Outlander – Season 2 Episode 7
The second half Outlander’s second season begins with the fallout from the previous episode as Claire has to deal with a profound loss.
It doesn’t take it long for the episode to make it clear that Claire lost her baby and dedicate much of the remaining time to exploring how Claire deals with he grief after the fact. Outlander has never been shy about tackling complex emotional stories so it comes as no surprise that the writers leap into exploring Claire’s miscarriage without making any compromises on how tragic a loss it is.
Claire’s feelings on the experience are varied. On a really primal level she feels the sense of loss that would be expected and grieves over the fact that her child has died. Caitriona Balfe doesn’t hold back in portraying this as being really visceral. Her performance is really powerful and puts across exactly how Claire feels about it. The way she rejected the Virgin Mary as a symbol of comfort showed that she was completely unwilling to even pretend to fit into the time period.
On another level she is consumed with hate that is directed at Jamie because of the part he had to play in all of this. After all his duel with Randall was the final straw in Claire having this miscarriage though there were other factors in there such as the stress associated with the complications that kept forming in their plan to sabotage Prince Charles.
Blaming Jamie is easy for her because it happened during a very specific circumstance that he had promised to postpone. What she doesn’t admit to herself is that she is possibly more responsible for this due to the way she has tried to control the situation to get what she wants. She wants Frank to be born so lets Randall live until he can father a child and her selfish desire to have Jamie not be killed at Culloden informs the entire plan to sabotage Prince Charles. The objective of this episode is to get Claire to the point that she can accept that she has some responsibility in how this situation has played out.
This begins to happen when she discovers Fergus obviously distressed after a bad dream that turns out to be the trauma from being abused by Randall as I speculated about in my review of the previous episode. It was good to have that definitely confirmed and become a big part of Claire’s development in this episode. Before finding out what happened to Fergus, her assumption was that Jamie had simply betrayed her because of his desire to see Randall dead. Through Fergus she finds out that Jamie extended a second challenge when he learned what Randall did to him.
Claire feels incredible sympathy for Fergus in what he had to endure but it also gives her a sense of understanding of why Jamie did what he did. It’s not enough to make her forgive him completely but it definitely takes her on the road to forgiveness and challenges her assumptions up to this point.
What happened to Fergus was disgusting and the episode doesn’t make light of that. Romann Berrux does an excellent job of playing the trauma that Fergus has experienced and it’s very clear that this will haunt him for the rest of his life. I will say that flashing back to the event itself was completely unnecessary as putting the viewer in Claire’s position of having to hear about it and imagine it is a more horrific prospect. The flashback didn’t add anything extra from a story point of view so it felt like it was added for shock value when showing the aftermath of a child being raped was more than enough. We all know what Randall is capable of at this point so we really don’t need to see it.
Her confrontation with Jamie intercut with her holding the lifeless body of her child was incredibly powerful. Both are very sedate and impactful. Claire’s admission that she hated Jamie shown just after breaking down when giving up their child to be buried was a really effective way to show that she blamed him for the death of their child. This is immediately followed by her admitting that she asked him to do something that was impossible because she put the safety of Frank before the family she was building with Jamie.
It’s a hard lesson that Claire learns over the course of the episode but a necessary one as without realising that she is more than a little at fault she will be unable to move on. Jamie is able to forgive her instantly because there is nothing she can do that will make him hate her. It’s consistent with how devoted he has been to her. Even her admitting to him that she slept with the King to buy his freedom isn’t enough to put him off her. He considers it the same as him surrendering to Randall to save her. All that is important to Jamie is that they can both take what happened and deal with it together. Jamie tells her that they could have another child and move forward which Claire accepts and asks to be taken back to Scotland.
The child was baptised and named Faith so that she could be buried on hallowed ground. Thematically the name fits into Claire needing to have faith in Jamie to help her through this as well as giving the child an identity to be mourned. The opening scene set in 1954 showing Claire with a young girl also called Faith suggests that it’s a name that sticks with her to the point that she calls her next child by that name. This scene could also be interpreted as Claire imaging what could be but I think it’s more literal than that given that she is pregnant when returning to her present.
While Claire is dealing with her grief and trying to get Jamie out of prison the King asks for a favour in return for his mercy. I’ve already mentioned that she has to sleep with him to buy his freedom but she also has to give her professional opinion as a Witch on whether the Comte St. Germain and Master Raymond are put to death for practicing the dark arts. It’s an interesting scene as it gives Claire a sense of power that she has been lacking since losing her child. Of course this is taken from her when she has to sleep with the King but for a time she is in command of the situation.
It’s a difficult situation because she has no love for the Comte St. Germain but obviously doesn’t want to be responsible for his death and the kinship she has found with Master Raymond gives her a vested interest in ensuring his survival. She does have to make a choice as the King wants a death to appease the public but manages to counter that with a test that might kill a guilty party. If it doesn’t then they should both be set free. This is made more complicated when Master Raymond adds something to the potion without anyone seeing and the Comte St. Germain dies. It’s enough to appease the King and Master Raymond is allowed to survive but not without making Claire a willing participant in the death of another man.
It’s a great scene and Caitriona Balfe does a great job playing Claire pretending to be a Witch. It’s clear that she gets some sort of thrill from people perceiving her as being powerful and being seen to be powerful is exactly what she needs right now. Having her monologue quote The Wizard of Oz as Master Raymond is taken away is a nice touch as it reminds us why she is able to be seen to have that power in the first place.
Master Raymond remains an engaging mystery that still needs to be resolved. Will he find his way to Scotland or are Claire and Jamie not quite down with France yet? I’m positive he’s from the future but I can’t think when his native time is.
An excellent episode that doesn’t pull punches when exploring the complex emotions that come with grief. Claire’s slow acceptance of the fact that she is largely at fault for how things have transpired is handled really well and Caitriona Balfe’s acting is incredible throughout. I think the flashbacks to the rape of Fergus could have been done without as the suggestion was shocking enough but other than that the episode was appropriately powerful and moving.
- Caitriona Balfe’s excellent performance
- a fun scene where Claire gets to pretend that she’s a Witch
- the complex exploration of a really profound loss
- an unnecessary flashback depicting Randall’s rape of Fergus