Dive deeper into this episode with exclusive sketches, production designs, and fun facts delivered directly from the Outlander crew.
This was the only scene of the episode to be shot in Scotland (the rest of the episode was shot in Cape Town, South Africa). Specifically, it was shot at the harbour in Dunure and through the magic of television (that is, Richard Briscoe and his visual effects team) made to look like a working 18th century harbour.
As anyone who has read one of Diana’s books knows…they are chock full. And Voyager is no different. However, we only have thirteen episodes to tell the entirety of the story, so alas…things must get cut. In this case, we omitted the section of Jamie and Claire traveling to France, visiting Mother Hildegarde and Faith’s grave (lovely and emotional as it was—plus they had already visited Faith’s grave in Ep. 207, something that did not take place in the book) and meeting Mayer Rothschild. But we still wanted to connect Jamie with Cousin Jared as a way to get Claire and Jamie on their sea voyage, so we brought Jared to Scotland.
In the book, the Bruja’s homeport is Bridgetown, Barbados, but for our purposes, we made it Jamaica as a way to streamline the story and do less island hopping.
In the book, Jamie brings along Fergus, Willoughby and six of his smugglers —and only one, Duncan Innes, is from Ardsmuir. Since we met Lesley and Hayes in Ardsmuir and then again in Edinburgh all those years later, we thought it would be fun to bring them along on this journey (though less fun for Hayes who—spoiler alert—doesn't have the best time on the Artemis).
Our first time on the ships! We used the old Black Sails ships, sets and many of their awesome crew in Cape Town. We had heard of stories of other productions where the cast/crew would get seasick while shooting on the ships as they were rocked back and forth, but fortunately, our cast/crew seemed to survive just fine (maybe Willoughby performed acupuncture on them?)! Huge thanks to Luke Schelhaas who was the on-set writer/producer and David Moore, our director.
One of the biggest production challenges of this (very long) scene was matching the wind. In Scotland, they say if you don’t like the weather wait five minutes. In Cape Town, the sun was almost always shining, but the wind would come up and die down multiple times a shot. So, some parts of the scene may look like they’re in a gale, and others look like the doldrums (which we’ll get to later!). Any shot with a flag (on a vessel, an ensign) was especially tricky
Turns out sailors are a superstitious bunch. One of the most common superstitions is that if you don’t touch the iron horseshoe on the ship, you’re in for an arduous journey. In the book, there was a subplot of someone from Jamie’s crew trying to kill or betray him. However, we’ve changed that character’s storyline in the show, so we dropped that in order to make more out of the superstitions of the time (many that live on today) with the story of Hayes being labeled the Jonah and taking the blame for all that went wrong during this voyage.
At one point in Episode 308 we had a scene between Fergus and Claire where Fergus told her about a lassie he had fallen for, but without mentioning said lassie’s name. But that scene ended up getting cut, so in this moment it’s a huge surprise to both Claire and Jamie that Fergus even has a lassie, much less that it’s Marsali—Laoghaire’s daughter (side note: We spent the better portion of Season 3 pronouncing Marsali, Mar-sa-lee—only to later learn that it’s pronounced as if it rhymes with parsley)!
This was one of my favorite scenes in this section of the book and one of my favorites in this episode, but unfortunately, as sometimes happens, things get cut in the editing process. And this is one that—for no reason other than the show was running long—ended up on the cutting room floor.
Book readers will know about Willoughby’s pelican Ping An. And for a long time, he existed in this script, which is why Willoughby is bartering for an egg—to feed Ping An (Fun fact: pelicans can and sometimes do eat eggs, something our awesome researcher, Emily Eslami, discovered for us). But in the end, Ping An was not meant to be as we were already pushing our visual effects budget to the limit with all of the above-board ship scenes. But the egg lived… at least until the scene got cut.
My first writer’s draft has this prose line in it and I assumed that through the rewriting/editing process it would get cut—especially when we have to look for trims. It’s just a prose line, nothing you’ll ever see on screen, but I liked it and was happy that it lived through the final draft (despite the scene being cut for length in the final edit).
A two-line establishing shot of a ship at sea is no easy thing when you’re shooting on a backlot. A lot of time (and money) was spent to get these to look just right—giving the audience a real sense that Claire and Jamie are traveling through a vast ocean. Without the magic of visual effects, you would’ve seen wineries, highways, telephone poles and forklifts!
Our Director of Photography, Michael Swan, and his crew did a great job with all of the green screen and blue screen work. They had all been on Black Sails and knew exactly how to light the ships and the below decks to give us the great look that was achieved.
The idea of Raines quoting Hamlet was an idea that came up in prep. It became part of Raines’ character—and the idea that Claire could keep up with him (and always knew the reference) was a nice way of showing her character, too.
This scene was added as we built up the superstition story of the episode as a way to establish Captain Raines’ views on the matter along with his opinion of Claire and her place aboard the ship.
In the book Willoughby says “testicles,” but the question came up as to whether this was period appropriate. We have a wonderful dialect coach who works with us, Carol Ann Crawford, and I had the pleasure of asking her for alternative period appropriate words for testicles. She was delighted with the task and came back with such gems as: tallywags, twiddle-diddles and whirlygigs. In the end, we figured “testicles” was the best. All in a day’s work.
In the book, Claire and Willoughby team up to convince Jamie to let Willoughby try acupuncture on him, but we liked the idea of Jamie being open to it, but wanting to do it behind Claire’s back as a way to preserve her feelings. Off Episode 307, Jamie knows that Claire’s maybe a wee bit sensitive to things when it comes to caring for Jamie.
We always referred to this as the “man in the moon,” scene in the writers’ room, but as the scene took shape, once Brianna was brought up, it seemed like a logical place Claire’s mind would go to is the children’s classic Goodnight Moon. I’ve read it to my kids dozens and dozens of times and was happy to see that it was published in 1947, so it was definitely something Claire could have read to baby Brianna.
In the book, it was a cask of horsemeat that had gone bad. But we realized that without fresh water, things were more dire and likely to turn up the heat on finding the Jonah (and thus, on Hayes). And besides, it’s much more pleasant on set to be dealing with water than horsemeat (or its TV substitute!).
And on the day, production put sandbags around the set and actually flooded it with water!
Once the Artemis was in the doldrums, shooting scenes outside became a real challenge. Here we have a six and a half page scene that is meant to be wind-free. And we’re shooting outside at the beginning of the windy season in South Africa. Good luck, us! 😀 This was to be shot over the course of two days, and it took every minute of both days—along with some additional partial days on a separate mast section that was closer to the ground. There was a lot of stunt work done at the top of our actual ship’s mast by our actual actors.
We always really loved Willoughby’s monologue from the book and wanted to preserve as much of it as made sense in our story—and fortunately, we got a lot of it! In our version, we liked tying it to the Hayes storyline and giving Willoughby the win. And in doing so, not only does he do a solid for Hayes, but he also proves to the men on the ship who might be reticent to trust him as an “outsider,” that he—like them—is just a man who wants to taste apricot-flavored breasts. ;)
When I read this part of the book, it was so vivid to me that I initially had a fever-dream of being able to shoot a whole Willoughby flashback of him fleeing during the night of the lanterns. So much so that I even looked online to see if Cape Town had a Chinatown. And while they technically do… it’s less compelling if Willoughby is fleeing a Cape Town shopping mall (even one re-dressed to look like an 18th century shopping mall!). Gary Young did a terrific job with Willoughby’s monologue.
Originally, these scenes were two shots of Claire making her way over to the Porpoise via the longboat in which we heard (via voiceover) her recite a good portion of the Hippocratic Oath. But, in the end, it would’ve been a bear to shoot, so it ended up getting cut. There are a few times in the series where the Oath comes up, which is a nice reminder to Jamie that the woman who came back to him is now a doctor who takes her responsibility as a physician very seriously.
The on-set writer/producer, Luke Schelhaas, had the privilege of—among other things—making this action line a reality. Thus, multiple conversations about how much barf and poop there should be in the sick bay. Not to mention rats, rashes and sloppy water. You’re welcome, Luke! 😀
“Not his first BBQ” and “Not his first rodeo” are pretty much interchangeable in my life, but I went with the former as a tip of the hat to Matt and Toni who—in 213—had Roger say the line, “It smells like a fucking barbecue.”
“The boats we had in South Africa, including the Artemis which has been specifically built for our show, were really remarkable, especially on day one when I first got to go onboard. It was just sitting out there, all the rigging was down, and the sails were open and the wind was blowing. It really transports you to being on an 18th century ship. We have a whole crew that actually knows how to rig the ships and we have men that can climb up and down to the crow’s nest, and I was very fortunate to get to do some of that as well.”
Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser)
“We had three ships that were here from Black Sails, and then the Artemis was made for us. Terry, our rigger, brought in his men and we used them as extras, and they can really sail the ship. The nice thing about the Artemis is that it actually moves, it’s not in a fixed position. It drives. It has wheels. We can put it in the lagoon. Just knowing we can do that makes it much more real. It’s on a gimbal so it can move 10 degrees this way, 10 degrees that way. During a take, we found that doing this really helps the actors walk from one side to the other, without acting like they’re doing it. It just brings so much reality to the show. Then, with the special effects, and all the water thrown on it, you won’t even know that you’re not on the high seas.”
–Matthew B. Roberts, Executive Producer/Writer
“Notoriously, Jamie Fraser is pretty good at most things, but he’s not good at closing one eye, and he’s not good at being on boats. He gets very seasick. Jamie keeps the fact that he’s actually been treated for seasickness by Mr. Willoughby through a series of acupuncture from Claire, who’s been making Jamie all kinds of remedies that she thinks are actually working and curing him. He didn’t want to rock the boat, so to speak. We have a fantastic prosthetics department and makeup department, and they applied these acupuncture needles, which are very different from modern day acupuncture—they’re thicker and longer. Each needle could be taken in and out, and I think Gary who plays Mr. Willoughby enjoyed that part of the process.”
–Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser)