OK, I’m going to put it out there. I really didn’t like the first scene with Claire and who . . .
. . . a lot of us know to be Bree in 1954. I understand that this might be an attempt to bring some of the guess work of time travel and a nod back to the first episode, but it just didn’t work for me. I guess it did tie in the heron to allow Claire to reflect back, but I just didn’t care for it.
We start with her lying in bed with the King’s Executioner working hastily on, with blood pretty much everywhere.
Can we just talk about her face in that shot? Pale, lifeless, expressionless, completely empty, the single tear…you can feel the tone of the show being set.
Now, childbirth is a bloody business, but we are to know that much more is happening here. She awakens to realize her womb is empty. Mother Hildegarde arrives at her side and Claire demands to know where her baby is to which the Mother Superior replies that the baby has “joined the angels.” When Claire demands to see her baby, it is heart-wrenchingly visceral.
Later we find out that she was able to sit and hold Faith all day. She rocked and sang to her. Counted her fingers and her toes. Memorized every single characteristic of her child. Denying? Coming to terms? Who knows at that moment, but it is Louise who finally comes to comfort her. Who can imagine the agony going through Louise’s mind when she approaches Claire? She, too, could soon face the same destiny. Again, we are presented with the reference to the child being an angel. Claire knows when she hands her daughter to Louise that it is the last time she will see her. Imagine knowing the first time you hold your child will also be your last. The gut punching feeling she has and shows us is real. Claire is prepared for death when given her last rights by the priest. Her sins are all she has. If she gives these away in confession, she has nothing left in this world. Faith is gone, Jamie is in the Bastille. “No thanks, Padre, I’m hanging onto these.”
She discovers the reason for Jamie’s betrayal when Fergus is crying in his sleep.
Claire decides it’s time to go to petition the King on her husband’s behalf. The green dress was most magnificent and regal, yet it felt less like the French Court and more like a utilitarian piece for her to get down to business. She knows that asking for such a favor will result in some type of business transaction and has learned that her virtue will be the price. But she is prepared for this. Her faith in her husband and her marriage is being restored. Imagine her shock and surprise when he entrusts her as “La Dame Blanche” to his inner sanctum for the purpose of determining two men’s innocence or guilt in the practice of the dark arts.
As Jamie comes home from the Bastille, Claire is stoic upon his arrival. At first I took it as she was still mad with him. But as the conversation goes on, we find that she is mad at herself. She has forgotten what she and Jamie are. She has let Frank get in the way of the life she has chosen. She feels she has let her decisions kill her child. She is blaming everything on herself.
But what about Mother Hildegard? What about her and her faith? When I look back at everything that happens through the prism of her wisdom and influence, she has become the new hero in this episode for me. I am sad that we will be leaving her behind, but what a swan song she leaves us with! She shows us what humanity can be found in the early Catholic church. Not until very recently has the Church been more accepting of deviances from its doctrine. The Mother Superior single handedly shows us the faith that she puts in her own beliefs might be stronger than that of what she has been taught. Tenderly she tells Claire that her baby is born dead. It hasn’t always been common practice to bring an infant to her mother when she has died, but she recognized the importance to Claire. She then reveals that she has baptized the baby and given her the name Faith– “she has a very odd sense of humor”–so that she can be buried on hallowed ground. She confesses to Claire that this is illegal unless the child had been living and trusts that Claire will keep it between them and God. Again the trendsetter. She aids Claire in trying to work through Claire’s anger with Jamie. She understands that Claire is bitter, yet she allows Claire to be human and work through her anger, not judging her in any manner.
After Claire finds out the real reason for Jamie’s betrayal, she wants to have an audience with the King. She knows that the Mother can possibly aid in that arrangement. Mother Hildegard is quick to remind Claire that the King can be a bit mercurial, and that she may have to lie with him. Obviously, again, she is non judgmental because it is implied that she does help with the visit Claire has with the King. Mother Hildegard is the pillar of strength and faith for me. In this episode she exemplifies what a person of God should be.