Written by author, Diana Gabaldon, this episode is full of action, chaos, confusion and emotion. Exactly what we expect from Diana’s writing. It moves at a fast pace, providing action and excitement and it moves the story along.
We open with a voice over by Claire providing an explanation of the passing of time since Prestonpans, the Jacobite army having succeeded in moving south, acquiring weapons and occupying Manchester. Disappointingly, a surge of support from Scottish lowlanders and Northern England did not happen. They are currently stationed in Northern England awaiting orders. Claire is biding her time attending to the dental (I don’t want to even think about it) and medical needs of the camp followers. Rupert’s comments do not help comfort Claire’s potential patients and Claire is not amused.
There is much dissent between Prince Charles Edward Stuart and the Generals regarding their next move. Uncertain about the location of the Redcoat forces, the Generals want turn back rather than march on London a mere five days march away. Still trying to change history, Jamie is the only one supporting the Prince. The Generals look disdainfully at Jamie. The Prince raises his voice, feeling betrayed, revealing his “fighting man’s heart”. Jamie realises that since the plan to march on London has failed, history will likely not be changed.
The table in front of the Prince and Generals displays the models of the troops shown in the opening sequence.
Jamie prepares his men to go back across the border, to see them safe, back to Lallybroch, for the winter. I guess that means “winter is coming”.
We next see Jamie bare chested, looking down at a sleeping Claire whispering a Gaelic prayer. Saying the things he cannot while she is awake, “your dreams will ken the truth of them”. This scene has all the hallmarks of author, Diana Gabaldon, who wrote this episode, touching and emotional, showing us intimacy between Jamie and Claire, with no overt sexual moves needed.
Next morning an upset Dougal enters their room, brandishing a note with orders that Lord Broch Tuarach proceed at once to Inverness with his men. Dougal realises both he and Jamie are being exiled by the Generals. Jamie cannot appeal to the Prince who has been removed by the Generals “at dawn” and has who taken Jamie’s horse (we hope Sleepy keeps safe). The saffron colored walls of the building (Culross) where the Prince and his Generals are convening provide an interesting change from the “brownlander” colours.
We see Jamie and the men making their way through glorious Scottish countryside, snowcapped hills in the background. It looks beautiful, but very cold. The men pause by a stream while the men and horses rest and Claire tends Ross who has a minor injury. They are ambushed by Redcoats and hurriedly scatter, intending for everyone to meet at the crossroads. Jamie, Claire, Murtagh, Fergus and Dougal ride through the woods, thinking they have lost the Redcoat patrol, but they are noticed and Rupert takes a musket ball to the eye. With Rupert injured they must find temporary shelter to tend his wound. They happen upon a church, where Claire is able to do some rough and ready surgery to remove the ball from Rupert’s eye. Mind you, despite his serious injury, Rupert does seem to be enjoying being comforted by Claire. Maintaining his sense of humour, Rupert exclaims it just as well he didn’t lose his good eye.
Redcoats appear outside the church demanding those inside surrender or they will fire the thatch on the roof. As a man with a price on his head Jamie is prepared to give himself up if he can bargain for the others to go free. Dougal realises this would be a death sentence. Claire takes it upon herself to call out to the Redcoats, saying she has been taken hostage by the Highlanders. Despite Jamie’s objection, Claire declares that as Lady Broch Tuarach she also has a responsibility to the men. This is a lovely way of highlighting the change in Claire’s relationship with the Highlanders, compared to the level of distrust in Season 1. Fergus suggests Claire fakes fainting to cover any expressions her face which may give away her real situation. Claire declares to Jamie “we will find each other, trust in that” as she is carried out of the church by Dougal and given over to the Redcoats. Dougal calls upon the honour of the Redcoats “I charge you personally with the lady’s protection”, to keep Claire safe.
The British and Claire set out, supposedly for the British garrison at Hazelmere. Jamie plans to follow and gain Claire’s freedom, Murtagh insists he must go with Jamie. Rupert tells Jamie, “when you find her, give her a wink for me, eh”. This being a slight twist book readers will understand and enjoy.
Claire leaves with the British soldiers, distressed that she cannot provide a trail “of breadcrumbs” for Jamie to follow. She is informed they are to stop for the night in Crich. Arriving in the town Claire is seen by the crouched figure of Hugh Munro. Claire is disturbed to see the wanted poster, with Jamie’s face drawn on it, tacked to the door of the tavern where they are spending the night.
Claire is given a drink and food is ordered, a creepy soldier suggestively comments “you look like you could do with warming up”. Claire falls asleep while sitting in a chair near the fire, she is woken abruptly with news that the Captain has left for Keswick during the night and she is to be escorted to Bellmont. Upon leaving the tavern Claire is set upon by Hugh Munro, ensuring she is aware of his presence. Claire is able to communicate the change of destination to Hugh.
Bellmont is seen from a distance, a very imposing house indeed. The grounds are occupied by the tents of the British forces, as Claire sees as she rides through them.
Upon arrival Claire find the house is owned by the Duke of Sandringham, much to her distress. The duke pretends to not know Claire and in his slimy way offers her the hospitality of his home. Her escort leaves. The Duke declares he needs a drink and says that Highlanders and rabid bears are much the same thing.
The Duke and Claire sit down to a meal and Claire asks why he pretended not to recognise her. Surprisingly he says could not commit such a lovely woman to “the Tower”, as it’s “so damp it quite took all the curls out of his wig, thereby admitting he has been imprisoned there himself, over the question of his loyalties. He also tells Claire the army has put a “ring around my estate” watching him as he suspected of being a Jacobite. He states that as Claire’s “dashing husband” is likely to be rescuing Claire, then he wants to be rescued too. He offers to get a note through the cordon of soldiers to prevent Jamie walking into a trap on the condition Jamie helps him get to a safe haven. Claire asks for paper and a quill. She writes a note in Gaelic, it being as good as code, to be delivered to Hugh Munro. As Claire completes the note, Mary Hawkins enters the room and sees her. Both are surprised. The Duke reveals that Mary is his Goddaughter. As the Duke leaves the room to arrange the dispatch, Mary takes Claire to a place where they can talk without being overheard. Mary pleads for help to avoid her marriage to a Mr Granger, a wealthy loyalist merchant. Claire raises her hopes, alluding to the Duke’s decision to escape. The Duke’s envoy is seen riding through the woods seeking out Hugh Munro, who he finds. Hugh takes the letter and disappears into the woods.
Back at the house, Claire tries to dissuade the Duke from marrying off Mary. He states “the die is cast”. The Duke has just returned from outside where he was speaking with the British commander, who he has persuaded to leave temporarily. The Duke’s valet takes his coat, in doing so the valet reveals a birthmark on his hand.
Claire immediately recognises the mark as being the same as the person who attacked Mary and herself back in Paris and demands to know when the Duke hired the man. Understanding that Claire recognises the valet the Duke is angry. He states there was never any intent to kill, although that was the Comte’s original desire. The Duke owed money he could not repay, but convinced the Comte that having Claire raped would be sufficient revenge for his loss. He actually says that Claire should be very grateful to him. Ewww…
The valet threatens Claire, and the Duke reveals he has betrayed Jamie by colluding with the British commander to lure Jamie into a trap, thereby proving himself loyal to the crown. The Duke glowers at Claire envisioning Jamie and Claire “being hanged side by side. So romantic.” A smug Duke then orders her locked in her room. BTW this is the actual room Prince Charles Edward Stuart stayed in on 22 December 1745.
Hugh Munro meets up with Jamie and Murtagh and passes the note written by Claire. Murtagh goes all Gaelic schoolteacher on us, criticising Claire’s grammar, but the message is understood and the three of them make their way to Bellmont House. Claire sees Hugh through the window at the same time Mary enters her room pleading for Claire to take her along when she escapes with Jamie. Claire leaves the room via a secret exit and tries to leave the house via the kitchen door, however she finds she is not alone, the Duke is sitting at the table eating in the mostly dark kitchen and she must retreat from the door. An exterior shot of the house shows armed troops guarding it. Back inside Claire states she will have something to eat and moves towards roasted meat with a knife embedded in it, she is prevented from picking up the knife by the Duke. Mary also enters the kitchen to get food. The Duke hands Mary a plate of food and demands she leave. Mary dashes to the front door to try and find Hugh and is confronted by a British soldier. Almost immediately the soldier is rendered unconscious by Hugh to whom Mary is able to pass Claire’s message about the trap. Danton, the valet grabs Mary and the distraction gives enough time for Hugh to drag the soldiers unconscious body away.
Jamie and Murtagh approach the house, taking out the guards on the way. Mary is brought back to the kitchen by Danton, and whines about her impending forced marriage. The Duke is fed up with her and orders her back to bed, however, before Mary and Danton can leave the kitchen Jamie makes his in way inside. Danton immediately grabs Claire and puts a blade to her throat. The Duke pulls on his messy wig and Jamie is forced to drop his dirk. Murtagh enters via an internal door and a fracas ensues. Claire announces that Danton is the man who attacked them in Paris and the plan was put in place by the Duke who tries to blame the Comte saying it could have been much worse, but he only wanted to terrify Claire. Claire of course knows better, and tells Jamie that the rape was the Duke’s idea. Sandringham tries to plead with Jamie who says “I do know you your Grace. You’ll say whatever to whoever to save your own skin.” Sandringham replies “Well, that stops today. Now I swear it. I promise.” What I say is, too right mate. It DOES stop today.
Meanwhile Mary, listening to the facts, understands the full depth of what has been the cause of her shame and she picks up the dirk and stabs Danton.
Murtagh who has been growing increasingly angry after hearing the revelations grabs Sandringham and turns him around and uses an axe to hit him. Pausing briefly to raise the axe above his head, Murtagh brings it down with force to behead Sandringham, having a third strike to complete the task. Dropping the axe to the floor a blood spattered Murtagh bends to pick up the severed head and lays it at Claire’s and Mary’s feet. He declares to Claire “I kept my word. I lay your vengeance at your feet.”
Mary steps up to quietly say “I think we’d better go.” Jamie, Murtagh, Claire and Mary exit the room and we see blood spilling onto the floor from Sandringham’s headless body. Fade to black…