Well that was a bittersweet victory.
Outlander fought its first battle tonight, and while the highlanders did manage to win, they still suffered heavily in more ways than one.
Much of the episode was spent preparing for the battle at Prestonpans. Claire knew that the Stuart side would win, but that didn't make it any less important for everyone to be as prepared as possible. While Jamie, the prince, and the other men in charge argued over the right moves against the British, Claire ran the makeshift field hospital, and Jamie's men pondered their potential deaths.
Most of them seemed very down about the upcoming fight, but Angus (Stephen Walters) in particular was kind of embracing the fact that he might not survive, as if he knew what was coming. He even told Rupert (Grant O'Rourke) he was leaving him all his belongings (like his sword), and Rupert sort of laughed him off.
At first, it seemed that it was Rupert were losing. Angus brought him to the field hospital with a huge wound in his side, and even then, all Rupert was concerned about was whether Angus had been blown up or not before he went unconscious.
Just before he was injured, Rupert had watched Angus get thrown by a canon blast, and apparently that blast had caused internal bleeding. Just after a visit to the hospital by Prince Charlie, Angus succumbed to his injuries. Moments later, Rupert woke up, only to find his best friend dead.
Rupert mourned by basically hugging Angus' sword and joining his friend Ross in a sad ode to their fallen friends.
Tonight's battle also illustrated how complicated this entire rebellion actually is, and how kind of insane Prince Charlie is for a guy everyone's supposed to be rallying around. He ordered that the injured English soldiers be treated in the hospital first, since they are his father's subjects, and nearly kicked Dougal out of the army for saying rude things about them, until Jamie saved the day. There's something just so off about the prince that makes us wonder how he even managed to get anyone to listen to him in the first place. (Side note: the words "mark me" have been permanently etched into our brain and we hate them.)
Tonight's "victory" was really just a preview of the war to come, and Angus' death—which did not happen in the book—was necessary in showing the reality of what Claire, Jamie, and the highlanders are facing.
"We're telling a war story, and somebody had to pay the price," executive producer Ronald D. Moore tells E! News. "Even that particular battle at Prestonpans, the highlanders lost very few men and the British had most of the casualties, but it felt wrong to do a war story and not have our side lose somebody, and not just somebody that steps into the show for an episode and dies, but somebody that actually means something to the audience."
"It kind of illustrates that their road to Culloden is not an easy one," said executive producer Maril Davis. "They can't get through unscathed, and lives are lost, and it hits them personally."
Angus was chosen as the one to die for several reasons. The writers were originally going to kill Willie (Finn Den Hertog), according to Moore, but the scheduling didn't work out for the actor, so they ended up going with Angus.
"We just thought, knowing the bromance between Angus and Rupert, that it would be a heartbreaking loss," Davis says.
"We that that Rupert, after that, missing his best friend, would be a great story to still be able to play, to sort of have a character that reminds us all the way through the war story of the cost of war," Moore agrees. "Here's this guy and his best friend and the audience knows them as a duo, and it's hard to imagine Rupert without Angus, and now he'll have to live that way."
Trust us when we say that Rupert doesn't let go of Angus easily over the next couple of episodes, and we won't either, but at least we always have that scene of him spitting up all over himself and laughing hysterically to remember him by.
Outlander airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.