You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Outlander’ Recap: Sam Heughan Breaks Down the Victories and Losses of ‘Prestonpans’

Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “Outlander” Season 2, Episode 10, titled “Prestonpans.” Catch up on our previous “Outlander” recaps and coverage here.

It’s not surprising that “Outlander” star Sam Heughan calls “Prestonpans” his favorite episode of Season 2; after half a season of watching Jamie struggling with the duplicity required to carry out his mission to change history, the Frasers’ return to Scotland has brought about a noticeable change in our hero. “I wanted the journey of Jamie to be, from the start of the season, that he’s a shadow of himself,” Heughan tells Variety. “He’s hiding behind this persona, but also he’s psychologically scarred, and physically as well.”

Oddly, It was an encounter with his rapist, Black Jack Randall, that allowed Jamie to find peace and regain his confidence, “so by the time we get to Episode 10, Jamie has become the leader of men that he’s supposed to be,” Heughan says.

Jamie has the loyalty of his men and the trust of Bonnie Prince Charlie, but as the Jacobites hurtle closer towards the catastrophe that awaits them at Culloden, Heughan notes, their situation “gets more and more desperate.”

But all hope is not lost yet, he says: “There’s this finite point, which is Culloden… Jamie and Claire are trying to stop that battle from happening because at that point, they know that everything is lost. As we get closer to that, the stakes get higher. But they think they can change history,” even at this late stage.

That leads us to the Battle of Prestonpans, which gives the Scots a vital and decisive victory against the English — but that success comes at a high cost. After winning Charles’ admiration for a daring act of defiance earlier in the episode, by the end of the hour, Dougal has fallen out of favor with the prince by demonstrating his disdain for the English soldiers who have oppressed the Scots for so long — killing their injured enemies on the battlefield instead of bringing them back to have their wounds tended (even one of the few noble members of the opposition, Lieutenant Foster). Dougal narrowly manages to avoid being expelled from Charles’ army, thanks to Jamie’s quick thinking, but still finds himself “exiled,” even as he’s promoted to lead a new force of Highland dragoons. Young Fergus, who has already been through his share of trauma after being assaulted by Black Jack, disobeys Jamie and Claire’s orders and goes out to fight, ending up stricken by the reality of taking a life; and the beloved double-act of Rupert and Angus is broken, with Angus dead and Rupert left in mourning for his best friend, casting a pall over the post-battle celebrations.

“Outlander” pulled off the atmospheric Battle of Prestonpans in a fairly unusual way; the scene was actually shot in a gigantic tent that production set up in the Highlands, Heughan reveals: “We had hundreds of extras in there, we had horses, there were cannons — they filled this thing with smoke. A lot of the scenes are the Highlanders running into battle and you couldn’t see the enemy, you couldn’t see the people you were fighting with.”

It’s an impressively staged scene that perfectly encapsulates the chaos and carnage of battle, which also serves to emphasize the cost of war — something Claire knows all too well. After seeing our heroine struggling with PTSD in last week’s episode, following her harrowing experiences during WWII, it’s good to see her back on her feet this week, ably taking charge of triage and helping to save a number of lives in the wake of the battle — even if she’s ultimately unable to help Angus.

For Heughan, one of the most powerful moments in the episode comes after the fighting is done. “I love the moment when Jamie and Murtargh finally see Claire again back in the hospital; I wanted to show that they’d almost been in this daze — crazed fighting. It was a great victory for them and they were massacring people, and that’s when it hits them what they’ve achieved, but also what they’ve lost.”

“Outlander” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.

What did you think of “Prestonpans” and the loss of Angus? Weigh in below.

More TV

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Ken Jeong to Star in CBS

    Ken Jeong to Star in CBS Comedy Pilot From 'Crazy Rich Asians' Author Kevin Kwan

    A “Crazy Rich Asians” reunion is happening at CBS. Ken Jeong has been cast in a lead role in the multi-camera comedy pilot “The Emperor of Malibu,” which is being co-written and executive produced by “Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan. In the series, Auggie, the son of a Chinese tech billionaire, announces his engagement [...]

  • Jussie SmollettFOX 'Empire' TV show panel,

    Jussie Smollett Case: Chicago Police Arrest Two Suspects

    Chicago police confirmed on Friday that they have arrested two suspects in the case of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. The police did not state what charges the men are being held on. Local media have identified the men as two brothers from Nigeria, though law enforcement has not confirmed their identities. Smollett’s representatives have declined [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content