Outlander Season 2, Episode 7
Posted by Kim
After we both watched “Faith,” Sage and I had brunch and she commented that the episode felt like it was three different episodes all combined into one exceptional gut-punch to the feels. She’s right. “Faith” was a devastating portrait of bone-deep grief. “Faith” was a taut political thriller that had my knuckles going white. “Faith” was a testament to the overwhelming power of love and forgiveness. All of those elements added up to one exceptional hour of television. While the episode was populated by appearances from all the characters we’ve come to love (and hate) over the course of the season, the entire thing rested on Caitriona Balfe’s shoulders. And boy…did she deliver one hell of a performance. PAY ATTENTION AWARDS VOTERS. (Also, Cait, if you DO get that Emmy nod, you know this is your submission episode, right? Right.)
Considering the dramatic end to “Best Laid Schemes,” the opening of “Faith” was the equivalent of having ice water thrown in your face. We have not seen Modern!Claire since the premiere and it’s a sobering reminder that she does indeed honor her promise to Jamie and goes back through the stones. The year is 1954 and Claire is in Boston, looking elegant and polished (that manicure!). By her side is her six-year-old daughter, Brianna (thanks internet), who looks every inch Jamie’s daughter, with her GLORIOUS ginger curls. I wonder how Frank feels about that? It can’t be easy for him to look that hair and see such a stark reminder that he did not father this child. How ARE Frank and Claire? Are they happy? Have they fallen in love again? Or are they living together politely like roommates? Are they funneling all of their love into this little girl instead of each other? My heart hurts.
Claire and Brianna are looking at a picture book when the little girl points out a picture of a “pretty bird”. (FYI, herons symbolize “that it is time to assert our own authority and to follow our own unique path in life. We need to listen to the inner calling of our hearts and not the ideas of others. There may also be a great opportunity coming our way and to grab it quickly when it comes.” How fitting.) When Claire tells her that the pretty bird is called a heron, Brianna asks her mother if she’s ever seen one in real life. After a moment, Claire replies that she has…in Scotland. (How often does she allow herself to think about Scotland? Her hesitance and the way she struggles to compose herself afterwards says not often. UGH.) “When were you in Scotland, mama?” Claire smiles sadly. “A long time ago.”
Well, that’s one way of putting it.
“There are moments that the words don’t reach. There is suffering too terrible to name. You hold your child as tight as you can and push away the unimaginable. The moments when you’re in so deep, it feels easier to just swim down…”
As Claire’s pregnancy progressed over the course of the season and her belly grew more and more prominent, I don’t know WHY I didn’t come to the conclusion that it would end in tragedy. I SAW that she wasn’t showing when she made it back to the 40’s. For some reason, it just didn’t click. Stupid me. One of the things I love most about Outlander is that it loves to play with perspective. We always see things through Claire’s eyes. We saw that last week with Claire observing Jamie and Murtagh and this week we are brought into Claire’s delirium as she delivers her child. Claire is not fully aware of her situation (not to mention the fact that she’s being restrained), so we just get glimpses of the bloody scene going on around her. We see snippets of Monsieur Forez working furiously. We see the panic on the young nun’s face as she assists and prays. We hear Claire calling out for Jamie and her baby. We hear Mother Hildegard soothe her, telling her to be quiet and that she’s HERE. It’s all incredibly unsettling. Claire gives into the pain, drifting into unconsciousness as she sees a vision of a heron.
When Claire comes to, she asks for her baby. Over and over again. The nurses hover, not wanting to tell her the news. Finally, Mother Hildegard tells her and the abject tenderness and sorrow in her face is devastating. Her daughter was stillborn. Claire continues to cry for her child, pleading that they bring her the baby, refusing to believe what she knows to be true. A nurse tries to comfort her, gesturing to the statue of the Virgin Mary meant to bring her comfort. There is no comfort for Claire in this. She screams and screams for her baby, fighting the nuns as she goes. She knocks the statue to the ground and it shatters. FITTING.
Claire slips into a fever and Hildegard (and Bouton) never leave her side. She tells Claire that she baptized the child, naming her Faith. (The name, while beautiful, almost feels like a slap in the face, no?) She did this despite the fact that baptisms are only supposed to be done on the living. “I wanted her to be buried in hallowed ground,” Hildegard says kindly. “This is between you, me, and God.” As Claire’s condition worsens, a priest is brought in to prepare for her last rites. Claire desperately asks for Jamie but there’s been no word. She is utterly and completely alone. You actually SEE Claire start to give up. Death would surely be more peaceful than this pain.
Under the cover of night, Raymond comes to Claire’s bedside. He moves with urgency, knowing that he must not be discovered because the King is on the warpath. (Bouton, bless this magical dog, seems to KNOW Raymond is there to help and LETS HIM.) He asks Claire what she sees. “Wings. Blue wings.” The color of healing, Raymond acknowledges. “The wings will carry your pain away, if you let them.” He holds his hands over her body and he urges Claire to call out to Jamie. Through whatever witchcraft or wizardry he practices, Raymond heals her. “Be well, Madonna,” he says as he prepares to leave. Claire counters that he should not call her Madonna…she no longer has a child. “I didn’t call you Madonna because you were with child, my dear. Everyone has a color about them, all around them like a cloud. Yours is blue. Like the Virgin’s cloak. Like my own.” For what it’s worth, blue auras are “intuitive, visionary, reveal psychic power, magical, and artistic”. (I am learning SO MUCH in this recap.) That suits Claire to a tee, no? As she comes out of her fever, she realizes just how big of a risk Raymond has taken by coming here. When she admonishes that he should not have come, he repeats their refrain. “These are things you do for your friends.” He assures Claire that they will see each other again and then steals away, no one the wiser as to how Claire was miraculously healed. Well, except for Bouton of course.
Now that Claire is out of the woods health-wise, she turns her attentions towards her situation with Jamie. He is in the Bastille, imprisoned at the pleasure of the King, for dueling with Randall. Hildegard comments that he is lucky Randall lived, because he would be even more screwed if he had died. THAT’S RIGHT. Not even a sword to the dick can kill Blackjack Randall. Claire takes a mild comfort in the knowledge that Frank’s future is secured. (HOW? Does Blackjack’s dick still have the capacity to function. Did he merely lose one of his balls? Inquiring minds need to know.) Then, her feelings turn to anger. Jamie broke his promise to her. “He BETRAYED me, Mother. Revenge mattered more to him than me or his child.” It’s pretty easy to understand why Claire chooses to direct all her anger at the world to Jamie. It prevents her from dealing with her loss (THEIR loss) if she has someone to blame.”God says we must revel in mercy,” Hildegard warns. “Tread sins underfoot and hurl iniquities into the sea.” “I’m not sure there’s a sea deep enough,” Claire says bitterly.
Claire stays in the hospital for weeks, long past the time needed for her body to heal. It’s her soul that’s broken. She is deeply depressed and she completely withdraws from the world. She’s lost her baby. She’s been abandoned by her husband. Every effort they have made to stop the rebellion has been thwarted. What does she have to live for? Finally, Fergus shows up at the hospital (bearing flowers) to remind her that she DOES have a reason to get out of bed. She has him. He takes her home and his hand never leaves hers. The servants greet the carriage, their heartbreak for Claire evident on their faces. Caitriona Balfe is so amazing in this scene because while she doesn’t speak, you see that EVERY STEP she takes is literally taking everything she has. It’s like she is reminding herself to put one foot in front of the other, telling herself that her bed is waiting for her at the end of this journey. Suzette sobs and kisses Claire’s hand. The two women share a moment of connection but Claire’s face says “I see your sorrow but I literally don’t have anything to give to you right now.” Finally, she reaches Magnus. Magnus, who made sure she got to the hospital. Magnus, who saved her life. “Welcome home, Milady,” he says, bowing, his eyes brimming with tears. “Thank you, Magnus,” Claire says, BOWING BACK. She may be depressed as all get out, but she is still grateful to alive. Her “thank you” encompasses all of those emotions. (Did anyone else get flashes of Aragorn saying “My friends! You bow to no one” to the Hobbits at the end of Return of the King? That’s where my mind immediately went.)
Claire spends her first days back in the house in a near trance like state. She find the apostle spoons Jamie had given her as a christening gift and falls apart. She wanders the halls essentially in her night-dress, not being able to find the strength to even dress herself. Fergus is SO KIND with her. He takes care of her in the way she and Jamie took care of him. (The hairbrushing scene DESTROYED me.)
One night, Claire hears Fergus having a nightmare. She wakes him and asks if he wants to talk about it. He confesses that it’s not just a dream. It’s a memory. Fergus recounts just what happened at the Maison Elise the day of the duel. As we know, Fergus snuck into a room that belonged to Blackjack Randall. Fergus admits that he had seen a bottle of perfume on the dresser and wanted to steal it for Claire. When he turned around, Randall was there. “You’re not what I ordered. But you’ll do.” (I can barely even type about this, to be honest. This whole thing was nothing short of brutal because they SHOWED it.) Fergus tearfully tells Claire that he TRIED to get away but he wasn’t strong enough. Claire asks Fergus why he didn’t tell her about this sooner (because suddenly things are starting to make a whole lot of sense regarding Jamie’s actions) and he replies that he was ashamed. “It’s all my fault! I should have kept quiet! I didn’t cry or scream at first but I couldn’t help it.” Jamie ran in and found Randall in the middle of raping Fergus and he just SNAPPED, challenging him to a duel, all promises to Claire forgotten. It makes complete and absolute sense. Fergus is essentially Jamie’s SON. Claire would have done the same thing. “It’s not your fault,” she soothes. As Fergus cries about all of this being his fault, apologizing over and over (FOR BEING RAPED) for being the reason that Jamie is in jail, the tight grip of anger on Claire’s heart begins to loosen and she starts to see past her own grief.
Claire goes to Mother Hildegard asking if she can arrange an audience with the King so she can beg for Jamie’s release. While she is still angry with Jamie, she understands why he did what he did now. And he’s still her husband. Hildegard says the meeting can be arranged but warns that the King will likely expect Claire to sleep with him. “If it comes to sacrificing my virtue, Mother, I’ll add it to the list of things I have already lost in Paris.”
At the palace, Claire begs the King for mercy. She does a whole song and dance about Scots and their honor and it SEEMS that the King is buying it. Louis says that he is inclined to free Jamie, but Claire must do him a favor first. Naturally, Claire thinks it is a favor of the sexual kind, especially when it appears that Louis is taking her back to his own Red Room of Pain. They are joined there by Monsieur Forez and then by St. Germain and Raymond. OH SHIT. “The King asks that you give us the benefit of your skills,” Forez says. This is the moment where all of the gossip about Claire being a witch comes to a head. Both St. Germain and Raymond are accused of practicing the Dark Arts and the King asks that Claire look into their souls and determine if there is darkness within them. If there is, they will be sentenced to death. THIS FEELS LIKE A TRAP. Everyone knows that there is absolutely no love lost between Claire and St. Germain and that Claire and Raymond are allies. Claire also KNOWS that Raymond practices magic. Is the King waiting for HER to give herself away too? Has he already made up his mind and is just waiting for Claire to fuck up? How can Claire save Raymond without completely giving herself away? I think I held my breath the entire sequence.
Claire puts on her “La Dame Blanche” character, steeling her spine and schooling her face into an impassive expression. She goes after St. Germain first, seizing the opportunity to try to get some truth from him, prodding him about Les Disciples. He claims to have no knowledge of the gang, Claire says he’s lying. St. Germain then declares that Claire is a witch, known to be able to drink poison and survive. How does he know this? Because he tried to poison her himself. (I KNEW IT!) Claire doesn’t deny that she’s a witch. She practices White Magic and has nothing to hide. (She does this because let’s be real, she doesn’t have any other choice other that to be like YEP THAT’S ME.) She turns to Raymond and says that she also sees darkness in HIS soul, but only the “normal darkness that lives in the souls of all men”. She tries to reason with Louis that ALL people have darkness inside of them, that the darkness is ESSENTIAL because without it there is no light. Louis is having none of it though. He wants blood today. He brings forth a serpent, because all of a sudden we are in a backwoods church revival and the snakes won’t bite the true believers. Claire is all how about NO to the snake, offering instead to concoct a poison for the two men, and if it doesn’t kill them, they are pure of heart and their lives can be spared. It’s a brilliant move because of her knowledge of herbs. She can save both the men by merely using bitter cascara to give the appearance of poison. Louis gets his dramatic show, Claire appears to have cooperated, and both men live. Just this once! Everybody wins!
Claire presents her potion to Raymond first and he drinks it, immediately keeling over as the cascara hits his system. He hands the goblet back to Claire and immediately her necklace that’s meant to detect poison turns black. Raymond put poison in the cup when he was bent over and now St. Germain will be presented with a cup that will most definitely kill him and there is nothing that he can do. The acting in this scene is BRILLIANT because it’s all done with facial expressions. Raymond smirks, having finally bested his frenemy. Claire is the very definition of trying to stay calm and not give anything away (with a hint of triumph). And St. Germain? Well his face just says “Well…fuck”. You feel sorry for him for a half second and then he tells Claire to suck the Devil’s Cock, so…peace out Mo Fo. Nice knowing you. Claire is led out of the Red Room of Pain, having carried out her purpose. She tentatively asks the King if he will honor her requests and he says that she still has to pay him. After ALL OF THAT, she still has to sleep with him. She lies down and the King fucks her (there is no way of saying it delicately, he literally just goes for it). Once he’s done, he tells her that he will arrange a pardon for Jamie in both France and England, should they want to go home. Is that his way of TELLING them to go home? I think so.
“I don’t pretend to know the challenges we’re facing. I know there’s no replacing what we’ve lost and you need time. But I’m not afraid. I know who I married. Just let me stay here by your side. That would be enough.”
Jamie comes home from the Bastille, hair wild, sporting a full beard and haunted look in his eyes. He and Claire tensely share space, neither having any idea what to say to each other. Finally, Jamie makes the first move. “I don’t even know if it was a boy or girl. Claire? Will ye make me beg?” He is SO BROKEN before her. It’s easy to forget in the aftermath of the duel that Jamie would have to deal with the loss of his child as well. He was separated from his wife during a time when he knew she needed him and he hasn’t been able to properly grieve the loss. They’ve both been in their own spheres, dealing with their own pain. But that’s the ting with grief. It becomes less of a burden when you share it. Jamie stands before Claire, asking her to share the grief with him. She looks as him and she realizes that she doesn’t have to carry it alone anymore, so she lets go. She tells Jamie how Mother Hildegard named their baby and how she made sure to have her buried at the church. “I did try to keep my promise,” he chokes out. The thing is, despite his rage at having to make the promise in the first place, I fully believe that Jamie intended to honor it. He is a man of integrity above all else. But that all went out the window the minute Randall touched Fergus. Jamie asks Claire if she hates him for it and Claire admits that she DID. Past tense.
Claire admits that she put Jamie in an impossible situation and that she put Frank before her family with him. Jamie tries to say that Frank is her family too, but Claire is adamant. She was in the wrong and she has paid the price. All of this has been her fault and she can finally admit that now. She asks for Jamie’s forgiveness but the thing is…it’s already been given freely. Claire tells him that she slept with the King (might as well get it all out there) but Jamie is done keeping score of their sins against each other. She did what she had to do and the only thing that matters is that they are here now. They can never go back to what they were. Too much has happened. But what they CAN do is move forward. “The weight of what has happened here is too much for any one of us to bear alone. The only way we can live with it is to carry it together.” It’s a reminder that love is a choice every day and Jamie is asking Claire to choose him, because BY GOD he’s choosing her. She asks him if he is sure and he affirms that he is. Yes, they have suffered a great deal. Yes, they have lost so much and they’ve hurt each other more than they should have. But they CAN move forward. They can have another baby (“by the grace of God”) and they can build a life together. All she has to do is say that she wants to. “Then bring me home.”
Before they go to Scotland, they visit Faith’s grave together. Jamie leaves one of the apostle spoons on her grave. “If we must bury you in France, let’s leave a bit of Scotland with ye,” Jamie says. He grasps Claire’s hand. It’s time to go home.
“There are moments that the words don’t reach. There is a grace too powerful to name. We push away what we can never understand. We push away the unimaginable. They are standing in the garden, Alexander by Eliza’s side. She takes his hand. ‘It’s quiet uptown.’ Forgiveness…can you imagine?” — Lin Manuel Miranda, “It’s Quiet Uptown”
Swoon Worthy Jamie Fraser Moment of the Week
GUYS. Jamie’s. Prison. Beard.
Did Ye Ken That?
- It’s interesting to me that Claire compared Raymond to the Scarecrow. “I miss you most of all.” I still don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.
- The flashback to Claire being able to hold Faith is TERRIBLE. Also let’s be real, Louise de Rohan would have probably never set foot in that place otherwise, so it is a testament to how much she loves Claire that she came to be by her side when called. How long did Claire sit there clutching her daughter, refusing to let her go? Louise handles the situation perfectly, listening to Claire talk about how perfect the baby is without ever shaming her or making her feel crazy.
- Fergus is going with them to Scotland, RIGHT?
- Oh, St. Germain. I will miss your facial expressions most of all.
- GIVE THIS WOMAN AN EMMY. Seriously, between her and Eva Green on Penny Dreadful, the genre show ladies are GETTING IT DONE.
We’re on our way back to Scotland, friends! Leave your thoughts on “Faith” in the comments.