Episode 408

WILMINGTON

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

INSIDE THE SCRIPT:
WILMINGTON

See what the crew says about your favorite scenes.

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Luke Schelhaas Annotation

The episode originally began with Brianna and Lizzie walking down the Wilmington thoroughfare, having been here for a few days and now planning to leave, but as we got closer to production, we decided to start with Roger searching for Brianna. We decided it would give the opening more tension: Will he or won’t he find Brianna in this bustling little town? Is she even here? We also wanted to see Roger pause in his searching, torn between looking for the love of his life and relishing the fact of being in the past. He is a historian after all and would be eating this up were it not for the urgency of his mission.

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Though we couldn’t see the Jamie-and-Claire obituary here in the past (it hasn’t been written yet), it was fun to meet the man who will one day print it and smudge the date—and to have Roger give him a little annoyed look. After all, it’s thanks to this man, at least in part, that Roger is here, chasing after Brianna.

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We loved the moment where Roger bumps into Fergus and asks if he’s seen Brianna. The irony that these two don’t know each other, and Fergus doesn’t know Brianna, and if they did, all the dominoes of the episode might have fallen differently, was just too hard to resist.

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Luke Schelhaas Annotation

The cross with Fergus also gave us a nice way to hand off the story to Jamie and Claire—to reveal that they are also here in Wilmington. We hoped the audience would be on the edge of their seat waiting, hoping, for Roger and Claire and Brianna and Jamie to connect and fearing that it will be a missed connection. By the way, the decision to call the episode “Wilmington,” admittedly a simple title, was our way of admitting up front that the entire story was going to take place there, that various characters and stories would converge (or almost converge) in this one little town.

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When you consider how long and how far Jamie and Claire would have had to travel to get to Wilmington from Fraser’s Ridge, we felt we needed a pretty good reason for them to come. Being summoned by Tryon gave us our excuse and helped us keep alive the threat of the “deal with the devil” that Jamie has made with the governor.

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The little scene between Claire and Marsali is so sweet and both Caitriona and Lauren did such a great job—a neat little peak into these characters’ growing relationship.

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And now, rather than seeing Brianna and Lizzie on their own, we get to play that reveal through Roger’s eyes—a more visceral moment for both characters.

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This was a tricky sequence of scenes. Roger has to say and do enough to make Lizzie suspicious and distrustful of him, but we felt like the first words out of his mouth wouldn’t be angry—they would be relieved and joyous. So we had Lizzie stay upstairs while Roger and Bree had their initial meeting and come downstairs only in time to see them start to argue. In the end, we played nearly all of the suspicion on Lizzie’s face as she watched them through the window. An argument like that—a man and a woman being physical in public at this time—the way Roger practically drags her out and grabs her roughly, “manhandling her,” would have stood out. It definitely would have given someone like Lizzie the wrong idea, that Roger was, at best, not a gentleman, and at worst, a dangerous, even villainous man.

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Another trick was to take this scene through a lot of emotional territory: the surprise and confused relief of reuniting; the subtle anger; the explanation of why they both did what they did (especially the details of how Brianna discovered the obituary on her own); and finally the joy of being in each other’s company, and the professions of love—something we’ve been waiting for for a long time. Some of this dialogue was trimmed in editing. It was ultimately decided there was a lot of explanation that we could do without, since the audience already knows it. Roger’s line about “Alice in Wonderland” was included as a callback to the title of the previous episode “Down the Rabbit Hole,” because it’s a metaphor for Brianna’s adventure.

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I love this moment of Roger thinking she was rejecting him again, but realizing she is literally proposing marriage. The sweetness of his “I don’t have a ring.” The fact that she used the gemstone in the bracelet he gave her to get through the stones. I think Sophie and Richard played all of this beautifully. It’s a really sweet scene. And it’s so funny when she cuts him off with “Let’s do it.” His reaction to that… that smile… so great.

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So glad to get Tim Downie back for another episode as Governor Tryon. What Tryon says here—that the play was written by a native son of Wilmington—is totally true. The play is in fact the first play written by a Colonial American and produced in the colonies. It was written by Thomas Godfrey, a resident of Wilmington, and presented in Philadelphia on April 24, 1767. Our little addition is that it was perhaps presented in Wilmington as well (though we don’t know this for a fact). The discovery of this actual play, called “The Prince of Parthia,” was a fun little detail for us.

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It was a lot of fun to play Edmund Fanning (like Tryon, a real historical figure) with a hernia. The story Fanning tells about injuring himself is based on historical fact. We don’t know that he ever got a hernia trying to appease the Regulators, but we do know that he brought them booze down by a riverside in a desperate attempt to quell violence.

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Early on, one of our writers had the idea to introduce George Washington, to have Claire meet him and be gobsmacked by someone so familiar to her from the pages of history. It was fun for us to imagine what George Washington looked and sounded like, what he would say to a crowd of high society people gathered for a play, and of course, what Claire would say in return. This scene was a lot of fun to write and produce.

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As always, in the editing room, we found ourselves running long and something had to get cut. Unfortunately, George Washington’s funny—and historically real—anecdote about his dying words (delivered with humor and grace by Simon Harrison) was one of those things. Almost always, the first things to get cut are the things that don’t absolutely push the story forward. There’s a phrase I’m sure everyone has heard: “killing your darlings.” This story that Washington tells is one of those darlings. We were sad to see it get cut.

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There was a lot of debate about what Claire would say or let slip. Some people thought the “cherry tree” line was too much of a cliché, too obvious, but the fact that it’s a cliché and obvious is the reason we finally went with it! It’s the one thing someone from Claire’s era would have mentioned to George Washington if given the chance. Plus, it’s funny, as is her scramble to explain the comment as just something someone would have done as a kid…

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What especially rang true for us here is Claire’s bittersweet comment that Brianna would have loved to meet George Washington. Claire wasn’t raised in America, but Brianna was. Brianna went to American schools and learned all about this man. Also, moms have a tendency to think of their children in moments like this, wishing to share an experience with their kids.

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We were so glad to get the opportunity to show a handfasting ceremony. Last season, we heard that Fergus and Marsali were handfast, and we learned what that meant, but we didn’t get to see it. Finally we do. And I think this is a lovely, moving scene, played beautifully by both of these actors.

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This theater is actually a church sanctuary.

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We love when we can use Shakespeare quotes—we love the fact that Shakespeare’s plays were old already in the 18th century—but still popular.

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And here we realize that there is a third person converging on Wilmington in this story: Murtagh. It was fun to put Jamie between a rock and a hard place. Right when Tryon tells him that Murtagh is in danger of arrest and eventual hanging, the players come on stage and Jamie is stuck watching the performance!

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Much of this love scene is taken from the book. This is the lovemaking that Brianna wanted back at the Scottish festival. Finally, she and Roger are together.

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“The Prince of Parthia” was such a cool find. The language of the actual play is a little stilted of course, due to the era. Fifty bucks to anyone who can explain to me what it’s about. One really fun thing we discovered about the theater of this time was how the audience would both heckle and praise the players out loud and how the players would often pause in their delivery of a line to heckle the audience right back! That was the expected thing, and part of the fun. The repartee in these scenes was fun to stage. We actually hired a local theater director to direct and stage these portions of the play. Right before rehearsals began, we scripted the audience banter as well. Our researcher also discovered some interesting details about the acting style of the day, so we brought that specificity to the directing of this “play within a play.”

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And now we finally see Murtagh. We brought part of this scene up in the editing of the episode, introducing Murtagh a little sooner than we had originally scripted it.

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It’s always fun to call back to earlier moments in the script. Jamie remembers what Claire said about Fanning needing a surgeon if his pain got worse and thinks of a means of escape, a way for him to get out of his jam and go help Murtagh. So he elbows Fanning in his side and interrupts the play. Nice move, Jamie.

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Love how Sam plays the moment of worrying that he might have killed or seriously injured Fanning with his desperate act, but Claire’s assurance that he may have actually saved Fanning by forcing her to operate sets his mind at ease.

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The hernia surgery here is of course inspired by the one Claire performs on John Quincy Meyers at River Run in the book. We weren’t able to make room for it in Episode 402 but realized it would fit perfectly here. We wanted to stay true to the book—Claire impresses a large crowd with a somewhat scandalous surgery, succeeding to great applause. Letting the surgery interrupt the play seemed like the ticket (no pun intended ;)

Even though it’s in a different place and time than in the book, the surgery works here as a fun, character-driven plot device. As in the book, it provides a means of escape for Jamie, though obviously under very different circumstances. Hopefully it’s just gross enough, and funny enough, and tense enough to be really memorable.

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George Washington helped Jamie Fraser save Murtagh. Who knew?!

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Love Tryon in this scene. It’s great when we can bring in a bit of humor, even in a tense and serious moment. The surgeon who arrives and suggests (literally) that Claire should have blown smoke up the patient’s rear is one of our favorite moments in the episode. That’s actually how they treated hernias back then (or at least one of the ways).

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The mislead of Jamie showing back up at the theater was fun. Why is he here? Why isn’t he warning Murtagh? Did he fail?

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Fergus to the rescue! I love this moment between Fergus and Murtagh at the end of the scene—a moving reunion for two people who haven’t seen each other in more than 20 years.

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We subtly changed what Roger says to get caught in his lie. The fight between Roger and Brianna was fun to write and shoot but it was another challenging one. They have to say enough—and get angry enough—to make Roger walk away and not come back. We didn’t think it could be solely about Roger keeping the obituary from Brianna. The inclusion of Fiona in those earlier episodes—the fact that Roger discussed all of this with Fiona but not with Brianna—helped. Even then… a few more hurtful phrases seemed necessary. And yet the audience has to love them and want them to be together. Hopefully this scene is just plain devastating and real and heartbreaking.

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It’s a little-known fact that Governor Tryon, in real history, took part in a bungled plot to kidnap George Washington near the start of the American Revolution. Playing into that actual history here was a lot of fun. Is this the moment that made Tryon hate Washington?

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Hello again, Stephen Bonnet. I love the creepy charm in how Ed Speleers plays this character. And yet what a horrible event takes place in this scene… or is about to…

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We spent a lot of time talking about how/when to play Brianna’s rape. In the book, the moment is told in flashback, much later in the story. We felt, dramatically, that it would be better to play it in real time, within the episode, giving the actor a chance to play the layers of emotion in subsequent episodes. It’s such a central moment to Brianna’s journey in this and other books… but it was hard to write, and film, and watch. In the end, we chose to play most of her assault off screen—we didn’t think the audience needed to see the rape to realize the horror of it. There is horror in seeing that all these people out in the bar know exactly what’s going on in the back room and do nothing about it. The fact that rape was so ubiquitous back then, that it doesn’t cause any concern, and people just go about their business…

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Most of these Bonnet lines are from the book. Devastating stuff.

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The moment with the boots, taken essentially from the book, seemed like such a touching, awful, affecting, lonely way to end this tragic episode.

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Here you see the exact scenes (and lines) of the play that we staged. We use an appendix when there is a sequence that we can’t put into the body of the script, because it’s too long, and will affect the page count for production purposes. It makes the script seem longer than it is, because the entire text won’t be used in the final edit—only bits here and there since it will play in the background, underneath other dialogue—so segments like this are relegated to the appendix. Plus, that way, the actors can learn it as a separate piece on its own. 

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Set Design:
Fergus and Marsali's Rented Rooms

Set Design:
The Wilmington Theatre Scene

A fun set for texture this season was the design of the theatre in Wilmington. This allowed production to make something much more opulent in design that many other sets this season. They used an old church in Glasgow and, in 48 hours, gave it a total overhaul in terms of the dressing, building a huge proscenium arch with lots of rich red velvets and a huge gilded candelabra. Everything was still all candlelit at that time, so going to the theatre in the 18th century would have been quite an event. The set was very elaborate and the play that was put on was historically true.

Costume Design:
George Washington

He doesn’t appear in the books, but producers thought it would be fun to introduce his character as a chance meeting for Jamie and Claire in the show. For Claire Fraser, it is like meeting a movie star and she is scripted to be a little goofy in her questions for him.

Costume Design:
Theatre Actors

Costume Design:
Theatergoers

EXPLORE
  • INTRO
    WILMINGTON
  • INSIDE
    THE SCRIPT
  • Set Design:
    Fergus and Marsali's Rented Rooms
  • Set Design:
    The Wilmington Theatre Scene
  • Costume Design:
    George Washington
  • Costume Design:
    Theatre Actors
  • Costume Design:
    Theatergoers