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Though Outlander has yet to finish its second season on Starz, it’s difficult to imagine any scene being more memorable or moving than the one in which Claire (Caitriona Balfe) recounts holding the baby she and Jamie (Sam Heughan) have lost.
As a now stoic Claire tells Jamie the story, we see a flashback of her frantically asking to see her dead daughter. When the baby is placed in her arms, the pain is momentarily gone from her face. “I think for any parent, that first moment that you hold your child and that you see your child, the love that rushes, and the beauty of something that you’ve created, especially with someone that you love so much — I just felt that that would have been Claire’s initial reaction. Just love outpouring,” Balfe says. “It’s important to allow moments of beauty and love and levity even in grief and tragedy. I think nothing goes in a single line; all of these things come at you together.”
Filming in Glasgow Cathedral, Balfe found herself sitting at an altar between takes. “I’m not a particularly religious person, but there was something about being in a space where you can imagine that so many women have come and shared their grief, or begging for peace or solace or something, and I felt like I, in some weird way, was tapping into this shared grief that was in the bones of this building,” she says.
Though cracked, Claire is nothing if not resilient. “I wanted to have moments where you see her do everything that she can to steel herself and try to hold it in because that feels like that’s what she should do,” Balfe says. “She’s not a particularly emotional person, and I think that’s indicative to women of that time. These things happened quite frequently and people are expected to just get on with it. … I don’t think any person who will go through the death of a child or a miscarriage, especially one like this, will ever be the same again.”
Outlander airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.