On Saturday, we posted as a part of our Outlander Perspectives series the five definitive Sam Heughan performances of season 4 — there’s been wonderful feedback, and it’s been exciting to see the impact that some of these episodes had on viewers.
So what now about Caitriona Balfe? When it comes to awards-show nominations and attention, she’s had more than her co-star. She’s a perennial favorite of the Hollywood Foreign Press for the Golden Globes; yet, she has not won a trophy at the ceremony yet, and nor has she received a much-deserved nomination at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Consider all of this a reminder that it’s possible to receive nominations and still, regrettably, be underrated for your work. Balfe’s commitment, passion, and understanding of Claire Fraser’s identity and evolution are nothing short of exemplary. This is a character who has lived several different lives, and Caitriona finds the common threads that bring them all together.
Admittedly, there are far more than five great performances from Balfe this season, but we have to try to edit ourselves somewhere! Awards shows themselves don’t often look at more than just an episode or a compilation, after all.
Have you seen our recent Outlander video? – At the bottom of this article, you can see our expectations for Claire in season 5! For more, remember to subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube — and also take a look at our playlist.
The real summary of both this and the Sam article is simple: Why aren’t these two nominated every year for both the Globes and the Emmys?
Episode 1, “America the Beautiful” – What we love about this episode for Balfe is the range. In the early going, you see excitement, hope, and ambition from Claire — she realizes how much her life with Jamie has changed, but she also recognizes that there are incredible new horizons for the two, no matter what awaits them. They’re finally together and that is what matters most. Contrast this feeling with the pain and raw devastation of the closing minutes, where Stephen Bonnet destroys the clear path the two have at a future. He derails much of the course of the season but as Jamie and Claire often do, they find another way.
Episode 5, “Savages” – Some of Balfe’s strongest episodes are, admittedly, the ones where Claire is put through the most turmoil. There is certain turmoil and then some here as the character is forced to confront the angriest and most irrational of men — the true savage within the episode’s title. This is a crisis that showed the full height of Claire’s powers, whether it be her ability to improvise in the moment or to use her words as her greatest shield. It showed her strength, and ability to conquer great adversity and fear.
Episode 6, “Blood of My Blood” – It was a fantastic episode for Sam Heughan, and equally so an excellent one for Caitriona. The scene featuring her and David Berry’s Lord John Grey may be one of the strongest of the entire season, as the two reach an important understanding in regards to suffering, hope, love, and the relationship between the three. Claire saw Lord John as he truly was, and also fought against the notion that she somehow had it easy for managing to achieve her happily-ever-after when she had to spend two decades away from her love.
Episode 9, “The Birds & The Bees” – As we’ve said, this may be atop the Emmy reel for almost every cast member — there are so many incredible, poignant moments spread across the show’s total run time. In the context of Balfe’s performance, her scenes with Sophie Skelton are perfectly-placed, emotional, and show so much of the relationship the mother-daughter duo share. Then, there’s also the moment where Claire realizes precisely who is responsible for Brianna’s assault — it’s a reminder that Balfe does not even need a scene partner to display work that cuts right into your soul.
Episode 10, “The Deep Heart’s Core” – This was not at times an easy episode to watch, just because of the emotional eruptions that existed from one character to the next. All of the heartache stemming from the mistaken identity of Roger and Jamie bubbled right to the surface. As painful as this was at times, it was also fantastic work. Balfe showed as Claire that you can love someone and still challenge them, that you can be involved in conflict but that said conflict doesn’t have to destroy the life you’ve worked to have. There is so much maturity within these moments, even if the drama and tension are at a high. It is this episode that presses the story forward and builds the stakes for the remainder of the season.
What is your favorite Caitriona Balfe performance?
This is where we want to hear from you! We have a poll at the bottom of this article for you to share your thoughts — if we don’t have your favorite Balfe performance included, let us know what it is and why in the comments.
We will share the results of the poll in one week, on March 3 at 1:00 p.m. Pacific time. (Photo: Starz.)