liked the fact that Jamie put Dougal in charge of the sentries. Good idea.

And FINALLY, we're back to the book!  The scene with Jamie punishing the sentries is very close to the way it's described in the book.

"Ross and Kincaid were neglect [sic] in their duties."  I think he means negligent. <g>

Six lashes doesn't seem like much, by the standards of 18th century army discipline, but it's probably all they had time to show in this scene.

Poor Claire, walking across the encampment and flinching every time a shot goes off. I liked the way she was trying to get a grip on herself, just before the flashback started.

Notice that Claire loses her helmet in the explosion when the jeep is hit. Presumably they did that for dramatic effect or something, but I didn't like it.  I don't find it believable that her helmet -- which appeard securely fastened a few moments before -- would just fly off like that. (I had the same reaction in Episode 101 when Claire goes through the stones and almost immediately loses her belt and wristwatch.)  And then she tries to stick her unprotected head up above their shelter? Idiot! She could have got herself killed, which would have put an abrupt end to the whole OUTLANDER story.

Very effective transition back to the 18th century. My first thought was, "Thank God Jamie found her!"

I liked the next scene, with Jamie and Claire, very much.

"For two years I've tried to stop this war from coming. Now that it's here, I'm not sure I'm ready to go to war again."  Good line. (Yes, her math is a little off. I'm not inclined to be picky about it. <g>)

"Helpless and powerless to move, like a dragonfly in amber."  This is not just a reference to the title of Book 2 of the OUTLANDER series. There are all kinds of references in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER to things that are stuck, unmoving, frozen. Here's a blog post I wrote a few years ago with some examples.

"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 like this very much! And of course Jamie's promise that "you will never be alone again" is major foreshadowing of his sending her back to Frank on the eve of Culloden.

I managed to stay away from spoilers for this episode, so I was quite startled (in a good way!) when the young William Grey showed up.<g> I'd been lying on the couch, and the instant I realized who the young man attacking Jamie must be, I sat bolt upright, absolutely riveted to the screen. This has always been one of my favorite scenes in DRAGONFLY, and I thought it was well done, though they cut out most of the funniest bits, as well as the young William Grey's unusual vocabulary. For example:
"Weel," he said, the Scots accent growing broader under the strain, "ye ha' my own word, of course, though I quite see that ye might have some hesitation in accepting the word of a ..."--his lip twitched despite himself--"of a Scottish poltroon. Perhaps ye would accept the assurances of the lady herself?" He raised an eyebrow in my direction and Kincaid sprang at once to free me, fumbling awkwardly with the gag.

"Jamie!" I exclaimed furiously, mouth freed at last. "This is unconscionable! How could you do such a thing? You--you--"

"Poltroon," he supplied helpfully. "Or jackal, if ye like that better. What d'ye say, Murtagh," turning to his lieutenant, "am I a poltroon or a jackal?"

Murtagh's seam of a mouth twisted sourly. "I'd say ye're dogsmeat, if you untie yon lass wi'out a dirk in yer hand."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36, "Prestonpans". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Interesting that in the TV version of the scene, it's Claire who comes up with the idea of making the boy talk by pretending to be Jamie's captive. But I was glad to see that most of this scene is taken straight from the book. The struggle between Jamie and Claire really was quite enjoyable, and very close to the way I've always imagined it (save for the fact that no bodices were ripped on TV). Claire's expression right after Jamie says, "Hold her" is just priceless. <g>

The "debt of honor" speech and Jamie's farewell to the boy are just about exactly as I always pictured from the book, except that I didn't expect Jamie to bow to him in farewell. I thought that was a nice touch -- a mark of respect, from one honorable man to another.

In the scene afterward with Jamie, Dougal, and the men, I thought it was really interesting (and probably wise!) that Jamie didn't go out of his way to rebuke Dougal or his men in public for the lapse in security that let the boy get through their perimeter. He could have been harsh with Dougal, but instead he took the blame, and the punishment, himself, exactly as he did in the book.

And then Jamie does something I really didn't expect, and orders Dougal to stay behind and guard the camp during the "commando raid".  And much to my surprise, Dougal acquiesces with hardly a word of protest -- in the process proving that he isn't, in fact, a complete narcissist after all, despite what Claire said earlier, because he's able to set aside his ego (at least in this situation) for the sake of the group as a whole.

It remains to be seen how long Dougal will tolerate this state of affairs, but I thought that was a really interesting way to resolve Dougal's story arc in this episode. This sort of creative approach to problem-solving has always been a hallmark of Jamie's leadership style in the books, and it's good to see it here as well, in a context that doesn't exist in the book.

The scene where Jamie returns from the raid was very good. The cotter pins are larger than I expected!

"You should get dressed."
"That's not what I expected you to say."


I love the marching song they used here. Very fitting, even if I don't understand a word of the Gaelic.

When Jamie tells Dougal to go down and "announce our presence to His Royal Highness, Prince Charles Edward Stuart", I took that was a peace offering of sorts, and a generous one at that, giving Dougal something he wants: a chance to meet the Bonnie Prince in person, and the opportunity to take the credit for bringing these additional troops.

I thought Claire's "Je suis prest" was a fitting way to end this episode. Ready or not, there's no way to avoid what they all know is coming.

Matt Roberts did an excellent job with the script for this episode. He's a longtime fan who really understands the characters, and it shows.

I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 210.

Here are my recaps of the previous Season 2 episodes:

Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions
Episode 204: La Dame Blanche
Episode 205: Untimely Resurrection
Episode 206: Best Laid Plans...
Episode 207: Faith
Episode 208: The Fox's Lair 

Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.


Kathleen V. said...

Well done, Karen! I liked this episode much better than the last one. I had the same thought when Claire was accusing Dougal of narcissism. According to wikipedia.org, a person with Narcissistic Disorder displays persistent grandiosity, has an excessive need for admiration and a lacks empathy for others. This very accurately describes Mr. Trump's outrageous behavior, but not so much Dougal's, who seems a typical bullheaded man.

Unknown said...

Nicely done! You always help bring me down when I'm not liking what they've done that's different from the books. It makes me crazy that they (the production people) complain that there isn't enough time to fit in the major parts of the book(s), and then they take up so much of the episode with things that weren't in the book(s). While there was some humor in this episode, I'd love to see more. The delousing instructions around the campfire would have been hilarious. What I'm really waiting for is (((SPOILER))) .....

for them to get to the ridge.

BetsyG said...

I'm with Cathie! I thought there was a bit too much extraneous material in 209 when we have a source of over 700 pages! I enjoyed your review,Karen, very much and I do think Matt Roberts wrote a brilliant episode with amazing acting! BUT I just don't think it was meant to be! I believe if Claire had that violent experience we would have known about it! Some PTSD yes just not a blown up jeep! Also I feel part of the defeat of the Highland forces was due to lack of training-- that is historically documented. So why spend 45 minutes on troops training??? Just rubbed me wrong in the DIA arc -- but the LJG scenes were very well done and I was thrilled to see them. Again as stand alone material I understand the episode - as a book reader I wasn't thrilled with this one anymore than 208.

♥Susanlynn said...

Karen, thank you very much for your review and thoughts. I love the show, but the many changes from the original story do not make sense to me. Diana wrote a wonderful story, but the writers seem to want to put their own personal spin on events. However, we get what we get , and I will not get upset. The actors are doing such a great job bringing these beloved characters to life. I do miss the scenes between JAmie and Claire from the books that are tender, funny, and sexy. We are getting a few but not enough to show the strong bond that has formed between them. I find myself dreading the sadness ahead . Every time I see Jamie and Claire together, I think " hold him, CLaire, kiss him , Claire...while you can."

Unknown said...

Hi all. Betsy, in regard to your comment about lack of training, I heard on a podcast that what put the final loss at Culloden in p,ace was an untrained Highland charge through boggy ground by one of the clans. I think we're seeing Jamie's insistence in training his men is the reason so many of the Frasier men were able to survive the battle ( aside from him trying to get them to desert and go home). Also the British learned to counter the charge by attacking the man coming from the right instead of the one right in front of them because the man at the right generally left himself open because the weapon was thrust with the right hand. Just a thought.

leaves on the Raney Tree said...

My husband, who hasn't read the books, sat spellbound. I think the writers want to put more action into these episodes to keep the male audience happy. You have to admit, the episode went by fast. I was pleased to see Lord John Grey appear as I had imagined him. Good review, Karen, as always.

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Karen, liked the episode very much felt the music was great for it, loved seeing Jamie & Claire reunited with the Highlanders from Castle Leoch , loved seeing Rupert and Fergus , when Dougal showed up I could tell that Jamie was thrilled to see him , Claire not so much , liked the training sessions and Jamie showing that he's a born leader and showed it to Dougal and made him understand that this was his army and the he was in charge , Dougal seemed to understand that , I also loved that Claire stood up to him and told him what she thought of him , the flashback scenes with Claire were understandable, and well done, also like the way Jamie was with his men, also felt the scenes with William Grey were very much like the book , so in a whole the episode was very well done and will be watching next weekend, please post more soon, sincerely Yours. Mary Tormey.

Anonymous said...

What about the absent Willie? I'm sure there's more to that story, behind the scenes, and I'm very curious what happened with the actor. Ron Moore and Matt Roberts hinted at something during their podcast. I really miss him, and wonder how that will impact a pretty major scene coming up...assuming it's the same Willie.

Brandy Bruce said...

My husband won't watch anymore. He says Claire is too annoying and bossy. I know she was suffering PTSD in this episode (which to me doesn't fit book Claire) but she did come across as over-the-top at moments, yelling the f-bomb at Angus and Rupert. She wouldn't stand for them talking to her that way, so I don't like the double standard that she can talk to people however she wants. I SO wish for more tender, loving moments between J & C! They hardly seem like a couple who are passionate. And again, they give Jamie's ideas to her. That seriously annoys me. I liked this episode because we finally saw Jamie take charge. But it feels like too little too late. I'm holding out for season three. But That one is my favorite book, and if it's still just the Claire show, I won't keep paying for Starz.

Susanlynn♥ said...

I noticed that Jamie shook hands with Angus and Rupert in this episode. I think that was the first time I saw SCots shake hands, or have I just not noticed before?

Bev Sykes said...

I have to admit that I'm very much liking including Murtagh in Clair's history.

Anonymous said...

What is the name of the marching song and who or what chorus sings it? Is it available for purchase? Thanks.

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