It’s about to get all spoilery up in here, sassenachs. If you haven’t watched the newest episode of Outlander, “Vengeance Is Mine,” avert your eyes now and do not travel through the stones.
One of the aspects about Outlander I admire is its willingness to sit with the quiet moments and linger. “Vengeance Is Mine” began with such a moment, with someone carefully grooming a wig only to have it fall over and into disarray. The scene didn’t feature anyone we recognized, but it was a not so subtle minute of symbolism that made an impression. The low key tumble was followed by an intense argument between Prince Charles and the men fighting for him. Months have passed since the events at Prestonpans, shown in the previous episode, and the Jacobite army is getting antsy.
It’s weird to be in the same position as Claire. The audience knows the army will not ultimately succeed, but right now, they’re stacking up victories. They don’t quite feel invincible, and the prince’s advisers certainly aren’t making choices with an arrogant or complacent attitude, but you can understand why the army believes they can win. Regardless of the next immediate steps, the army will have to do it without Jamie and his men because they’re on notice–by which I mean they’re exiled.
The whys and hows of the politics in Outlander are a touch fuzzy in this area–they rushed through why Jamie and Dougal are ordered out of the country. However, since it doesn’t distract too much from the story, I didn’t linger on it. Knowing Jamie and Dougal have to get out of dodge is enough. And anyway, what happens next is so action-packed, you sort of forget to worry about the details. A detachment of British soldiers manage to land a sneak attack on Jamie, Dougal, and company, and a frantic chase ensued.
The Highlanders ran right into an abandoned structure that if nothing else, is a place to make a stand. We saw further demonstrations of Jamie’s leadership but also his pigheadedness. He’s loyal to his men and would do anything to protect them, but he puts himself at risk to do so and ultimately, they’re all better off with Jamie alive. I’m not saying other soldiers are more expendable–well, maybe I am. Jamie doesn’t see it in the same way. He made a point of investigating the seemingly abandoned structure alone to ensure its safety. It was clear, but it only offered the Scots a brief respite.
When the British soldiers found them, a situation similar to the one with Claire and the British spy from a couple of episodes ago unfurled. Claire decided to pretend to be an English prisoner so the British would go easier on the Highlanders. The Scots could “trade” her, so to speak. Jamie tried to stop her and surrender, but for once, Dougal spoke up with good advice. He told Jamie to stop being a hero.
While it wasn’t the best of plans, Jamie let Claire go with a promise he would come find her at the closest British garrison. And this is where “Vengeance Is Mine” took a turn for the interesting. The British soldiers decided to take Claire to an estate rather than the garrison, and there, she encountered a familiar face: the Duke of Sandringham. He didn’t let on to the soldiers he knew Claire and that she wasn’t a prisoner of the Scots, and then the Duke proceeded to play every deceptive card he had masterfully.
Sandringham and Claire went back and forth in a dangerous chess game. I totally fell for Sandringham’s ploy. He said he was being watched at his estate because the British didn’t entirely believe in his loyalty. Sandringham claimed to be a Jacobite at heart and wanted Claire to get a message to Jamie about her location so Jamie could rescue both of them. Reasonable enough, right? Just kidding. It was all part of an elaborate trap.
Claire probably would have remained in the dark until it was too late, but she recognized a distinctive mark on the hand of one of the Duke’s men. The birthmark matched what she saw on one of her attackers in the streets of Paris. What. Claire was right for suspecting the Comte because he was involved, but the Duke worked with him. It was chilling. The reasoning behind the attack was the Comte figured Claire being raped would do enough to destroy her rep that it would be sufficient to serve as a payment for the destruction of his ship and goods. That anyone could be so cold and calculating makes my stomach turn.
And also, Mary was present at the Duke’s house because she’s his goddaughter. So, the Duke had his men rape his goddaughter. It’s shocking and unbelievably brutal. I don’t blame Mary in the least for killing her attacker, and though Jamie and Murtagh handled the Duke, I would have like to see Claire have the opportunity to fight her own fight. On the other hand, Murtagh wins this episode for me because of his literal tendencies. I hope he never tells me he’ll lay vengeance at my feet.
What did you think about the twist with Duke Sandringham? Jump to the comments and let me know your thoughts on all the things.