In thinking about the top actor / actress from Outlander season 4 episode 5, this was an occasion in which it really did not take a whole lot of time to figure it out. It had to be Caitriona Balfe. Of course, we could grant her this almost every episode — with that in mind, we do like to find specific episodes in which to honor her where there are certain aspects of her performance that stand out even more than others.
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What made “Savages” such a notable episode of Balfe starts of course with the writing, and the wide array of opportunities that they allowed her to shine from start to finish. For starters, we loved the scene with Adawehi where the two were finding a way to community — it was simple, but there was such a curiosity and zeal from Claire that it was captivating and felt real. Then, contrast that with her trying to mediate in the moment between the Cherokee and the German settlers, and then also her trying to come to terms with a violent, unstable Mueller arriving to her cabin later on in the episode. She took on some deeply dramatic and intense sequences tonight, but also some that were lighter and even funnier.
A part of what makes Balfe’s performance as Claire so magnetic is that there is a sense of genuine evolution that you get a chance to see if you watch from one season to the next. The way that Claire tackled the mediation was different than it may have been in season 5. She’s got a stronger understanding of time and her place in it alongside the power of her words. She has wisdom and also strength that has stemmed from her hardship. She has a determination that others respond to and Balfe puts that in front of film brilliantly.
Then, to add to all of this, you have the sweet, joyous reunion between Claire and Murtagh late in the episode that Caitriona totally nails. We were already getting choked up seeing Jamie and Murtagh reunite earlier, and with that, we thought we’d got it all out of our system. Not so much, as the meeting between Murtagh and Claire proved further down the road. We got choked-up all over again and there was something so joyous and sweet about it. That’s the magic of Outlander and the brilliance of Balfe’s performance — even when things are tough and painful, minutes later her work can allow you to feel something totally different. It’s a journey perfectly reflective of the character.
What did you think about Caitriona Balfe’s performance on Outlander season 4 episode 5? Be sure to share some of your thoughts right now in the attached comments! (Photo: Starz.)