‘Outlander’ Season 2 Episode 7 Recap: “Faith”


Things take a turn for the bleak on this week’s episode of Outlander, which takes its title, “Faith,” from the name Mother Hildegarde gives Claire’s stillborn baby. The episode is a showcase for the acting skills of the fierce Catriona Balfe.

“Faith” opens with a deliberately confusing scene set way in the future: It’s 1954 in Boston and Claire is leafing through a book with a little redhead girl who calls her “mama.” After the events of last week’s episode, when Jamie makes Claire promise that she’ll go back to Frank if anything happens to him, the scene suggests that’s just what happened — that she took the child she had with Jamie back through the stones at Craigh na Dun.

But we learn the truth soon enough: baby Faith was “born dead,” as Mother Hildegarde says, and Claire isn’t looking so hot either. She’s pale and weak, and she’s had a fever for days; Mother Hildegarde even goes so far as to call a priest to “prepare the soul.” There’s still no word from Jamie; when asked if she wants to confess, Claire says, “My sins are all I have left.”

But Claire is saved by Master Raymond, who sneaks by her bedside in the middle of the night and examines her stomach. He concludes that the placenta is still “festering” in her womb, and he works some sort of magic (or is it just medicine?) on her, coaxing it out and healing her. He calls her “Madonna,” and tells her there’s a blue aura around her; then he hides, leaving the nuns to pronounce Claire’s recovery a miracle.

Mother Hildegarde brings news that Jamie is locked in the Bastille “at the king’s pleasure,” but that his punishment would have been even worse had his duelling opponent died. Claire discovers that Jack Randall is alive, if badly injured, and has gone back to England to convalesce. But Claire’s not relieved so much as angry: “Revenge mattered more to him than me and his child,” she says. “He may as well have run his sword through me.”

We stick with Claire throughout this episode, feeling her loss as she does. She returns to her house without a husband or a child, accompanied by Fergus. Awoken by his cries one night, Claire goes to Fergus’s bedside. Wracked with guilt, he admits that he stole a bottle of perfume from Jack Randall’s bedside at the Maison Elise, leading Jamie to challenge the captain to a duel. But then we find out why Jamie really challenged him: He walked in on Randall raping Fergus.

After Jamie’s horrific rape in last season’s “Wentworth Prison,” it was clear that Outlander wasn’t going to gloss over the fact that rape is part of the reality of war. That’s a claim that many have made about Game of Thrones, another show that doesn’t shy away from depicting sexual torture and abuse. And yet on Outlander, the trauma of such abuse is treated with so much more sensitivity and respect — the show has such a deep awareness of the mark that rape leaves on its victims.

As we see later in “Faith,” sex is just another weapon of war. Mother Hildegarde tells Claire that the king will consider releasing Jamie if she agrees to sleep with him. Weary and worn down, Claire goes to Versailles, where Louis XV offers her “warm chocolate” and oranges. “I waited to see what his majesty’s pleasure might be,” Claire says in voiceover, underlining the total powerlessness of her situation.

But the king surprises Claire, and instead of demanding sex, he leads her to a creepy secret room behind the wall of his bedroom: There, he has gathered the royal executioner, along with Master Raymond and St. Germain — both of whom are accused of “employing the dark arts.” Aware of her reputation as “La Dame Blanche,” the king asks Claire to search their souls for darkness; after muttering underneath her breath, Claire consents. “I see a shadow behind your eyes, Comte,” she says to St. Germain. But she’s only toying with him; she doesn’t condemn him to death, but tells the king that the darkness she sees in him is “only the normal darkness that lives int he souls of all men. Even a king. For without darkness, there can be no light.”

The king still wants to make an example of someone, so when he brings out a huge snake in a glass case — proposing to test the two men by seeing who can survive its bite — Claire suggests a different test. She gives them both bitter cascara, which will make them sick but not die, and asks the king to let them both go if they survive. She first lets Master Raymond drink; he doubles over in pain, but survives.

Then, she passes the cup to St. Germain, who notices the stone on Claire’s necklace suddenly turn from white to black: Here’s the payoff from the earlier episode in which St. Germain made note of the necklace during Claire and Jamie’s dinner party. Claire realizes that Master Raymond must have slipped some real poison into the cup while he was bent over. St. Germain has no choice but to drink the poison, but first he calls Claire a “witch who sucks the cock of the devil”; then he drinks, collapses on the floor, and dies.

The king decides to let Raymond live, but banishes him from France forever. Claire’s relieved, but then Louis tells her it’s time to pay up: He leads her back to his bedroom, pushes her back on the bed, and has sex with her. “I closed my eyes,” Claire says in voiceover, “and thought of England.” The scene is short, blunt, matter-of-fact; both parties are fully clothed, and it doesn’t even seem like the king is having much fun. It’s over in seconds, and when she leaves, Claire takes an orange with her.

Finally, Jamie comes home from the Bastille with a bushy beard and begs Claire to tell him about the baby. She’s quiet at first — we hear the ticking of the clock — but then she tells him that it was a girl. Then she begins to talk about her; we see Claire holding the baby in a flashback scene, singing to her. Louise approaches Mother Hildegarde, who tells her she’s had the baby since “this morning”; Louise asks Claire if she can hold her, and eventually Claire lets Louise take the stillborn baby.

The episode closes with another fantastically written, intimate scene between Jamie and Claire. Balfe is particularly good in this episode, alternately angry and numb with grief; Claire tells Jamie, “I hate you, but it was me who asked the impossible of you. It was me who put Frank before our family. It was me who followed you to the woods.” She tells her husband she doesn’t blame him or Randall for the loss of the baby, but herself. He replies, “I already forgave you long before today, for this and anything else you could ever do.” To which Claire responds: “I slept with the king to buy your freedom.”

At this point in their relationship, though, this news can hardly derail them. “You did it to save my life just like I gave myself to Randall to save you,” Jamie says. Claire asks him how they can ever be the same now, and Jamie replies that the only thing they can do is move on. Outlander continues to stand out for its nuanced understanding of what sex means to a marriage; what it means to belong to someone, body and soul.

The loss of the baby makes Claire yearn for home; she asks to go back to Scotland. First, she and Jamie visit the grave of baby Faith, on which Jamie places a silver spoon. “If we must bury you here in France,” he says, “let’s leave a bit of Scotland with you.”