Episode 207 – Faith

This was a very difficult episode to watch, but for the most part I thought it was very well done. I have one major issue with it. Well, maybe two, but I’ll get to that as I go on.

The title card didn’t wow me. I think I understand what they’re going for here, symbolically. A quick check of the internet reveals a number of traits associated with the heron, including determination, independence/self-reliance, strength, patience, and intelligence. And if you’ve listened to Alastair’s Storywonk book seminars on Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, you know that birds are not used lightly in this series. Most notable in the show is the starling murmuration that was the title card in 111, “The Devil’s Mark.”

I also think the show wants us to know that Claire is going to have a healthy child the next time; that she isn’t going to lose her next pregnancy. At this point in the book, readers already know, because the framing device used Bree in the 1960s. So this is the show’s way of reassuring non-book readers that the pregnancy from 201 is still in the future, and that it will not result in another stillbirth. Also – Claire is still wearing Jamie’s ring in 1954.

So I get all of that, but I still didn’t like it.  I would have gone with it, except that Claire said she saw one in Scotland – and then we dissolved to Paris. What?

Whistling on…

The next few scenes are a lovely adaptation from the book, but painful to watch. I have only lost one pregnancy, and that very early on (only just enough to register as being pregnant), so I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a stillborn child after so many months. Claire going a little mad and wanting to see the child makes sense. I’m glad we find out later in the episode that Mother Hildegarde lets her hold Faith.

Especially since, at that moment, she breaks the statue of the Virgin – a perhaps slightly too overt symbol of the breaking of Claire’s faith. I assume after that is when she held the baby all day, and Louise had to help out, but I’ll talk about that when the show gets there.

Claire does acknowledge her need for Jamie here, when she thinks she’s dying. Maybe to pass her sins on to him? To reconcile? To blame him?

I like that Master Raymond has a more cordial relationship with Bouton than in the book.

I do wish we’d seen a little more magic – that what Master Raymond did was more overt and blue and less Claire’s voiceover telling us what he was doing, but the show made a decision back in season one not to show things like time travel, so I guess they’re sticking to their creative guns.

I’m glad that Raymond still had her call for Jamie. It’s important that he understood that Jamie was an integral part of Claire’s healing. And I am so happy that they included the auras – and that Claire’s is like Raymond’s.

It’s nice that this episode finally starts to deal with Claire’s divided loyalties, and doesn’t pull punches between Frank and Jamie. She says that Frank is still alive – but at what cost?  And at this point, now that she thinks she will live, she becomes angry at Jamie, blaming him for their child’s death.

Mother Hildegarde’s response is great, but Claire’s anger is greater.

The time-compression in this episode versus the book is better. Months at Fontainebleu don’t make any sense. Although I had feared that Louise would be entirely absent from the episode because they cut that section, and I was pleased to see her appear, if only for a moment, at the end. I don’t know that we’ll get to say goodbye next episode.

The welcome by the servants is touching, but…odd? I’m not sure what this scene is supposed to be doing or showing, except that Claire doesn’t take her servants for granted?

We finally have Fergus brushing Claire’s hair, but instead of being a moment that draws them together, it’s a foreshadowing of the confession he will soon make.

I wasn’t sure about the apostle spoons when they showed up, but they work well in this episode. First, to spur Claire, in her own despair, to find Fergus in his. And later…well, I’ll get to later.

There were so many ways to have Fergus relay this information. I wish we hadn’t actually seen it. It was enough for him to say that he couldn’t say it in front of a lady. Everything else came through in the performances between Romann and Caitriona. We didn’t need to see it.

Mother Hildegarde’s remark about what the king will expect in return for Claire’s request is a warning, and Claire’s response is devastating. That she will add the sacrifice of her virtue to the list of things she has already lost in Paris. But the camera stays on Mother Hildegarde long enough for us to see that she understands what is driving Claire is not just anger, but a deep well of pain and loss.

It’s hilarious when Claire drinks the chocolate that Louis offers. After doing a little research, it seems like it would have been quite heavily sugared for le Roi. So, while I thought Claire might be reacting to bitterness/chile flavor, it could be a reaction to intensely sweet chocolate. I’d be curious to find out what it tasted like.

The king remarks on Claire’s loyalty. It is, indeed, a bedrock principle of her personality, and is why this offering is difficult for her. It’s also a nice call-back to the fact that she’s still wearing both rings in 1954 in the title card/opening scene. Her loyalty to Jamie won’t allow her to let go.

The voice over is unfortunate. I think we already understand enough of what Louis is like by this point in the season. We don’t need Claire to remind us that his power is absolute.

Slight changes were made to the wizard’s duel, turning it more onto an actual trial with Claire as the judge. I don’t mind the changes, especially since they reveal that Saint Germain was the one who tried to poison Claire (although nothing else – I believe him when he says he wasn’t part of Les Disciples; he has bigger fish to fry). It’s nice that Claire still tries to save both men, even after she knows St. Germain tried to kill her. And in the episode, as in the book, Master Raymond forces her to hand St. Germain the cup that she thinks will kill him. I wonder if the show will reveal that he doesn’t die? Rather, what happens is that Raymond understands that only a death will appease His Majesty, and a death must be supplied. It’s easier to have that “death” be St. Germain’s, and for Master Raymond to disappear for a while.

At least, I hope that’s what will happen in the show. It’s only tangentially referenced in the books. Actually, “The Space Between” is one of my favorite and, at the same time, most frustration-inducing bulges from the main series. It provides some time-travel answers, but not others. What happened when Le Comte and Master Raymond went through the time-rift?? Where did they go? Did they manage to go forward? Ugh! We’d better get answers to that eventually.

There is a brief moment when Le Comte acknowledges that Claire didn’t really want this to happen, but then he takes the cup, curses them both, and collapses.

I dislike immensely the Wizard of Oz reference. “I’m going to miss you most of all,” is what Dorothy says to Scarecrow before she leaves Oz. It’s the remnant of a brief romantic subplot that was cut from the film, and has absolutely no place here. In my opinion.

I think that when Claire says she lay on her back and thought of England, it’s supposed to be funny, but all I want to do in this scene is vomit. Claire handles herself with dignity, only beginning to fall apart on the way out, but man do I hate Louis. What an entitled asshole.

Jamie’s return is almost perfect. Like in the book, he asks if she will make him beg, and the room is full of shadows and light. The scene’s tension builds well, with Claire telling him everything that has happened, and grows when she admits that, for a while, she did hate him. We are returned to the hospital, to the breaking of her faith through the virgin statue, and then to her holding her daughter. Claire sings to her dead babe, and holds her for hours, until Louise comes. I am so glad that they brought her in for this scene. As someone who is about to become a mother, to see her friend in pain at this loss must be devastating, but she gets Claire through it. She forces Claire to acknowledge the loss, and give the baby up.

I am forcefully reminded of Claire holding the dead child on the mountainside, the changeling babe that she could not save, just as she could not save her own baby. It is hard for healers to accept loss, but so much harder now, for Claire, with her own baby.

The tension then peaks when Claire turns things around to take some culpability. She admits that Frank shouldn’t matter – he isn’t there. This, I am 100% behind. We needed this moment, to finally sever Claire from any responsibility to Frank. She made her choice a long time ago, and it’s time to let him go.

But I HATE HATE HATE that Claire takes the responsibility for what happened to Faith and that Jamie lets her. No, Jamie. I don’t want to hear about forgiveness. THIS WAS NOT CLAIRE’S FAULT. It wasn’t yours, either, and it wasn’t Randall’s. It wasn’t anybody’s. This scene could have been saved by a single added line. All Jamie had to say was “It wasna your fault, Claire. But even if it was, I would forgive ye.” And then the scene can continue as written.

I am not going to stop watching this show, because I am a fan of the books and I can headcanon that Claire knows she had placenta previa and would have lost the baby anyway. But if I were a show-watcher only, I’d be tempted to turn it off and walk away at this point. I am so disappointed that this show, with its sensitivity to so many issues, would allow a grieving mother to believe that the loss of her child was her fault.

Because guess what – every mother who has lost a child already believes that. And she needs the people around her, the people who love her, to hold her up, and remind her that it wasn’t. To say “You couldn’t have changed what happened” and “It’s not your fault” over and over. She might never believe, but the one thing her husband should never do is say, “I forgive you.” Because forgiveness implies it is her fault, and he’s being magnanimous in staying with the woman who killed her child.

Can you tell I’m a wee bit upset?

EDIT- I am perhaps overstating it when I say “every mother,” but perhaps I can change that to “every mother who has lost a child that I have spoken to.” Which is probably not a representative sample, but it represents my experience with the issue.

Except for Claire putting Frank before Jamie, nothing about this entire situation requires Jamie’s forgiveness, not even the “something else.” At least Jamie acknowledges that Claire with Louis is the same as him with BJR. No forgiveness needed on either side.

I need to calm down, and I don’t think I’ll be engaging much with live-tweeting and such this week. I’m also quite ill, so I think tonight I’ll just go to bed early.

At least the episode ends with something worth holding on to- them carrying their troubles together, with hope for another child, and a return home, to Scotland.

It’s good that they both go to the grave, together. This was a pretty big misstep in the book, in my opinion, because Gabaldon doesn’t have them go together. Each goes separately. I can now insert this scene into the books in my head and be happier for it.

And the apostle spoons finally pay off – Jamie can leave St. Andrew (and a piece of Scotland) with his daughter, and he and Claire can grieve their loss.

Claire crosses herself, I think for the first time (she might have done it before, but never as deliberately or purposefully as this). If I can whistle past the glaring outrage I feel for Jamie allowing Claire to take the blame for Faith’s death, this is a very beautiful and touching scene, where Claire reconnects both with Faith, the babe; her faith in Jamie and their marriage; and her faith in God.

But I’m not quite ready to whistle yet, so I’ll see everyone once I’m cool and collected again.

Not sure how next week will go. It looks like maybe Lallybroch first, then the Bill of Association, then to Beuly. But who knows?

EDIT: OK, I have slept on this and listened to some podcasts and read some reviews. I posted down in the comments some of my thoughts, but here’s where I am as of the “next day.” 

I do not think it is the show’s intention to blame Claire for the loss of her baby. I feel that what happened was an oversight, or perhaps they thought Jamie’s unconditional forgiveness would suffice. And I do think that it’s important that Jamie’s love be unconditional. And I also think it’s important that they both acknowledge the ghost of Frank Randall and that Claire should have done things differently. But when I say that, I mean that she should have been more gentle with Jamie, not that I think her choices caused her to lose her child.

So. It’s possible that Claire will self-diagnose in the next episode, at which point they can state with clarity that the stillbirth was not Claire’s fault, or they may not. They may have Jamie tell her that the loss of the baby isn’t her fault. Or not. I’m going to try and give as much benefit of the doubt as I can, because I do love this show. But I also think it’s important that Jamie be seen not to blame Claire by omission, and to actively support her in her loss. He says they will carry it together – but they should carry the pain and sorrow, not blame.

 

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11 thoughts on “Episode 207 – Faith

  1. I was surprised at the dialogue choice in that last scene , too. It seems like some words were missing or had been cut. I’m curious how or whether they will address this in the podcast for this episode.

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  2. If there is an extended scene on the Blu-Ray that takes culpability away from Claire, I will forever insert it into my headcanon. Right now, as someone who struggled with fertility, and who has many friends who have lost babies, I’m probably overreacting. But I remember in the book that Claire self-diagnosed, and admitted to Jamie that it would have happened anyway. Why couldn’t they have done that in the show? Or maybe they will, once they get to Lallybroch. *fingers very tightly crossed*

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    • As I’ve thought more about this I’ve realized that the “it’s not your fault” is there, but very subtle. In Jamie’s “you have nothing to apologize for” is the implied subtext “because you’ve done nothing wrong and none of this is your fault”. The writers were interested more in mirroring Claire’s line to him than having him explicitly say you have done nothing wrong. I’m going to go with that.

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      • I’ve also had some time to think and sleep on the episode and I’ve decided that Jamie is not intentionally implying that Claire is at fault. I’ve seen elsewhere that what he is forgiving her for is putting Randall before him/their marriage/their family, not specifically for the loss of the baby. And I can go with that. But I still would very much have liked for him to acknowledge that Faith’s death was not Claire’s fault. Again, this may be something we see in the next episode, when they are at Lallybroch and have had a chance to get over the very raw and aching emotions of this episode.

        I suppose my reasons are a little more metatextual than actually textual. It’s just that women are almost always blamed when they lose a child, or assumed to be somehow at fault. You should have done A, B, and C is what friends and family tell us. Or even if they are the most supportive in the world, in my experience and the experience of everyone who has ever shared with me, we blame ourselves. So, on behalf of anyone who has ever lost a child, I wanted Jamie to be the King of Men and tell Claire it was not her fault. I know this is not a problem with the show so much as it is my own hangup, and I will move past it. But I probably won’t watch this episode again. Or at least not for a long time.

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  3. OMG!….you have never been so dead-on, bullseye and on-the-money (i was going to say more catch phrases but i’m sure its not necessary)!!!!! Considering the time frame they have to work with, they did a great job of cramming alot in from the book although I didn’t like the way Fergus told Claire what had happened. For me, in the book when she sees the “branding” on Fergus, that pissed me off so much. If they had somehow worked that in the show, there really wouldn’t be a need for Fergus to go into detail with Claire or subject us to seeing Randall with Fergus. And I agree with you 100% with the whole “forgiveness” thing with Jamie and Claire….what were the writers thinking! Good Grief! That could have and should have been one of the best moments on television and they blew it! Now i’m going to have to go to work on Monday and defend Jamie and convince my co-workers that “that’s not how it went down in the book, I swear!” My next step is to convince them that the books are so worth reading! Have a great evening!

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    • As I said to Sixela above, I’m willing to admit that I don’t think the writers intended for Jamie to blame Claire there. Or, at least, that they only intended him to blame her for putting Frank first. Because she definitely did that, and it made me unhappy when she did it. I just wish he’d have been more explicit in saying that the loss of the baby, specifically, was not her fault. Lots of other things, sure. But not that. Maybe we will get it in the next episode, when there is more time to breathe.

      I do wish we hadn’t seen the rape of Fergus. Everything was conveyed between Caitriona Balfe and Romann Berrux in their scene. I wish we could just stop writing rape stories, frankly. As they say over at Storywonk, Reality is No Defense for Fiction. I don’t care that people are raped every day in real life. Actually, I care VERY MUCH that people are raped every day in real life. That is why it is not going to happen in my fiction. Because it’s used too often and too casually by writers. Even by Diana Gabaldon, although she does take a more nuanced perspective than most. But pretty much every major character in the series has been sexually assaulted, and that’s not OK. It’s not OK that rape is a punishment for strong female characters in a lot of stories, or the only source of motivation that a writer can think of to move them forward. It’s not OK when a woman’s rape is used to motivate a male character. It’s just not OK. Ever.

      *deep breath* Getting off my soapbox….

      Anyway, I agree. We did not need to see BJR raping Fergus. If it had to happen in the story (which I would argue that it didn’t), it could have happened off-screen. Sigh.

      But yes- the books are worth reading. I hope you can convince your coworkers!

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  4. I think it was fitting that Claire was able to forgive Jamie but not yet able to forgive herself. I think we will see her accepting that Faith’s stillbirth would have happened regardless, but it will take her some time to arrive at that conclusion just as it did in DIA. I’m re-watching season 1 with my husband (and S2 by myself) and we just watched The Reckoning. Jamie’s line about forgiveness is verbatim what we heard on VO after Fort William. I’m glad he got to tell her that no matter what he’d love her forever, it was never a choice but part of falling in love.
    I watched S1 first and got interested in the books. I’m reading ‘Echo’ now. Sometimes I think the perfect thing would be a combo of books and series!! Sometimes the books are a bit too out there for me.

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    • I totally agree. And I don’t mind anything that Jamie said. What I wish is for something extra: that he would have told her the baby’s death wasn’t her fault. She isn’t going to believe that right away- maybe not ever, if I remember later conversations correctly, but it should be part of their healing process, for neither to lay blame on the other.

      I’m glad the show got you to read the books! I do tend to combine them in my head canon. 🙂

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  5. <>
    So true!!!
    And as much as I chafe against some of the stuff in the books I do love them! I’m reading them too fast (I was late to discover the series, only started it when Starz made S1 free ahead of S2) and I already feel the need for a re-read!! After ‘Faith’ I had to re-read the reunion pages in Voyager… 🙂
    I really enjoy your recaps!

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  6. The books do have some issues. The biggest is that you can tell Diana writes whatever part she is interested in at the time and then pieces them together. So her books are very episodic in nature. It isn’t so bad in the earlier ones (and the Lord John books are mysteries, so they don’t suffer from this much at all), but it gets really bad by book 8. I don’t mind the “out there” stuff – I am a fantasy writer, and I love the worldbuilding and time travel stuff. But that’s my niche, and I totally understand that it isn’t for everyone! I’ve read the entire series through three times, and I plan to go through again between seasons 2 and 3, assuming we get a season 3. Which I’m pretty sure we will!

    I’m glad you like my recaps! Writing them enhances my show-watching experience, so I’d do them anyway, but it’s good to know other people enjoy my sometimes crazy thought processes. 🙂

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  7. My issues are not so much with the time traveling and worldbuilding but more with the fact that she does need an editor and apparently doesn’t think so!
    I’m hoping I don’t miss anything major as I slog through the early William parts in ‘Echo’. And I’m wondering what the series producers will do about the later books…
    Anyhow, after digressing… One thing I meant to comment on — I binge-watched S1 and was mesmerized. I’m not sure though I’d feel the same if I had watched them with a week in between, if that makes sense? Would I have believed so thoroughly that Jamie and Claire had this amazing connection? All this to say — the writers will have to make us keep the faith (ha!) in that connection in S2, and I’m afraid they will run out of time with all the ‘bad’ things still to come for Jamie and Claire… Not sure how they will handle that.

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