I’ve never been shy about my adoration for actor Tobias Menzies. His dual performances on Outlander — as loving husband Frank and as sadistic baddie Black Jack — are equally riveting and most certainly worthy of consideration come Emmy time. But this episode proved to me (maybe I’m the last one who needed more evidence?) that Caitriona Balfe should be in the awards season discussion too. Her performance here — grieving the death of her still-born child — was exquisite. If “Faith” isn’t the episode submitted on her behalf for Emmy consideration, someone is not doing their job.
This week opens with a brief flash-forward to 1954 Boston, where Claire is tending to her adorable, auburn-haired daughter. It’s as if the showrunners wanted to give us a brief moment of hope to mitigate some of the suffering to come. Because in 18th-century France, Claire is in a bad way. She’s been taken to the hospital where Mother Hildegarde and Monsieur Forez are tending to her. After a period of woozy, wrenching fits, Claire awakens — sans baby bump. She screams for her child. Mother Hildegarde breaks the news: Claire’s baby is now with the angels. But the nun provided a kindness (an illegal one, at that): She baptized the baby and gave her the name Faith so that she could be buried in hallowed ground.
Claire is clearly in turmoil — and not just the emotional kind. Her body is ravaged by infection and she’s running a very high fever. It’s so bad, in fact, Mother Hildegarde brings in a priest to take Claire’s last confession and tells Bouton to keep a close watch over her in her final hours. Later that night, the watch dog sounds the alarm — a hooded stranger has approached. But the man means Claire no harm: It’s Master Raymond and he’s come to heal Claire. He asks what she sees, and she responds with “blue wings.” The apothecary explains that blue is the color of healing and that the wings will carry away her pain. He begins to massage her body, and the infection miraculously dissipates. At the healing’s climax, Master Raymond instructs Claire to yell out Jamie’s name. And she does.
But her husband cannot be by her side — he is still locked up in the Bastille for the crime of dueling. As Mother Hildegarde explains the circumstances of the arrest, she also reveals to Claire that Black Jack is not, in fact, dead. A revelation that gives Claire some bit of relief. Frank will live another day.
After weeks in the hospital recuperating, Claire finally returns home, where Fergus is there to comfort her and brush her hair. But Fergus is in need of consoling too: Claire hears him having a nightmare one evening and wakes him to learn his ghastly secret. Namely, that while in the brothel with Jamie, Black Jack had walked in on Fergus pilfering his lavender perfume and raped him. Hearing Fergus’ cries for help, Jamie interceded and challenged Randall to the duel that ultimately sent him to prison.
Getting a better understanding of Jamie’s motivations for seemingly betraying her, Claire now realizes she must save her husband. She asks Mother Hildegarde (who has a nascent connection to the King) to help her get an audience. But the nun is clear about what will be expected of Claire: Louis will likely insist Claire have sex with him as a form of payment.
“If it comes to sacrificing my virtue, I’ll add it to the list of things I’ve already lost in Paris,” she responds.
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