Outlander Season 2, Episode 12 Recap: Always Bet On Black Jack

Photo: Courtesy of Starz.
Pictured: Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan as Claire and Jamie Fraser.
Warning: This article contains spoilers from tonight's episode of Outlander. Read at your own risk.

Confession: Episode 12 is a special one for me, because it's the one I saw being filmed when I visited the Outlander set back in January. Basically, that means I got to watch the cast ride in on horses over and over, dodge poop created by said horses, puzzle over the fact that Rupert was wearing an eye patch, and discover that Graham McTavish (Dougal) used to live in the apartment next door to mine. Good times.

Alas, the times aren't so good for the Jacobite troops — Claire says they're "broken and demoralized" after five months of crap Scottish weather. They're now camped just outside of Inverness. And just in the nick of time: the Battle of Culloden is just three days away, according to Claire's magical memory.

"All that work, all that plotting," a weary Claire asks Jamie. "How in the bloody hell did we end up here?"

Well, Claire, there were these stones that you just had to touch and — ah, got it. Rhetorical question.

Jamie tries his luck with the war council, urging them to steer away from Culloden Moors. The men are too weary for battle, he argues, and they should wait for this French gold that's supposedly coming their way so they can build up the army before resuming battle. Prince Charles thinks about, then says nah. Culloden it is.

Claire is also getting some shade sent her way. The unlikely source is Mary Hawkins, whom she bumps into at the village apothecary. Mary's is now engaged to the sickly Alex Randall and she knows all about Claire's attempts to break them up.

To make amends, Claire helps tend to a coughing and bedridden Alex at the boarding house where he and Mary have been shacking up. Wouldn't you know it, Black Jack Randall arrives like a bad rusted penny. More annoyingly, he doesn't seem to be nursing the groin injury we assumed Jamie had inflicted, nor does he squeal in horror when he sits down next to his weary brother.

Randall's been busy paying Alex and Mary's bills in the months since his duel with Jamie. Claire works up a good stink-eye and doesn't mince words when she reveals that Alex is dying. This is bad news for Mary, who is pregnant with his child, that little minx. Randall reacts by demanding her help in easing his brother's pain. She agrees, but only on the condition that he give her some intel about the British army.

The intel, she tells a dubious Jamie later, is that the Redcoats are stationed at Nairn and will be having a little soiree to celebrate Cumberland's birthday. Jamie doesn't buy it, but agrees to let Claire help Alex so long as Murtagh accompanies her.
Photo: Courtesy of Starz.
Pictured: Duncan Lacroix as Murtagh Fitzgibbons and Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser.
Jamie has another blast from the past to deal with. Colum MacKenzie is back and he wastes no time telling Jamie and Claire that he, too, is dying. Privately, he asks Claire for a potion to see him off; he can no longer bear the pain of his illness. She gives him a bottle of yellow jasmine and he spills some interesting gossip. It turns out that Geillis Duncan was allowed to deliver her baby before being burned as a witch — how thoughtful! That baby, a boy, has been sent to live with William and Sarah MacKenzie. Something tells us those names will pop up again.

Colum neglects to volunteer this information when Dougal returns. The younger MacKenzie interprets Colum's arrival as a show of solidarity with the Jacobites. Colum informs him of his failing health and his plan to resolve clan matters. He's appointed his son (who's really Dougal's son), Hamish, to be the clan's next chief. He then squirts lime into Dougal's emotional paper cut by naming Jamie as the boy's guardian. Jamie, he says, will put the lives of his men above everything else, which is something he doesn't trust Dougal to do. Dougal's fuming, but let's face it: She doesn't have the range.

Having palmed off poison to one dying man, Claire is tending to a second. Her medical method involves blowing smoke into a paper cone popped in Alex's mouth, which looks like something you'd pick up in an Amsterdam head shop. Once he's stopped wheezing, Alex announces that he wants Randall to wed Mary so that their child can have the Randall name and the security that comes with it. This would be a good time for alarm bells to start ringing in Claire's head — if Mary and Black Jack Randall marry now, it will ensure Frank's future safety and mean that Mary won't actually have to carry his child. But Randall, being the supreme douche that he is, declines.

Murtagh continues to prove his awesomeness. He tells Claire that's he's happy to step up, wed Mary, and raise the child himself. Ugh, Murtagh, you're too good. Claire lets him down by reminding him that he doesn't have the pedigree nor property that Randall has.

She then goes to confront Randall in a village pub. He hasn't forgotten about the time she informed him of the date of his death, which conveniently happens to be one day away. He also taunts her about Jamie's rape.

"I regret none of it," he hisses. "The pain, the fear. Do you really want Mary in my bed?"

Apparently so. Claire tells him that if he truly loved Alex, he'd step up and grant this final request.

So, he does. With Claire and a scowling Murtagh as witnesses, Mary and Randall exchange vows. Alex approves, then continues to wheeze excruciatingly, forcing his brother to see him off by beating him to death. His bedside manner could use some work.

There's one more death to be had. Dougal returns to Colum's room to hash out their sibling rivalry. He never quite recovered from Colum's crippling childhood accident, in which the then-10-year-old MacKenzie was thrown off a stallion and saw his limbs become twisted over time. It "destroyed" Dougal's world and he's having a real pity party for himself when he looks up and sees that Colum has died. Some people will do anything to get out of a Dougal speech!

"So, you turn your back one final time, hmm?" Dougal says, once again making it all about him. "And you leave me alone in the dark."

There are things left to say, but all he can do now is embrace his dead brother. Bonus points for not pummeling him, Randall-style.

It's a lot of death and the battle of Colloden is still to come. Jamie gives the war council his intel, and they agree to pounce on the birthday party. What's more, that droll little bonnie Prince Charlie has thought up the ultimate burn: Bringing a bottle of wine for Cumberland as a birthday gift, to be presented when he's a prisoner. At this point, the Jacobites would be better off trying to get Dora the Explorer on the throne.

So, Jamie and his troops meet late at night, ready to attack. One minor hitch: Prince Charles got lost and had to turn back with his men. They can't carry out the attack with so few men, so they'll just have to save that fighting spirit for Culloden. FFS.

Will next week's finale see horrible bloodshed? Will Black Jack Randall ever die? Will Murtagh marry me? Stay tuned.


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