Title: The Battle Joined
Written by: Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: Brendan Maher
OLA will be publishing an episode-based Recap on Steroids (ROS) during Season 3. These ROS will incorporate an OLA writer’s opinion on the episode woven in with information from both the official Starz podcasts hosted by Showrunner Ronald D. Moore along with comments from the official episode script including things changed or edited for television. OLA editorial comments in the ROS recognize and respect the experience of those associated with the show even though we may disagree at times with their process or assumptions. We hope you enjoy these special recaps!
The podcast was hosted by Ronald D. Moore (RDM) with executive producers Toni Graphia (TG) and Matthew B. Roberts (MBR).
The title card for this episode is a torn Scottish flag to represent the defeat of the Scots.
The new opening sequence with the Skye Boat song but are bagpipes replaced by strings to reflect the fact that bagpipes are one of the many Highlander traditions forbidden after Culloden. In the previously on Outlander segment which shows scenes from 213, it occurs to me that Claire says to Frank “I accept your conditions”. That’s what you say in a hostage negotiation.
We know that this episode would cover the long-discussed battle of Culloden. I was curious if they would try an epic Game of Thrones style battle (which is usually 20 minutes of wincing for me) or something new.
RDM discussed how he had written the entire battle scene but when they timed the episode, it would have been both too long and too expensive. He considered it anyway knowing he would have to short change somewhere else in the season. I’m grateful he did not because that’s not why people watch the show.
The scene opens at the end of the battle with piles of dead men (mostly Jacobites) lying in the field as the British search for weapons, wounded Redcoats and most importantly, living Scots who are then murdered without remorse. RDM notes that this area is smaller than it looks (see picture) but they know how to film in small spaces and make them look big. I would agree with this after Outlander America admins went to Scotland last month and visited the site for Lallybroch. That courtyard area is not that big and yet it always looks larger on the show.
The camera pans over to the still body of Jamie Fraser with a redcoat lying on top of him. In the script, they specifically mention that this is Black Jack Randall (BJR) and he is dead but the viewer is left to wonder for a bit. Jamie regains consciousness and with it come blurred memories of the battle he just fought, both in his sacrifice to convince Claire to return to the stones to save their child and the one on the field where he went to die after she reluctantly agreed. He takes one less intake of her essence from the plaid she left behind and returns to the generals discussing war strategy. At this point, he wants nothing more than to get the inevitable over with and convinces the now shocked Bonnie Prince Charlie that they should charge.
One thing I thought was interesting in the charging scenes is how fast the men were running. I wonder if they sped up the film just a bit or if that was real. I can’t imagine how tiring that filming sequence was nevermind the actual charge in 1746. The battle is intense as most hand-to-hand combat is especially as the British gunned down the first line of charging Jacobites. Jamie fights all who come close by at one point nearly attacking Murtagh. They share a moment of witty banter (while Sensei Murtagh stabs a guy who dares interrupt) and Murtagh assures him the men from Lallybroch made it out safely. This is good news to the (former) Laird. He did his final duty to them despite the risk to his own life.
Jamie is still slipping in and out of consciousness and remembers a pivotal moment. Across the field, he notices a redcoat knocked off a horse and realizes it is BJR. They see each other at the same time, with BJR smirking and Jamie flaring his nostrils. RDM noted that they got lucky as there was a strange pink hue to the sky that afternoon and made for an almost surreal filming light. They charge at each other and leap with swords flying. I though this was a very cool scene and nicely done by both men. They fight with each taking advantage. (I found this to be a bit hard to believe. BJR is probably a great traditional sword fighter but Jamie has to be much stronger. But he’s probably not eaten or slept enough leading up to this.)
At one point it appears that they are the only two people fighting on the battlefield but in reality it was probably that surreal thing where time seems to stand still. RDM called it two men-out of time and place.
Knocked to the ground, BJR slashes Jamie’s left thigh with a deep wound and an injured Jamie is still strong enough to block a knife swing with his left hand while delivering a fatal stab to the stomach. BJR collapses against the shoulder of a badly bleeding Jamie and they fall to the ground together in an embrace of death.
As Jamie remembers this, the dead Redcoat rolls off of him and it is BJR. I am not even sure if that registered. The man who tried to kill him one last time may have saved him by applying pressure to the wound with his body. Jamie is clutching the dragonfly in amber given to him by Claire at their parting. RDM stated that he didn’t mean to make it look like a magical stone but they had to punch up the color in post-production to make sure people saw it. They had to place it in the battlefield since Claire finds it in the Culloden museum in episode 213.
Jamie turns his head upon hearing a noise and sees a bunny rabbit in the field, written to be a human moment among the dead. However, in a recent Twitter Q&A, the writers said we may see that bunny again. Jamie looks up to see an ethereal Claire walking across the battlefield toward him. He thinks she reaches down to touch him and ask him “are you dead?” but in reality it is Rupert. (It is emphasized by the writers several times that Jamie and Claire will never be in the same frame together until the reunion episode. )
Telling him he’ll not let him die in the mud despite Jamie saying leave me be, Rupert picks him up. The amber stone falls to the ground. RDM said he thought that was a bit clunky which I found surprising since it was clearly a metaphor to hanging on to the memory of Claire as he thought he was dying.
The camera holds steady on the dragonfly in Amber as it transitions into Claire’s face. She is another, trapped in time.
It’s Boston in the 1940’s as Frank shows Claire their new home. Some of the Frank and Claire scenes were added later since the first read-through of the episode showed they were going to be very short. The Boston set was a redress of the apartment in Paris.
Claire is having trouble lighting her stove and in frustration, enters the living room. Looking at the fireplace gives her an idea and she goes out to get firewood. (This was slightly unbelievable too.) When she returns, she is met by her new neighbor Millie who helps her with the firewood. Millie (and her husband, Jerry) were named for the two next door neighbors in the Dick Van Dyke Show. Claire cooks up a great meal in 18th century style which impresses the nasally voiced Millie who must have relocated from Jersey.
Back at Culloden, several wounded Scots are hiding in a farmhouse. Jamie is lying there with the pallor of someone who has had extensive blood loss. Rupert and the other Scots assess their situation. Rupert and Gordon try to figure out if they should escape but too many are wounded.
A quick switch back to Claire at her bedroom mirror as Frank tells her they need to leave for dinner with his Dean. (Note: This was supposed to be the first Boston scene but the others were added after they discovered the short episode length in the table read.)
It’s Harvard (actually Glasgow U) and the Dean is a pompous windbag who loves imposing his views on the quiet professors who are too afraid to contradict. A foreshadow of things to come as Claire mentions women getting into Harvard Medical. Claire tries to interject into the conversation and is met with misogynistic comments from the Dean. Claire Fraser would have retorted back. Claire Randall just returns a frozen smile.
In the first script version, Frank was less on her side but after discussing with Tobias Menzies and Caitriona Balfe, RDM re-wrote it to be more neutral to “root for them as a couple”. No, Ron. You’re the only one who continuously roots for them as a couple.
Jamie is still bleeding in the farmhouse and lies their weak and resigned. He asks about Murtagh’s fate but nobody knows. He and Rupert make amends as the British in the form of one Lord Melton enter to look for traitors. Rupert takes Jamie’s traditional position as leader and answers on behalf of the group that they are “traitors all”. Melton informs them that they will not be hanged, but shot like soldiers. The acting by all the players in this scene as the Scots are brought out one by one to die plays out in the background.
Claire is making breakfast and sees a bird outside of her window. The bird echos the bunny’s movements at Culloden and also represents Claire’s yearning to fly free.
The bird flies away, something perhaps Claire wishes she could do. Frank enters the kitchen and Claire discusses her love of their new country so much so that she wants to become a citizen. Frank is appalled and recites all that is good about England in a speech straight from the musical 1776 (apparently a favorite of RDM). They argue about the distance between them and how Claire is still missing her past. The words get personal and ugly and he leaves in anger after ducking an ashtray (a scene which apparently injured Tobias Menzies). A distraught Claire, grieving over Jamie and feeling lost as to how to adapt to this new life, is left in tears.
More tears back in the farmhouse as two young boys are executed. Gordon inquiries about Claire. Jamie tells him she is gone and does not wish to discuss it further. Melton begins to look for volunteers to be shot and Gordon agrees to go next. Rupert and Jamie share a laugh over Angus before Rupert volunteers to be next and head held high with traditional Rupert irreverent humor, then Rupert Thomas Alexander MacKenzie marches out to his death. RDM wanted to give Rupert a strong scene in tribute to his contributions over the first two seasons and knew he was going to save Rupert back in Season 2 for this reason. It also gave them a chance to give Grant O’Rourke a nice exit. Grant did a really great job in this episode and I wish him well in his next endeavors.
Sam Heughan’s face of a thousand expressions reflects Jamie’s sadness and grief over the loss of his friend (and distant cousin) and he whispers Farewell Rupert in Gaelic. RDM noted that Sam researched the correct phrasing to add it to this part of the script. RDM commented that Sam did a great job in this episode as asking an actor to just lay there and act with essentially just his face is very difficult to do. He was especially impressed with his eyes. Me too, Ron, me too.
Frank is trying to sleep on the couch but the noises of modern life keep him awake. He gets up and begins to draft a letter to Reverend Wakefield to search for information about one James Fraser. (A callback to the letters Roger found in 213.) But Claire enters the living room to tell him her water has broken. This birth of Jamie’s child is in juxtaposition with Jamie’s turn to die.
Jamie informs Melton that he wishes to be next and as he is giving his full JAMMF name to the clerk, Melton stops in his tracks. He recognizes this name and bends down to ask Jamie if he is Red Jamie. Melton presses him on his memory of a 16 year-old boy named John William Grey. Jamie remembers breaking the boys arm but it is Melton who remembers that Jamie spared the boy’s life and his family owes him a debt of honor. Jamie just wants this to be over with (retaining his sense of humor in his darkest moment) but Melton takes this honor thing very seriously and finds himself in a pickle. I’m pretty sure his utterance of “God’s blood” is 18th century for #FML.
He decides to have Jamie put in a wagon after dark and leave his name off of the register. (Callback to 213 where Roger Wakefield tells Claire and Bree that five Fraser officers were in the field that day but only four were killed.) RDM noted that there actually was a Fraser that was hiding in a farmhouse after Culloden and that wasn’t listed on the dead roll. Diana Gabaldon apparently found this in her research.
RDM considered a flashback to the scene with young Grey but decided that would pull the viewer out of the mood.
A wagon is seen driving through the Scottish countryside and ends up with Jamie at Lallybroch. Jenny and Ian are happy to see him as he is ready to pass out. The script calls for him to pass out as he says “love you, mo neaghan donn” but they cut that. Grrrrrr.
RDM had also considered having it rain with Jamie holding out his hand to spilt the rain into two streams to represent the parting of Jamie and Claire but decided against it as the shot was too hard to get.
Back at the hospital, Claire is experiencing the archaic way of giving birth where the wife was just a vessel and the husbands all paced in the waiting room. She is appalled that they will be putting her to sleep during delivery. RDM considered having her go in and out of consciousness and thinking about key scenes in her life but decided against it. Claire wakes up and immediately panics that her second child may also have died in a similar fashion to her first. Frank walks in with the baby girl and the joy (and hormones) of giving birth cause them to consider this a new beginning of trying to work things out. But that is short lived as the nurse compliments the baby and delivers the verbal wet blanket by pointing out her red hair.
Lord, that she may be safe.
- RDM noted they brightened the baby’s hair in post to make it look more red.
- Props to Terry Dresbach for her period costumes.
- Leaving Murtagh’s fate ambiguous was deliberate.
- Dear Ron, It’s Fraser like razor not Frasier like the TV show.
Credits: Pictures are from Starz. Gifs sourced at jamieclaire, themusicsweetly,sam-heughan-daily, sassenach4life, jemscorner. Thank you for your talents.
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