Sunday, May 22, 2016

Episode 207: "Faith" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 207 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Faith".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.


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I loved this episode, I think it's definitely the best one of the season, and it's among my favorites of the whole series so far. Kudos to Toni Graphia for a very moving script, and to Caitriona for an outstanding performance! It can't have been easy to play such emotionally intense scenes, but she carried it off flawlessly, and I really couldn't have asked for more. <g>  Dominique Pinon, Frances de la Tour, and Romann Berrux were also wonderful.

Among the books in the opening scene is SHORELANDS SUMMER DIARY, by C.F. Tunnicliffe, published in 1952. According to Wikipedia, Tunnicliffe was "an internationally renowned naturalistic painter of British birds and other wildlife". Here's one of his heron paintings.

The scene with Claire and young Brianna in Boston in 1954 was a very surprising way to start this episode. I certainly wasn't expecting that! The little girl is very cute, and she does indeed look like a younger version of Sophie Skelton, the actress who will play Brianna as an adult. <g> I thought at first this scene might be a dream, but it seems more likely that this really is Claire, in 1954, remembering or reliving all of the events that followed, drawing strength and comfort from the presence of her living daughter there by her side.

The surgery scene was very effective. I liked the dream-like feel to it. Claire is understandably agitated, but Mother Hildegarde is a steady and comforting presence, saying, "We will take care of you".

"Where is my baby?" Oh, God, this is heartbreaking. You can see the hope in Claire's eyes turn slowly to denial, and then all at once she bursts out, "I want my baby! Bring me my baby!" When the little statue of the Virgin Mary fell to the floor and shattered, I thought it was very appropriate, for Claire is also going through a shattering experience, to say the least.

I didn't realize that baptism of a stillborn baby was illegal. Mother Hildegarde is kind and loving, almost as though Claire is her own daughter.

"My sins are all I have left." Oh, God, that's sad!

I'm so glad they included the scene showing Master Raymond healing Claire! Dominique Pinon is wonderful in this scene. Most of the dialogue here comes straight from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER chapter 25, "Raymond the Heretic", and they managed to capture the essence of this scene, even if they didn't actually show the blue healing light in the way it's described in the book.

"the Bastille Saint-Antoine" - interesting to hear Mother Hildegarde refer to the Bastille by its formal name, which I had never heard before.

BJR as "the cat with nine lives" - oh, no more than three, surely! And he's already used up two of them.

"[Jamie] may as well have run his sword through me." Good line.

"God says we must revel in mercy, tread sins underfoot, and hurl iniquities into the sea."
"I'm not sure there's a sea deep enough."

I like that very much!

Claire's homecoming was so sad. I liked the way Claire bowed to Magnus the butler. As heartbroken and devastated as she is, it's entirely possible that she wouldn't have survived if not for Magnus's quick thinking, in doing as she asked and taking her to L'Hôpital des Anges. She owes him her life, and it's only right to acknowledge that.

I like the hair-brushing scene. Fergus is so gentle with her, and this makes up a little for the scene with Fergus and Claire that was cut from Episode 205.

As Fergus moves to put the hairbrush away, we see him looking at the bottles on her dressing table. On re-watching, this is heartbreaking, when you realize what he is remembering.

And speaking of heartbreaking... Oh, God, the spoons! I was a little surprised that she didn't just pitch the whole box into the fire, but I'm very glad she didn't.

I don't (thank God!) have any friends or family members who have experienced a stillbirth or the loss of a newborn infant, and I can't really imagine what it's like for them. But I couldn't help thinking, when I saw how Claire reacted to the sight of that box, what it must be like for a woman in our own time who loses a baby, to come home to a house with a nursery all ready for the coming child, and reminders of the baby everywhere. Just devastating.

The scene with Fergus and Claire was excellent, really well done. So Fergus wanted to bring the bottle of perfume to Claire as a gift -- that just makes his feelings of guilt even worse.

At the sight of BJR standing in the doorway, I yelled at the TV, "GO AWAY!!!"

"You're not what I ordered, but you'll do." Oh, God! I'm glad they didn't make the rape scene too explicit. The scene in my imagination is bad enough!

I loved the flashback of Jamie bursting into the room (in full hero-coming-to-the-rescue mode) and fighting with BJR.

What a wonderful performance by Romann Berrux as Fergus! I had tears in my eyes at the end of that scene.

In the next scene, with Claire and Mother Hildegarde, I like the way Claire is finally able to focus on something other than her own grief and pain. She seems to be holding herself under tight control in this scene.

"If it comes to sacrificing my virtue, Mother, I'll add it to the list of things I have already lost in Paris." Good line!

I like Claire's gown in the scene at Versailles. It's simpler and much less ornate than most of her other French-court costumes this season.

The King's bedchamber is gorgeous and opulent, as one might expect. I like the King's costume in this scene very much. Just as in the book, he's surprisingly charming and personable. Most of the dialogue in this scene comes straight from the book (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, chapter 27, "An Audience With His Majesty"), but I liked the added detail of his offering her hot chocolate and an orange (expensive and rare items in this time), which is not in the book.

The Star Chamber set is just breathtaking! Jon Gary Steele did a wonderful job with the set design in this episode. Again, most of this scene is just as I imagined from the book, but I liked Claire's muttered, "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!" as she realizes exactly what King Louis expects her to do.

Stanley Weber is excellent in this scene as the Comte St. Germain. He seems taken aback, even a little frightened at first, by the sight of La Dame Blanche. (I had a strong urge to tell him that simply repeating, "I'm not lying! I am NOT lying!" is not a very convincing way to prove to a skeptical audience that you're telling the truth. <g>)

I like Claire's slight smile when the Comte says, "She's a witch." She knows the power of those words now, ever since she cursed Jack Randall in the dungeon of Wentworth, and she's not afraid to use it.

"But only the normal darkness that lives in the souls of all men," she says, turning to Monsieur Forez -- a man who would seem to have more than the usual amount of darkness in his own soul, given his enthusiasm for his job as the public executioner!

It's too bad we didn't get to see the snake in action <g>, but I can certainly understand why the production people would think it was too dangerous!

Bitter cascara, again? I wish they'd stayed with the dragon's blood, as in the book. But I did like the way Master Raymond managed to distract everyone with his coughing and retching long enough to slip the poison into the drink, and I also liked seeing the stone in Claire's necklace change color.

I liked the Comte's farewell speech very much, calling Master Raymond an "evil bastard" and Claire a "witch who sucks the c*ck of the devil." Say what you want about the Comte, he certainly has a way with words!

Claire quoting Dorothy's line from THE WIZARD OF OZ ("I'm going to miss you most of all"), even if only in the privacy of her own thoughts, made me giggle.

The sexual encounter between Claire and King Louis was portrayed more or less as I had imagined from the book -- brief and impersonal. A transaction, nothing more.

The sight of Jamie climbing those stairs slowly, reluctantly, is a sudden and very vivid reminder that Claire's grief over the loss of Faith has not diminished in the slightest, although she may have been distracted somewhat by the events at Versailles. Jamie is clearly as shattered by the baby's death, in his own way, as she is.

I like Claire's gown in this scene, with the white puffy sleeves. We caught a quick glimpse of it in one of the early episodes this season, but I don't recall seeing the whole outfit before.

Jamie with a beard made me think of Captain Alessandro in VOYAGER, of course. <g>

The ticking clock was a nice touch, referring back to the beginning of Episode 205 where Claire comments on it.

The whole sequence with Claire holding the baby is just heartbreaking! I cried all the way through it the first time. And when Claire starts singing to her -- Oh, God, this is so sad!

The scene with Louise is just wonderful, but at the same time it's almost unbearably sad, watching Claire break down sobbing like that. And Louise, who has seemed so frivolous in her previous appearances, turns out to be a good friend after all, showing up at a time when Claire was feeling very much alone in the world, and offering her what comfort she could.

This exchange between Claire and Jamie is not in the book, but I like it very much:

"It was me who asked the impossible of you. It was me who put Frank before our family."
[....]
"Frank is your family, too."

I don't think it's right for Claire to take all the burden of guilt upon herself for what happened. And I just love Jamie's response, when she says, "It's my fault":

"I asked your forgiveness once. You said there's nothing to forgive. The truth is, I already forgave you, long before today. For this, and for anything else you could ever do."

This is a very strong reminder of Jamie's voiceover in Episode 109 ("The Reckoning"), after their big argument by the roadside. Good to see Jamie say it to her directly here.

"I slept with the King" - Jamie seems awfully quick to brush that aside, but I'm glad he didn't make a big issue of it. They've spent so much time this season being angry and/or distant with each other. As much as I like the way this scene plays out in the book (nettles and all), I'm fine with the way they did it here. We needed to see them coming together in their shared grief and forgiveness, far more than we needed to see yet another conflict between them.

"How can we ever be the same?"
"No, we can't be. 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."

What a terrific line! And of course, he's right. The most traumatic events in Diana Gabaldon's books always have permanent effects on the characters, and the loss of Faith is no exception.

The scene at the gravestone was very well done, a wonderful addition to this episode.

"If we must bury you here in France, let's leave a bit of Scotland wi' ye." So they left the spoon of St. Andrew (patron saint of Scotland) at Faith's grave. Very appropriate!

And at the end, they're holding hands. Carrying the memory of their baby, together. Seeing them kneeling there together made me think of this quote from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD:
His face changed then; he drew a huge breath and took me into his arms. I embraced him, hard, and together we let out a great sigh, settling with it, his head bending over mine, kissing my hair, my face turned into his shoulder, openmouthed at the neck of his open shirt, our knees slowly giving way in mutual relief, so that we knelt in the fresh-turned earth, clinging together, rooted like a tree, leaf-tossed and multi-limbed but sharing one single solid trunk.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "Welcome Coolness in the Heat, Comfort in the Midst of Woe". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
They will need that sense of being one, in mind, body and soul, if they're going to survive what we know is coming.

What a wonderful ending to a terrific episode!

I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 208.

Here are my recaps of the previous Season 2 episodes:

Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions
Episode 204: La Dame Blanche
Episode 205: Untimely Resurrection
Episode 206: Best Laid Plans...

Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I also love, love, love this episode. Everyone was at the top of their game, but most especially Caitriona. She was spot on with her grief, anger, denial, numbness and finally forgiveness. As a mother who lost her oldest child at 8, I found all of her emotions very real and valid. Jamie is so right, their grief is not something that can be borne alone. Each will need the other to help carry the load. I also understand why she didn't destroy the spoons. Even though they are a constant reminder of their loss; they also represent hope and a happier time that as the grieving process progresses may come as a comfort. Finally, I really liked the way Jamie spoke to Faith at the graveside as if he were talking directly to her and letting her know that even though they had to leave her in France, they were still trying to watch over her and protect her with St. Andrew. Claire reaching for Jamie and Jamie taking her hand to symbolize their togetherness was a perfect ending to an outstanding episode

CaroleM said...

You always do such a fine job of drawing cross references and pulling things together. I read your blog throuch feedly, so I don't normally comment but you are doing a good job!

Susanlynn♥ said...

I never cry when I watch movies or TV shows, and I did not cry when I read DIA, but this episode had me in tears. Our first baby died unexpectedly the day after he was born. After he died, it was discovered that he had a heart defect. The scene of CLaire returning home reminded me of my husband taking me to my family's farm the day our son died and seeing my heartbroken parents, minister, in-laws, sister, and her family who had no words to comfort us. Six months later, I had a miscarriage. Cait did a wonderful job of conveying the feeling of complete loss , helplessness, and desperation that a mother feels when her child dies. Three months later, I was in the hospital for a lump on my breast which turned out to be a clogged milk duct. There was a huge statue of Mary just outside my room . I remember thinking that she had lost her son, too, and asking her to help me. Almost exactly two years after our son died on APril 29, we had a daughter , and two years later we had our second daughter who looks very much like CAit..very dark hair and make skin. This episode brought back so many feelings for my husband and me. Kisses to CAit and all the actors for their poignant, honest performances. I was touched my the emotions they evoked in me. Whenever we go to our son's grave, I kiss my fingers and touch the grave while I talk to him. So many similarities. I felt swept away by this show. It is so true that a couple must carry the loss together and forever.

What do you think? said...

Thanks Karen! I appreciate your cross references.

Tricia said...

I thought the scene in Loius's bedchamber was very clever in the way it was shot with the bed in the foreground in many of the shots, foreshadowing the price Claire would have to pay for her favour. And I agree, superb work from Caitriona throughout this episode. I did not like Jamie's beard!

Karen Charbonneau said...

So well done, Karen. I hadn't noticed which spoon they left. As a seller of of items on eBay, I thought, Oh, no, they broke up the set." And that distracted me. My husband joins you in thinking this was the best episode of this year and today read that it may get Caitriona Balf an Emmy nomination. I was teary through it, too.

artzk1 said...

There was no "jumping the shark" moments with this episode. I agree with your take on this episode. Stanley Weber had me hating him and pitying him at the same time. His eyes hautingly expressive. Of course it helps to have those dramatic physical facial features! I could not help thinking of Dracula every time we saw the executioner!

Kathy Van Wesep said...

Thank you Karen for a wonderful recap and for the references from Diana's books. This episode has moved up to #1 for me for both seasons. The Wedding is now #2. What Catroina Balfe did with this episode was beyond mind-blowing, it was heartbreaking. At once she took us in and carried us with her through her pain and loss. Bear McCreary's music went a long way in evoking those deep emotions in me. I don't think I have ever seen anything like this on TV or in movies. The time that was taken throughout to let all of these emotions breathe and register with the viewers was astonishing. Everyone was on their A game and the collective efforts of the entire Outlander team delivered something extraordinary that deserves every award possible. Once again, the sensitive subject of rape was handled with great care and focused not on the sexual act, but on the helplessness, terror and shame of the victim. In order for us to feel what Fergus and Jamie felt because of this event we had to see it. Just as we had to see what BJR did to Jamie at Wentworth and the rape of Mary Hawkins which also focused on the effects on Mary not on the act itself. I trust Ron and his team to walk that difficult tightrope between delivering the truth of these events without sensationalizing them for ratings. Outlander is setting a new standard for the industry.

Heather Bailey said...

Without going into my full review/opinions of this episode, I absolutely LOVED it, but don't you agree that the scene between Jamie and Claire when he just gets back from the Bastille in the bedroom was a little flat? I just didn't feel the raw emotion from Jamie that I felt during that part of the book... I try not to compare, but I just wanted him to at least touch and comfort her as he did in the book... That was the only scene that I felt was lacking... Otherwise a superb episode ☺️

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Karen , I think this is the most powerful episode in this season so far and the acting very powerful as well , liked the beginning with young Brianna , am looking forward to seeing more of her & Roger in the future, the hospital scenes were very gut wrenching to watch as it was when I first read this , the homecoming was very sombering , the scenes with Fergus & Claire very touching , at first I didn't like the scenes with Fergus & BJ , but I understand that it had to be explained why Jamie broke his promise to Claire not to duel with Randall , the scenes with the King were very well done and the setting amazing , felt sorry for Master Raymond , but not the Comte , amazing acting in this scene, the scenes with Jamie were sad and touching and you hoped that they still loved each other and could get through the death of their daughter together , and felt the scenes at the grave very touching , I hope the cast receive Emmy awards for amazing preformances , will be watching next weekend, hopefully the Frasers can leave Paris & France behind, please post more soon, love yiur blog, Sincerely Yours . Mary Tormey.

Brandy Bruce said...

I know I'm in the minority but I do NOT think they needed to show BJR thrusting or anything in the child rape scene. It upsets me that they would even do that to the little actor! I think there should be strict boundaries on what they're allowed to do when acting with children. Apart from those flashbacks, I thought it was a strong episode.

Brandy Bruce said...

Totally respect your opinion, but honestly, in my opinion, I'm not sure it's good that the new standard is to show very graphic rape and violence. It's conveyed powerfully in the book, and that's not even visual. I didn't need to see images of child rape to know it's horrific. And it really bothers me that they would use a child actor in that way. I truly hope they aren't doing it for sensationalism, but it's TV and I don't know the directors personally, so it's hard to know.

Kirsten said...

Such an emotional episode but beautifully done as always! I thought the heron at the beginning may have signified the stork that brings the baby but this time it was flying away.

Susanlynn♥ said...

Brandy ...I have to agree with you about the scene between Fergus and BJR.

Susanlynn♥ said...

I just KNEW that Claire was going to take that orange. Good for you, Claire..a parting gift. That was a clever imorovisation by Caitriona...a nice touch. Plus, we know that our CLaire is a pragmatic lass who knows the value of citrus for nutrition.

♥Susanlynn said...

I must admit that even though I consider myself a noviolent person, I relished the scene of Jamie attacking BJR when Jamie responded to Fergus's cries for help. It took a couple huge guys to pull him off BJR. Yay, Jamie. That scene was very satisfying after all the havoc BLack Jack has caused in Jamie and CLaires lives not to mention the attack on dear Fergus. I could watch that part over and over , and I am so glad that the TV series has given us a visual of Jamie's justified rage.

Connie White said...

I agree this was the best episode yet. It and so many working on and acting in the show deserve Emmys, including the writer for not only the smart choices about what to include from the adaption of the book to the screen and the outstanding way he added his own touches such as the last two scenes with Claire and Jamie as well as the first scene with their daughter in 1954.

Caitriona was brilliant in all her scene, and Sam was terrific in the scenes he was in too. He truly was convincing about his guilt and his sorrow over what she went through and losing his child that he didn't even know was a boy or girl yet. The tears in his eyes were heartbreaking as he had listened to his wife, absorbing the hate he knew she either had or did have for awhile after the birth. I'm like several of you who missed Jamie holding her in his arms and them mourning together by crying together. However, when I watched it again, I thought perhaps it MIGHT HAVE BEEN MORE EFFECTIVE by having Claire sit so straight and strong, her eyes finally showing some unshed tears only at the end of her story. The contrast between her with her so stoically telling Jamie the highly emotional story of what happened made both the scene with Jamie and the flashback scene so much more poignant. Her explaining how she repeatedly asked for her baby in an ever rising tone as she realized her baby was dead, then holding her for so long, singing to her, and finally, braking down with such heartwrenching desolation and grief after Louise took Faith from her hit Jamie hard. He was clearly even more devastated by her almost detached and tightly controlled retelling of the factual details of the harrowing emotionally and physically ravaging details. It showed just how incredible the plotting and writing of the story was as well as the acting from every actor.

I do have a question if anyone knows. I was wondering if anyone knows how far along Claire was in her pregnancy? We know she had to be somewhat close, but I want to know if she had been close enough for the baby to have survived if it was born under calm conditions or if a premature birth was the cause of Faith being stillborn.

Kathy Van Wesep said...

Connie, Claire was definitely close to term when the detachment of the placenta happened. I am not a medical professional, but she lost so much blood which meant that the baby was deprived of oxygen and evidently died in utero. Even now, time is critical when such a thing happens and without the benefits of timely medical intervention, a mother and her child could die from blood loss or infection post part

Susanlynn♥ said...

Diana Gabaldon has said that it was placental abruption.

triple g said...

As someone who used to work in the entertainment industry, I paid close attention to the scene with BJR and Fergus. I didn't think they would subject this lovely little boy to even the suggestion of anything close to rape, and I was relieved to see that Fergus on the bed showed no BJR, and BJR 'thrusting' was probably recorded later (or before), so I believe the boy wasn't exposed to anything untoward.
Yes, this episode is one of the best - including the soundtrack! Anyone else amazed at the music this season?!