VULTURE.COM – Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of Outlander.
Claire had so much hope heading to France. She and Jamie were going to change the world! Prevent the Jacobite rebellion! Alter the course of history! But even with her knowledge of the future, Claire couldn’t stop certain events from happening. She couldn’t thwart everyone who supported Bonnie Prince Charlie. She couldn’t keep two mortal enemies from dueling each other. And she couldn’t save her unborn child. In one of the most devastating scenes this season, Claire’s daughter is stillborn, even as she herself is on the verge of dying from a postpartum infection. Actress Caitriona Balfe chatted with Vulture about Claire’s grief, and how she feels about both husbands now.
Even though she was pregnant during the first half of the season, do you think Claire had more agency?
It’s an interesting shift. Last season, I feel like Claire was very reactionary, and all of these events were sort of coming at her fast and swift. She didn’t really have time to absorb any of the events, really. She would get captured, and then they would be on their way somewhere, and then something else would happen. It was all very fight or flight. Survival.
But this season, she was experiencing a huge life change, being pregnant for the first time. And in French society, she almost had less freedom than she had in Scotland, because of the role that women are supposed to play. The first few episodes, she was relegated to drawing rooms and apartments, and you could feel her frustration building. It was quite a suffocating thing to do, even as an actress! But that was great for the internal journey of Claire, because she was dealing with a lot of things in private, and she knew she had to keep them to herself, because Jamie was still suffering so much from the events of the end of last season. And in a way, because she wasn’t quite the outsider in France the way she was in Scotland, she learned she had even more freedom and agency.
What was your reaction when you first found out what would happen to end the pregnancy?
When I first got the script Toni Graphia wrote, I was sobbing, reading it. I just felt very grateful to be given such a wonderful storyline, and wonderful material to work with. It’s a huge tragedy for Claire, and I’ve done quite a bit of reading about grief. I think there’s so many women who either have themselves or who know somebody who has been touched by the tragedy of miscarriage. It’s something that I really just wanted to hold a space for, Claire’s grief, Claire’s experience. It was pretty tough. We had about five days where the whole sequence happened, so you’re in that very emotional place for quite a long time.