Episode 312

THE BAKRA

Dive deeper into this episode with exclusive sketches, production designs, and fun facts delivered directly from the Outlander crew.

INSIDE THE SCRIPT:
THE BAKRA

See what the crew says about your favorite scenes.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

One of our researchers discovered this word in Jamaican Patois—“bakra.” It was a word slaves used, to refer to their masters or overseers, meaning roughly “boss.”

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

And with the very first scene, we hint that this Bakra is going to be all over this episode—a feared entity. Is the Bakra a man? A woman? A monster?

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

You’ll notice a repeated phrase here—that the Bakra likes young boys. In this instance, we establish that the Bakra is a “she.” However, we never intended to have that phrase said in both scenes. In rewrites, and even as late as post production, we were reshaping how this Young Ian story played out…taking a line that had been in one scene and placing it instead in another. If you’ve watched the episode, you’ll notice that we initially intended to spread the Young Ian scenes out over the course of the episode, intercutting them with Jamie and Claire’s story. But in post production, we decided to put all of Young Ian’s scenes at the top of the episode. The primary reason for this was to get the biggest impact out of revealing who the Bakra actually is. It also gave the episode great drive right off the top. It was tricky—and fun—editing.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

Had to get a lot of info out in this scene and find an elegant way of setting up “The Governor’s Ball,” which readers of the books will know well.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

The slave market. Much of this is taken directly from the book, but in the book, Jamie and Claire go to the slave market on Barbados. Barbados was their initial destination in the book, as it was the Bruja’s home port. But early in the story-breaking process, we decided we couldn’t go to Hispaniola and Barbados and Jamaica. Too many islands to get to in the last three episodes of the season. So we made Jamaica the home port of the Bruja and took what had been set on Barbados—the initial search for Young Ian, the slave market, the first clues about where Young Ian might be—and we combined these events with the events on Jamaica.

In fact, we did a lot of “combining” of elements in this section. In the book, the Governor’s Ball stands a bit apart from the search for Young Ian, but we realized we needed Jamie and Claire’s decision to attend the Governor’s ball to be tied directly to their search for their nephew—otherwise, why would they pause their search to enjoy a party? A solution was arrived at in the room: the other slaves on board the Bruja might have been sold to the governor’s household. That gave Jamie and Claire a reason to attend the ball: to get information. Handily, the MacIvers, who are present in the book as well as the series, had already extended an invitation.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

Loved how Caitriona played this scene—the horror, and offense, the sadness that Claire is feeling in this moment.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

And here we come back to Young Ian’s story. Much of what happens to Ian in this episode, though not everything, comes directly from the book. But in the book, we didn’t “see” it happening to him. Rather, he tells Jamie about it once he’s been rescued. That’s a wonderful way of telling the story—but we felt intuitively that we should see what he went through and not tell the story in flashback. So we see the pit Young Ian was held in, we see the other boys who were with him, we hear about the Bakra (in the book, she is simply known as Mrs. Abernathy), and the awful fear these kids have of this entity who rules their lives…

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

As mentioned, in post production we scrambled all of these Young Ian and Geillis scenes around to tell the story differently. In the offing, about half of scene 12 was left on the cutting room floor (though elements of that first half are implied in this episode’s title card).

The second half of the scene was placed a bit later in the episode. It all worked seamlessly I think. That’s the magic of editing. You know, it’s a cliché, but it’s true—when making a TV episode or a movie, you inevitably tell the story three different times: when you write it, when you shoot it, and when you edit it. The story changes through every part of the process. The final story really isn’t decided on until the last day of editing…and even then, after you lock picture, you can still change some of the words. I’m very, very happy with the way this story was finally told.

I love the complexity of Geillis’s character. She’s downright evil, and yet her love for Dougal was very real. I love Lotte’s performance in this scene.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

My favorite scene of the episode. John Bell is so good. Lotte Verbeek is so good. A lot of this scene comes from the book, including the “truth tea” —things Young Ian tells Jamie after he’s been rescued. But some of it—the stuff about the sapphire for example—we invented. And the blood bath—wow. That was a late addition to the scene. The scene had been written for weeks, and shortly before shooting, we had the idea to amplify Young Ian’s horror—and teenage hormones—by showing Geillis climbing out of a bathtub full of blood. What’s amazing is that the dialogue that had been written weeks before did not have to change at all.

It was this moment—the leg rising out of the blood, the reveal of Geillis as she stands up out of the tub—that made us want to rearrange the Young Ian scenes. We knew intuitively upon watching the initial cut that this had to be the moment we first see Geillis in the episode.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

When breaking this episode, we took a number of elements—John Grey and Jamie’s reunion, Temeraire, the search for Young Ian, Claire’s reunion with Geillis, Archie and Margaret Campbell, the prophecy, the Silkie Treasure, the sapphire Jamie gave John Grey, Archie’s suspicion of Mr. Willoughby, and the revelation of Ian’s whereabouts—and put them all into one extended sequence. Great fun to write.

We were of course forced to make the hard decision of what not to include: the fiend, the murder of Mina Alcott, etc.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

Mr. Willoughby and Margaret Campbell’s blossoming relationship was something we came up with in the room to take the place of “the fiend” thread; a way of wrapping up Willoughby’s story this season. Readers of the books will know what I mean by “the fiend.”

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

Some viewers wondered, two weeks ago, why John Grey wasn’t on the Porpoise. This was another hard decision. The problem was that in fact two people from Claire and Jamie’s past were set to appear on the ship—milky-eyed Tompkins from the print shop fire and John Grey. There was a danger of it seeming convenient that both of these people were on the same ship in the same episode—often what totally works in book form doesn’t quite work when you see it on a TV screen. So we pushed John Grey’s reveal to the very moment Jamie and Claire see him here at the Governor’s Ball. The problem was that even here, two people from Jamie and Claire’s past appear in the same episode—John Grey and Geillis. In the balance, it seemed best to reveal John Grey here—allowing Jamie to see him without first being warned by Claire that he would be there.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

As a point of interest, all of the interior Governor’s Ball scenes were filmed in Scotland, a month or more before the rest of the episode, which was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

The sapphire. We saw an opportunity here to reintroduce the sapphire from Silkie Island—and to create a slightly different back story as to why Geillis wants the Silkie Treasure. Could it be that what she needs to complete her mission is the very thing Jamie took from the island and gave to John? Could that play into the Brahan Seer’s prophecy? We thought that would be cool.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

Love the tension between John Grey and Claire here. And I love the moment of Claire seeing Geillis. “I believe I’ve seen a ghost.”

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…” It’s absolutely amazing to have these two back together again.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

Geillis is so wonderfully strange. And John Grey’s first impression of her is priceless.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

The prophecy. We came up with a different sort of prophecy here—not about the line of Lovat, but about a 200-year-old baby. I wrote the prophecy/vision that Margaret Campbell has in this scene. There was a second (alt) version early on as well—which we never filmed. It went like this…

A Scottish head will wear a crown
When child’s blood lies on the ground
Which is in age two hundred years
Upon the birthday of its peers

“What a peculiar pastime!” It’s my favorite line in the episode, and I didn’t even write it. It was something they came up with on set in Scotland. When I watched the dailies back in LA, it caught me by surprise and absolutely cracked me up.

Mark Hadfield and Alison Pargeter, who play Archie and Margaret, are so wonderful in this scene. So many layers to these characters—and “munificent” is now one of my favorite words.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

It was fun to give Geillis some modern references (e.g. Benjamin Button) that leave others confused when she says them. I think it’s an interesting aspect of her character—she has no fear of being found out.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

Lovely little scene for Willoughby and Margaret.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

Charlie Hiett (Captain Leonard) and Thapelo J. Sebogodi (Temeraire) were both fantastic in this episode.

Luke Schelhaas Annotation

There were a lot of different versions of this scene. How to set Temeraire free… I think we landed on a great version in the end. In one iteration of the script, this was the last scene of the episode and it wasn’t until this moment that Jamie and Claire learned of Ian’s whereabouts. That used to be the cliffhanger—the knowledge that Geillis had Ian. But we ultimately felt we needed more. Ron pitched the idea of Jamie’s arrest at the hands of Captain Leonard, and suddenly we had an even better cliffhanger for the penultimate episode of the season—Jamie arrested, Claire alone in the woods, and Ian’s fate hanging in the balance.

CONCEPT ART:
ROSE HALL

CLOSER LOOK:
SHOOTING THE GOVERNORS BALL

EXPLORE
  • INTRO
    THE BAKRA
  • INSIDE
    THE SCRIPT
  • CONCEPT ART:
    ROSE HALL
  • CLOSER LOOK:
    SHOOTING THE GOVERNORS BALL