Previously on Outlander: Jamie arranged for Murtagh to steal and sell the wine shipment from St Germain, so that’s done. But then Randall did something unspeakable to Fergus that was so bad Jamie had no choice but to challenge him to a duel. During said duel, Randall got stabbed in the balls and Claire went into labour. And then Jamie got arrested.
Strap in, folks, because this is a terrible episode. And I don’t mean ‘terrible’ as in ‘bad’, I mean ‘terrible’ as in ‘harrowing as hell’.
In the 20th century, Claire’s very red-headed daughter finds a picture of a heron in a library book. She asks Claire if she’s ever seen a heron and Claire says she has, in Scotland, a long time ago. Very long.
Back in the 18th century, Claire is at the hospital, delirious, being comforted by Hildegarde as a nun prays nearby (never a good sign) and the executioner, Forez, works on her (also not a good sign).
Later, Claire comes to and realises she’s no longer pregnant. She starts calling for her baby and Hildegarde comes over to very gently break the news that the baby was born dead. She tears up as she says it, which is quite touching and also very, very sad. Claire is clearly in no state to fully process this and just starts hysterically screaming for her child, kicked off especially when a young nun foolishly urges her to take comfort in the Virgin Mary, who also lost a child. No, Jesus was not a child when he died. He was a fully-grown man. I’m not saying that makes it easier to see your child die by any means, but Mary had many, many years to enjoy her child’s company, whereas Claire never even got to meet hers. Nice effort, nun, but no.
Later still, Hildegarde bathes Claire’s feverish brow and tells her that she baptized the child and gave her a name, so she could be buried in hallowed ground. That’s really sweet of her, considering it’s both legally illegal and completely against Catholic Church doctrine to baptize a child born dead, which I’ve always thought was particularly appalling (I think the church has lightened up on that).
Apparently Claire’s doing really poorly, because they’ve sent for a priest to prepare her soul for death. Claire asks after Jamie but Hildegarde tells her there’s been no word. The priests asks if Claire wants to confess and she rasps that her sins are all she has left. He begins performing the sacrament. Hildegarde orders Bouton the dog to stay nearby and he obediently jumps onto Claire’s bed and curls up. Aww.
That night, when the hospital is quiet, a man in a monk’s robes approaches the bed and sends Bouton away. It’s Raymond, sneaking in to see and help Claire. He asks her what she sees and she looks at the canopy of her bed and sees a bird flying across the sky. She tells him she sees blue wings. He says blue is the colour of healing. Claire VOs that she knows she has puerperal fever due to a piece of retained placenta. Raymond’s hands move over her body and he begins massaging her belly, then I think…reaches up inside her? I’m trying not to think too hard about it. Claire begins groaning, almost as if she’s in labour again, and the bit of placenta comes away in Raymond’s hand. He hurries away as a nun comes running, alerted by Claire’s groans. Claire sends her to fetch Hildegarde. Raymond comes back out and tells Claire that he has to go, and by the way, did she know she has a blue aura? She tells him he shouldn’t have come, because it’s too dangerous, but he says this is just what you do for friends. Put your life in terrible danger? Man, he’s the loyalest friend ever.
Hildegarde comes and is relieved to find that Claire’s fever is gone. She and the other nun declare this a miracle. Claire asks about Jamie again and Hildegarde says he’s in the Bastille, because duelling is a serious offence. It’s only lucky Jamie didn’t actually kill his opponent. Instead Black Jack the Unkillable is recovering from his injuries in England. Claire tells Hildegarde that Jamie betrayed her, that revenge mattered more to him than her. That’s the assumption you’re going to leap to right now? That all of a sudden Jamie saw Randall and simply couldn’t control himself? She doesn’t give him much credit at all, does she? She now blames Jamie for the death of her child and is clearly very bitter. For now, anyway.
After several weeks, Claire returns home. The servants all line up at the door for the most depressing homecoming ever. Fergus has accompanied her, with flowers. Awww! Claire’s maid cries and Claire gently clasps the butler’s hand, thanking him, presumably for getting her to Hildegarde.
Fergus gently brushes Claire’s hair as she sits before the fire. She thanks him and he goes to place the brush on her dressing table, warily eyeing the perfume bottles there. Claire asks him what’s up but he stammers that it’s nothing and quickly leaves.
That night, Claire finds the box of apostle spoons in her room and opens it. She looks at them for a bit, then slams the box shut and kicks it under her bed. Not a nice way to treat a family heirloom, but I’ll give her a pass under the circumstances. As she paces the house, crying, she hears someone else–Fergus–crying out in his sleep.
She goes to his room and wakes him, saying he was having a dream, and Fergus admits it wasn’t a dream at all–he was dreaming of something that actually happened. And that something was Jack Randall raping him at Maison Elise, because this damn story can’t go for more than an episode without someone getting raped or sexually assaulted and dammit, Diana Gabaldon really needs to learn that there are other dramatic devices that exist out there, because this is becoming supremely horrifying, not to mention repetitive in the most disturbing way. I mean, we’re now actually moving into the realm of child rape here, first with Mary (who isn’t precisely a child but is quite young and seems much younger) and now Fergus, who is an actual child. Uggggghhh.
So, apparently Fergus’s cries attracted Jamie’s attention and he burst in and started beating the shit out of Randall. I’m amazed he didn’t just kill him right then and there, but then, some guys did show up and intervene. And that’s when Jamie decided he was done with this sicko and challenged him to the duel.
And now, of course, poor little Fergus blames himself for all the trouble Jamie’s in. He cries and Claire comforts him.
She goes to Hildegarde who, let’s not forget, is the goddaughter of Louis XIV, and asks her to pull some strings and get Claire a private audience with the King so she can beg for Jamie’s release. Hildegarde warns her that the King will probably demand Claire sleep with him in return for this favour. Claire says she’ll just have to add her virtue to the list of things she’s already lost in Paris. A sulky part of me wonders if she keeps a list of things other people have lost thanks to her. Just consider what Mary’s lost, for instance–her innocence and the man she loves.
Anyway, Claire gets her audience, which ominously takes place in Louis’s bedroom. He butters her up by offering her some hot chocolate and an orange from his orangerie. She sips the chocolate and sets the orange on a nearby table before asking Louis to have mercy on Jamie, because Jamie was provoked and he’s Scottish, and those Scots simply can’t control themselves. Louis notes her pair of wedding rings and, when he hears about her first husband, praises her loyalty. He kisses her hands, a little grossly, and then tells her he’s inclined to be merciful, but he needs a favour from her. Claire steels herself and says she’ll do anything. Anything.
He then, unexpectedly, opens a secret door and takes her into his…secret Illuminati den? It’s a big round room with symbols and numbers on the floor and symbols on the walls and masked guards all around. Claire sees Forez hovering in the background and tries not to panic, as Louis says he requires the skills of La Dame Blanche.
The doors open and Raymond and St Germain are brought in. Forez reads an indictment against the two of them for sorcery. Forez points to the ‘evidence’: bottles and crystals and things brought from St Germain’s home and Raymond’s shop. Apparently, a Dame Blanche can see into the souls of men and detect darkness, so it’ll be Claire’s job to render judgment on these two men. Wow, he made this kind of easy for her, didn’t he? Thanks, Louis!
Claire approaches the two men, giving Raymond a ‘chill, I’ve got this’ look. She puts on a bit of a show, placing a hand to her forehead momentarily, then declaring she sees a shadow behind St Germain’s eyes, and an image of men in the street wearing masks–Les Disciples. St Germain scoffs and says he knows nothing of these men. She accuses him of lying. He insists he is not and shouts that Claire is a witch–she can even drink poison and survive, and he knows that because he gave her the poison himself, for trying to ruin him. Nice of you to just confess to attempted murder there, St Germain.
Claire smiles triumphantly and admits she is, indeed, a witch: a white witch, who practices white magic. Louis reminds St Germain that Claire’s not on trial. Claire VOs that she couldn’t just go ahead and condemn him to death, so she says that she sees darkness in his soul, then moves on to Raymond and says he’s fine.
Apparently the test isn’t over yet: Louis calls in a snake, and it doesn’t look like the type of snake you want to be messing with. Apparently the Bible says that true believers can handle serpents without being harmed, because these people are the servants of god. Claire thinks fast and suggests another test: she’ll poison the men and see what happens. Louis allows it.
Claire goes to the potions from Raymond’s shop and finds some bitter cascara. She pours it into a cup, hoping that Louis would be appeased by a show of illness from the two men. She holds up the cup and says they may have a death, or two, but asks Louis to set any survivors free. Louis agrees. She gives the cup to Raymond, who drinks, chokes and gags, but does not die. In fact, he seems to recover fairly quickly. He hands the cup back to Claire, and as she takes it, the poison stone around her neck turns black. Huh, guess that thing really works. St Germain sees it too and his eyes widen. Seems Raymond managed to slip something extra into the potion. But there’s nothing Claire can do now. Louis orders her to give St Germain the cup, so she does. St Germain shakes his head and chuckles nervously, then takes it and tells Raymond and Claire he’ll see them both in hell. He drinks, drops, and dies. So, now we’ve lost our villain for the season? Who’s going to take his place? Maybe he was telling the truth all along about not knowing anything about Les Disciples and there’s someone much worse actually working against Claire.
Louis releases Raymond, banishing him from France, then takes Claire back to his bedroom and rapes her. Some might quibble about the term, but I’m calling a spade a spade here. Being coerced into having sex with someone you don’t want to have sex with is rape, and even though Claire doesn’t say no or fight back, this is no more consensual than Jamie’s relations with Randall at Wentworth Prison. At least it’s over quickly. She rearranges herself and Louis says he’ll arrange Jamie’s pardon and also arrange one with the English crown, in case they ever want to return to Scotland. A bonus, I guess. Claire grabs that orange from the table before she curtsies and leaves.
Jamie finally returns home, all bearded and disheveled, and Claire greets him at the top of the staircase, looking chilly as hell, if I’m being honest.
They go into the sitting room and Jamie asks her to tell him something about their child. She floats over to a chair, sits down, and says it was a girl, and she was baptized and named and buried in consecrated ground. Jamie tells her he tried to keep his promise and she nods and says that Fergus told her what happened. Jamie asks if she can understand that he couldn’t let that go unpunished, and does she hate him now? Claire thinks about it, then admits she did hate him for a time. She tells him how Hildegarde brought the baby to Claire, so she could see her once. Claire describes the infant in detail, as we see her, in flashbacks, cradling her dead child.
Apparently she spent a whole day like that, rocking the baby and singing I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside. That evening, Louise, who’s now rather visibly pregnant, came to see her and was alarmed to see Claire in this state. Considering this would be both a terrifying and horrifying scene for a first-time-mother-to-be to have to face, I have to give Louise a lot of credit not only for staying and going to speak with Claire, but for having the wherewithal to figure out how to detach her from the tiny corpse. She approaches and tells Claire the child’s an angel, which works on a couple of levels, and then very gently asks if she can hold the baby. Knowing, despite her feverish, cracked mind, what this means, Claire bursts into tears and kisses the baby, but she hands the child over and Louise sadly delivers her to the nuns, then goes to comfort Claire, who sobs brokenheartedly.
Back with Jamie, Claire nods and angrily tells him she did hate him for a while, but then she realised that, actually, she has some responsibility here, for putting Frank ahead of their family and for following Jamie to the woods and asking this impossible thing of him. She tells Jamie this wasn’t his fault, or even Randall’s fault, it’s her fault. This wasn’t really anyone’s fault, Claire. This was a terrible tragedy. Jamie reassures her he doesn’t in any way blame her for what happened. Claire decides to fully come clean and tells him she slept with Louis to gain Jamie’s freedom. He says she did it to save his life, just as he gave himself to Randall to save Claire. She wonders how they can ever be the same and Jamie, maturely, tells her they can’t, but they can get through this together. In fact, it’s the only way they can get through it. She asks him to take her home, to Scotland. He agrees, but there’s something they have to do first.
That thing is to visit little Faith Fraser’s grave and lay the St Andrew apostle spoon there. Jamie murmurs that, if they must bury her in France, at least there’s a bit of Scotland with her. Claire kneels at the grave beside him and they both cross themselves and hold hands and cry.