This show keeps finding new ways to tear our guts out. I shouldn’t be surprised by now but...here we are.
Heartbreaking spoilers ahead.
This episode begins with our epic duo, and Claire’s body, torn asunder after the events of last week. Despite the efforts of Mother Hildegarde, Monsieur Forez, and the sisters of L’Hopital des Anges, Claire and Jamie’s daughter is stillborn. The miscarriage leaves Claire suffering from an infection while Jamie languishes in the Bastille for dueling. (Still, better than being sentenced to death, which would have been his fate had he killed Black Jack.)
Claire’s infection runs rampant for days, there being no antibiotics in 1700s Paris, until Master Raymond shows up. He was supposedly fleeing the city to avoid the King’s wrath, but sneakily appears at Claire’s bedside with some mystical mojo. He touches Claire all over, and through voiceover she tells us that he kills the bacteria throughout her body. This after he notes that blue is the color of healing, and that both he and Claire have blue “clouds” (auras?) around them. Through the power of Claire yelling Jamie’s name, he then removes the, erm, “festering” piece of placenta stuck inside her, thus curing the cause of her infection as well. Then off he runs to avoid being detected by Mother Hildegarde.
Claire recovers for weeks at L’Hopital before Fergus comes by and begs her to come home. She has had plenty of time to hate and blame Jamie for what happened, but by the time she returns to the house, she just seems sad. The only thing that jolts her out of her depression is the revelation Fergus provides about the events leading up to the duel.
Black Jack did indeed attack Fergus at Maison Elise (as was hinted at last week). Jamie heard Fergus cry for help and came running to find Black Jack abusing the boy. (Really, show, I could have done without the shot of Black Jack’s face while he was attacking Fergus. Another one of those images that’s going to stick in my mind, not in a good way.) Jamie laid into Black Jack until some guys dragged him away, he shouting out his challenge to Randall.
So you see, there’s plenty of blame and guilt going around - Fergus blames himself for what happened because he was the cause of the duel. Claire assures him he’s wrong and tearfully comforts him.
After Fergus’s revelations, Claire seems more understanding of why Jamie broke his promise, and decides maybe she won’t leave him to rot in the Bastille after all. Jamie is locked up until the King decides to release him, so Claire intends to persuade him to do so. Mother Hildegarde, who is connected to the King’s family, assists Claire but warns her that he may wish to “lie with her” as payment for what she wants. Small price to pay, all things considered, Claire thinks.
Claire goes to Versailles to see the King but gets more than she bargained for. Rather than lead her to bed, Louis leads her through a secret door to a creepy occult room. Who does she find there but the Comte St. Germain and Master Raymond, plus Monsieur Forez lurking, awaiting the King’s command.
It seems Louis has heard the rumors about La Dame Blanche, and wishes Claire to sit in judgement of Raymond and St. Germain.
You know what I love about this scene? Balfe gives us just enough for us to realize Claire’s incredulity. (“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ” has never been more appropriate.) And yet...she kind of takes to the charade. I had a weird feeling of cheering her on as she embraced the “power” she had in that room.
When the King brings out a poisonous snake to decide who is guilty and who is innocent, Claire, spying bitter cascara among the accoutrements in the room, offers instead to make a poison. Whoever drinks the poison and lives is innocent; whoever succumbs is guilty. The King takes her up on it, so she makes a show of pouring the (not) poison into a cup and bringing it for the men to drink. Master Raymond drinks it, takes ill for a moment, and then recovers.
And then...Chekhov’s Necklace goes off. (To excellent dramatic effect, I might add.)
The stone turns red after Raymond hands the cup back to Claire. Somehow, Raymond spiked the cup. St. Germain sees it, and realizes what has happened. I actually kinda felt sorry for the guy, which I attribute to Stanley Weber’s excellent performance. St. Germain drinks from the cup and suffers an undignified death at the feet of La Dame Blanche and the King of France. Master Raymond escapes with his life but is banished from the country.
Just when Claire thinks it’s all over...nope, the King still wants to get some. So. Bloody. Awkward. Claire sits there trying to figure out what kind of seducing the King wants, but instead he just pushes her back, then about 10 seconds later...all done. Then it’s “off you go” with a wave of the hand and Claire goes home to await Jamie’s return.
Jamie is freed shortly thereafter, and comes home to find Claire in her militaristic gown, gazing judgement down on him from the top of the stairs. Claire then fills him in on what has happened.
Just to twist the knife that’s already in our hearts, we flash back to the day Faith died. We see that Claire did in fact get to see her daughter, and sing to her. All. Day. Long.
Louise visited her, and gently urged Claire to finally say goodbye to Faith. And so she did.
Claire says she did hate Jamie, but now she blames herself for putting them all in the situation that led to the loss of Faith, and of faith. But Jamie forgives her; indeed, he forgave her “long before today for this and anything else [she] could do.” They’ve lost Faith, but perhaps there is a small gleam of hope as they begin to find their way forward again.
Jamie and Claire pay a visit to Faith’s grave together. As they must carry their grief together.
So now, the Frasers are (rightly) done with Paris. Next week, back to Scotland! Where we will immediately meet some Frasers. But me, I’m just counting down the minutes until we get to see Rupert and Angus again.
A couple of other random notes...
Let’s not forget to delight in the little red haired daughter we see in 1954 Boston! (And then cry remembering Jamie’s adorable “I can’t wait to meet you” scene from earlier this season.)
This episode was executed so unbelievably well. Toni Graphia was the writer - she has written five other episodes for the show, as well as a few episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Battlestar Galactica. I felt like writing out the list of memorable quotes was basically writing out the script. She used some notable lines from the book, as well.
The director, Metin Huseyin, has directed the majority of the season 2 episodes (and directed a couple of episodes of Agent Carter, interestingly). Lots of interesting directing choices. For example, the whole scene when Jamie comes home - Claire is reliving the day she lost Faith, and recounting it to Jamie. Barely any score, just a ticking clock as Claire explains why she hated him. Then the lowest point, when Claire has been singing to her baby all day; she and the infant are bathed in moonlight, while the onlookers, those outside this capsule of grief, are bathed in warm golden candlelight. Louise is the one who crosses over - if I could make a gif of this I would, but alas, the best I can do is a screen shot. Notice how she is transitioning (right side is warm candlelight, left side is stark white moonlight).
Editing, cinematography, score, sound design (and of course costume design) were on point this episode. And Caitriona Balfe hit it out of the park.
B: “When were you in Scotland, Mama?”
C: “A long time ago.”
“My sins are all I have left.” - Claire
“Blue is the color of healing. The wings will carry your pain away if you let them.” - Master Raymond
“I didn’t call you madonna because you were with child, my dear. Everyone has a color about them. All around them like a cloud. Yours is blue, like the Virgin’s cloak. Like my own.” - Master Raymond
“He may as well have run his sword through me.” - Claire
Hildegarde: “God says we must revel in mercy, tread sins underfoot, and hurl inequities into the sea.”
Claire: “I’m not sure there’s a sea deep enough.”
“If it comes to sacrificing my virtue, Mother, I’ll add it to the list of things I have already lost in Paris.” - Claire
“It was a girl. Mother Hildegarde baptized her, gave her a name: Faith. Mother Hildegarde has a very odd sense of humor.” - Claire
“The truth is, I already forgave you, long before today, for this and anything else you could ever do.” - Jamie
“The weight of what has happened here is too much for any one of us to bear alone. The only way we can live with it is to carry it, together.” - Jamie
All images via screencap.