The Hail Mary opens with Claire and Jamie arriving in camp just outside of Inverness. Spirits are low because the Jacobite army is doing nothing but retreating. Last we say they had decided to turn back and that was approximately December of 1745. Now, it is April 1746 and nearly time for the dreaded date of the Battle of Culloden (April 16, 1746). There is little food to be had but despite all the things pushing Jamie and Claire closer to the fateful battle which we already know separates them (remember in the premiere episode of the season Claire is in 1948), Jamie is going to go continue to go to the war council’s in hopes of finally seeing Charles make a smart decision.
Meanwhile, Claire goes into Inverness for medical supplies because well we know bad things are on the horizon and also some medicals might help those hunger pains.
At the Apothecary shop, Claire runs into Mary Hawkins who is purchasing laudanum for the second time that week. Claire is excited to see Mary but clearly Mary isn’t all that keen on seeing her good backstabbing friend Claire. Mary does tell Claire that Alex Randall contacted her when he got another position in Inverness and she came to marry him. So clearly Mary’s bolder than she used to be. Claire congratulates her but again Mary is rather cold, seems she talks to her betrothed and he told her about Claire’s interference in their relationship. Claire makes the same excuses she gave to Alex back in Untimely Resurrections about his lack of position because she’s sound crazy if she told Mary her baby daddy is supposed to be Jack Randall. Claire does apologize and then asks after Alex’s health which apparently is not great but Mary is optimistic. Claire wants to come by and see Alex for herself and Mary agrees.
In camp, Jamie comes into Charles war council and it is clear these mean are losing touch with the reality of their situation. They truly seem to think they are doing well and Jamie reminds them the men are starving and demoralized. O’Sullivan wants to fight the British on Culloden Moor (does anyone else think this man is getting paid by the British for his bad decisions) but Murray and Jamie are of the mind that it is only a good place for the British to mow them all down.
Jamie goes so far as to recommend they wait for this mysterious French gold which is supposed to appear and they break the army up into smaller groups to thwart the British. Jamie thinks they can wait for the gold and then regroup and pick a better place to do battle. But Charles is nothing if not completely inept when it comes to war and he’s letting another man’s vanity overrule better judgement. He tells them all he’s a solider as well (though I’m not sure we’ve ever seen evidence of that) and he’s weary of retreating. So the troops are to rest and then go die on Culloden Moor.
Back in Inverness, Claire goes to the boarding house and finds Alex and Mary by the sound of his coughing. Mary is giving poor Alex arsenic which Claire puts a stop to. Alex is pleased to see her but breaks out in a fit of coughing to which Claire jumps into action making a poultice which will help, somehow. And that is when Jack Randall makes an appearance and instead of terrified horror, Alex is happy to see him as is Mary. And Jack is rather kind to Mary and loving with his brother. Claire turns to flee, clearly shocked by Randall’s presence and demeanor (and it reminds me of a male cat when neutered can become more tame?) but Mary intercepts her telling Claire how much Jon has helped Alex and her by paying their bills. Mary then asks when Alex will be well enough for work and Claire has to break it to her that it will never happen. Mary is stunned and tells Claire he must get better while wrapping her arms around her belly. There is a bun in that oven and everyone there knows. Alex asks for Mary and Claire takes the opportunity to flee.
Randall goes after her, grabbing her arm and being far too familiar with her. Randall wants Claire to fix Alex and Claire has to explain again that it won’t happen and Jack wants her to easy his suffering. Claire is willing to help but forces Randall into giving up the location of Cumberland’s army.
Back in their quarters, Jamie is livid that Jack Randall still walks the earth and, oh yeah, always showing up where they are. Claire gives Jamie the information on Cumberland’s troops and tells Jamie the British will be celebrating Cumberland’s 25th Birthday. Claire tells Jamie she wants to help Alex for Mary but Jamie is worried what Jack will do should Alex die while in her care and she suggests taking Murtagh with her because you know, he’ll cut someone’s head off.
That night a carriage appears and out comes Colum who isn’t doing well and needs help getting from one place to another. He gives Rupert his condolences about Angus and comments he always thought Rupert would fall with Angus to which Rupert replies, “So did I.” So much love for Rupert! Colum is then taken to a bed where he can rest; finalize things before his planned death.
We see Colum waking from what seems like a deserved nap to find Jamie and Claire with him, the latter examining him. Colum remarks on Dougal’s absence and Jamie defends the Dougal’s absence by telling Colum Dougal is scouting for the army and doesn’t know he’s there. Colum is impressed that Jamie’s method of dealing with Dougal by giving him power by keeping him far enough away that he can’t grab for more of it.
Colum then asks to talk to Claire in private and when Jamie leaves; Colum congratulates her on her fine marriage and he can now admit his mistakes on being upset about their union. Colum then asks for a favor in ending his miserable existence. Claire immediately understands and asks if suicide isn’t a sin. Colum isn’t much worried about another sin and reminds her how Arthur Duncan went quickly but trusts Claire would give him an easier death than “that bitch” did for Arthur. Claire tells Colum Geillis was her friend and Colum concedes telling Claire that Geillis’s child lives and was giving to William and Sarah MacKenzie who were childless. Dougal doesn’t know about this child as it is just one more of his mistakes.
Claire goes to her medicines and brings back a bottle of yellow jasmine (strychnine) and tells him it will be like going to sleep. Colum smiles at her and we get the heartfelt line, “For what it’s worth, you have my deepest gratitude.”
At McGillivray’s boarding house, Claire makes a mixture of coltsfoot and thronapple which she intends to stuff into a pipe and blow the smoke of it into Alex’s face, essentially an inhale of the 18th century. Mary and Jack are not keen on the idea but Claire convinces them and Alex’s breathing quickly eases. There is nothing else that can be done for Alex except give him laudanum for the pain to help him sleep. Jack isn’t happy about this and tries to confront Claire who only promised to help ease him. Murtagh steps forwards very willing to take Randall outside and probably chop of his head but Alex interrupts all of this by calling “Johnny” over.
At Alex’s beside Randall is asked to do something for Alex, Mary and the baby. Alex wants “Johnny” to marry Mary to give them position and wealth. Jack apologizes because he clearly doesn’t want to marry. Alex tells his brother he knows the “density of the dark wall” Jack hides his true self behind saying Jack has a “generous soul.” I can’t say we’ve once witnessed this Alex. Jack can’t take anymore and leaves.
At the camp, Dougal rides in and confirms the information Claire got from Randall. Dougal is rather stunned Jamie would take anything the man has to say at face value and Jamie lets him know that he doesn’t because he’s had men confirming the British buying up supplies for a large party. Dougal goes for some food but finds a very unappetizing “stew” though Jamie interrupts telling him Colum has come.
At McGillivray’s, Murtagh and Claire are walking through town and Murtagh is stunned Claire would consider Mary wedding Black Jack to save some mythical prick. Claire tells Murtagh, Frank is neither mythical or a prick. Claire goes onto explain that Mary needs a husband or she and her child will starve. Murtagh’s brilliant solution is that he should marry her. (Seriously is there anyone who doesn’t love Murtagh?) Murtagh has never thought about marrying (someone other than Ellen MacKenzie Fraser) but thinks they could get along and be a passable father after all he’s taken care of Jamie who has turn out pretty well. Claire assures Murtagh that Mary and her child would be lucky to have him.
Claire then goes on to remind Murtagh that both Randall and he could die at any time because they are at war. If Mary is wed to Randall she will inherit his property, his officer’ pension and reconciliation with her family she cannot get as Murtagh’s wife. Murtagh grudgingly agrees as she goes into a tavern to speak with Jack Randall.
Inside the tavern, Claire finds Randall trying to drown his problems with alcohol and wondering about a world were monsters like himself can thrive. Randall then implores Claire to help him change Alex’s mind about Jack marrying Mary. Claire reminds him she told him the date of his death which we learn to be April 16, 1746 which happens to be the Battle of Culloden. She goes on to say that as his widow Mary would be entitled to what his sister-in-law never would be. Jack worries he won’t die and he could hurt Mary or the baby. Claire wonders if he’s hurt Alex to which Jack replies no. Claire says she’s hoping the same courtesy will extend to Alex’s loved ones.
Jack tries to change Claire’s mind about his ineligibility to wed Mary by asking if Jamie told her what he’s done to Jamie at Wentworth. Claire replies yes and Jack goes on to tell her he knows what noise Jamie makes at the end when he’s lost himself. Claire gets up to leave and Jack tells her he regrets none it. And then tries again by asking if she really wants Mary in his bed, subject to his darkness. He wants her to help him avoid this marriage but Claire reminds him he’s be breaking Alex’s heart just as he goes to the grave. She tells him if he loves Alex then he wouldn’t hurt Mary.
Back at camp, Jamie and Dougal are in Colum’s room to discuss clan matters. Colum wants Hamish to be the next Laird and he wants Jamie to be his Guardian, effectively making Jamie Laird until Hamish is of age. Dougal is not happy. Colum tells Dougal he doesn’t believe the clan will follow him because he’s not as popular as he thinks he is.
Dougal believes Colum is trying to punish him for fathering Hamish but Colum is only looking to the future of their clan. Dougal tells Colum, as soon as Colum dies, Jamie will call the clan to fight for the Jacobites. Jamie confirms this but Colum believes if the cause were to be lost, Jamie will do anything in his power to save his people which is also true. Dougal cannot say the same.
At McGillivray’s, Jack and Mary are getting married and it is not a happy occasion. Claire and Murtagh are there to witness the vows.
At camp, Jamie and Murray go to Charles with a plan for a sneak attack on the English during Cumberland’s 25th birthday party. Murray says he can lead one column and Jamie then other and they can squash the British between them. O’Sullivan is also on board but on one condition. He wants Charles and himself to lead one and Murray and Jamie the other. Jamie doesn’t like it but Murray accepts this plan.
A drunken Dougal goes into see Colum to complain about how his life changed when he’s invincible older brother fell off a horse and then didn’t recover. Dougal cried because of the change in his hero. He tells Colum, “You betrayed me,” and “The world was never the same again.” When Colum doesn’t respond Dougal believes Colum is ignoring him but looks up to find his brother has died with one hand wrapped around an open vial (though we can’t tell if it is empty). Dougal tells his brother’s body that he’s left Dougal alone in the dark.
At McGillivray’s, Alex is surrounded by Mary and Jack as he gasps his last breath. When Alex dies, Mary turns looks to Jack whose grief turns to anger. Jack cannot control his emotions and lashes out striking Alex’s body which sends Mary into Claire’s arms for shelter. Claire stares at Jack stunned while Jack smooths his hair down and leaves.
Back at camp, Jamie is stunned Claire encouraged Mary to wed Randall. Claire tells Jamie, Jack will die at Culloden and Mary will inherit. Jamie wonders what will happen if their night time attack is successful or Jack doesn’t die, to which, Claire promises to stick to the promise she made in Paris. She’ll help Jamie kill Black Jack Randall. Claire tells him to be careful on his attack and they have a brief kiss goodbye.
That night outside of Nairn, Jamie is waiting on Charles and O’Sullivan to show up. Murtagh arrives to tell Jamie that the Prince lost his way in the dark and turned back. Jamie wants to attack anywhere but Murray calls of the attack and the army marches back to Inverness. Murtagh then tells Jamie the Prince will get his battle on Culloden Moor and Jamie looks frustrated beyond measure as the screen fades to black.
The scenes at Touch were filmed at the end of January and the beginning of February when Scotland was hit with 3 large storms that created significant challenges and delays for the crew. First, it was the remnants of winter storm Jonas that crossed the Atlantic after hitting the U.S. East Coast, bringing torrential rains and flooding to Scotland.
Then, two more storms, Gertrude and Henry, brought more flooding, power outages, and 80 mph winds! 20 tents blew away during the storms, and the Jacobite flags were left tattered and torn. The grounds in front of Touch House were soaked and the lawn was destroyed from all the action, so the production had to re-sod the whole area after filming was complete.
Visual Effects: Jacobite Camp
In post-production, visual effects were used to increase the size of the Jacobite camp and the number of Highland soldiers.