Warning: This article contains spoilers from tonight's episode of Outlander. Read at your own risk. Canna. Deal. Anyone else feeling emotionally drained right now? Don't tell me I'm the only one who had to press pause halfway through so I could collect myself and think happy thoughts before soldiering on? The show hasn't seen this sort of emotional intensity since the season 1 finale — and there's a lot to process. For starters, there's the flash-forward to Boston circa 1954. We see a red-haired little girl with an American accent poring over a book of birds. Claire, who hasn't really aged a day, let alone three centuries, is her mother. She's still wearing her two wedding bands. And then, we're back in Scotland. We soon learn that the bookish redhead is not the baby Claire and Jamie have been expecting all season. We see a flash of a bloodied Claire on the operation table, a vision of a bird, and then nothing. Claire wakes up in a clean white nightgown and calls for her baby. "I'm sorry, Madama," a nun explains. "She has joined the angels." Claire goes into hysterics and knocks over a statue of the Virgin Mary. When she comes to, Mother Hildegarde explains that she had the stillborn child baptized and named Faith so that she could be buried in hallowed ground. Claire is bereft, but her own health demands immediate attention. She's so feverish and ill that a priest comes to deliver an unction of the soul. "My sins are all I have left," she muses. Well, that and the dog Bouton, who refuses to leave her side. Master Raymond, on the run from the king's crackdown of the dark arts crowd, suddenly appears in the middle of the night. He attributes Claire's illness to bacteria caused by placenta still being inside her and uses his hands to heal the body and remove the placenta. (No jokes, please. It's a serious moment.) After telling a newly recovered Claire to "have faith" (or is it Faith?) that she will see him again, Raymond runs off into the night. That's Mother Hildegarde's cue to come in and explain that Jamie was arrested after the duel and is being detained at the Bastille. Randall is badly wounded and back in England. That cat really does have nine lives. Claire has little sympathy for Jamie's plight. In this moment, she hates him for choosing revenge over his family. "He may as well have ran his sword through me," she hisses, while Mother Hildegarde tries in vain to offer some sort of forget-I'm-a-nun marital advice.
When we next see Claire, it's a few weeks later. At Fergus' request, a delicate Claire finally comes home. It's heartbreaking to see her choke up as she warmly greets each servant. Fergus, too, seems fragile, replacing his boyish retorts with hair-brushing. We soon find out why. Last week's episode saw Fergus get shut in a room at Madame Elise. Now, after having a nightmare that brings Claire rushing to his bedroom, the French lad explains it all. He'd snuck into a room to fetch a bottle of lavender perfume for Claire. To spare us all more tears incited by that harrowing flashback, we'll cut to the chase: Randall caught and raped him. Jamie burst in and attacked Randall, demanding a duel to avenge Fergus. Thus, Fergus thinks he's to blame for everything that's happened to Jamie and Claire. It's a sickening moment, but Romann Berrux, the actor who plays Fergus, does a wonderful job of conveying the boy's anguish. The story also spurs Claire to action. She's still mourning Faith, but she must find her resolve and make things right for what remains of her family.
A determined Claire asks Mother Hildegarde to arrange a meeting with the king. She's softened her attitude toward Jamie and intends to beg for his release from the Bastille. Mother Hildegarde makes it clear that a sexual favor may be attached. "When it comes to sacrificing my virtue, Mother, I’ll add it to the list of things I have already lost in Paris," Claire responds. The nun comes through and Claire is soon striding through the palace in a dark green power gown and her poison necklace from Master Raymond. It's a good thing she thought to accessorize. After plying her with hot chocolate and an orange, King Louis XV gets down to business. He knows all about Claire's "La Dame Blanche" street name and intends to use her powers. He leads her not to the bedroom, but to some sort of Illuminati romper room with a celestial ceiling (want/need/pinning). And who should be there but a sheepish-looking Master Raymond and Comte St. Germain, along with Monsieur Forez, the executioner who moonlights at the hospital. Master Raymond and the Comte have been charged with sorcery and the king wants Claire to look into their souls. For the first time in ages, Claire lets a "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ" curse slip out. La Dame Blanche buys herself some time by taunting the Comte and his connection to Les Disciples. She's not quite ready to condemn him to death, though. When the king insists upon having each man handle a serpent to test their guilt, Claire does some quick thinking and suggests a trial by poison, instead. Fortunately, she's got some bitter cascara handy to fake the effects of poison without killing either man. Master Raymond plays along, making a great show of coughing before recovering. When he hands the cup of "poison" back to Claire, though, her necklace turns black. St. Germain notices, and he and Claire both realize that Raymond must have slipped something inside the potion. Though anyone else would have oopsy-daisy dropped the cup, St. Germain has no choice but to take a sip. Before he does, he calls Claire a "witch who sucks the cock of the devil." Needless to say, she's not really that distraught to see him gulp the poison down, keel over, barf, and die. As for Master Raymond, the king spares his life, but banishes him from France. Claire thinks of Dorothy's line from The Wizard of Oz as she bids her friend adieu: "I'm going to miss you most of all." Alas, the king's not quite done with Claire. He drags her to the royal bedroom, where she closes her eyes and thinks of England as he thrusts six times. That's got to be six thrusts too many, considering the woman only recently gave birth. In exchange for this dalliance, Louis agrees to issue a pardon for Jamie and arrange one for England so that the Frasers can return to Scotland. A bearded Jamie soon returns home, but there's no happy reunion. Claire ices him out, but eventually, hears his pleas to tell him about the baby. Now, we get the whole picture — every last mascara-streaking bit of it. Another flashback shows Claire holding her lifeless baby. "She was beautiful, so small," she tells Jamie. "I could cup her head in the palm of my hand. Her ears stuck out just a little. You could see the light through them, the light through her skin, as well, like the light on a pearl still wet from the sea. Her eyes were closed. No lashes yet. They were slanted a bit, like yours. She had wisps of the most beautiful copper hair." The flashback then shows Louise approaching Claire, who has been holding the baby ("10 fingers, 10 toes," she notes) since morning. Though it clearly destroys her, Claire acknowledges that it's time to hand Faith back. After one last long firm kiss, she gives Louise the baby and then dissolves into sobs. Back with Jamie, she explains how those moments made her hate him. However, she's since acknowledged that her choices, such as demanding that Randall live, also put the family at risk. They forgive each other and agree to "carry the loss together." "Bring me home to Scotland," Claire tells Jamie. Before they do, they visit Faith's grave, where a freshly shorn Jamie places the St. Andrew spoon from the set he'd intended as a christening gift. He's giving his daughter a Scot to keep her company in France, you see.
So, off they are to Scotland. Off we are to buy more Kleenex. Group hug, guys?