Dive deeper into this episode with exclusive sketches, production designs, and fun facts delivered directly from the Outlander crew.
The title “The Birds & The Bees” is of course a play on the famous phrase, because not only do Claire and her daughter have an awkward talk about sex in the episode, but obviously bees play a large part—Brianna’s bee hunt with Jamie as father and daughter get to know each other, and Brianna’s discovery of a nest of baby birds sparks her to talk to her mother about her newly-realized pregnancy.
We wanted a direct pick-up from the sexual assault that occurred downstairs only moments earlier as Brianna arrives back to her room. Lizzie is worried about her mistress, and as Lizzie realizes that Brianna has been attacked, the important thing for the story here is that we needed to strengthen the fact that Lizzie believes the attacker to be Roger. When Lizzie says, “Were you with that man?” it highlights that Lizzie believes him to be the man that she saw handling Brianna roughly earlier that day in Episode 408. To justify Lizzie’s misidentification of Roger as the rapist, we needed to make Lizzie a witness to the aftermath of this crime and show that she is extremely disturbed seeing the violence that was done to a person she cares about.
We wanted to show that Roger, having cooled off from his argument with Brianna the night before, is now coming to find her. We sought to construct a near-miss, to show that had he not been sidetracked by Bonnet, Roger would have found and perhaps apologized to Brianna. We had planted in Episode 407 that Bonnet tells Roger he’s sailing to Philadelphia with multiple stops, including Wilmington. This was a way to give Bonnet a reason to strong-arm Roger to finish the journey that he had contracted for and interrupt his reconciliation with Brianna.
So here, Brianna gets her hopes up when she learns Roger did indeed come by the tavern, but her hopes are quickly dashed when she learns that he left for the ship. Even though these two lovers were on the heels of a large fight, this was our way of letting the audience know that the couple still cared about each other and were hoping to patch things up… but…
Brianna is confused and devastated to learn that Roger actually left on the ship, and we have a call-back to the bracelet that he gave her. As she reads the inscription, “I love you. A little. A lot. Not at all…,” she worries that he must not love her.
As we learned in the last episode, unbeknownst to Brianna, her parents were actually in the same town as she is, yet they’re staying with Fergus and Marsali, thus sadly Bree has not crossed paths with them. She is planning to go to Fraser’s Ridge via River Run when she gets the news from Lizzie that her parents are nearby. We added the line where Lizzie tells the story of the “lady surgeon” who healed someone at the theater last night, which is a reference to the hernia operation Claire performed at the theater in Episode 408.
Knowing what an iconic scene the meeting of Brianna and Jamie was in the book, we decided to play it very close to that version. It’s a lovely scene and played with the perfect mix of surprise and emotion from both Sam and Sophie.
In the book, however, Jamie meets Brianna in town while attending a trail for Fergus and brings Brianna back to Fraser’s Ridge to see Claire, but, since we’d done an episode with Jamie and Claire already in Wilmington, we have Jamie literally walk Brianna around the corner to reunite with her mother, and a joyful reunion it is!
We added Jamie’s line, “an unforgivable mistake…” because Jamie had worked as a printer and we thought this would be a fun line coming from him. Also, in the book version, the obituary is dated almost ten years away, and we added the element of the smeared date to give more urgency to the TV version, and to drive Brianna to move quickly, since she does not know whether she has a few months or a few years to save them.
We knew that since Brianna does find Jamie and Claire in town rather than at Fraser’s Ridge, another challenge was how to explain her presence to Young Ian, who is with Claire and Jamie in Wilmington. We didn’t want to play a long expositional scene of information the audience already knew, thus we solved this issue with a quirky line from Young Ian, who basically states that when it comes to his Aunt Claire, he’s “...learned not to ask too many questions.” ;)
We liked having Young Ian excited and immediately accepting of his new cousin. We needed for Brianna to learn the information of how Stephen Bonnet, the man who attacked her, had a previous run-in with Jamie and Claire, so we had Young Ian tell her the story to get this information out and make her realize the Bonnet connection. Knowing Jamie and Claire’s history with Bonnet makes her reluctant to tell them what happened to her during her attempt to get her mother’s wedding ring back.
We needed to show Jamie and Claire reacting to the news of the obituary and their supposed impending deaths. To keep it from being a dark and depressing discussion, we had Claire make light of it when she suggests making a holiday out of the day, but in all seriousness, Jamie’s able to point out that they haven’t had any luck changing history in the past, and point out that there’s not much they can do with this knowledge at the moment.
Since Brianna was a history major, we wanted to show a bit of her incredulity… drinking in her surroundings and appreciating the new century she’s in. One way was by remarking about Daniel Boone and how amazing it is that she’s now alive in a time with a historical figure she’s only read about.
We knew it would be a poignant moment when Jamie introduces his daughter to Murtagh, but we decided to play against the shock and surprise of it by having Murtagh merely say, “What took ye so long?” which is in-character for the laconic Murtagh.
The first family dinner between this newly-reunited family was a fun scene to write. We knew the challenge here for Sophie would be playing the duality of the joy of having found her parents and being home with them vs. the darkness of the Bonnet attack, which still hangs over her, but Sophie sparkles as she asks what Jamie was like as a boy. And our intention here is that only her mother, who knows her better than anyone else, would notice that underneath the bubbly conversation are fleeting moments where Claire reads on Brianna’s face that something is wrong.
By the way, the story that Murtagh tells about Jamie’s first kiss with one of Dougal’s daughters was something we always liked in the book, way back in Season 1, and here we found the perfect place to use it. Claire bringing up George Washington is a call-back to Episode 408 when she met the father of our country at the theater, and Brianna’s underwhelmed reaction is another clue to Claire that something is troubling her daughter.
Brianna’s mention of the obituary is a call-back to Episode 407 when Brianna saw it on Frank’s desk, not realizing at the time that it was about her mother. We felt that Brianna would mention to her mother that Frank knew Claire went back and wanted to include this to see Claire’s reaction—a pang of pain and regret that Frank knew she went back to her soulmate in the 18th century. But Claire doesn’t let the guilt overwhelm her as she asserts that Frank “always knew my heart was here.”
We thought it was important too to include that Brianna, who for years sensed that there was a fissure between her parents, now acknowledges that there is something truly special between Claire and Jamie, and thus understands why the marriage between Claire and Frank was destined not to last.
Roger asking for his payment in gems was meant to show his intent to go back, find Brianna, and take her home through the stones, and we like the irony of Bonnet taunting Roger about his lassie, not realizing it was the same woman that he assaulted back in Wilmington.
These next series of shots are meant to show Brianna acclimating to Fraser’s Ridge and everyday life in North Carolina. Like her mother, she fits in, seemingly enjoying this simple life and feeling safe after the violence she encountered in Wilmington.
Coming on the heels of the short montage showing Brianna happy at Fraser’s Ridge, this scene is meant to be a bit of a record scratch, as Frank’s name is brought up. Jamie and Brianna both must wrestle the subject of the father who raised Brianna, something that they haven’t talked about yet, but a subject that is a bit of the elephant in the room.
We liked the idea that “Bree” was actually a Scot’s word for “a disturbance,” so we played this bit to demonstrate that Jamie is trying so hard to be on his best behavior that in some ways, he is protecting her and not being completely himself for fear of doing anything that would hurt her feelings. Claire recognizes this in both Jamie and Brianna and is playing matchmaker as she urges both father and daughter to open up and be themselves around each other in this budding relationship.
We always knew we wanted to play this lovely moment of Jamie watching his daughter sleep. It’s a call-back to Episode 213 when Claire is talking to what she believes is Jamie’s grave at Culloden Moor, and tells him his daughter smiles in his sleep like he does…. and then again in Episode 306 when Claire is reunited with Jamie and tells him about his daughter in person. Here, Jamie finally gets to witness that his daughter has something of himself in her, and the expression on Sam’s face is worth a thousand words.
The bee hunt is something we were very much looking forward to writing, as father and daughter get to know each other, still treading carefully, yet opening up and getting to know each other more and more. The bees were added in Visual Effects and no bees were harmed in the making! :)
We included the bald eagle, our symbol of America, as a call-back to the season opener we wrote. We love the visual of father and daughter watching this beautiful bird in its natural environment.
Jamie’s speech about how the bees will be content in their new home is a metaphor for how he hopes that Brianna will feel, now that she’s here with him, but it sparks push-back from Brianna, who is feeling twinges of guilt that she is being disloyal to Frank. It’s a conversation that needs to be had to dissipate the awkwardness, and it was important for us to show that Jamie does this by demonstrating he has no animosity towards Frank; Indeed, he is grateful to Frank for loving her and raising her so well.
And now, when they discuss the meaning of “Bree,” it’s a lovely moment as Jamie admits that indeed she is a “disturbance,” but so was Claire, and that both of them are people who have landed in his life and changed it for the better. Also, we chose this moment for the iconic “Call me Da” line from the book, even though in the book it appears in the very first scene where Jamie and Brianna meet. For the episode, we thought it worked nicely in this scene to show that they’ve advanced to a more comfortable place with each other.
A really nice, wordless scene just to show the family enjoying the honey. This is the first time we see this trio in an intimate setting, treasuring their time together as a family.
We wanted to show that Jamie is completely enraptured, and his heart filled for the daughter that he missed the chance to raise, and he’s now worried about losing her. He wants a chance to make up those twenty lost years, but Claire, bursts the bubble a little, reminding him that Bree belongs in her own time and will need to leave at some point.
We searched for something that would nudge Brianna to open up to her mother about the pregnancy. Rather than have it come from dialogue, we settled on the image of a bird’s nest filled with baby birds that moves her as she wrestles with the realization that she’s going to be a mother.
As Lizzie enters the scene, she is the means by which we learn that Brianna is having nightmares, and that she is haunted by Bonnet’s attack.
Claire has noticed all along that something was troubling her daughter and figures out that Brianna is pregnant. This is a difficult discussion between mother-daughter, as Brianna confirms her pregnancy and also the painful news that she’s been raped.
We tempered Jamie’s reaction to the news and chose to have him react with shock and controlled fury, as we wanted to save his explosion of rage for when he encounters the man he believes is the rapist.
Something else we did a little differently from the book is how Roger is misidentified as Brianna’s attacker. In the book, it stems from a mix-up of his surname, but for television, we wanted something more visual and visceral. We laid track in Episode 308 to show that Lizzie saw him handle Brianna roughly and thinks him a dangerous stranger. Back then, men and women rarely even touched in public. Because Lizzie doesn't know what happened in the bar with Bonnet, she’s alarmed to see who she believes to be the rapist at Fraser’s Ridge and assumes he’s looking for Brianna to further harm her. This misunderstanding sets off the fuse for the explosion to come.
Circumstance drove Brianna to confide in her mother about the rape, but she was dead set on not telling her mother who the rapist was, fearing harm would come to her family if they tried to avenge her with such a dangerous criminal, so, we constructed this scene to have Claire find the ring in an innocuous way and put two and two together.
We juxtaposed Claire learning that the rapist was Bonnet with Lizzie warning Jamie that the rapist is coming. This scene was tricky in that, to justify what happens next with Roger and Jamie, Lizzie had to be certain in her accusation regarding Roger. And we needed to show that Jamie becomes more and more enraged as he hears the details of the assault on his daughter.
As Claire confronts Brianna, we learn the reasons Brianna didn’t want anyone to know it was Bonnet—including that she didn’t want her mother to feel any guilt over Brianna being hurt while trying to recover the wedding ring. Bree also knows Jamie would blame himself for helping Bonnet escape back in Wilmington. She makes her mother promise not to tell Jamie that it was Bonnet—a terrible dilemma for Claire as she’s not accustomed to keeping things from her husband, but now that Brianna is here, her loyalty to her daughter complicates the loyalty between husband and wife.
In the book, Roger and Jamie have a longer conversation, but we were concerned that on screen, the longer these two men talked, the more chance Roger would have to explain himself, and the harder it would be to justify the misunderstanding. We took a little inspiration from a scene in Goodfellas, where Ray Liotta avenges his girlfriend who has been wronged by walking up to the perpetrator and pistol whipping him with few words or fanfare. We chose to play that Roger barely gets out a sentence when Jamie, in his blind rage, takes revenge. Roger probably would have been killed had they not been interrupted. This is 18th century justice—a father protecting the daughter he’s only just coming to know. The dreamlike joy Jamie’s felt over the past weeks spending time with Brianna now shatters, as he learns of the violence she was silently suffering during their time together. As Jamie tells Young Ian to take Roger away, we’re left to wonder what will happen when this terrible misunderstanding is brought to light and whether or not it will be too late for Roger…