Season Two, Episode Seven: “Faith”
Written by Toni Graphia
Directed by Metin Hüseyin
Author’s Note: Content warning for discussions of sexual assault. Because everything is the worst.
All photos courtesy Starz.
Okay. Well. As you all probably know by now, Outlander happened to us on Saturday. And it…well, it happened. So let’s see what we can do with it, shall we? But only if you’ve managed to summon up enough strength of will to stop sobbing into a strong drink. Which I only managed to do about five minutes ago.
Last week, Team Fraser did their best to sabotage Prince Charles’ plans to fund the Jacobite Rebellion by selling a shipload of wine. This also meant sabotaging Le Comte St. Germain, which was a pretty sweet added bonus.
Things took a turn, however, when young Fergus had an encounter with Black Jack Randall that led to Jamie and Jack dueling in the woods outside Paris. Claire raced there just in time to see Jamie stab Jack and both get arrested by the King’s soldiers. Claire collapsed to the ground, bleeding heavily.
And now once more unto the breach, dear friends…
“Faith” opened with a first for Outlander. Our usual teaser moment at the end of the opening credits turned into a scene of its own, complete with dialogue. As the strains of “Skye Boat Song” fade away, we see a young red-headed girl flipping through a book of birds and asking her mother about a picture of a heron. This is Claire’s daughter and we are in 1950s Boston. Claire tells the girl that she saw a heron when she was in Scotland “a very long time ago.”
There isn’t much time to take in this moment, however, before we are whisked back to 1740s Paris, where Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is lying delirious on a table at Mother Hildegarde’s (Frances de la Tour) hospital. When she wakes up later in bed, Hildegarde tells her that her daughter was born dead. Going against the law, Hildegarde baptized the baby and named her “Faith” so that she could be buried in hallowed ground and, according to Catholic belief, go to Heaven. Claire gets little comfort from this and remains overwhelmed by grief.
Even with the efforts of Mother Hildegarde and the creepy doctor/royal executioner Monsieur Forez (Niall Greig Fulton), Claire becomes dangerously ill with puerperal fever. Luckily for her, Master Raymond (Dominique Pinon) appears and heals her because he is apparently literally magical?
In addition to being able to heal people through touch, Raymond says that he can also see auras and that Claire’s is blue, the same color as his and the same color as the Virgin Mary’s cloak. We don’t get any more than this; the King is hunting magic users and Raymond has to sneak back out of the city for his own safety.
Mother Hildegarde comes to see Claire’s miraculous recovery and informs her that Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) is still alive and has been sent back to England to recover from the crotch-stabbing wound that Jamie gave him. She did not add that everything is terrible and that there is no justice in the universe. She didn’t have to. I was already muttering it into my drink.
After several weeks, Claire returns home to her very kind and supportive servants. That night, she finds little Fergus (Romann Berrux) crying out in his sleep. After some coaxing, he finally tells her the full story of Jamie’s fight with Jack Randall. While accompanying Jamie to Prince Charles’ brothel, Fergus had tried to steal some perfume as a gift for Claire. Unfortunately, he accidentally wandered into Randall’s room and Randall (being literally the worst person on the planet) decided to have his way with the boy. Fergus’ screams brought Jamie, who naturally began beating the tar out of Randall and challenged him to a duel.
So now poor Fergus believes that it’s entirely his fault that Jamie fought Randall, that Claire had a miscarriage, and that Jamie is stuck in the Bastille prison. Claire assures him that it isn’t. I contemplate hurling my television backwards through time and into Jack Randall’s horrible face.
Claire manages to get a private audience with King Louis (Lionel Lingelser), who is the only one with the power to free Jamie. The King creepily flirts with Claire, insinuating that he will free Jamie if she will perform a service for him. Of course, Claire agrees and the King leads her into a secret room decorated with strange symbols.
There, he brings in Master Raymond and Le Comte St. Germain (Stanley Weber). Both stand accused of practicing black magic. Louis wants Claire to use her Dame Blanche powers to decide if they are guilty.
Claire may not have Dame Blanche powers but she is a beautiful genius angel goldfish, so she puts on a very impressive show of looking deep into Raymond and the Comte’s souls. She accuses the Comte of leading Les Disciples (the gang of noblemen that attacked her and Mary Hawkins).
Comte: Nah huh.
Claire: Yeah huh.
Comte: Well, you’re a witch! I poisoned you and you didn’t die!
Claire: Yeah, no s#!@, Sherlock. Of course I’m a witch.
Claire: I’m like, a White Witch, which is totes kosher, right, Your Maj?
Louis: Yeah, no duh, Comte.
So apparently Louis is fine with magic as long as it is white magic but Master Raymond’s magic isn’t white magic because Louis says so. Because that makes sense.
Claire tells Louis that both men are innocent but Louis still wants an example to be made. Claire says she will “poison” both men with bitter cascara, a drink that she knows will sicken the men but not kill them. If they survive, she asks the King if he will be assured of their innocence. “Maybe, I dunno, I just wanna kill someone,” replies Louis.
Master Raymond toughs his way through the drink. But as Claire turns to give the cup to the Comte, her magic poison-detecting stone turns black. Because apparently it’s an actual real magic stone because magic is real now apparently???
The Comte knows what her Mood Necklace of Doom means. And he knows that if he refuses to drink, Louis will have him drawn and quartered. So, with one final disgusted look, he downs the cup and pulls a King Joffrey, dropping dead to the floor.
King Louis, however, is not done being terrible. He banishes Master Raymond from France and insists on sleeping with Claire as “payment” for saving Jamie. Thankfully, this doesn’t last long; King Louis appears to have a short fuse, if you know what I mean. As he hastily pulls his pants back on, he tells Claire he will pardon Jamie and arrange for him to have a pardon from the King of England as well. So there’s one bright spot in this angst-fest of an episode.
A be-whiskered Jamie (Sam Heughan) returns home to have an incredibly heart-rending talk with Claire about their daughter Faith. We see flashbacks to Claire in the hospital, which are also absolutely heart-rending. Claire tells Jamie that she did hate him at first for breaking his oath to her and trying to kill Jack Randall. But after hearing Fergus’ story, she understands why he did it. She says that she is at fault for putting Frank before their family and asking the impossible of Jamie.
Jamie says that he doesn’t blame her and that they will move forward in their lives by carrying the burden of their trauma together. “Paris is seriously the worst,” Claire says, “Can we just go back to Scotland now?” “Yes, please,” Jamie replies.
As you can clearly tell, this episode was pretty much a high-speed train running non-stop into your Feels Box. In some ways, it is to be expected. We are in the middle of the season and therefore things are going to start sliding downhill as the plot revs up for a climactic finale. That being said, I do have my issues with this episode.
Full disclosure: I have yet to read the second Outlander book so I’m unsure how closely the show is sticking to its source material. But this is an analysis of the show, which is its own independent entity, so I’m going to pretend that the book doesn’t exist.
My primary problem is with the Fergus/Jack Randall incident. I understand that the writers needed something rather drastic to make Jamie break his promise to Claire. But the sexual assault of a child seems a little too far to go, especially given that we’ve already had one violent rape of a child this season. (I’m not sure of Mary Hawkins’ actual age but it seems very likely that she’s under 18.) Is it really necessary to have another in order to move the plot forward?
We certainly don’t need any more evidence that Jack Randall is a Very Bad Man in addition to being a rapist. Anybody who has seen even half of Season One knows that, let alone the season finale. Perhaps the writers could get creative in finding reasons for Jamie to need to kill him?
He could be the one to start a fight with Jamie, forcing Jamie to defend himself. He could learn a damning piece of information about the Jacobite cause that demands he be silenced. Either of these scenarios would not only result in a Jamie/Jack duel but also give Claire an interesting dilemma: save Frank in the future or fulfill her mission in the present.
And if Jack absolutely must assault Fergus, was it really necessary to go into as much detail as the episode did? Outlander has never been a show that shies away from the gruesome details. But the point of the Season One finale was to show a strong, dominant hero character being completely destroyed and then saved by the heroine. We can’t completely understand Jamie’s vulnerability and transformation without seeing the horrors he has endured.
Fergus, on the other hand, is a child, likely an orphan and technically a servant. He is already a vulnerable, innocent character. It’s easy to understand how such an experience could traumatize him. So I don’t think it’s necessary for us to see exactly what happened to him. His tearful and gut-punchingly awful description is enough.
There’s being honest about horrible things and then there’s being horrible for shock value. The scene between Fergus and Jack Randall smacked prominently of the latter.
The rest of my opinions can be summed up in the following list:
~ Touching and honest communication between Claire and Jamie. The heavy grief over their daughter’s death could have easily turned to bitterness and hatred. But they were both honest about their feelings. And Jamie’s speech about bearing the burden together was enough to get me sniffling all over again.
~ Magic is now really real? I mean, the whole Time Travel via Standing Stones was fairly magical in tone. But this is the first time we’ve seen straight up magic happening in front of our faces. Could Claire actually have some magic kicking around? Because that would be pretty sweet.
~ We are leaving this godforsaken Paris place and heading back to Scotland, potentially with a pardon from the King of England, which would make Jamie’s life much easier.
~ That’s it. There is nothing else good about this episode.
~ Le Comte had a rather anticlimactic death. I get that we are tying up loose ends in France before the Frasers go home. But it seems odd for the Comte to be built up as such a threatening and mysterious character only to die halfway through the season. He could have been banished, like Monsieur Raymond, and thus remain a potential threat for later seasons. But perhaps his death is not all that it seemed?
~ Poor baby Fergus. If the Frasers don’t bring him back to Scotland and give him a pony and a cake, I will punch a wall.
~ Jack Randall is still alive because apparently the Devil personally wrapped him in Plot Armor of Mithril.
~ King Louis is most definitely not my friend anymore. I hope he is never able to poop comfortably ever again.
~ Claire thinks the duel between Jack and Jamie is her fault. Listen, hun, I know that I was pretty mad at you for the whole “I can stop a war but killing Jack will change the timeline too much” thing. But I’m pretty sure the fight is Jack’s fault? In that he was literally raping a child? And he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with that? So don’t beat yourself up too much.
~ I cried so much that the salt of my tears ruined my drink. I had to pour another one. I was going to drink more anyway, so I guess that’s okay.
Okay, well I think that’s that episode done and dusted. I’m going to go bury my face into a pile of kittens and try to think happy thoughts. But never fear, my friends, I will return to you next week, fortified with more alcohol and all the gifs I can find.
Not enough to tide you over till next week? Feel free to check out our other Outlander coverage! Or head over to the official Outlander website for clips, full episodes, and behind the scenes goodies.
Outlander airs every Saturday 9/8c on Starz.