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By Sydney Bucksbaum, October 29, 2017, The Hollywood Reporter

Why ‘Outlander’ Made That Huge Departure From the Books

Executive producer Matthew B. Roberts tells THR why that change was made and breaks down
"one of our biggest undertakings as a show" from Sunday's episode.
Courtesy of Starz Entertainment, LLC
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday’s Outlander, “Creme De Menthe.”]

Outlander‘s Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) aren’t living happily ever after.

Now that the star-crossed loves have reunited after 20 years of separation, they have to reconcile the fantasy of the person they’ve been missing for two decades with the older, changed person standing in front of each of them. After the romantic and idyllic print shop episode, real-life came crashing back down on the couple with “Creme De Menthe,” and amidst the action of Claire defending and killing her mysterious attacker and Jamie’s illegal smuggling business being brought to light, another secret was revealed that will shake their relationship to its core.

'Outlander'

Both Ian (Steven Cree) and Fergus (Cesar Domboy) whispered to Jamie throughout the episode asking how he’ll handle Claire’s surprise return with his “other wife,” alerting the audience before Claire that Jamie has been hiding this secret marriage from his first wife. In Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager novel, Claire finds out much later, so it’s more of a betrayal for readers as well as the protagonist. In this massive departure from the source material, the Starz series has planted seeds of Jamie trying to figure out a way to break the news to Claire at the right time as well as having Fergus contact old lawyer friend Ned Gowan (Bill Paterson) at once, presumably to figure out a way to end his second marriage now that Claire is back.

Executive producer Matthew B. Roberts revealed that the change was born out of many debates in the Outlander writers room about how they could best “protect Jamie’s character.”

“Because we’re watching it in a different medium, when you read about it Claire is taking you through it, it’s easy to not delve into Jamie’s inner thoughts,” Roberts tells THR. “But when you visibly see Jamie on the screen, you have to play that something is bothering him, something he’s holding in. When you do that enough, you have to give the audience a little bread crumb to know what this is.”

Those breadcrumbs include the moment in “A. Malcolm” “when Fergus pulls Jamie aside and he immediately sends him to contact Ned Gowan which is another switch from the book,” according to Roberts.

“That’s us saying in a visual way that Jamie knows that he’s holding something but before he tells Claire about it, he wants to get all the information so he can unload with all the information and legal ramifications of the secret,” he continues. “Jamie wants to tell her but he holds back. It is only 24 hours [in the print shop] so we felt very comfortable with when you find someone again after 20 years, all your prayers have been answered, the first thing you’re not going to tell this massive secret that might send that person right out the door again and back to the stones. We felt it necessary to protect the character that way, and show that he knows and he’s trying to do something about it.”

Instead of having viewers find out when Jamie’s second wife shows up out of the blue to confront Claire, the team wanted to let everyone in on the secret as soon as possible so it’s not as much of a shock. In fact, the writers even considered having Jamie confess to Claire in the print shop episode but ultimately decided against it since it would have been too much of a change.

“That’s exactly what we debated round and round about why wouldn’t he tell her, why would he hold it back, so we gave visual cues of his worry about it and looking guilty,” Roberts says. “We did talk about revealing that right off the bat but the trickle down of doing that would have caused havoc with the storyline so we decided to not do that.”

Now that Outlander is finally on the other side of the big print shop reunion, the story starts to really pick up and give a new kind of momentum for the season.

'Outlander'

“The structure of it actually becomes an epic; the pace picks up quite a bit,” Roberts says. “They are going on an epic adventure and over the next couple of episodes they find their footing being back together. Because the print shop really only focused on 24 hours and real-life hadn’t really settled in yet for them, the ramifications of that intruder hit in this episode and going forward, it’s really welcome to the 1700’s again for Claire and very quickly trying to find her footing. It almost immediately competes with her modern-day sensibilities.”

The ended with a massive set piece, as an intruder trying to bust Jamie for his illegal alcohol smuggling ended up setting fire to the print shop when Young Ian (John Bell) tried to stop him. Jamie rescued his nephew from the fire but was forced to watch along with Claire as his beloved shop burn to the ground.

“The print shop fire was one of our biggest undertakings as a show,” Roberts reveals. “The battles have become second nature to us in a way but this big fire [was the most challenging]. We built the print shop on the stage, then we went to Ediburgh and we found a building we could use and then we replicated that building exactly at our studio outside on the back lot. Over the course of two nights we progressively burned it and then we went inside to the interior set and we burned that.”

Roberts laughs as he recalls how the production named the different locations as “the main unit and what we were calling the burn unit.”

'Outlander'

“We burned it all because we couldn’t do any burning at the real location,” he says. “It took about seven days to do the whole thing and since this is what the episode is about, we felt like we had to give it enough time to do it right.”

Another change in the story came during that fire scene after Jamie saved Young Ian, since in the book he ends up going back inside to save his printing press and any supplies he could get to before the building collapsed. In the episode, once he and Young Ian were safely outside, he never attempted to run back into the burning building. That subtle difference came about simply because of practicality.

“It was actually the presses themselves that changed that,” Roberts explains. “We had two practical presses built and they are pretty massive. They would have been, from our research, bolted to the ground or ceiling. Jamie, as strong and as superman like that he is, he couldn’t carry it out on his own.”

Roberts acknowledges that in the book, bystanders helped Jamie save his press, but he says the writers ruled out that idea.

“It wouldn’t even fit through the door,” he says. “Our print shop was on the second floor and the presses were on the bottom floor so he would have had to carry it up and then down stairs so practically it just would never have worked. So instead, the spirit of that is still there – when he is saving Young Ian, he pushes that press against the window and uses it as his way of escape.”

Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.

 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/outlander-creme-de-menthe-matthew-b-roberts-interview-1052529

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Outlander 03×07 Crème de Menthe – by Lenny9987

My immediate reaction to Crème de Menthe upon finishing it was that it was a solid, functional episode. Having rewatched it, it’s come to encapsulate everything I love and hate about watching this show having read the books first. I spend so much of my first watches waiting and anticipating certain moves from the books that it can keep me from really appreciating some of the changes that the show has and is making as it adapts the material. The changes I want to see are obvious and appreciated right away, but others take that second viewing to remind myself that while something might be different from the book, it is consistent with how the show has handled something (or someone) or to grasp the full extent of how something altered plays out; when it’s a change, I might be able to guess at how it will unfold but I don’t know the way I do with the books at this point so there’s still chances to surprise me. Upon rewatching, there’s so much more that I liked and appreciated than just the fact they got rid of plots I find tedious and ridiculous or reworked problematic depictions of characters so they make me cringe less.
Crème de Menthe does a phenomenal job of streamlining the plots from a section of the book where they get thrown at the reader thick and fast. It takes most of the rest of the book to truly untangle them and understand the varying levels of deception and red herrings. I genuinely appreciated the way that the show cut out some of the unnecessary drama and confusion to make elements clearer and less cluttered. Shuffling elements a bit like the fire at the print shop and changing the death of the excise man help give some of these events greater weight and less the feeling of being distractions meant to emphasize the chaos of Claire’s journey back. While I love Voyager and Jamie and Claire’s reunion, most of my interest in it as a reader tends to fall a bit later after the explosive events at Lallybroch because that’s where and when they actually deal with the emotional baggage they each carry. It’s only in my latest reread and in watching the show’s adaptation that I realize just how much the novel relies on Claire telling the reader that she and Jamie had been changed by their 20 years apart rather than actually showing it (until that explosive fight at Lallybroch, anyway). Reading through the Edinburgh chapters, there’s so much else going on, it’s hard to feel that either of them have truly changed that much. Some of that is probably because readers are stuck in Claire’s perspective but I love the way that the show is giving a broader view of the cracks 20 years apart have made in their relationship. Their doubts and fears are much closer to the surface for us to see, in part because the plot distractions have been cleared away and/or bent to serve that tension.

Sir Percival and Jamie’s Smuggling Ring

This is probably the plot from Edinburgh that has been streamlined the best from the book so far. In the book, Sir Percival is much more like the Duke of Sandringham playing games with Jamie and getting other people to do his dirty work. It makes understanding even the basic nature of Jamie’s enterprise difficult until much later. It’s sort of presented as a mystery that’s unfolding but having it played straight for the show (where there isn’t the time to get into so many twists and turns) works infinitely better for me. The threat is more immediate to everything and every one because the connections between events is more direct. The altered death of the excise man and Claire’s attempts to save him also bend that plot towards serving the story of Jamie and Claire’s relationship. They’ve disagreed before on many occasions but this is the first real test since Claire’s return and it shows them both how much harder the reality of being together again while holding on to the selves they’ve become in each other’s absence is going to be. Claire was always a healer but now she has her oath as a doctor weighing on her conscience and driving her actions. She also has a much greater depth of knowledge and experience in terms of how to carry out her healing. She doesn’t hesitate or question herself, she acts on instinct and muscle memory. It’s a level of confidence Jamie hasn’t seen in her to this extent before and there’s a greater weight to it as well. She doesn’t just want to help someone who’s injured because she can or wants to, she is compelled to help them because she feels a responsibility to do so. It’s a change in Claire that throws Jamie at first but he does a relatively good job of adjusting to and when the man dies despite her efforts, he tries to comfort her even though he can’t completely empathize with what she’s feeling in that moment.
On Claire’s side, the failure to save the man carries with it the true limitations she has in the 18th century, not just because of her sex but because of what she has at hand. She’s overcome so much sexism to gain that medical education and earn her place in the operating room and here, even when she doesn’t face as much opposition in terms of being allowed to practice on a patient, she is limited severely by the materials at hand. As she tells Jamie, for fourteen years she’s dedicated her life to medicine and healing; it’s been the dominant part of her sense of self and where she’s drawn most of her strength. But here she is having finally found Jamie and she’s lost the first “patient” she’s tried to treat and she knows it’s not because of a lack of skill or knowledge. Through her visit and assessment of Margaret Campbell and then her suggestion to Jamie that she could open her own establishment or treat patients out of the print shop, it becomes clear that Claire is struggling to reconcile the way her coming back through the stones is impacting that part of herself that has become so important in the 20 years of separation. She doesn’t want to sacrifice an ounce of that capability into which she’s invested so much of her time and energy.

Sacrifices

In last week’s episode and this week’s, both Jamie and Claire have talked about how much they are willing to risk, have risked, or are willing to sacrifice in order to be together. Claire’s brush with the reality that some of her effectiveness as a doctor will have to be sacrificed if she’s to stay in the 18th century is one of several tests to those declarations both have made.
We only got brief glimpses of Jamie’s enterprises in Edinburgh during last week’s episode –– Madam Jeanne, Jamie paying off Sir Percival, his conversation with Fergus, the appearance of Young Ian –– but in this week’s episode we see just how tenuous that enterprise actually is, how close it all is to crumbling… and then we watch it slowly crumble as Jamie tries desperately to hold it all together. While Claire let’s her opinion on them continuing to live in a brothel (even if it would save them money on rent) be known, she doesn’t express too much surprise or dismay over the rest of Jamie’s illicit activities… until he lies to Ian about having seen Young Ian. Similarly, the allusions to Jamie’s other wife are heavily present in this episode and his conversation with Ian following his brother-in-law’s disbelief over Claire’s return show how far Jamie’s willing to go to try and hold things together. Lying to corrupt agents of the crown is one thing but lying to the people who mean the most to him is another. Of course with Sir Percival’s suspicions and pressure, Jamie’s smuggling is becoming more dangerous and then with the fire destroying the print shop, Jamie’s enterprises in Edinburgh are pretty thoroughly demolished by the end of the episode. But it doesn’t feel like the willing sacrifice he told Claire he would make to be with her; it feels like bitter disappointment and failure.
The sacrifice Jamie made in sending Claire through the stones –– the opportunity to help raise their child –– is another one that comes up during the fight that begins (but is interrupted) in this episode. That was another sacrifice that was both willing and unwilling. He would lay down his life to protect Claire and their child and that’s the sacrifice he thought he was making when he sent her through the stones. But what he instead sacrificed was the chance to know and raise his child. Claire’s scolding over lying to Ian and her bringing up his practical inexperience as a parent poke at a wound that will never heal. Though Jamie says he’d sacrifice everything to be with Claire again, he’s made sacrifices before that twisted into something he wasn’t prepared for.
They are both struggling to reconcile their expectations with reality. They’ve found ways to suppress the pain they felt during those 20 years and seem to hope that simply being together again will make it go away, but all it’s doing is releasing the hold they have on that pain and letting it reach the surface. It’s something they both long to lay at someone else’s feet and the only person who they can do that with is the other while at the same time, the last person they want to blame is the other, especially when they’ve spent so long clinging to the love they shared and building up their memories of each other. The tension between dismissing the pain of the past 20 years and remaining the people they are because of it is making them both act defensively when what they need is to work together to air and acknowledge their pain so they can move past it (and here’s hoping a healthy chunk of that gets properly dealt with next week and that the show doesn’t decide to really drag this out).

The Best Brother I Never Had: Fergus and Young Ian

While I enjoy the angst of Jamie and Claire being forced to face and navigate their new reality, what I enjoyed most in the episode on the lighter side of things was the relationship between Fergus and Young Ian. I was again completely bowled over by Domboy’s portrayal of adult Fergus and the way he and Young Ian interact with each other that put a dopey grin on my face. I’m not entirely sure what the show is going to do about Young Jamie and Michael Murray, but in book canon, both are a bit more straight-laced and proper while Young Ian is the troublesome Murray lad, always getting into trouble. In the show I get the feeling that Young Ian looked up to Fergus and related to him more than he did his older brothers. Fergus doesn’t have the same background or stake in doing things according to the letter and/or spirit of the law. And of course Fergus learned some of what he knows from Jamie. They’re simultaneously the Three Musketeers and the Three Stooges. I loved Young Ian turning to Fergus for an assessment of Auntie Claire –– and then refusing to believe the rumors Fergus tells him insisting (after only barely having met her) that Auntie Claire wouldn’t kill a man without good reason. It’s like Fergus is giving Young Ian lessons in how to ship Jamie and Claire. Fergus’ advice to Young Ian concerning lasses –– and Young Ian’s earnest and blunt execution of that advice –– was hilarious and soooo sweet. I want to see so much more of this relationship, especially how Fergus reacts to Ian being kidnapped (and then later, how Ian reacts to Fergus’ marriage).

Other Random Thoughts and Squees:

–– I love how they’re adapting Mr. Willoughby for the show. The level of respect between him and Claire already is downright heartwarming. He may not understand all of what she does as a healer or why, but he does understand the how and why of her personal investment in her patients, whomever they may be.
–– Ian meeting Claire again and talking about how he and Jenny grieved for her was the most moving scene in the episode. The disbelief on his face and Jamie’s nod to assure him it is real, then the way he closes his eyes and hugs her back. That single fucking tear! It brought me all the way back to Lallybroch and the way he and Claire commiserated over having to deal with the Fraser stubbornness. I want so much more of this relationship!
–– Seriously, Young Ian’s “tell me what you like/want and I’ll do it” attitude was just the sweetest and cutest thing ever. I also adored his attempts to stomp the fire out before realizing, oh shit this is way out of hand.
–– While I greatly appreciate that they got rid of the serial killer aspect of the Campbell storyline, I still think too much time has been spent on it for whatever the new payoff ends up being down the line. Does nothing for me in the book and was bored through those scenes in this episode.
Speculation/Wishlist:

–– I definitely want Claire to tell Jenny the whole truth in next week’s episode. There have been enough changes from the book so far that I’m not as convinced it won’t happen as I might have been before. I want both Jenny and Ian to know the truth about the stones and Claire (and probably Bree too).
–– Also you can’t name-drop Ned Gowan twice in two episodes if you don’t have Bill Patterson in 3×08. That would just be cruel.
–– I can see us maybe getting a parallel to Claire’s speech in 1×16 but from Jamie sometime soon. If/when Claire expresses doubt, Jamie coming out with something similar to “I’ll have you any way I can, always” or “it’s the only way I can explain how this is possible, why you’re here.” It’ll depend on how they handle the revelation, fight, and reconciliation.

_____________________

Thanks to Lenny for allowing us to post her wonderful review.

https://lenny9987.tumblr.com/post/166944220621/outlander-03×07-cr%C3%A8me-de-menthe

 

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