Dive deeper into this episode with exclusive sketches, production designs, and fun facts delivered directly from the Outlander crew.
As soon as I saw this phrase in the book, I knew it was a great title for an episode. Episodes 304 & 305 were originally one episode—but the episode kept growing until it split into two—like a giant amoeba. Ha ha. I loved both stories—one was Jamie centered and the other was mostly Claire. How to choose between them? I really wanted to do both. I felt passionately about portraying Claire’s dilemma about leaving her daughter to find Jamie, and wanted to dig deeper into this story.
This script evolved more than some others and is for the most part, not in the book. An early version had Brianna backpacking through the Highlands to get to know her father’s culture! Another version had Roger and Brianna going to a Vietnam protest in Boston and getting maced! But I always believed that at its core, this story was about a mother and daughter and we wanted to do justice to exploring their relationship and both their decisions about how to part with each other.
I really wanted to see Claire as a surgeon—I thought this would be a good opening to come in on. Everyone in surgical masks, so there could be a bit of a reveal— “Holy shit, that’s Claire!” And then show that she’s a rockstar in the OR. Of course she would be!
In an earlier draft, Claire was operating on a patient named Harry Greenbaum. You’ll remember him from the script of 304, when Joe A. called about Harry. We had a whole storyline involving him—he even had a wife named Martha—but when we moved the timeline of this episode to months later, (so it could be Christmas) we had to have a different patient, as poor Harry couldn’t have waited that long. (Dinna fash, Joe operated on Harry and we’re happy to report he lived a long, happy life!)
Named the Professor after our awesome producer, David Brown, without whom the universe would come to a standstill.
Brianna sketching in her notebook was a later addition to the script, to set up the arch scene with Brianna and Roger and also immediately show the audience that Brianna’s not engaged in her history studies right now…especially after what she’s learned of her own history.
Matt Roberts told me this cool Paul Revere story and I stole it for this scene. It’s a perfect example of how history can be “shaped” and is not always accurate. Ron always loved the line: “Revere had a better publicist.” The notion might seem modern, but publicists or “press agents,” were around since at least 1925.
In the first draft, it was not Christmas! I felt something was missing… and came up with Christmas as a prism to refract the emotions of this story and suddenly everything came together. I remember calling Matt in Scotland at the last minute to say I wanted the episode to happen during Christmas. There was a long silence on the other end—as they were deep into prep and that’s a tall order. I held my breath until he called back a few days later. I answered on pins and needles. I said, “So?” And he answered, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” 😀 Thanks to Matt and Gary Steele and his team for pulling off the fastest Christmas in television history!
This is from one conversation between Joe and Claire in the book that we adapted and split into three scenes. In Voyager, Claire is only in Boston for three chapters, tying up loose ends in her life in preparation for going back home, but she isn’t sure that Roger will find Jamie in 1766. The story we are telling in this episode is about Claire coming home because she thinks finding Jamie is impossible, then feeling the need to choose between her daughter and the love of her life. We thought that Claire confiding in her best friend was a good way to show the progression of Claire’s feelings; how she opens up to the possibility of going back over the course of the episode.
I love when Joe says “fuck fate.” Ha ha—you gotta love Joe. Everyone needs a friend like him.
In Voyager, Roger doesn’t come to visit Boston. He and Brianna stay in Inverness, continuing the search for Jamie. When Roger finds Jamie, he sends Claire a telegram. But in 304, Claire believes that she won’t find Jamie at all, so we thought it would be more interesting and emotional if Roger delivered the news in person. (Obviously, the Boston cabbie is unimpressed.)
Wanted Roger to be wearing a Santa hat at the door but decided it was a bit much—so we put one on Brianna later.
Wanted to show the fallout from what Brianna’s learned in Episode 213 last season. She handled it in Scotland during the excitement of it—the adrenaline during all the research. But how do you return to real life? In the book, she doesn’t go back to Boston with her mother, so in this episode we had the chance to really explore Brianna’s emotions in the aftermath of her discoveries—not only about her family history, but that time travel exists!
I saw a documentary which claimed, “O Come All Ye Faithful” was a coded Jacobite anthem with double meanings in the lyrics, which celebrate Bonnie Prince Charlie. I thought that was fascinating so I used it here.
Since we are doing “A Randall Christmas” in this episode, we decided to reference the A Christmas Carol moment that Claire recounts to Jamie in Drums of Autumn when tells him how she used to read it to Brianna every Christmas from the time she was five or six years old.
The moment in 213 when Roger is awkwardly caught in the middle of Claire and Brianna’s fight was played so well by Richard Rankin that we decided to call it back here. I love when he says, “Oh, were you fighting? I hadn’t noticed.”
The goal was to get as much whisky into the episode as possible—here we go! 😀 Sláinte!
I often get called a “dog with a bone” for the way I fight for certain story ideas in the writers’ room—ha ha, so I put this in the script to show that a dog with a bone can be a good thing! ;)
The Burns quote in the article is from the book of course. I admire Diana’s clever use of a clue! It was a perfect way for Claire to learn that Jamie is alive and may have written the article.
The full text of this article was written for the show by Dani Berrow, our assistant and historian, and printed up by our Art Department. It’s actually a very good treatise against the taxes on imported spirits! Jamie Fraser was an eloquent writer. 😀
In the book, Claire never gives up hope that she will find Jamie in the past. But we wanted an arc for her to go from “I can’t spend my life chasing a ghost” to starting to hope again. Closing the door was the only way to move forward and live life without the pain of being without him, and she owed her daughter that. It took extraordinary strength and grace not to indulge her loneliness and heartbreak and create a full life for Brianna.
Our twist is Claire’s reaction to Roger’s news. With Brianna in this state, Claire is torn. As a mother, her number one priority is to protect her daughter.
Oh de headbone connected to de neckbone, de neckbone connected to de backbone…That’s all I have to say about this. ;)
Uh oh. I called this clip Doctor Who on the podcast! Forgive me, I got it mixed up with Diana being inspired by a ten-part serial of Doctor Who called “The War Games.” Originally, this was actually going to be a clip of one of those episodes, but we realized that they didn’t air until the Spring of 1969. Anyway, we looked this up and used the episode of Dark Shadows (Season 11, Episode 651) which aired on the actual day that this scene would take place—December 23, 1968. It’s about a woman going back in time to the 18th century! No lie! Sometimes the universe lines up!
This was filmed at the famous Cloisters, also known as the Undercroft, in Glasgow University. Harvard has no cloisters and very little Gothic architecture.
Wanted to show Brianna struggling with her identity and torn between two fathers…Terry has Brianna in an amazing outfit here, reminiscent of her Highlander father!
We adapted Roger’s speech about his father from Drums of Autumn. Since it came from a moment when Roger and Bree discussed Jamie and Roger’s father Jeremiah, we thought it fit thematically in this scene. I love how Richard Rankin says, “cuckoo.” 😀
It’s sad that Claire lived a half-life all these years but Frank lived that too—which is why I included Sandy—to show the cost to him.
One of my favorite scenes, different from the book. In the book, Claire thinks Frank has had many dalliances—I thought it was more interesting and emotional to show that Frank had one woman he loved and who loved him. He had a chance for happiness and I wanted Claire to be confronted with what it cost Frank to be with her. That he could have had a happy life. She has to live with that—Cait played this beautifully and I love Sara MacRae who played Sandy.
I purposefully wanted to show that Sandy and Claire knew two different sides of Frank. I imagine that he could relax and be himself with Sandy, as they didn’t have the baggage that he and Claire had. Even though he’d never love anyone like he loved Claire, Sandy was his port in this storm.
In my first draft, I wrote Claire softer. I thought perhaps she knew Frank was going to propose to Sandy (Episode 303), but that Sandy didn’t know yet and that Frank had died in the car wreck before he could ask her. I wrote a scene where Claire decides to tell Sandy this—to give her that gift. But ultimately, I went for an edgier version where Claire is not redeemed that easily. It’s important that even our beloved characters have flaws.
I included this scene because we all felt that Brianna must have sensed that there was something off—under all the civility between her parents, there was turbulence. How could she not? Claire is finally honest with her. Brianna, like any child, takes on the guilt. She’s worried about her part in it, realizing how (though unintentional) her very presence caused pain for both her parents.
In Dragonfly in Amber, Claire tells Brianna that she hated Brianna before she was born. Though Claire does tell Brianna that she stopped hating her as soon as she was born, I felt it’s hard to come back from that—telling your child you hate them. It works in the book, we forgive Claire. But I guess something in me stopped short about seeing her actually say these words to her daughter on screen.
We all agreed in the writers’ room that the only way we could tell this story is to show that Claire would not leave Brianna without Brianna’s blessing. Claire has sacrificed for 20 years. Is it enough? Is it her turn? We debated this quite a lot. Maril had strong opinions on this one. We had many conversations. She’s often in the writers’ room and we consider her an honorary writer! Her thoughts are always deeply insightful and she brings a valuable perspective to the table.
The moon orbit also inspired having the episode take place during Christmas because I wanted to use this broadcast and it was on December 24, 1968. This was also why we made sure that it was Day 3 in the slugline, a day after the Dark Shadows episode on the 23rd.
Loved the metaphor of Claire and the moon. The moon landing is in Drums of Autumn but I liked using the Apollo 8 moon orbit here. It was the perfect way to illustrate that Claire had been on an incredible journey—much like the astronauts had, and how it’s impossible to return to life as you know it, once you’ve done something as incredible as that.
Felt it was important for Claire not to just take the yes and run—but for Claire to really kick the tires on this and make sure Brianna knows it’s permanent. And not like an elevator! ;)
Brianna’s line is really key here: “You gave Jamie up for me, now I give him back to you.” In 213, we saw Brianna really give her mom a hard time about Frank and Jamie, and so we wanted to be sure we had a softer, redeeming moment in this episode, when Brianna realizes just how much her mother (and Jamie) sacrificed for her. And she’s able to be generous in this moment.
Caitriona and Sophie were wonderful together in this scene.
We loved showing Claire’s vulnerability here. Especially since Caitriona Balfe is stunningly gorgeous! Anyone would be nervous to see an old flame and it’s sweet how Claire’s a bit worried if she looks all right.
The inclusion of the flashlight—couldn’t resist a little witch trial humor. 😀
Since Claire found Geillis’s grimoire in 213, instead of Fiona in Drums of Autumn, our characters already know about the power that gemstones have to aid travel through the stones.
Terry came up with designing a dress with secret pockets to carry stuff—thus the “bat-suit.” It was Ron’s idea to include the Batman theme song!
Claire stole penicillin from the hospital, now she’s nicking her daughter’s clothes! Sheesh!
More whisky! Had to get the toast in there—after all, it’s how she found Jamie.
I didn’t realize this at the time, but someone astutely observed that this episode was a mirror of the episode “Faith” as both show Claire’s struggle to say goodbye to a daughter.
My assistant Sheena, who is a huge fan of the books, actually brought up the Christmas Carol moment to me from Drums of Autumn. I thought it was a poignant, intimate way to end the story between Roger and Brianna. He’s so in love with Brianna that he remembered what Claire mentioned in an offhand comment. We always thought about this moment as Brianna and Roger taking their first steps as a couple together. Brianna no longer has the old traditions of her parents, but she can make new ones with Roger. He cared enough about her to revive a little piece of her treasured past.
We talked a lot about whether to do another scene at the standing stones, but since we’d seen that a few times already, something more creative was in order.
I stole this and adapted it from the prologue of Voyager—and used it to evoke Claire’s journey back to the past. I wanted to bring the metaphor to life by creating the transition of Claire stepping from the airport cab and into a puddle in the 18th century.
We talked a lot about where to end this episode. We didn’t want to do the cliché of cutting to black as Claire walked in the door—so we took it to the Jamie faint. Matt Roberts has something very creative and cool up his sleeve for next week, so stay tuned. You’ve been waiting a long time for this and you won’t be disappointed!
“The Boston Streets were filmed on location in Glasgow. The brown stone of these properties was a great color match for Boston and the steps at the front of the houses added to the look. Combined with American period cars and signage, the location worked really well.”
-Hugh Gourlay, Supervising Location Manager
“For the exterior of Claire and Frank’s home in Boston, the production used a street in Glasgow. It had a similar red stone and architectural style to what it was felt one might find in Boston. As well as feeling like Boston, we needed to see this street go through cosmetic changes over multiple episodes as the story progressed through 20 years
As well as the obvious changes in period automobiles used on the street, an amount of the immediate vicinity could be very effectively dressed by the Art Department for the various periods we needed to cover. For wider establisher shots, visual effects were needed to make changes deeper in the distance and higher into the air, for example adding telegraph poles to replace modern streetlights. Initially there was a great deal of discussion as to what exactly tells a view that the cityscape is Boston and we gradually moved towards echoing the characteristic look of red buildings with white detailing and many church spires, without consciously putting in specific recognizable landmarks.
By limiting the amount of camera movement (and parallax this would introduce) we were able to efficiently build a majority of what we added as 2D elements, created from extensive photographic reference, that we could then place in 3D space for a convincing illusion.”
Richard Briscoe, VFX Supervisor
“We were scouting for just the right place to play Harvard (in Scotland). There are many beautiful buildings in the country but we look for something that will visually jump out at us—and the cloisters at Glasgow University did. Now we know real Harvard doesn’t have cloisters—but this isn’t the real Harvard now is it?”
-Matthew B. Roberts, Executive Producer
“Working with Terry, we had racks of clothes, and I felt like I was in the best vintage store ever, which was really fun…The sixties is one of my favorite eras. What I love about Claire is that, you know, she’s a professional woman. She’s stylish without being a victim to the fashion of the time. She’s within the period, but it feels very real and it feels very lived in. It’s not a magazine versions of the sixties. Terry loves finding very practical character based looks.
We have some beautiful pieces. There’s a beautiful coat dress that echoes some of my more equestrian-style outfits from Paris. It’s kind of nice that there’s always shades of who Claire is in any century, throughout her wardrobe.”
-Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser)
“As apartment goes from 1958 to 1968, you have to make choices. When did they buy a new refrigerator? When did they repaint the hall? When did they change the sofa? It’s a domestic home, so, you’re going see everything in there that you would see in a domestic home in 1968. The differences are, of course, is it a black and white TV? Or is it color TV? We make a choice. We said actually, by now, even though there was a moon landing that was broadcast in black and white, this time color, had come in.
The research is always fascinating for us and it’s always something that the departments go into with great depth and with great tenacity to make those choices. So, they’ll be everything you’d expect in a domestic home. But it’s the quality of them and what period of time we are. What new technologies have come about? Was there a new refrigerator that’d come in, which didn’t have a big lump of vibrating steel on the top of it, but it was more integrated and maybe had an ice box? Our wonderful departments really give us the crisp delineation of the period and are evocative for the audience.”
–David Brown, Producer