**This is not a spoiler-free review/recap of the episode. If you have not yet seen the episode, read at your own risk.**
Episode 209: “Je Suis Prest”
Written by Matthew B. Roberts, Directed by Philip John
“I’d be powerless to move, like a Dragonfly in Amber.” –Claire Fraser.
Je suis prest indeed! Quick shout out on the official green light to Seasons 3 and 4! Whomp whomp!
It certainly feels good to be back in Scotland, and despite the promise of war, Jamie (Sam Heughan) looks remarkably at home amidst the foothills, Scottish sunshine, and his companions. This is Jamie’s (and Bear McCreary’s) episode.
As our gang of merry bandits train and test one another’s patience, McCreary is full throttle this episode, with a variety of Gaelic folk songs all featuring a male register. I’m not positive, but I think this episode’s theme includes a new arrangement of a song we first heard in Episode 108, Both Sides Now. I’ll call it out in the recap.
In addition to a reunion with our newest twosome Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) and Fergus (Romann Berrux), it absolutely gave me “the feels”—and giggles—to see the old band back together, complete with my favorite duo, the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the 18th century, Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) and Angus (Stephen Walters). (I do so love those donkeys.)
And just when we thought it was too good to be true, Dougal (Graham McTavish) makes himself known in classic Dougal fashion. (Uh, why hello Dougal’s torso. Don’t mind if I do!) Just giving kudos where they are due.
Per Jamie and Claire:
Like I mentioned above, for me this was clearly Jamie’s episode. Matt B. Roberts did one hell of a job with Jamie’s monologue recounting his first battle as a soldier in France. The shoot day was spectacular visually and Sam Heughan commands the soldiers and the screen. I loved his close-ups. An his knees.
Who knew Claire (Caitriona Balfe) experienced PTSD also? I appreciated the flashback moments. For me, they demonstrate the root of her resilience.
And then there was her amazing mic-dropping, super baller bad-assery moment with Dougal. She essentially says, “Team Fraser is an island, and you need to step off.” This was right up there with the infamous Pretty Woman “BIG mistake. HUGE!” scene. Claire Fraser FTW!
Overall, I’m thrilled with the Dragonfly in Amber installment but the heartache is setting in as Droughtlander approaches. We’re so close to the end already! As we ramp up toward the finale of Season Two, I wait with anticipation, baited breath and a stomach knot wound tight with anxiety. Thank God for Seasons Three and Four. #Voyager!
My one complaint: In the words of co-blogger Sarah, “WHERE IS THE SEX?!”
The episode opens on a mud puddle. Twentieth century wheels roll by, while men in boots traipse through.
Back in the 1740s, Claire confidently rides into frame on a white horse. Her narration picks up. The gang, now comprising Jamie, Claire and their small band of soldiers from Lord Fraser of Lovat—many of whom desert—head for Crieff. Jamie sends Simon after the deserters with the promise of land if they return. The plan is to train first and then later join Prince Charles and his army in Perth.
Upon arriving in Crieff, they happen upon a grinning Murtagh! He gives Claire a warm wink. Their remaining countrymen straggle behind. There is plenty of work to be done and improvement to be made. Jamie, Claire and Murtagh discuss Simon Lovat’s father-son drama with Jamie’s corrupt and bitter uncle, the Old Fox. Fergus and his mop-top pop out! He’s more than eager to tell the tale of woe that was his experience as Murtagh’s temporary ward: a story that sounds more like your standard unpaid internship, if you ask me.
Claire gives Fergus a motherly embrace and the two putter off. Wide shots of the Scottish landscape and people remind us we are firmly back home, as a male Gaelic folk singer croons a familiar traditional melody. (This is the song resembling the folk tune from Season One Episode 103 The Way Out, when the singer spins a tale of a fairy hill. Jamie says something to Claire about “oh yes, Sassenach. They always come back.”)
The next morning, the Scottish flag whips in the wind, and Team Fraser heads down the stairs of their lodging ready for work. Claire is off to manage the baking efforts in support of the troops. Despite impending war, Jamie seems much more comfortable within the natural terrain, as opposed to the French Court.
Hooray! Angus and Rupert arrive with hugs, kisses and gropes for Claire. They also bring news of Willie. Poor sweet Willie. The pair informs her that he is not dead, but worse. Married. To an Irish gal and currently headed to America.
Dougal joins the happy reunion. Claire gives him a scowl I can only describe as the look Jerry Seinfeld classically gave to his arch nemesis Newman, “Helllooo, Newman.”
“It wouldn’t be Scotland without you, Dougal.”–Claire Fraser.
The boys argue about how many Redcoats they fought off at Wentworth 200? 500?Meanwhile Dougal lays it on thick to Jamie with a creepy dad-like “I’m so proud of you … for glory, for Scotland,” diatribe, but Jamie has none of it. He reinforces that despite their men’s hearts and Scottish pride, they MUST learn to fight and soldier. Ever the petulant child, Dougal isn’t adjusting well to playing second fiddle. Claire, Murtagh and Jamie exchange glances.
Murtagh leads the volunteers, drilling them with line-up exercises in response to bagpipe signals. Jamie and Dougal observe. A gentleman in front scoffs and asks for “proper weapons.” A gruff and grumpy Murtagh explains that after they learn to stand, they will learn to march. After they learn to march, then they will learn to move. Then, they’ll get weapons.
As Claire watches, she begins flashing back (or forward?) to her experience as a combat nurse in World War II (WWII). Murtagh disappears and a British officer emerges. She shakes it off. Later, she spots Fergus learning shinty from some of the men. The image of a boy with a bat reminds her of the young American “Yank” soldiers playing baseball. Her flashes are washed in sepia tones, and the shell shock resurfaces with a vengeance. It affects those around her too, like Fergus. She angrily shakes him away from the game, berating him.
The first of two montages commence. In it Murtagh, Jamie and Dougal take charge, teaching offense and defense tactics including sword, knife and hand-to-hand combat.
Bear McCreary must have been in Scottish war song heaven, as these segments are rich with new folk songs and group male vocals and battle cries.
The montage ends with a sunset, and Dougal is convinced that if he’s not in charge, then he must obviously be a co-manager of sorts. He offers forces his opinion about the men and how regardless of their inexperience; they must push on and soon. Murtagh says there is no way in hell the troop is ready. Jamie, the King of Men that he is, says he won’t send his people to battle until they’re well trained and disciplined. This declaration doesn’t sit well with Dougal.
The group sets in for a meal, and Claire observes Angus choke on some parritch. She flashes again to WWII. She’s in the mess tent befriending two Americans—Corporal Caleb Grant and Private Max Lucas. (Bonus! It’s here we learn where Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! comes from.)—and chatting about food, home and the English language.
“I’m not sure where home is, to be honest. Not here, for sure.”–Claire Randall.
Back in their room, Claire stares into the fire, head in hands. “You all right lass?” Jamie asks. “Been very quiet last few days.” She picks up his Je Suis Prest cloak pin, but sees the WWII Airborne sleeve patch. “I am ready,” she says aloud. He apologizes for bringing her here.
“I want you to know what ever happens, we’ll get through this. I’ll make sure you’re safe.”–Jamie Fraser.
“I’m fine Jamie, really,” she responds. Remember the last time she said she was “fine”? Season One, Episode 108 Both Sides Now when she was nearly raped by a British officer. When Claire says she is fine, she is definitely not fine. The next morning, Murtagh is training and Jamie watching. The men march, looking bored.
“Foolishness and games. That’s what you’re thinking … we have God on our side. Why should we waste our time on this shite?” Jamie describes to them his first war experience in France, how cocky he was, almost excited. “And then the first volley goes…”
He gives his monologue of war, stark and violent, juxtaposed against a glinting hilltop landscape. It’s hard to tell if its morning or dusk. “The sound of gunfire like rolling thunder across the hills. By the time the last of it fades, the second volley is already on its way. I realized it takes more than courage to beat an army like that. It takes discipline.”
Dougal and his men crash the men’s silence, bodies painted and dressed only in their plaids. They wield their swords like madmen. “That’s how ya beat the redcoats! With a highland charge!” Dougal proclaims proudly. The men have disengaged but Jamie snaps them back to attention. He agrees with his uncle, the element of surprise would be an asset but also reminds all they can’t bank on it.
“A word with ye, Uncle,” Jamie says as the men disband. Dougal tries yet again to pull rank. Jamie lays claim to his army. “These are my men, my clan. They’ll answer to me and no one else. Now bugger off!” (Jamie doesn’t say that last bit, but it’s strongly implied.
Next on Dougal’s list of manipulation is Claire. He slithers up as she mixes a concoction over the fire and asks her to “talk to Jamie” on his behalf. When she refuses, he plays his hand at blackmail, threatening to tell Jamie of their prior agreement to marry in the event of his death. He wagers she hasn’t told him all the gory details. It’s a nonissue as she did in fact tell Jamie everything after his rescue and resuscitation. Dougal calls Jamie a better man than he. “Truer words have never been spoken!” she proclaims. She goes on to call him out as a narcissist and then uses her first of two F-bombs.
“So please, stop trying to convince everyone of your patriotism. It’s tedious.” —Claire Fraser.
Dougal admits to loving his reflection, but proclaims his love for Scotland and the Stuart king. This segues into the second montage. The men show improvement and raise swords in unison.
The next scene opens with the soldiers at target practice under Murtagh’s strict supervision. They need more work. Meanwhile, Jamie knows Claire is not herself. Murtagh agrees. He advises Jamie that it’s going to take more than asking to pry it out of her.
“Claire usually doesn’t beat around the bush. She speaks her mind whether you want to hear it or no.”–Murtagh Fraser.
Not surprisingly, Angus’s feet are the worse for ware. Claire lectures him on proper foot cleanliness and how to avoid trench foot. He says it’s nothing and he’ll bear it. She goes further and explains the dangers of poor hygiene and how it leads to amputation. Claire is in pure business mode. Then another flashback. She is back in WWII and being mocked by a front row boy. She gives Angus her second F-bomb.
It’s night now. The men sit around the fire pit and Rupert tells a dirty joke. Dougal appears with the gift of new troops. Jamie is dumbfounded and disappointed. According to Dougal, they are volunteers, but Jamie scares them straight. “This is treason. If we fail, all those who support the Stuarts are likely to end up on the scaffold.” He gives them the option to leave of their own volition. All of them go. Jamie scolds Dougal and doles out the consequences; he and his men will suffer sentry duty. He also relieves the current guards, Ross and Kincaid, of their posts and arrests them for allowing a new group to pass unquestioned, sentenced to a punishment of six lashes each. Murtagh wields the strap.
Claire is so not okay. Cut away to muskets loading. Claire carries a basket across the hill while Jamie trains his soldiers. As the guns fire, her duress increases. Jamie notices. She hyperventilates by the wagon before passing out. Another flash occurs. This time she is riding in an Army vehicle on a bomb-laden road. The Jeep explodes and she wakes in a crater, ears ringing, to the sounds of a man screaming. One American soldier is with her and German tanks are coming. She offers to retrieve the injured soldier. Her companion instructs her to “stay put” (familiar?). Her American friend is shot as he attempts to save the other. She spends the remainder of the night self-soothing in the fetal position and listening to pleas for “mama.” Another American finds her in the morning.
Claire wakes from her flashback to Jamie. She finally tells him of the war experiences that plague her still, but she also comes to terms with the situation. Jamie offers to take her home to Lallybroch. She says no, claiming that if she goes back it will be just like when she was in that ditch, powerless like a dragonfly in amber. Jamie promises that regardless of what happens, Claire will never be alone again and kisses her.
“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.”–Claire Fraser.
While Jamie relieves himself against a wall, he is attacked from behind. He successfully defends himself, breaking the assailant’s arm. After dragging him into the light, we learn the perpetrator is a young 16-year-old English boy carrying a letter to a British officer. He claims to have recognized Jamie from his Wanted poster as “Red Jamie” the traitor. Jamie interrogates him, under threat of torture starting with his arm. He heats his blade over the fire, intimidating the youngster as he asks of his traveling party’s direction, size and camp location.
Claire interrupts and offers a simpler method for extraction of information. She pretends to be British prisoner of Jamie the Scottish barbarian, and offers her body in exchange for the boy’s life. Jamie plays along, groping his wife in front of the lad. It works.
“Release the lady! I’ll tell you whatever you wish! … My name is William Grey.” —John Grey.
Jamie instructs his men to take the boy toward his camp and tie him to a tree one mile away, for his friends to find him in the morning. If he is lying, they must cut his throat. Jamie knows the boy is truthful. He then pockets his sword and tells the boy “I give you your life. I hope you use it well.” Young Grey promises a debt of honor in the future. Once discharged though, he vows to kill Jamie.
Because Dougal’s men were on watch when Grey snuck through, Jamie reinforces the disciplinary measure, more lashes. Dougal disrobes but this time so does Jamie. He assigns six lashes for carelessness plus an additional twelve to himself for the fires. Murtagh will do the job. We watch as Jamie receives eight whips from the business end of Murtagh’s belt. Shortly after, they slip into the British camp, and shenanigans ensue. Much to his chagrin, Dougal must stay behind as sentry duty calls.
The raid is on and the men infiltrate the British camp, steeling bolts and wagon wheels. We see them again later, lighting up the night sky in a bonfire. Jamie arrives home happy and camouflaged in war-like face paint. He wakes Claire and tells her the story of his “commando raid.” He’s quite pleased with himself. Though feeling amorous, he advises her to get dressed. They need to be on their way, as the British shan’t find their missing wheels and posts amusing in the morning.
“Our success tonight was because of your selflessness.”—Jamie Fraser.
The next morning, the soldiers march ahead with Jamie and Claire in lead on horseback. It’s a slow trudge but one filled with close-ups of our favorite characters.
As they arrive at Prince Charles Stuart’s encampment, Jamie throws Dougal a bone, “Do the honor, ride ahead and announce our arrival to Prince Charles Stuart.”
“No turning back now, Sassenach.”
Next Week, Saturday, June 11: Episode 210 “Prestonpans”
“Trusting in Claire’s knowledge of “history,” Jamie leads the Jacobite army into a critical battle with British opposition near the town of Preston. Meanwhile, Claire attends to the dead and dying, a reminder of the truest costs of war.”
Source (clips and photos): Starz