Faith – Outlander Season 2 Recap and Critique

Last Saturday’s episode of Outlander, “Faith,” was a bit of a tear jerker. “Faith” exposed the hypocrisy of King Louis XV‘s sorcery trials, revealed new levels of Black Jack Randall‘s perversion, ended the life of Season Two’s de facto villain, presented a moment in Claire’s 20th-century life, and showed an emotionally overwrought Claire mourning the death of her stillborn baby. “Faith” can’t be accused of not developing Outlander’s plot or characters but let’s go over it in greater detail with a recap …

“Faith” – My Recap

We start the episode in 1954. Claire is sitting with her fiery-haired daughter in what appears to be a classroom. Her daughter asks her if she’s ever seen a heron. Claire replies that she had when she was in Scotland long ago. A heron montage later and we’re in the 18th century in L’Hôpital des Anges watching M. Forez, Mother Hildegarde, and some other nuns assist Claire during her very bloody delivery. The difficult process complete, Claire falls asleep only to wake shortly after. She calls out to Mother Hildegarde begging her for her baby. Mother Hildegarde tells Claire that her baby was stillborn and, though there was nothing they could do to save the baby, Mother Hildegarde was able to illegally baptize the baby, naming her “Faith,” so that she could be buried in hallowed ground.

Her baby’s death is just one of several horrible things Claire has to deal with. The nuns tell Claire that, having a very high fever, she will likely die. A priest gives Claire her last rites and that’s about the extent of their therapeutic plan. Luckily, Master Raymond is able to break into the hospital. His medical knowledge is superior to that of Mother Hildegarde. Using what would definitely have been called sorcery at the time, Master Raymond massages Claire and then delivers her placenta, which seems to have been the cause of her fever. The life-saving delivery complete, Master Raymond makes his escape before the nuns arrive. When they do, though, Mother Hildegarde finds that Claire’s fever has broken and proclaims it a miracle.

Claire discusses Jamie’s imprisonment in the Bastille with Mother Hildegarde. Mother Hildegarde tells Claire that Jamie is being held for dueling, illegal in France, and the King takes his decrees quite seriously. Since Jamie only wounded Black Jack during the duel and didn’t kill him, Jamie has been spared the death penalty. This news gives Claire relief on both husband fronts: Jamie won’t be executed for dueling and Frank won’t stop existing because Black Jack isn’t dead! Not telling Mother Hildegarde the nature of her pact with Jamie, Claire tells her that she may not be able to forgive Jamie for breaking his promise to her.

It takes some time but Claire eventually recovers from her ill-fated pregnancy. She is discharged and returns to Chez Fraser, currently occupied only by Fergus and the servants. Fergus and Claire develop a natural symbiosis: Claire needs a child and Fergus needs a mom. He brushes her hair and dotes on her more than he has in the past. The reason for Fergus’s change is made clear when he tells Claire he was raped by Black Jack. Not only does Fergus have to deal with the horror of having been raped but he also feels responsible for Jamie’s imprisonment: Jamie challenged Black Jack to a duel when he caught Black Jack in the act, having heard Fergus’s screams from another room.

Understanding Jamie’s motivation for breaking his promise now, Claire discusses his possible release with Mother Hildegarde who just so happens to have an in with the King. Mother Hildegarde warns Claire that, although Louis has released men under similar conditions in the past, he usually demands to lie with the released man’s wife. Claire barely blinks at this saying she’ll add her virtue to the laundry list of things she’s lost in France.

We cut to King Louis XV’s boudoir where he and Claire discuss business over some oranges. She requests Jamie’s release but the King wants something in return. Expecting to be led to the King’s tremendous bed, Claire is surprised when she gets led through a secret door to a connecting room. Claire is a bit concerned when she sees M. Forez in this torch-lit anteroom.

Master Raymond and le Comte St. Germain are brought into the room and formally charged with practicing the Black Arts. Claire, with her reputation as “La Dame Blanche” has been brought in by the King as a kind of expert witness on sorcery. The King commands Claire to use her divining powers to determine if either or both men are guilty. Claire comes up with a plan to have them both drink bitter cascara, which as we know will make both men ill but not kill them. Master Raymond drinks the potion first and, though he doubles over and coughs quite a bit, he arises once more sufficiently alive. The cup is passed to St. Germain, and as it is the stone pendant on Claire’s necklace changes colour indicating that a poison is nearby.

St. Germain is familiar with the properties of the stone around Claire’s neck and knows that something is up. The viewer, along with Claire, realizes that Master Raymond slipped some poison into the cup after drinking in order to pin the charge of sorcery on St. Germain. St. Germain says he’ll see Claire in Hell, drinks the poison, and falls over dead. King Louis has St. Germain’s body hauled away and arranges for Master Raymond’s release: he must leave France at once and never return. Claire asks about Jamie but the King demands his price. After a few fully clothed Royal thrusts, Claire is dismissed from the Royal Boudoir with the promise that Jamie will be pardoned in both France and Britain, meaning they can now return to Scotland! Her duty done, she straightens her dress and picks up her orange on the way out the door.

Jamie’s grown quite the copper beard during his imprisonment. He tells Claire why he had to break his promise and duel Randall, apologizing in his role for the tragic events that followed. Claire admits that she spent some time hating Jamie and recalls how she demanded that Mother Hildegarde bring her the stillborn baby before they buried it. As a flashback shows, it was only after Louise de la Tour arrived and consoled her that they were able to loosen the dead infant from Claire’s grasp. Claire tells Jamie that her hatred for him passed when she realized that though Jamie had broken his promise Claire was the one who had exerted herself. She says that Faith’s death was her fault, not Jamie’s. Claire also tells Jamie that she had to have sex with the King but Jamie forgives it all, and says that the only way they can make it is together. The Frasers stop at Faith’s grave: Jamie leaves one of the Apostle spoons and says a few words, and the two start the long journey back to Scotland.

“Faith” – My Critique

“Faith” contained a lot of serious melodrama and tension. Where other episodes of Outlander have contained lots of 18th-century action, “Faith” traded in tension and tears. I tip my tri-corner hat to Stanley Weber who played le Comte St. Germain. He managed to play this complicated Season Two villain with an appropriate mixture of charm and smarm.

Caitriona Balfe also deserves kudos for her performance. Not that I have any way of knowing, but there’s no way it’s easy to play a woman grieving the loss of her stillborn child. Her portrayal of Claire’s grief played through the familiar stages of grieving (denial, bargaining, acceptance, etc.) but did so in a non-methodical way, which made for a more believable emotional journey.

As I said in my last Outlander recap and critique, I was a bit disappointed to find that Black Jack had also raped Fergus. This makes him seem a bit like a caricature of a villain, out to rape whomever he can, rather than a realistic villain. I was also disappointed that no mention at all was made of Black Jack’s groin injury, suffered at Jamie’s hands during their duel. Obviously Frank didn’t stop existing but why would Claire feel sure about that? Even if Claire knows Black Jack is still alive, one would think that she’d be a bit skeptical about his ability to father any children after Jamie dealt him such a strategically placed blow.

Michael Bedford
Michael Bedford
Under intense scrutiny by the Temporal Authorities, I was coerced into actualizing my capsule in this causality loop. Through no fault of my own, I am marooned on this dangerous yet lovely level-four civilization. Stranded here, I have spent most of my time learning what I can of the social norms and oddities of the Terran species, including how to properly use the term "Hipster" and how to perform a "perfect pour." Under the assumed name of "Michael Bedford," I have completed BA's with specialized honours in both theatre studies and philosophy, and am currently saving up for enough galactic credits to buy a new--or suitably used--temporal contextualizer ... for a friend.