Okay, friends. Fortitude. We’re going to get through this one together. (Even though as I sit down to watch it, I’m already crying.) Let’s do it.
Oh, right—um, SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT. Watch episode 207, “Faith,” before reading this. (Then watch it again when you can hear the dialog over your own crying.)
First off, hats off to writer Toni Graphia, who had a monster job to do with this thing, and pulled it off in the most gorgeous, honest, and devastating way. I mean, let’s think about this for a second—this is the last France episode. So not only do we have to get through all the aftermath of the “Faith” stuff, but we have to sum up all the story arcs of everyone we’ve met in France and get our main characters back to Scotland while we do it. And in only, what? 60 minutes? Bravo, Toni!
As Toni says in the commentary, this episode is called “Faith,” not only because it’s the name of Claire and Jamie’s stillborn child, but because it is the theme. “They haven’t lost faith in each other,” she explains. In fact, you might say, Faith is the theme of the whole damn book, while you’re at it.
Now I talk in depth about all this in my article Outlander 2: Liberté, Égalité et Faith, in case you haven’t read it yet.
But for now, let’s talk about our opening image:
Now of course, we know that Claire is pregnant when she goes back through the stones to Frank in episode 201, but actually seeing her here with this little redheaded girl is completely toying with us. Who is this girl? Is this the baby she was carrying all season? Is everything actually going to be okay with this pregnancy? (And those of us who have read the books know the answer, but still– hope is born.)
And as the beautiful heron soars through the sky, taking us back to France, we get our answer.
No. Everything is not okay.
And now we see Claire lying in the hospital, with Mother Hildegarde hovering over her:
The whispered prayers, the chaos. “I am here,” says Mother Hildegarde.
“Jamie” is all Claire can whisper. Blood all over the sheets. Listless and scared, Claire is drifting through this experience as in a dream. Her helplessness is devastating.
She feels her stomach. It is empty. “Where’s my baby?”
“I am sorry, madame. She has joined the angels.”
It is not a coincidence, of course, that this hospital is called L’Hopital d’Anges – Hospital of the Angels. Claire is surrounded by her ghosts.
“I baptized her and gave her a name. Faith,” says Mother Hildegarde. Illegal to do so with a stillborn baby. But that way she could be buried in the church cemetery.
And when the priest asks Claire if she has any sins to confess, she answers, quite honestly, “My sins are all I have left.”
The last rites are performed, and you see the look in her eyes, wondering if she even has the strength to keep fighting. Bouton guards her through the night as she trembles.
And in walks a cloaked figure, speaking French. “Be still now. Hush, Madonna. If they find me here, I’m finished.” It is Raymond.
And just as in the novel, Claire is brought back from the brink of death by his healing hands. She surely would have died of the infection otherwise. She looks up to the blue wings of the flying bird.
The placenta is festering, the bacteria inhabiting the blood.
“Call him. Call to him,” demands Raymond.
“Be well, Madonna,” says Raymond, who is escaping from the king’s witch hunt and may never see Claire again. “I am no Madonna,” she explains. “I have no child.” And Raymond explains quite beautifully that he doesn’t call her Madonna because she has a child, but because her aura is blue, like the Virgin’s cloak.
“We will see each other again,” he tells her. “Have faith.”
Claire discovers that Jamie is in the Bastille for dueling, but because he didn’t actually kill Jack, the punishment is not as bad as it could have been. Oh good, it’s been a few months since Jamie was in prison for something. (Seriously, is it just me, or is Jamie in prison, like, every other month? Guess they didn’t have a lot of three strikes laws in 18th century France.)
Black Jack Randall has gone back to England, so we’ll just stick him on a back burner for a while, and focus and Claire’s hostility towards Jamie for fighting him in the first place: “Revenge mattered more to him than me, or his child… He may as well have run his sword through me.”
“I’m not sure there’s a sea deep enough,” Claire responds. (Again, Toni Graphia—you’re slaying me here.)
So let’s cut to a few weeks later:
Magnus and the other staff welcome her home. I know some people are put off by the familiarity between the staff and the aristocracy (in this case, Jamie and Claire), which—true—is not very historically accurate. But it really adds something to their home scenes which would be quite cold otherwise.
Fergus brushes her hair and sees the perfume bottles.
“What is it?” Claire asks, when she sees him shudder. “No—nothing, m’lady.”
Remember that at this point, Claire has no idea why Jamie decided to duel Jack early, instead of keeping his promise to wait a year. But after hurling the christening spoons under the bed and pacing the hallways, crying and lost, Claire hears Fergus in his bedroom:
“Stop! S’il vous plait!” he shouts.
And he finally explains to her what we may have already guessed from last week: Fergus was raped by Black Jack Randall that day in the brothel, and Jamie walked in on them.
And so we see why Jamie demanded the duel immediately.
“Now my lord is gone. He will never come back,” worries Fergus. Well, not if Claire has anything to do with it! With a new mission in life, Claire throws on the 18th century version of the bandage dress and goes to see Hildegarde, inquiring about a private audience with the king.
Claire “has found a deep enough sea.”
So, on to the B story—I mean, the king’s palace. Claire strolls down this elegant but tasteful corridor that looks like it was designed by Skeletor and goes to see the king of hand gestures.
So we sit down with the king, have some churros y chocolate, some creepy looking oranges. Oh, this is going well. If you don’t count the fact that there’s an absurdly large bed in the foreground of this little meeting, portending some kinky shit that’s about to go down. I will say this: nice of the show to cast a handsome man as the king, instead of the weird smelly hedgehog I was picturing in the book.
PS: The thought of having sex just weeks after a miscarriage—just ew. And ow. And ew again.
Anyway, let’s move on. Claire lets the king know that she is “entirely at his disposal,” the innuendo practically dripping off her tongue. And then he takes her hand, noting the two wedding rings:
But as it turns out, the king is going to want more than just the obligatory “sex toll,” if you will. La Dame Blanche, after all, is known for other talents. And it’s high time she starts using them.
So off we go to…
Eyes Wide Shut… I mean, the Bridge of the Battlestar Galactica—wait, where are we again, Ron Moore? Ah, still in France, not in space (or a Kubrick movie). This is just a really awesome star room/place to torture people to death.
And while we’re going full Kubrick with the weirdness here, let’s visit with our favorite ob/gyn from hell: Monsieur Forez.
“His presence could mean only one thing,” Claire realizes. “There would be death here today.”
And whom might we have the pleasure of torturing to death this day? Why, it’s our old friends, Master Raymond and the Comte St. Germain.
The king makes his intentions clear: “Look into their souls, and if there is darkness within, they will be handed over to M. Forez and put to death.”
Oh, Claire, can’t a girl just sleep with the king of France to set her husband free from the Bastille in peace anymore? Why do things always have to get so complicated?
And here Claire, who knows what role she’s expected to play in this scene, really turns up the juice. Playing up a delicious pantomime of lusty witchery, she turns to the comte.
She accuses him, in front of the king, of being the mastermind of the rape of Mary, and the brains behind Les Disciples. He denies it, of course, but his fate is already sealed. Claire, however, still thinks she can maneuver the pieces of this chess set to her liking. Dismissing the (super creepy) snake, who blissfully stays in his cage, she concocts a plan to “poison” both men with bitter cascara, thereby setting them both free.
But there’s a little knowing look in Raymond’s eyes. This opportunity isn’t going to slip through his fingers. He drinks the potion, “doubles over in pain,” and slips something into the cup before the comte drinks it.
And here’s where this episode goes from just really good to pretty friggin’ genius—the “I only turn black in the presence of poison” necklace that Claire has had dangling from her delicate white neck ever since Raymond gave it to her… well, it does this:
And no one is more surprised than she is. But she knows what it means. And so does the comte.
And even as he spits a line like this at our heroine before drinking it…
…I still get a little lump in my throat as tears escape from his Paul Newman blue eyes and he knows he’s going to die. Sorry, I’m really shallow. I get sad when cute men die.
So I think our work in this scene is done. Raymond is free, the comte is dead, and Claire thinks she might be done for the day.
But of course, there’s just one more little obligation before Jamie is to be set free:
Possibly the best line in the history of Outlander right there. (Apparently, this is something British moms used to tell their daughters on their wedding nights, to convince them that they would have to grin and bear the sex in order to procreate. Using it here is pure gold.) *Note, 5/22: I’m now getting word from a commentator that Queen Victoria herself dispensed this advice, since she never liked sex. Classic.
And how genius is it, by the way, of director Metin Hüseyin to parallel the shot of Claire in the hospital earlier with this one here? Sister can’t seem to get off her back in this episode.
So Two Pump Chump finishes up and Claire leaves. But first, she takes the orange. Classic.
And now we fade to BLACK.
What will come next? Freedom? Jamie? Scotland? Our Claire has had a hell of time of it lately, and she’s going to have decide what she wants. But first…
Here comes our reluctant hero—climbing the stairs of his house like a condemned man climbing the gallows.
This line, also in the book, is the beginning of one of the most amazing scenes in this whole show. In Dragonfly in Amber, the process of Claire and Jamie reuniting, forgiving each other for their transgressions, accepting the mutual blame for the death of Faith, accepting that Claire slept with the king in order to release Jamie—all of this, and it’s a lot—takes quite a while. It’s a series of many scenes, slowly unraveling as they make their way back to Scotland. (I also talk about Claire’s confession to Jamie in my article on top-five Dragonfly moments, Outlander 2: Written in Diana’s Own Heart’s Blood.)
Here it’s one scene.
And what a scene it is, beautifully and heartbreakingly unraveling the thin threads of regret and forgiveness that hold together a marriage. Claire’s admission that she blames herself for Faith’s death is nothing short of devastating. Is she right? Should she have stayed in bed? Could there have been another outcome? She will never know.
And the clock ticks… louder, louder, taking us back into flashback. Another brilliant choice here, to save this most intimate and painful moment of Claire’s stay in the hospital for now, when Jamie is with her, as though he was living through it with her.
“Do you hate me for it, Claire?” he asks her.
“I did hate you,” she admits. And she takes him through her grief, like a painter detailing every stroke of her work.
Claire in the hospital bed with the little dead baby: “I could cup her head in the palm of my hand.” This description of the little body, as in the book, is so visceral, it’s almost a medical account. Jamie will have to know every moment of her despair, in order to truly be with her for their mutual recovery.
I love that, in the commentary, Toni Graphia mentions that there was originally voiceover explaining why Claire sings this particular song—how her mother sang it to her. But when she saw Caitriona playing it– simple, honest, her grief pouring out into the words– she realized she didn’t need it. It’s a great lesson in writing: often, less is more.
And now we see Louise, possibly for the last time. And I love that she is the one to come to the bedside, her own pregnancy now beginning to show, as she takes the small baby from Claire’s arms to hand her to Mother Hildegarde. If it is the last time we see this character, then what a perfect way to close her arc, by letting her be the friend to begin Claire on her journey towards letting go.
“She’s an angel,” Louise says. And it’s true. In the “Hospital of Angels,” another spirit left behind.
“But it was me who asked the impossible of you… me who put Frank before our family… me who followed you to the woods,” she continues, realizing that this time, she can’t blame Jack Randall or anyone else.
Claire will have to learn to forgive herself for all the things she has done wrong, all the mistakes, if she is ever going to heal. As for Jamie, he tells her: “I already forgave you, long before today, for this and anything else you could ever do.”
“How can we ever be the same?” she asks Jamie. And his simple response: “We can’t be.”
And that is when Claire realizes it is time to give up this futile effort in France. They’ve done all they can to derail Charles’ attempts to invade England. And it has cost them everything they had.
“Then bring me home,” Claire says, “to Scotland.”
“Aye, Scotland,” Jamie says, the first sincere smile he’s had for a while cracking across his tired face.
And there’s only one thing left to do:
Claire reaches out for Jamie’s hand… and he takes it. Fade to black.
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