It happened! Book fans have been wondering throughout Season 2 if we would meet Brianna, Claire’s 20th-century daughter, and this week’s episode of Outlander begins with Claire in Boston circa 1954, next to a supremely red-headed child. They’re flipping through books when Claire mentions to her daughter that she’s been to Scotland before, “a long time ago.” This brightly lit flash forward is only fleeting, but it does serve as a reminder of the real mystery that’s yet to unfold this season: how Claire ends up back to life as Mrs. Randall.
But this week, the proceedings are more about misery than answers. We catch up with Claire, bleeding and insensate, on a hospital bed as Mother Hildegarde and the local executioner try to save her pregnancy—as is custom. Unfortunately, they do not. Jamie and Claire’s daughter was stillborn. While Claire was in and out of consciousness, Mother Hildegarde performed one (illegal) kindness: she baptized the child and named her Faith.
“Faith” has a sense of cruel irony for Claire, because this is a woman who has lost most of hers. Her child is dead, and her husband, whose betrayal is still fresh, sits in the Bastille. She herself is plagued by fever and on the verge of death. You wonder how Claire and Jamie could possibly continue together, but you know they will, because this relationship is built on sacrifice, turmoil, angst, and the impossible.
Speaking of the impossible, just as Mother Hildegarde has all but given up on Claire’s survival, a shadowed figure appears at the patient’s bedside. For once, it’s not an assassin. It’s Master Raymond, who has sneaked into the hospital to either save Claire or guide her vision quest—or, as it turns out, both. A few moments with his healing hands and Claire’s fever lifts.
Things are looking less bright for Jamie. Sure, he’s locked in the Bastille, but the real misfortune is that he did not actually kill Black Jack Randall—again. This does mean two good things: Jamie won’t be executed, and Frank still lives. However, Black Jack is still alive, and that is a burden on us all.
Even if Jamie were to gain his freedom, it’s more than unclear whether Claire’s ready to take him back. She blames him, fairly or not, for the death of their child. His broken promise lays heavy on her mind. As she tells her convent confidante, Mother Hildegarde, that she’s devastated that Jamie put his need for vengeance ahead of her wishes and his baby’s health.
Once home from the hospital, Claire spends a lot of time wandering the halls like a young Miss Havisham, eyeing with agony any memento of Jamie or their child. Has anyone looked upon a set of decorative spoons with more woe than this our Juliet? The only thing that pulls her out of her own grief is the suffering of another member of her household: young Fergus, the forgotten victim of last week.
Claire finds the boy crying out from a nightmare. She pries from him the details of what happened when he encountered Black Jack, and they are as horrifying and stomach-turning as we feared. Black Jack’s depravity knows no bounds, which we know, but that doesn’t soften Fergus’s account. The reason for Jamie’s fury is made clear to Claire. Seeing the same abuse repeated on a victim so young had to have been a trigger for someone who survived that and more.
With the truth out in the light, Claire softens a bit, and finally set out to free her husband. She asks Mother Hildegarde if she could facilitate an audience with the king. Yes, of course, but, the nun warns, these things come with a price: the king could ask for payment in sex from Claire, because rock-bottom is a place somewhere else on Earth.
Claire steels herself for this added assault, so she’s caught off guard when the king’s initial offer upon her arrival is a cup of hot chocolate. There’s more, of course. In the bowels of his chambers, King Louis has set up an elaborate French tribal council area, and he needs La Dame Blanche to serve as a human lie detector for his game of Survivor. In through the gilded doors come St. Germain and Master Raymond. Louis asks Claire to peer into their souls and suss out which of them is practicing evil sorcery.
The way forward should be astoundingly easy, but Claire, of course, manages to muddy the waters. St. Germain has tried to kill her (or have her killed) on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, Raymond saved her life 10 minutes ago. Save your friend and kill the dirtbag, Claire!
Instead, La Dame Blanche insists on trying to get both men off the hook. Conceding that Louis wants a show, she proposes a purity test: she’ll concoct a poison and if either or both men survive, they’ve proven themselves clean of dark magic. Her bitter cascara cocktail should make both men ill, but not prove fatal. She first gives Raymond a sip. All good. When she takes back the cup, however, her poison-detecting necklace changes color. Both men on the chopping block know what that means: Raymond somehow slipped some real poison in the cup. St. Germain knows he’s toast, but he gets out a hate soliloquy before he goes.
Louis begrudgingly tells Raymond to get out of town and then informs Claire it’s time to settle her debts. He’ll set her husband free, but he’s going to sleep with her first. Claire lies down to do her duty and utters the only bit of levity this episode: “I closed my eyes and thought of England.” Stiff upper lip indeed. Luckily, Louis is an economical lover; he’s in and out before Claire has time to conjure an image of Big Ben.
When Jamie skulks up the stairs, Claire describes to him their daughter, whom Mother Hildegarde let her see. Does she hate him? Not now. She tells him she realized they both had a hand in the events leading to their latest tragedy. By the end of the conversation, they have reconciled. Claire asks how they could ever be the same again. “We can’t be,” he answers. “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.”
They will carry it together, back to Scotland. One hopes Murtaugh, criminally absent from this episode, will be there to carry it with all of us.