Before the season started, Balfe knew the tragedy that awaited in this episode. “You want to do it well and want to honor the character,” she says. “There’s a lot preparation, a lot reading, speaking to some friends and people I know who’ve unfortunately gone through similar things, and just trying to tap into that and trying to just hold a space for Claire’s grief. That was what I really wanted to do for those scenes.”
Music figured into her preparation. “A Scottish singer who used to be in Cockteau Twins was [in] a band at one point called This Mortal Coil and there’s this song, ‘Song to the Siren,’ which I think was originally recorded by Jeff Buckley’s father, Tim Buckley. It’s just haunting. It’s sort of got this Celtic feel, especially with the way Elizabeth sings it, and it’s about lost love. That seemed like the appropriate thing to listen to at that time. I had it on repeat and it seemed to get me in the right place.”
One of the most intense scenes involved Claire cradling stillborn infant. Balfe says it was very important for her to nail that initial mother-and-child meeting, which she thought would feel the same whether there was a heartbeat or not. “I think for any parent, that first moment that you hold and see your child, the love rushes. I just felt that that would have been Claire’s initial reaction [to] the beauty of something that you’ve created, especially with someone that you love so much,” explains the actress. “It’s important to allow moments of beauty and love and levity even in grief and tragedy. All of these things come at you together and you have to allow the space for all of those things to shine.”
Sam Heughan felt his character experienced the loss a little differently. “The grief of miscarriage is so strange, because it is two totally separate things for the man and the woman. She’s had this grief and lived through it by herself. He’s been in prison. He doesn’t know what’s happened, but he thinks it’s all his fault. And he’s feeling awful because he has not been there and she’s had to deal with this on her own,” he says. “So there’s separate different grief and there’s still a joint grief.” Balfe adds, “I don’t think any couple who goes through that or woman who goes through that, will ever fully recover. It’s not something that will ever leave you. It’s something that really changes both of them.”
And not necessarily for the worse. Says Heughan, “It’s at that point where they realize, well, we can either just give up on this, or we can share each other’s pain and really be the thing that helps each other through it. Out of tragedy comes …” Balfe finishes his thought: “Resilience and love.” Claire and Jamie had to be ripped apart to come back together, explains Heughan: “It makes them stronger all this drama and tragedy. It brings them closer together. And they return to Scotland to be at least together to the end.”
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