This was arguably up there with the most devastating and powerful episodes of Outlander, being dark and utterly heartbreaking.
The episode opens with a flash forward to 1954, with Claire and her young daughter in a library. Her daughter points out a heron, and asks Claire if she’s ever seen one.Claire responds that she has, a long time go in Scotland. We flash back again to 1745, with Claire lying on a bed, looking broken. In a mixture of blurred scenes we see the birth of Clare’s baby with Mother Hildegarde and the Royal executioner there to deliver it. Claire wakes up after this, only uttering “where’s my baby?” before Mother Hildegarde informs her that her baby was born stillborn, and it was a girl.
Later on, Mother Hildegard tells Claire she baptised her, and gave the baby the name Faith.Claire is turning very ill, Mother Hildegarde bringing in a priest for Claire to give her last confession. The priest asks if Claire would like to unburden her sins, with Claire responding with the best line of the episode “My sins are all I have left”.
That night, Claire is struggling with her high fever, until Mayster Raymond sneaks in and visits her. Raymond massages her and manages to save Claire’s life before having to quickly leave before being seen.Her fever has broken, and Claire desperately asks Mother Hildegarde about Jamie. Mother Hildegarde tells her that Jamie is locked in the Bastille for duelling with Randall, although the fact that Randall is alive means his sentence won’t be as severe. Claire’s still furious at Jamie’s betrayal, telling Mother Hildegarde that “Revenge mattered more to him than me, or his child”.
After weeks of healing, Fergus comes to ask Claire to return home, as she does Claire notes that “my body had healed but my soul had not”. Once arriving at their house in Paris, Claire is greeted emotionally by the house staff, sharing an especially heartbreaking moment with Magnus. Claire’s face is devastating as we see the suffering she’s enduring, as she thanks Magnus and bows to him. In the next scene Fergus brushes Claire’s hair, pausing and running off while looking at a perfume bottle, like the last time we saw him at the brothel before his encounter with Jack Randall. Before Claire gets any answers though, she finds the christening gift Jamie bought for the baby, the set of spoons and angrily pushes them away before bursting into tears. She’s then distracted however, by Fergus having a bad dream, and asks him to tell her about it to make it go away. Sadly in this case it won’t as a tearful Fergus tells Claire what we didn’t see with his encounter with Jack Randall, flashbacks showing us that Randall raped Fergus before his cries altered Jamie, who in such a fury and in pain at seeing this, then demanded the duel with Randall.
It’s a horrible scene to watch, especially considering the shot of Randall’s red jacket last week was enough to tell us what had happened without needing to show it. Reading interviews about the scene, the showrunners wanted the audience to feel the same anger that Jamie felt, and to show how he could betray his promise to Claire. I understand that and you did definitely feel the rage and hatred Jamie had in that moment, but it was still painful to know whether you saw it take place or not. Outlander has handled rape as more than just a plot device to shock the audience, and I hope they continue to do so. Claire’s shocked to hear this, and it’s terrible to think of Fergus suffering alone all these weeks. Claire reassures him it wasn’t his fault, and after realising the pain Fergus endured and understanding Jamie’s reasons for betraying her, Claire acts to set him free.
Claire first goes to Mother Hildegarde, who as the daughter of Louis XIV, she knows must have connections in court in order to grant Claire an audience with the King who she can petition to release Jamie. Mother Hildegarde tells her that she can grant her an audience, but the King will expect payment. This payment will most likely be Claire having to sleep with him. Claire’s only response is “If it comes to sacrificing my virtue mother, I’ll add it to the list of things I’ve already lost in Paris”
Claire meets with the King, in a tense conversation, Claire desperately trying to act relaxed throughout their small talk. Before Claire can get to her payment though, the King requires a favour. He takes Claire to the star chamber, where Mayster Raymond and the Comte are brought out. They’ve been accused of dark magic and sorcery. The royal executioner Claire’s reputation as ‘La Dame Blanche’ means the King wants her skills to look into their souls and see the darkness in their souls. Claire doesn’t want both of them to die, but she plays along. Claire tries to get the Comte to admit to sending the gang that attacked her and Mary, but he denies it. He does however admit to poisoning her, and calls her a witch since the poison he gave her didn’t kill her. Her name as the ‘White Lady’ however Claire claims, means she uses white magic and not dark magic.
The King then brings out a deadly snake, a myth claiming the snake wouldn’t harm true servants of God. Claire however manages to stop it, getting the King to agree for the men to drink her poison, which she makes with bitter cascara so the men will live and hopefully be set free. Mayster Raymond drinks it, and though in pain, he survives as Claire knew he would. However when Claire goes to pass the cup to the Comte, in a stunning shot Claire’s necklace that detects poison turns black, and then it’s clear to everyone the Comte has to die. Claire realises that Mayster Raymond slipped actual poison into the cup just after drinking it himself. The Comte knowing his time is up, bitterly exclaims “I’ll see you in hell” before drinking the poison and dying on the floor.
The King tells Mayster Raymond to leave France and never return, and as he walks out the door, Claire’s only thought is of a line from The Wizard of Oz, “I’m going to miss you most of all”. I get the feeling we will see him again at some point. Claire thinks she’s done, but her payment is not done. Back in the King’s chambers Claire lies back on the bed as the King rapes her. Afterwards, the King informs her he will get a pardon for Jamie, and will write to the English Crown to try and get them return to Scotland if they wish.
Jamie returns home with a full beard, and what follows is a broken and pained conversation between the two. Claire’s still furious at him, but ultimately blames herself for everything, for putting Frank before her family. She tells Jamie they had a daughter. “Mother Hildegarde let me see her. So I wouldn’t have to imagine.” We then see flashbacks to earlier on in the episode, with Claire in hospital still and holding her daughter for the first time. As she rocks her, Claire begins to sing ‘I do like to be beside the seaside’ and the fact that she’s singing such a happy song in such a sorrowful moment makes it all the more crushing. We see that Louise visited her later on, Claire refusing to let go of her child. It’s nice to see Louise visiting her and supporting her friend. Claire lets Louise takes the baby, and it’s taken away by Mother Hildegarde. Claire back in the present, tells Jamie that she slept with the King to gain his freedom.
“How can we ever be the same? She asks. “We can’t be” Jamie replies. He explains that to move forward and “The only way we can live with is to carry it, together.”
“Then bring me home. To Scotland” Claire says. After an emotional season, it’s time to say goodbye to France and go back to where the true heart of the show is. Jamie and Claire’s time in Paris has been a great change for the show, but after all the suffering the characters have endured, it will be nice to see them back where the truly belong together.
Before they leave, however they visit the grave of their daughter, Faith. Jamie leaves her one of the spoons on the grave, of St Andrew to “Leave a bit of Scotland with you”. As they sit at their daughters grave, Claire takes Jamie’s hand.
After this episode I had to lie down, it was so incredibly emotional and heart wrenching. If this doesn’t get Caitriona Balfe all the awards, then there’s no justice in the world. She was extraordinary in this episode, and carried the episode completely. Everything Claire felt, we felt too.
Until next week,