Outlander: Faith

I'm not sure that all of this half-season in France worked for me, but it certainly ended with a bang.

Birds often symbolize the death of a loved one, and the bird from the book in 1954 segued into a bird on the ceiling of l'Hôpital des Anges as Claire lost her baby, as we knew she would. Admirably, Mother Hildegarde did something illegal – she baptized the stillborn baby and gave her a name, Faith, so that she could be buried in hallowed ground, a gesture that would later give comfort to Jamie and Claire.

With yet another touch of the mystical that dances around the edges of this series, Maître Raymond snuck into l'Hôpital to heal Claire by removing the bit of placenta that was killing her. Maître Raymond has healing hands and sees auras. Claire's is blue, like his own, the color of healing. He revealed that this was why he always called her "Madonna," not because of her pregnancy, but because her aura was like the Virgin's cloak.

Still believing that Jamie simply broke his word, Claire languished in that bed for weeks as Jamie languished in prison. Would Claire have left Jamie in the Bastille if she hadn't discovered the reason? I don't think so. At the end of the episode, she took the blame for putting Frank's life over Jamie's, for following Jamie to the Bois de Boulogne. I think she would have eventually found a way to free Jamie, anyway.

And here is where I have to talk about rape.

This show is graphic in its portrayal of sex and violence as well as sexual violence. As I mentioned in my review of "To Ransom a Man's Soul," the reason I didn't watch Outlander when it initially aired was because I'd read the first few books and didn't think I could handle seeing Jamie tortured and raped. I most certainly didn't want to see Fergus raped, either. Was it necessary to show it? The director must have thought it was necessary. Thankfully, that scene was short and we didn't see Jack Randall and the child actor in the same frame.

Rape exists, it happens a lot, and it is under-reported. I was nearly raped by a stranger when I was nineteen. I have been close to four people who were raped, three of them when they were children younger than Fergus. None were reported. And that's only the ones I know about, since most victims keep it to themselves. I think that Diana Gabaldon, the author of the books, has her own reasons for writing about rape, and I respect that choice.

And while it's undoubtedly disturbing to watch (as well it should be), Outlander does something significant that makes a difference to me: the effect on the victim is the focus, and it is given the importance it deserves. What happened to Jamie in Wentworth Prison spurred a great deal of the drama in this series. It's part of who he is, and it made total sense that seeing Randall rape Fergus would be the last straw for Jamie.

One last, but notable, visit to Versailles

Learning what happened to Fergus may have pushed Claire to do sooner what I'm sure she would have done eventually: she went to the King to bargain for Jamie's release. Forewarned by Mother Hildegarde, Claire was prepared for a distasteful sexual transaction. Instead, she found herself adjudicating this season's version of the Cranesmuir witch trial with two men accused this time, instead of two women.



Every episode of this season so far helped set this up: St. Germain's villainy and involvement with Les Disciples, Claire's friendship with Maître Raymond, the poison-detecting crystal, the King's executioner Monsieur Forez, even Jamie inadvertently starting the rumor that Claire was la Dame Blanche. The King clearly believed she was, and that she had the power to look into souls and make judgments.

Claire must have been terrified, but she rose to the occasion and gave the performance of her life. When the King brought out the snake we've been seeing in the credits, Claire cleverly talked him out of using it, and into a ruse with the bitter cascara; even though she knew St. Germain was evil, she thought she could save both of them. Maître Raymond must have thought differently. Maybe he, like Geillis, knew one of them would have to die to appease the audience. If the King was indeed determined to see someone die, then Maître Raymond made the right decision.

Throughout that scene, Claire and Maître Raymond communicated everything to each other with their eyes. When Claire's necklace turned black, St. Germain knew exactly what was happening without words, too. Claire had no choice but to give the poison to St. Germain, and St. Germain, tears of fright dripping down his cheeks, had no choice but to drink it. Well deserved, St. Germain. Better than being drawn and quartered, St. Germain. Glad we didn't see that.

What an incredible set, or location, whatever. The starry holes in the ceiling, the mystical symbols on the floor. I even loved the oranges in the antechamber. The King boasted about his orangerie and gave an orange to Claire. She didn't eat it, but after their brief sexual encounter, she took it with her. I'm sure I could assign some symbolism to that.

Two daughters

I understand that casual viewers who are unfamiliar with the books were confused by the opening scene that showed Claire with her redheaded daughter. Was it supposed to be a dream sequence with Faith? It's even more confusing when at the end of the episode, Claire told Jamie that Faith "had wisps of the most beautiful copper hair."

Perhaps the 1954 scene was simply intended to show that Claire and Jamie will have another daughter, and that second daughter will live. Claire was pregnant again when she came through the stones in 1948, which would make their second daughter Brianna (IMDb gives her name) about six years old. In the 1954 scene they were in Boston, Claire was still wearing Jamie's ring as well as Frank's, and she told Brianna she was in Scotland a long time ago. While the reassurance that they will eventually have a living child is an important one, I find it unspeakably sad that Jamie never saw his first daughter, and may never see his second.



Jamie and Claire repaired the damage to their marriage. Neither of them was to blame, or maybe they were both to blame. I liked Jamie's maturity in simply accepting that Claire loved him enough to have sex with the King for his sake, much as he loved her enough to have sex with Randall for hers. Jamie couldn't accept this sacrifice when it was his sister Jenny, but he can accept it now.

This sojourn to France was painful and ultimately futile. But now they can go home to Scotland, since Jamie is no longer a wanted man. At least until they are separated by the stones. As we know they eventually will be.

Bits:

— The pregnant Louise de la Tour showed up at l'Hôpital to visit Claire, and convinced her to let go of Faith's tiny body. That reminded me of the baby changeling scene at the fairy hill in season one.

— Jamie left one of the apostle spoons on Faith's grave in Paris. It was Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.

— I liked Lionel Lingelser as Louis XV, especially his imperious gestures. He struck the right balance between somewhat comical and somewhat frightening. No one should have that much power.

— Monsieur Forez tried to save Claire's life at l'Hôpital. Unless Claire was just hallucinating that he was there. I think he was there.

— Did Maître Raymond get caught because he came back to Paris to heal Claire? Was this the last time we'll see him? We never found out if he was a time traveler, too. Oh, well.

— Jack Randall was permitted to return to England to recover from his nasty Jamie-inflicted crotch wound.

— The statue of Mary breaking was a bit too obvious with the symbolism. She was how Maître Raymond saw Claire, and Claire did indeed break.

— Jamie came home from the Bastille with a hideous red beard. A very good reason for his character to remain clean shaven.

— This was Caitriona Balfe's episode. She did an exceptional job.

Quotes:

Father Laurentin: "Would you like to make a last confession so that you may unburden yourself of any sins?"
Claire: "My sins are all I have left."
At the Abbey with Father Anselm, she confessed everything while praying for Jamie's life. She refused to do the same for herself.

Maître Raymond: "These are things you do for your friends."

Mother Hildegarde: "The King may expect to lie with you."
Claire: "If it comes to sacrificing my virtue, Mother, I'll add it to the list of things I have already lost in Paris."

Claire: "Perhaps it was the shock of what I'd been through, but as Master Raymond was led away, what ran through my brain was a line from a film. You know the one. 'I'm going to miss you most of all.'"
That's what Dorothy said to the Scarecrow at the end of The Wizard of Oz. Not the first time Claire has quoted that movie.

Claire: "I closed my eyes and thought of England."
At least he finished quickly. Why would an all powerful King care about the pleasure of his partner?

Claire: "So yes, I hated you. But it was me who asked the impossible of you. It was me that put Frank before our family. It was me who followed you to the woods."
Jamie: "Frank is your family, too."
Claire: "But he's not here. And now, neither is our daughter. It's not your fault. It's not even Randall's fault this time. It's my fault."
Jamie: "I asked your forgiveness once. You said there's nothing to forgive. Truth is, I already forgave you, long before today, for this and anything else you could ever do."
Because he loves her. Direct quote from "The Reckoning."

Another exceptional episode, probably one of their best. Four out of four oranges,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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