A note on spoilers: Please be aware that while I work diligently to avoid extensive spoilers in my recaps, these entries will discuss each episode's plot and may include key details from the show's first season as well as the books on which both seasons are based.
"I laid in bed for weeks; my body had healed, but my soul had not." Claire (Outlander, Faith)
Episode seven of Outlander’s second adventure is perhaps the most poignant of the season, breaking the hearts of the readers among the audience with its title alone. Faith is an episode heavy with remorse, grief, drama, and loss as numerous characters fall victim to extreme violence and dire circumstance. When last we met the Frasers and company, Claire had come fatally undone at the sight of Jamie dueling with Randall – an event that could cost one love, Frank, his as-yet-unborn life, and another love, Jamie, his own upon being captured. Not to be forgotten was the chilling reason for Jamie’s fury at Randall, and the trigger that had caused him to so blindly abandon his promise to Claire: that Black Jack had claimed yet another innocent victim in young Fergus (this in a scene particularly difficult to Romann Berrux).
Episode writer Toni Graphia takes Faith into its most breathtaking manifestation for the screen with no detail of the screenplay going unnoticed by the exquisite cast and the show’s splendid designers. From the site of Claire’s grief-stricken misery at L'Hopital des Anges to the otherworldly hidden chambers of Louis XV, each scene is so incredibly rendered as to leave the viewers feeling that they’ve been able to step into the world of Diana Gabaldon’s novel. The slightest nuances of costuming and the briefest movements from the actors are burdened with meaning and emotion as they take on a unique resonance in this quietly monumental episode.
"How can we ever be the same?" "We can't be. The weight of what has happened here is too much for either of us to bear alone,. The only way we can live with it is to carry it. Together." Claire and Jamie (Outlander, Faith)
Much of the weight of this episode falls onto our Claire as she is met with great challenges and unfair circumstances even after the greatest loss of her life. What results is yet another spectacular performance from Caitriona Balfe, a particularly bright star in the constellation of her incredible work bringing Claire to life on the series. She is an utter powerhouse of talent, and it’s clear that she is in a role she was born to play, much to the delight of diehard Outlander fans. But as much as Balfe delivers gut-wrenching honest in her solitary moments, here we also see a new dimension drawn around her relationships: with her child, with Mother Hildegarde, with Master Raymond, with Fergus, and with Jamie. Even amid her tearful homecoming Claire shares a moment of significance and gratitude with Magnus, the butler who raced a carriage bearing a devastated Claire to the site of the duel. In each of these scenes the cast prove themselves to have a remarkable connection and a wonderful sense of respect for the characters as well as the story.
One of the most delightful friendships we’ve seen arise on the series has been the one between Claire and Raymond, which reaches its penultimate confirmation here. Believed to be on her deathbed, Claire is visited by a life=saving Raymond who would risk imprisonment – likely death – to help her. Later, Claire finds herself in a position to return the action when the king asks her to judge a captured Raymond and St. Germain, both suspected of practicing the dark arts. It’s an absolutely engaging scene, tended to by Lionel Lingeler’s wonderfully haughty performance as Louis XV. Even as the tension continues to spark between Claire and St. Germain, whom she suspects of much foul play, the emotions are many and quite varied as his life, it seems, rests in her hands.
"Perhaps it was the shock of what I’d been through, but as Master Raymond was led away, what ran through my brain was a line from a film. You know the one: 'I'm going to miss you most of all.'" Claire (Outlander, Faith)
It’s a bittersweet midseason moment as the tide of the story changes and an utterly broken Jamie and Claire vow to return to the restorative and most beloved Scotland in next week’s episode, The Fox’s Lair. And as the story moves on and the heartbreak of Paris reverberates in the lives of the Frasers, it will indeed stay alive in the hearts of audiences long into the future.