Dive deeper into this episode with exclusive sketches, production designs, and fun facts delivered directly from the Outlander crew.
Usually I have the title in my head, long before the episode. Like when I’m reading a part of the book, I’ll write in the margins, as I did with “Faith.” But on this one, it was just called “Helwater” for the longest time, as a working title, by default. I could not think of a title for the life of me! Other candidates were “The Groomsman” and “Hard Rain” (I did know from the beginning that I wanted that song, but that’s another story!). ;) Matt likes to change the titles on all the episodes, we call him the Title Whisperer, since he usually comes up with good ones. After he read my first draft, he called me up and said, “I have your title.” But he didn’t tell me what it was. He filled it in right on the cover page of the script and sent it to me, it was “…Of Lost Things.” He had loved the part about St. Anthony, the patron saint “…of lost things” and thought it fit the theme of the episode. He was right. It was perfect. But I wasn’t sure about the ellipsis, so I printed out two cover pages with the title done both ways, and polled the office about which one looked best. That’s just how crazy I am! Lol. It sparked a big debate, but this was the winner!
Now we’ve finally caught up to the end of Episode 213! Welcome to 1968.
Loved the idea of a war room where R/B/C worked at a detective board like at a police station to organize the facts. When the Art Department asked about the look of Jamie’s timeline, a few of us in the writers’ room actually drew the timeline on a whiteboard. We experimented a lot with the look and information on the timeline before we ended up with what you see on screen.
The names of the prison—Tolbooth, Stirling, Arbroath, Blackness, are a few of the real prisons where Jacobites were sent after Culloden. I included Blackness as an Easter egg for the fans, since we shot at Blackness Castle. It was our Fort William.
You’ll remember the “Dunbonnet” from Episode 302. A couple hundred years later, the tales of Jamie’s heroism had become legend!
This scene—a receiving line of servants—was inspired by one of my favorite shows, Downton Abbey. I always thought of Jamie at Helwater as our Downton Abbey episode and I crafted the reveal so that we find him standing among the servants as just a common groom.
The scenes at Helwater were shot mostly at Gosford House just outside Edinburgh, a gorgeous mansion (where we also shot the Versailles stables for Episode 205.) Although some of our exterior stables shots for Helwater were done at Hopeton House.
In Voyager, John Grey speaks to Lord Dunsany while Jamie waits in the hall. Since we are picking up about a month after Lord John drops Jamie off in Episode 303, I decided to give this conversation to Jamie in our episode.
Jamie, taking John Grey’s advice from Episode 303 to not use his real name, introduces himself as “Alexander MacKenzie.”
“The pain of losing a child…” was something I added as a callback to Faith and even Brianna who Jamie “lost” as well.
Wanted a light flirty moment for these two—and to plant the idea that Brianna is good at fixing things. Here Brianna reveals that she’s more than just a historian’s daughter. Book fans know that Brianna’s talents will pay off later…
These J.A.M.M.F. lines were suggested by Ron because, let’s face it, it’s a very long (if beautiful!) name. I had no idea that it was a meme with the fans until my assistant Sheena told me! Unfortunately, this was cut for time—but it was intended as a shout-out to fans online who use J.A.M.M.F. But dinna fash, I plan to try and get them in somewhere else down the road. ;)
The book mentions briefly that the grooms drew straws to decide who would ride with Geneva. I thought it would be fun to actually see this, and we needed to show that none of the grooms like Geneva. Had to look it up and make sure it was period correct—luckily, it was!
Wanted to establish that Jamie and Isobel like each other, maybe even a mislead to non-book readers that they could get involved. But I loved the twist that she’s got a crush on John Grey and is pumping Jamie for info. In the books, Isobel isn’t friendly with Jamie or in love with John Grey, although she does end up marrying him. We wanted to expand on the Isobel of the books, making her more sympathetic in comparison with Geneva—we spoke of the sisters as having a Lady Edith/Lady Mary dynamic from Downton Abbey. We lucked out finding a very talented actress, Tanya Reynolds, who played the role of Isobel sweetly and beautifully.
I always loved that Jamie prayed for his loved ones. But I changed it from Virgin Mary because I had already featured her prominently in “Faith.” In fact, I have the head of that broken Mary statue on my desk! We explored several saints as a replacement, but St. Anthony won out, and it has nothing at all to do with my name being Toni. Ha ha! Kidding. Okay, maybe he had a bit of an edge here. But Patron Saint of Lost Things was hard to beat!
I wanted to juxtapose Jamie praying with Claire praying. She’s not religious in our show but I figured Jamie is worth praying for, so Claire can’t help once in a while sneaking in a silent prayer—it’s really all she can do considering the 202 year distance between them. And it was a way to show that these two lovers are always connected.
“Lady Jane” is from the book. We never established in the show why he calls her that, but I wanted to slip it in for the fans, because I think it’s adorable and I always liked that Joe calls her that.
Jeveli’s is a real restaurant in Boston. I wanted to make sure to pick one that was around in the 1960s. They bill themselves as Boston’s oldest Italian restaurant, established in 1924. I remember I had Joe originally order white clam pizza and our researcher pointed out that they didn’t have that on the menu! So, I checked out their actual menu and picked out Chicken Cacciatore because it sounded old school. I wanted to establish that Claire knows Joe’s routine because they are so close.
It’s a friendly call, but crafted also to put pressure on Claire—she’s devoted to her patients so it’s hard for her to leave them for too long, especially to chase a ghost. Claire’s torn here. We originally had two phone calls—in the second one (see scene 21/22) Joe says she might actually lose her job if she doesn’t come home soon. But we ultimately decided that one phone call was enough.
I added this non-book scene so that the audience could meet – and hate – Ellesmere before the climactic scene at the end. Geneva is spoiled and ill-tempered, but she doesn’t deserve a terrible man like Ellesmere.
Jamie rides with a flirtatious Geneva in the book, but we don’t really see their interactions. Devoting an entire episode to Helwater gave us the space to spend more time with Geneva’s character. I originally wrote this scene with Geneva cursing and ranting at Jamie after he drops her…but then Ron suggested we give Geneva a human moment where she shows a sense of humor and spark of life…after all she’s the mother of Jamie’s child. There was a bit of a debate in the writers’ room about this but in the end, we figured that she’s already a b-i-t-c-h, she doesn’t need to be a total B!
I loved Lord Melton in the premiere and we thought it would be interesting to bring him to Helwater. In the book, he and his brother John are family friends with the Dunsanys, but we never see Hal at the estate. I thought it’d be a nice complication for John and Jamie to have Lord Melton recognize Jamie from the battlefields at Culloden and give his brother a hard time about it!
In the book, Geneva discovers Jamie’s true identity through intercepting his family letters to Lallybroch but we thought it was risky of Jamie to write about Culloden to his family. We thought Lord Melton would be a more visceral threat—Geneva clocks that there’s something funky going on here and gets him drunk and gets the story out of him…
We talked a great deal about this scene in the writers’ room and ultimately decided to play it somewhat differently from the book. We wanted the focus to be on the emotion of the scene. Jamie is obviously blackmailed into this situation. Geneva has manipulated him, which isn’t right. She’s trapped into a marriage she doesn’t want and nothing in her life is in her control, so this is her bid for control—that she will decide how she loses her virginity. But here’s where we see her bravado give way to vulnerability. The very talented Hannah James did an incredible job of portraying Geneva’s duality here. I believe the audience will feel sorry for her when Jamie explains what real love is—and that this is not it. My heart breaks for her, in this moment and for Jaime too, because he’s kind in his explanation to her, yet we see his pain at knowing he’s lost his love and won’t ever experience again the special bond he had with Claire.
We thought this scene—not in the books—was a nice way to set up the stakes, and let Jamie know the baby is his earlier. It also exists partly as a way to show passage of time in an episode that jumps forward quite a bit. In the books, Jamie doesn’t realize that Willie is his son until Ellesmere’s cook tells him that the Earl is impotent.
In Episode 201, we establish that Frank burned Claire's clothes after she returned from the past –– a moment not in the books. In the book, Claire had the pearls sewn into the seam of her skirt during Culloden to protect them. We knew that the pearls would play an important role in a later book, so we were left with the question of how to establish them again in Season 3. We decided Claire would have given the pearls to Mrs. Graham for safekeeping. She had promised Frank she'd leave the past behind so she couldn't take them and keep them hidden over the years. She chose to take comfort knowing that they were in the hands of a special friend who understood how meaningful they were to her. When Mrs. Graham died, she passed them down to her granddaughter Fiona, who then returns them to Claire.
Though Brianna calls Claire “Mama” in the books, this is the first time we see it in our show. Brianna and Claire have had a strained relationship in the past, but this search for Jamie is bringing them together again and I wanted to make a moment of this. Diana had mentioned to me that it was important to her that Brianna call her Mama and not Mom, Mommy, Ma, etc. A small detail, but I wanted to make sure it was done right, and sometimes actors might improvise not realizing that a certain line or even a word can be crucial for certain reasons. So, I kept calling the set and saying “Whatever you do, make sure Sophie says “Mama” or Diana will kill me!” ;)
We debated a lot in the writing of Season 3 where to put Roger and Brianna’s first kiss. In the books, Roger and Brianna’s first kiss is actually in the kirk of St. Kilda’s in Dragonfly in Amber. We wanted to hold the romance until Brianna and Roger, having grown closer during the search for Jamie, face the possibility of now separating. I also really wanted it to be Brianna making the first move. We’ve seen Roger’s attraction to Brianna, but we were not quite sure if Brianna felt the same way—until now.
Since the character of Isobel is expanded in this episode, I decided it was juicier if she knew about Jamie and Geneva—her sister had told her. It makes for a very emotional scene, both here and in their final reconciliation. In Voyager, only Lord John knows for certain that Jamie is the father. Tanya did a wonderful job here.
In the book, Ellesmere threatens to drop the baby out of a window. That action didn’t quite work with our shooting location, so we changed it to threatening the baby with the letter opener. We cheated locations by shooting this scene inside Gosford House which had a great marble hall and gallery, even though this is technically the interior of Helwater! Also, our visual effects team had to change the date on some Roman numerals carved into the staircase, as they were off by 100 years!
I love the look on Sam’s face when Jamie sees his son for the first time. And also, the way the baby looks up at him and blinks. It was magical.
Fun historical fact: I originally wrote the scene without the Governess, but I added her because our assistant and historian Dani told me that a lady with Isobel’s breeding would never be out walking without a chaperone accompanying her.
Beth Goddard is wonderful in this scene. I love the black dress she’s wearing and the way the director shot her coming down that trail through the trees.
One of my favorite moments. Jamie tells the baby “I’m here”—then is given his freedom—and decides in that very moment to stay for his son.
We couldn’t find a young actor who looked exactly like Jamie but our policy is always to use the best actor. The talented Clark Butler looked enough like Jamie and did a fine job! I love the relationship of Jamie and Willie. It’s their bond in the book that made me want to write this episode. I thought Sam was particularly good in his scenes with both the baby and Willie.
We originally envisioned the bar patron as an older man, and were surprised to see a female among the auditions. But Rachel Jackson had the (very lengthy) Burns poem memorized and knocked it out of the park.
Book fans will note that Robert Burns’ “The Author’s Earnest Cry and Prayer” is an Easter egg for things to come… tune in next week to see how.
We were going to set this at a pub, but research showed that a 1968 pub would be unwelcoming and risqué for women. In fact, I’m told it was considered unladylike to sit at a British bar well into the 1980s! The shot required us to seat our characters at the bar, so I decided to call it out in the action and dialogue of the scene.
There was a big discussion in the writer’s room over whether or not to include this scene. I loved it in the books, so argued for it to be included. I think it works well in the episode—showing Jamie’s characteristic willingness to sacrifice himself for the people he loves and Lord John’s inviolable sense of honor. John’s offer to take care of Willie also demonstrates his selfless love for Jamie.
This is my favorite scene. The stinkin’ papist lines are from the book, but I added the part about how someday Willie will have a wife to show Jamie thinking of Claire. “Trust me, lad. There’s a woman who’s meant for ye…” Especially the part about how “you’ll find her… or she’ll find you.” Because Claire actually found him and his life has been changed by her. I love Jamie’s wistful smile here as he remembers their first meeting.
In our time period, Jamie wouldn’t be allowed to keep his wooden rosary in Ardsmuir, because Catholicism was persecuted. So, I decided to make a slight change from the books, and have Jamie give Willie a carved wooden snake, just like the wooden snake Jamie’s brother (also named Willie) made him when they were children. It’s a bit of serendipity to have it come full circle and something that I imagine gave Jamie a bit of solace and joy.
Thank you to Matt for the idea for the title card and for filming it!
The Bob Dylan song, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” was actually running through my head when I read the chapters about Jamie’s son. I guess it was the lines about “Where have ye been, my blue-eyed son, my darlin’ young one…” I knew that if I wrote this episode, that song had to be in it—which is a problem because we rarely use modern songs in our show, especially over 18th century scenes. Not to mention that Bob Dylan songs cost a fortune. Then he went and won the Nobel Prize and I went around joking to everyone “Oh, great! Now his price will go up!” ☺ I do love Dylan’s version but I had Justin, our script coordinator, send me some cover versions.
Among them was this cover by an amazing Canadian folk-pop band called “Walk Off the Earth.” Not only did it give me goosebumps, but it was a male/female duet—so it was absolutely perfect for the end of the show. It evoked the “Jamie/Claire” duality of the story. A bit of magic happened there and I still cry every time I see the montage and I’ve seen it now a hundred times!
Does that toy plane look familiar? It’s a callback to Episode 201, when Claire first meets Wee Roger in 1948. Roger is holding the very same toy plane in both episodes.
P.S. Because of using Hard Rain, I wanted badly for there to be rain in the episode. I called Matt and asked for rain and he said “Are you crazy? We’re not paying for a rain machine in Scotland!” So I prayed every day for rain, to drive home the metaphor—but the Gods were not with me on this—it’s the only episode where we didn’t have a single day of rain! Ah, Scotland! ☺
“The fictional houses of Helwater and Ellesmere Manor were a made up of a combination of two of the finest stately homes in the south of Scotland with elements of each real house in both fictional homes. As many stately homes were modified by successive generations, they provide a rich supply of locations options. We have shot both these stately homes from another different side in previous seasons, but you would never know.”
-Hugh Gourlay, Supervising Location Manager
“We’ve used Hopetoun House quite a bit throughout the show but we’ve never conveyed the full scale of it until Episode 304, when we used it for the opening shot of the Ellesmere estate.”
-Matthew B. Roberts, Executive Producer/Writer
“I spotted this rather elaborate door during a location scout at the Gosford Estate—I thought it was quite extraordinary to have a door like this leading to the gardens.”
-Matthew B. Roberts, Executive Producer/Writer
This episode isn’t the first time we’ve seen such an item. The carved wooden snake that Jamie gives Willie calls back to the “Sawney” wooden snake Jamie’s brother, also named Willie, gave to him as a child, and features in the title card for the episode.
“One of the advantages of shooting on a location rather than a set is question of scale and a question of period. We go primarily to locations for its exteriors, for the look of it, and how it sits in the countryside. Or the countryside itself. That we just can’t recreate in the studio.
So, when Jamie takes a journey to Helwater, which is an English stately home, he’s now in what’s known as the “Lake District,” the border countries of England. We’re looking at a great stately home and we just can’t build that exterior on a studio. So, we have found those locations and they give us a grandeur. They give us a scale. And they give us the right setting to put Jamie in that story in. In this particular, all of the interiors and exteriors were shot on location. That’s one of the great adventures about Outlander for us as a production—that each episode is different. Each story presents new challenges.”
–David Brown, Producer