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

  • Nat Geo to Air Jeremy Irons-Narrated

    Nat Geo to Air Jeremy Irons-Narrated 'History of the Emirates' Series Globally (EXCLUSIVE)

    National Geographic has taken the bulk of global rights to documentary series “History of the Emirates,” narrated by Jeremy Irons and co-produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi together with British factual production outfit Atlantic Productions. The series profiles the United Arab Emirates’ ancient history, going back 125,000 years and culminating in the country’s union in [...]

  • View Conference Opens Registration for 2019

    2019 View Conference Opens Registration, Calls for Short Film Competition Entries

    Registration is now open for the 2019 edition of the View Conference in Turin, Italy. No speakers have been announced yet, but past conferences have featured some of the world’s top creative talents in visual effects, animation, gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Last year’s edition featured composer Hans Zimmer, Paramount Animation topper [...]

  • The Gifted Rel Canceled

    Fox Cancels Marvel Drama 'The Gifted,' Comedy 'Rel'

    Fox has canceled the Marvel drama “The Gifted” after two seasons and Lil Rel Howery comedy “Rel” after one season, Variety has learned. “Gifted” was set in the Marvel “X-Men” universe and followed a suburban couple whose ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that their teenage children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on [...]

  • Whose Line Is It Anyway

    TV News Roundup: CW Sets Summer Premiere Dates, Announces Six New Series

    In today’s roundup, the CW announces five returning and six new series for its summer slate.  DATES “Queen of the South” will return to USA Network for its fourth season June 6 at 10/9c. Alice Braga plays the show’s lead, a woman seeking refuge in the United State after fleeing from a Mexican drug cartel. [...]

  • Anne del Castillo Named NYC's Commissioner

    Anne del Castillo Named New York City's Commissioner of Media and Entertainment

    The film and TV industries in New York City have a new boss: Anne del Castillo, who has been tapped by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Del Castillo had served as general counsel and chief operating officer of MOME since 2015. She succeeds Julie [...]

  • Robby Hull TV Writer Showrunner

    Robby Hull Promoted to EP, Co-Showrunner for 'God Friended Me' Season 2

    Robby Hull has been upped to executive producer and co-showrunner for season 2 of “God Friended Me,” Variety has confirmed. Hull was already a co-executive producer on the show’s first season, but will take on a more significant role alongside co-showrunners Bryan Wynbrandt and Steven Lilien for the CBS comedy-darma’s second season. The show was renewed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content