As the title The Hail Mary implies, many of the events of the episode cover the last chance efforts by Claire and Jamie to derail Culloden. In many ways this episode felt like a finale of a season of Doctor Who where we need to clear the path story-wise for the movie to come. I am inclined to think Diana Gabaldon would approve of that comparison since the general idea of Jamie was sparked by an old episode of Doctor Who. The “movie” for this will be July 9 when we get the 90 minute season finale! Two weeks of agonizing and watching the “On the next Outlander segment on loop. But before I dwell on what is to come, let’s talk about The Hail Mary. To mix things up, I will give you my recap in the form of the top 5 hail Mary’s of this episode.
- Bonny Prince Charlie- The episode begins with Claire and Jamie riding through the army’s camp at Inverness. The voiceover tells us that they have been in retreat for weeks. So we did have a bit of a time jump. The army is worse for wear. The food is low, weather stinks and as a result the morale is so low that the victory at Prestonpans didn’t even seem to happen. The British forces are a mere miles away, and everything is coming to a head. Enter the prince, looking well fed and dapper as ever. He seems to sense it is time for a final stand, so his plan for a Hail Mary to his campaign is a final decisive battle. He has chosen Culloden Moor for the setting. He and the generals like it because it is nice flat and open. Jamie points out flat is great for horses and cannons, of which they have few. The prince pretty much tells him, “good point, but we’re doing this.”
- Alexander Randall- In one of the biggest twists of the season Claire runs into Mary Hawkins in ye olde Inverness apothecary shop. Mary has reunited with Alex and they have rented a room. After rightfully telling Claire off for trying to keep them apart, Mary let’s her know where they are staying. Claire visits and quickly realizes that Alex is at death’s door and Mary is knocked up! To make things even more dramatic, his good ol’ bro Jonathan Wolverton Randall is there to hold his hand. Alex then throws his Hail Mary pass. He asks Black Jack to marry Mary and give his name and position to her and the unborn baby. Claire’s eyes pop out of her head when she realizes that Alex is Frank’s ancestor. Not to mention it clears up how Black Jack manages to supposedly father a child after the skewering Jamie gave him in the episode Best Laid Schemes.
- Colum- The Mackenzie himself arrives at Inverness on the eve of battle. Not to support his troops, but to emphasize one last time to Dougal that he believes he is wrong. He attempts to hand the clan over to Jamie by giving him guardianship of his (really Dougal’s) son Hamish. Jamie declines and they all talk a little too long. Colum wants to make sure everything is in order since he is on his last legs, so to speak. His real Hail Mary is that upon arrival he requests Claire assist his exit from this world. In a lovely little conversation where we learn Geillis Duncan survived long enough to give birth. I must say with all the drama in the episode, it was nice to see the peace and joy this brought Claire. She eventually agrees to bring Colum the drugs. Colum proceeds to drink the overdose of poison in a later scene with Dougal where the air gets as clear as it can between these ambitious, scheming brothers.
- Jamie- I really like to see the strain on Jamie throughout the episode. Whether the credit goes to Sam Heughan or the make-up crew (probably both) Jamie looked like he had aged tremendously in the weeks we have been away. His Hail Mary centers on a plan for a surprise attack on the British camp in order to derail the battle at Culloden. After gaining reluctant support the plan starts into action. The Prince will follow in a second wave with a bottle of wine to share with the soon to be captured general. Mark me, he still doesn’t see the writing on the wall. Sure enough, the episode ends with the Prince getting lost and turning back. All that is left for next week is Culloden.
- Murtagh, Black Jack and Claire- I have saved the best for last. These combined Hail Mary passes are not only my favorite moments of the entire episode, they are among my favorite moments of the season. Black Jack’s Hail Mary comes in the form of bargaining with Claire. He loves his brother so much he offers to trade Claire military secrets for a cure. Even after Claire states there is no hope, he commits to trade for simply some pain relief. It seems Black Jack has one weakness. That weakness is Alex. With the events that follow I think both Claire and us viewers needed that tiny spark of love. Murtagh has been escorting Claire on her visits to Alex. When Alex requests the marriage between Mary and Johnny (as he calls his brother) Murtagh begs Claire to stop it. In what I submit as the best Murtagh moment EVER (even after last week’s events) he pleads with Claire to be the one to marry Mary out of honor. She resists because she is protecting Frank’s legacy and he keeps pushing for it. He wonders how she can condemn Mary to a marriage with a purely evil man. It is so hard to watch Claire listen to him. She is clearly overwhelmed at the compassion he shows. Claire points out that if both Murtagh and Randall die in two days at Culloden, Randall’s position leaves Mary more options and benefits. Claire’s Hail Mary is all to do with Frank. She pulls all the strings to make sure the wedding between Randall and Mary happens. Soon after the wedding Alex dies. In a fit of grief Black Jack beats his brother’s body. A horrified Claire looks on clearly thinking, “What have I done?” But all her chips are laid on the table when she is relaying the story to Jamie. She did not commit Mary to being Randall’s wife, she committed her to being his widow. The way she sees it, Black Jack will die in two days at Culloden, as history has told her. If he doesn’t then she will keep her vow to Jamie and help kill him herself. He replies with what we are all thinking, “Remind me not to get on your bad side, Sassenach.”
Now we get to digest all of these events for two weeks before our story fully wraps up for the season. We know from the premiere that Claire will jump back to the future, but I have a feeling we will be holding our breath for a good part of those ninety minutes anyway. I think I will spend this time between re-watching the entire season. I will watch one episode per day. Remember you can always go back and check the previous top 5s on here too. Happy watching!