Outlander Faith Review
Starz’s Outlander: Season 2, Episode 7: Faith had so much transpire during its run-time that it was staggering. Because of everything that happened during the episode, Faith seemed much longer than a normal episode and it was. Faith clocked in at one hour and four minutes and unlike Game of Thrones in recent years, every second of it was used effectively.
The medical incident that Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) underwent in Faith was as graphic as the abortion scene in Enter the Void, with the camera pulled back above the scene, showing the viewer everything at once. The blood loss that Claire had undergone was completely apparent by her grey complexion. Claire seemed completely numb to what was transpiring, as if her mind were disconnected from her body, a curious, common reaction of the mind when something traumatic is occurring.
That numbness did not last.
When Claire requested the presence of someone that she had never seen, someone precious to her, that was when the torrent of differing emotions that Balfe had to display in Faith truly began. The viewer doesn’t know where Balfe had to go in her mind to emote absolute sadness and despair but she flawlessly did so. It was Balfe’s best acting on the series to date.
When Louise de Rohan (Claire Sermonne) visited Claire in L’Hopital des Anges, it was the most touching moment between the two characters thus far. The viewer saw, for the first time, how close their friendship had become. Louise was almost a surrogate for the audience in the scene, wanting desperately to take away Claire’s aching pain and give her some measure of peace.
Claire’s homecoming in Faith was bittersweet. Its two most powerful moments were: 1.) Suzette (Adrienne-Marie Zitt)’s response to Claire’s return and 2.) Claire’s response to Magnus (Robbie McIntosh), who really went beyond the call of duty in Best Laid Schemes. Claire extinguished the class difference between the two of them in one humble movement.
The title La Dame Blanche (The White Woman), once a shield that had protected Claire, in Faith, made her judge, jury, and executioner at a secret, inpromptu trial. The two people on trial were a complete surprise at first but the King’s new edict, spoken of in previous episodes, made it less so. It was the shell-shocked defendant in the scene that made it even more memorable. This defendant, struck down off their high horse, was the picture of stubborn fear and indignation. This defendant stared down death with their back straight, even when it was literally handed to them. This defendant didn’t beg for their life, kept their self-respect to the very end, and denied their adversary a final victory.
The curious part before the defendant’s death was that they admitted that they had tried to kill Claire with poison. Then the same defendant had the gumption to call their killers “evil.” If they were “evil,” what was the defendant? Even if the defendant had somehow gotten out of that trial alive, they had just admitted to attempted murder in front of the last person in the kingdom that they should ever have made that statement in front of. If not death, the defendant’s indignant mouth had earned them a long prison sentence.
The trial scene was staged in an opulent room that can only be described as magical and evening sky-inspired. It dazzled, from floor to ceiling, and must have cost a fortune to construct in that time period. It was the most fitting place for that type of trial in all of France, which was why (one assumes) it transpired there.
King Louis XV of France (Lionel Lingelser)’s price for a private audience and possible clemency was…unusual. Outlander is a very surprising TV show, meaning the viewer never knows where the narrative will go (unless you have read the book series on which it is based). That is the show’s greatest strength, second only to its acting.
The reason for the duel was surmised in the review for Best Laid Schemes and it turned out that the supposition in that episode analysis was accurate. The Governor is still the best TV villain in recent history, possibly ever, but Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall (Tobias Menzies) is in the top ten. If we were talking about simply being vile (instead of the totality of a character’s villainy), Black Jack would be number one, hands down (Black Jack beats Craster and Hannibal Lecter). World-class scum masquerading as a human being doesn’t get ‘better’ than Black Jack.
Only someone uncaring could not have been softened by what Fergus (Romann Berrux) disclosed to Claire in Faith. It destroyed her rage toward Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) but it also increased the emotional baggage Claire carried. If she had let the duel happen days earlier, what happened in the brothel to Fergus never would have happened. Because Black Jack was alive, it did. Once again I pose the question: how many people have to be attacked and emotionally / physically destroyed so that Frank Randall can live?
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