Dearest Outlander Creators…

Here we are in the home stretch, just a few days before the Season 3 finale. Hard to believe. And even though Droughtlander will resume again, we can take heart knowing that Season 4 filming is well underway. This means, of course, that the writers, Gary’s team (set/location), and Terry’s team (costume) started work months ago. So many hours, and so much heart and soul go into bringing this production to life. If you’re reading this, please know that I hold the creators of this show in the highest regard, and that my comments are made from a point of not only respect, but of love. My observations are intended to be constructive.

I was originally going to address this missive to the Outlander Writers, but it’s not just the writers…. I’ve come to realize through my exposure to this process how important the role of editing is. Having studied the scripts, I know that many times nuances have been included in the scripts, prepared for, acted, and filmed, but are missing from the final product. The meaning of a scene and the portrayal of a character can change completely because of what is or is not omitted. Also critical to the process is directing. Directors are like game day coaches, guiding the action and feel of individual scenes, while shepherding the big picture to make sure everything fits together in a flowing, meaningful way. Directors also work closely with editors. I believe it’s critical that all the individuals who fill these three roles truly understand one thing, and that’s who our main characters really are.

Millions of people have not only read Diana’s books, we have internalized them. On March 6, 1988, the characters of Jamie and Claire were ignited, as was their story… a story conceived of the inter weavings of lifetimes and people, of the dimensions of history, mixed with the mystical, the familiar, the timeless, and the mundane. These characters have lived for almost 30 years now. They exist. Jamie and Claire exist in the mind of their creator, and in the minds of all who have read their story; they just are.

The visual adaptation of these books is important. It’s important to the multitudes of people who know these characters, and to the many who will know them. Do we not become essentially changed by those with whom we share our lives? We do, I say. They become part of us, and we them, even characters from a book. (See more on Experience Taking, here).

So, after three seasons of being “part” of this Outlander journey, I offer my observations. The first is, minor changes in the story work. For example, Claire’s Season 1 run-in with creepy Father Bain over Thomas Baxter’s demonic possession, (which was actually Lily of the Valley poisoning, of course), is not in the book. Yet, the scene works beautifully to communicate and set up so many things: Claire and Geillis’ relationship as time travelers, the contrast between Claire and the beliefs of the time, Claire’s drive to heal and knowledge about healing, the power and perceptions about clerical authority and superstition in the 18th century, Claire’s relationship with Mrs. Fitz, and the groundwork for the witch trial. Even though this storyline did not happen in the book, it is plausible, and congruent.

Changes to supporting characters also work. In Season 3, Mr. Willoughby is portrayed as a more dignified version of the Willoughby character in Voyager. Fans seem to be happy with this change by and large, due in part to the excellent portrayal by Gary Young, in my opinion. Mr. Willoughby fulfills his role in the story, and it works. 

For me, (and I’m interested in others’ opinions), what does not work is when Jamie and Claire make a departure from themselves: when they literally behave out of character. When this happens, my willing suspension of disbelief is disrupted, I am wrenched from the story, and transported back to my living room, or wherever I happen to be watching. This is the one adaptation that doesn’t seem to work.

Adaptation is defined as: “a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.” and “the act or process of changing to better suit a situation.” I understand that an 800 page novel cannot be fully portrayed in its original form on television, and most of the adaptations made to the material are seamless. I am not a book purist when it comes to the show, but as it turns out, I am a Jamie and Claire purest. I simply cannot see a good reason to change these two iconic characters; who they are is not only essential, it is the very fabric of this story. The story can change, the fabric should not.

The first notable instance of a departure (that I can remember) was Boobgate in Season 1. People were outraged, not by the fact that Jamie touched Laoghaire’s breast, in my opinion, but because Jamie wasn’t Jamie. Or was he? I found an interesting statement from Diana about the subject…

excerpt – CompuServe 4/7/15

   “But. The lead-up to the not-kissing (and they’re not.  Never.  Not once) included a longer form of the dialogue.   After telling Jamie how she’d always noticed him, from his first appearance at Leoch, she says something about Dougal’s arrangement and he interrupts, saying (and I quote):  “It’s true it was nothing I’d planned…but I’m happy with it.”  She pauses for a moment, looking up at him in what appears to be deep concern, then takes his hand–and she does _take_ it, he’s obviously reluctant to give it to her but doesn’t want to jerk it away, either–and says (in a very sympathetic, wistful tone), “Ye dinna look very _happy_.  Ye look like you’re carrying the world on your back.”  She’s right; he does.
 
    Mind, she’s still wearing her cloak through this.  He pulls back at that point, but she’s still holding his hand.  He shakes his head helplessly and says, “Laoghaire…I can’t…I havena got anything for you.”
 
    She looks up at him, serious, but with a light in her eyes and–putting her hands to the clasp of her cloak, says, “I have something for _you_.  She was marrit before–” drops cloak, Revealing All, “–but I’ve lain with no one.”  Raises his now-unresisting hand to her breast and goes on, “I want you to be the first–the only one–” Standing on tiptoes, trying to reach his mouth, “–to have me.”
 
    Cue brief struggle of not-kissing, then he breaks definitely away and says, “No. No, I made a vow and I’ll not break it.  Not even for someone as bonny as you.”  (Obviously trying to be soothing, but clearly having No Idea)  He stoops to pick up her cloak, saying, “I’m sorry….” but she gasps in shock and grief, chokes, grabs it herself and whirls around to flee, with him shouting, “I’m sorry!” after her.
 
     Evidently, they decided in the editing that they could cut most of the lead-up and keep only the offer/rejection. (Seconds and half-seconds _count_ in film editing; I’d say more than half the stuff shot is never used, and that’s not counting just the unused takes of a given scene.)  But this shorter, edited does give a different impression than the scene as written, acted and filmed.” 
 
This is an instance when editing was the critical factor, it would seem.
 
Diana goes on to say… 
   ” I much preferred the fuller version myself–but I must say, I’m surprised at how hoppity everybody seems to be over something so insignificant as his not jerking his hand off the girl as if she was a hot stove.  Jamie didn’t think it was a big deal, and neither do I. 

–Diana”

(gotta love her).
 
Here is one comment from a fan in that conversation:
“This would have made it clear that Jamie definitely told Leery that he was happy with his marriage to Claire and had absolutely nothing to offer to Leery. If they had included these ten seconds of dialogue it would have made a world of difference to many who object to the way it is shown now. What a shame they didn’t leave those ten seconds in.” 
 
Again, I believe the big deal is, to book fans, that we know Jamie Fraser. We know what he would do, and not do. When the fundamental character changes, we stop believing the story (or at least, I do).
 
The same is true of Claire. Claire is a strong woman; she’s not a woman acting like a strong woman, or with an agenda to promote strong women, she’s just who she is and she does what she does. She’s not out to prove anything or to be an archetype. But, Claire’s character in the visual adaptation has been tasked with the role of archetype, it seems, and sometimes I see the true essence of Claire altered in pursuit of that end. This also pulls me out of the story. There are many examples, but the first that comes to mind is in Episode 307, when Claire has just left her daughter and gone back in time 200 years to the love of her life, but she decides to jeopardize his life and livelihood by insisting on performing surgery on a guy who tried to rape and kill her (because she’s a surgeon, damn it). Claire would always have more consideration for Jamie than she had in that episode. 
 
There are other examples, for both characters, but my intent is not to create a laundry list of complaints or criticisms. My intent is to make the following request to the creators: be creative in adapting the story, but please keep Jamie and Claire true to their characters. Please hire writers, editors, and directors who understand the essence of these characters and will honor, protect, and preserve them as they navigate all of their remaining adventures. 
 
Thank you all for your tremendous and spectacular work.
 
Sincerely,
 
Courtney Williams

130 comments on “Dearest Outlander Creators…

  1. Hear! Hear! Completely agree. One of the most egregious examples of this was Jamie’s behavior in Heaven and Earth, Ep. 310. I read a comment from a woman whose husband isn’t even a reader and he was totally turned off by it. Thanks for putting this issue out there.

  2. I really agree with what you have said. I don’t think I could do what they do but I have been sadly disappointed in a lot of decisions made this season. They need to be really careful with who they let tamper with the material.

    • I agree. Seems some writers this season think only in 20th century terms and ignore actual 18th century behavior – really changes the story.

      • Kathleen, I had a bit about that in my original piece but wanted to stick to the main message. I agree. You can’t have Claire prancing around like she owns the place with no consequences if it’s truly supposed to be the 18th century. We _knew_ Claire was endangered in Season 1, surrounded by those Highlanders, and she knew it too. In Seaons 2&3 she’s got a 21st century forcefield around her it seems, which allows her to say and do as she pleases with no consequences.

  3. This is my exact complaint! I find it bizarre that the show creators/ writers feel that they understand and can write the characters better than Diana! It’s her story, and one that has the fan base it does b/c of her beautiful characters and their great stories. So when I see the actors act in a way that Is not true to their characters it really upsets me. I have other things that rub me wrong too but this one is the biggest one by far.

  4. Gotta say Courtney good points. Maril has the story about yelling at Ron because he wanted to cut Jamie’s line in the wedding scene “If I need advice I’ll ask for it” Ron thought was too chauvenistic. Maril said she told him he just didn’t understand women. Food for thought.

    • Haha Virginia. Well we are confusing aren’t we?? The thing about Jamie is he knows what to say and when to say it. Is it because he _is_ a woman? Maybe…

  5. Thank you, Courtney. I think you’ve succinctly interpreted the frustrations I’ve sometimes felt about how Jamie and Claire have been portrayed thus far. Overall, I’m delighted with the show(!!!), but sometimes I have also been pulled “out of the story” by J&C’s uncharacteristic actions/reactions as compared to how I’ve come to know them in the books. I don’t understand why their personalities have been changed, when the books already have such a huge fan base.

  6. Thank you for this. I understand the difference between the written word of the original author and the need to change things for a visual medium, like TV. But you are right on target. I don’t like it when they change who we fell in love with, the true essence of the characters. It is shortchanging what the viewers who have not read the books, to have the same opportunity to truly appreciate these characters. I find myself telling people, but you need to read the books! This is not who Jamie and Claire truly are.

  7. I completely agree with this analysis…especially the changing of Claire. I felt betrayed by this diversion from her true character. I know they have to take many liberties when adapting a story to the screen, but please…leave Jamie and Claire alone. Mess with other characters if necessary, but you will lose fan base if you continue to do this…no matter if Diana approves or not.

  8. Thank you for a skillful articulation of my shared critiques. Season 3 has presented me with more WTF moments than both prior seasons combined. Granted, 20 yrs. alters perspective, (wisdom due to life experiences being the catalyst for most folks), but my initial connection with Claire was based on her bodacious behavior. Her ever-present verve (book based) seems to have diminished this season. I miss the exceptionally sharp wit and resolve, even in the face of danger and circumstance…which are the very qualities that drew me into her story.

  9. I agree 100%!!!
    Jamie and Claire’s characters and their love and devotion to one another are the foundation of the whole story, when the foundation is off so is everything else. Some book changes I like, some I don’t but I cope. But when Jamie and Claire are simply wrong, that i can’t cope with. It simply ruins the whole series.

  10. Courtney, yes and yes again! I hardly recognize TV Jamie and Claire. Their core personalities continue to be eroded. It is really a shame because both characters as written by Diana provide great examples of strong individuals in a loving, supportive relationship. They are who I want to see on TV. The supporting cast can be adapted but not those two.

  11. What a wonderful, thoughtful request to the creators of Outlander. You have expressed exactly what has bothered me this season especially. I believe all the people on this show work really hard to adapt Diana’s books. But, when the actors have to change scenes to keep their characters true or have to argue with 7-8 writers to ask for changes and then have the editors remove it anyway, changes need to be made. So, I, too ask to get Diana’s Claire and Jamie back. I really love your insights, you have a wonderful way of sorting through and getting to the heart of the matter.

  12. Thank you Courtney Williams for your well thought out words about our beloved show. I do love this show, and I often feel frustrated when people are critical about how the show is differing from the books, etc. I feel the show is going to have to differ somewhat, since it is an adaptation and there are time and space constraints in a live action TV show that will dictate changes, and I feel the show does stand on it’s own as well. I do need to confess here that I have not yet read the books(I said yet!), but even without having read the books already, I do also agree with you about the writers needing to be sure they are keeping Jamie and Claire true to their characters, regardless of what the story is doing. Your example of Claire wanting to save the excise man, as though she did not understanding that this was too dangerous, however distasteful it might be to do otherwise, was a good one, as I really don’t think Claire would be that naive and selfish as to put them all in such danger. The attempt to demonstrate Claire’s commitment to her doctor’s oath, or whatever, was too much. Claire is smarter and more practical than that. The writers need to be sure and use the deep understanding of their characters that Sam and Cait’s each have at this point, and of course they have Diana to consult to ensure they are being true to these two people. Thanks again, and hope the writers are reading all of this stuff! 😉

  13. A very insightful comment and one which I agree with wholeheartedly. I hope the showrunner takes your comments to heart.

  14. Courtney, you have put into words what so many Outlander fans are feeling, that even a few seconds of dialogue or action can change the characters, that scene with Jamie and Laoghaire by the river actually shook me, I “know” Jamie and especially after what he and Claire had just recently been through, a few more words and a reaction to her offering herself, would have made him the strong person we know. This season in particular, Claire has turned into someone so different, so hard, so brittle… Cait has recently said that she feels Claire is finding and centralising herself at the change in going back to Jamie, to leaving Brianna and all she knew and had built for herself in Boston, but it feels like more than that for the viewers, it seems like Claire has to prove herself, perhaps to herself, that she can still do all those things …. BUT that’s not book Claire, book Claire is more centralised on reigniting that love and passion with Jamie, and that is something we have seen little of – compared to the books – where are Jamie’s little touches of her, why wasn’t she sitting on his lap to have her arm stitched by Willoughby on the beach, rather than Jamie pacing behind her drinking brandy – that little speech (having to be amended by it not being an injury from a Cutlass slash) would still have worked because he would have been holding her, comforting her – she means the world to him, and throughout all the books, it shows, by his glances at her, his touches of her, kisses to her forehead, and she puts her arm on him in passing, smooths back his hair… we’ve had none of this romance – not even with the reunion, and if indeed Jamie took the decision not to fall apart at Brianna’s photos, then he too stepped away from the character, as he’d sent Claire back, to do his utmost to ensure that their child survived – to look at her photos, then stand and hand Claire Williams miniature, that diminished the feelings we, the book reading viewers had for him, seeing him so keen to learn more about her, his concerns for her virtue wearing a bikini – all that was done with more anger than concern, Jamie was very short with Claire about that, too keen to tell her that Willie was brave, braw and bonnie… that was very hurtful to Claire – she’d too lived without him, even if she had Brianna, that daily living breathing reminder of her father, and to have the difficult relationship with Frank… Jamie’s life wasn’t a bed of roses and we know that from the stories of both of them told on screen, but this was their first time together, it should have been a night of wonderment, of exploration, of reignited love, maybe not passion, but eagerness to be together, to speak and whisper together, and if fell sadly short of so many expectations, the book explained and showed their love very well, the series, sadly lacked that… and so it has continued… Jamie has been out of character, Claire certainly so, and it has been telling on all the fan sites – there are those who will watch Sam and Cait just acting out poorly assembled scripts, who don’t read the books and don’t know what they are missing, but there are those of us who are book readers, who realise things have to be foreshortened, but know that you can’t show this ultimate love story without keeping the characters true to who they are… I really hope the writers, the directors and particularly Ron D Moore and his team, Tonia Graphia and Matt Roberts along with Maril Davies, read your words, read the following comments, and for Outlander’s sake going into S4, take heed and work with the writers to adapt the story and the characters far more closely with the books… all we need is Jamie’s strength, humour, honour to come together with Claire’s natural ability to heal, to love and understand him, and for them to build their lives in the Colonies together… PLEASE

    • Toni! Brilliant words! I feel you spoke right from my heart and head also. Our feelings truly come from a place of respect and devotion (dare I say “addiction”) to this story. I have sincerely missed the way Jamie & Claire love for each other was portrayed in prior Seasons….how together they become one…while I have loved the other characters’ stories, w/o the base of Jamie & Claire’s devotion and love to each other, it has left me wanting and disappointed that now I have to wait another year for it…this final episode will hopefully clean all this up. This has been such a wonderful experience to go on! Jesus H Roosevelt Christ I am addicted!!!!

      • Thank you Camille, it’s been paining me this series and series 2, seeing how diminished Jamie’s character had become – his strength only seemed to show in the pre-Culloden battle scenes – when of course he and the others were overlooked by “Mark Me”…!

        Courtney’s ability to explain the editing enabled me to put over my points of how disappointed so many of the fans have been for the past two series, but this one in particular – going off piste with the storyline, well known and loved characters behaving so out of character, and just not feeling the love which should be growing between Jamie and Claire – yes they had the past 20 years to put aside, but in the books they do this, they come together – but all Jamie seems to have done is being slung in the brig, in the clink, in jail, and all Claire seems to do is whirl around in her Bat suit sorting everyone out because she’s a Doctor… just too dissimilar to their book characters, and they need bringing back – let’s hope Drums can do this x

  15. Questioning Diana’s brilliant insert ” I much preferred the fuller version myself–but I must say, I’m surprised at how hoppity everybody seems to be over something so insignificant…”. Is she not talking about (some of) the fandom here? While the article claims it is not a laundry list of complaints or critiques (thank god for that), 80% of your article is exactly that.

    • My response to Courtney’s article is a wish list and a suggestion list of how the Outlander production team can get Series 5 back on track in line with the books – bring back the characters of Jamie and Claire in particular. If Duncan Innes is going to be cut from the storyline – that has far reaching implications down the books – if Murtagh is going to replace him (and Diana has stated that he is not), how are they going to keep the relationship between Jamie and his aunt, if one of his trusted friends doesn’t fulfil the role of Jocasta’s husband and estate overseer ? Inserting Murtagh into their lives (if indeed he does come back into their lives) is another HUGE departure from the books – one many fans are happy about – but again, this would have implications down the books… if the writing and directing team can bring the characters back to who they are, then the book reading viewers will be happy… what we are so disappointed with is the departure of their characters and their characteristics – where is Jamie’s humour, humility, honour, religious beliefs, sense of his family and friends – where is Claire’s compassion, her caring side (not the “I am a Doctor”), her empathy, her sympathy, her understanding of Jamie, and their combined love… it’s been sorely missing this series – a series which so many fans were eagerly anticipating – and which has fallen so sadly flat… If they are a list of complaints, so be it, it gives the team behind the production time to address these… what we ask for is our characters back, and continuity of their behaviour – it’s been so out of character this season, that’s what we, the viewers, in droves, have missed

  16. Absolutely well said;so relieved to know there others that have felt the same as you & I both do.I follow a few of the Outlander FB pages but feel I have to be so careful what I post as fans can become nuts & drag on like, a dog with a bone.’
    I enjoy your thoughts put to words and like you, have higher hopes for next season.Thank you for your thoughts as I have really enjoyed reading them.
    Have a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year !
    (Looking foreward to any future input coming from your way !)
    Kindest Regards,Lisa B

  17. To me the scene where Ian meets Geillis in the previous episode was a huge disappointment. I really don’t see the reasoning behind the change – having her look like a super model simply does not fit into the picture. Staying close to the book would have been much more realistic. Too many changes just for the sake of changes simply does not work.

  18. I am so pleased that you brought up the topic if editing. I found Season 2 suffered greatly from ill-thought out editing choices, especially relating to the portrayal of Jamie’s physical and emotional evolution away from the torture he encountered by BJR. Things moved too fast. And why is it that every scene with Tobias Menzies as either Frank or BJR gets all the attention in the world? I’ve read that Matt Roberts says it’s hard to write Jamie’s character as the King of Men. So it seems it’s easier to give room to the Frank/BJR characters? I’ve come to really not like Frank as portrayed in Season 3 because we never see WHY he decided to stay with Claire – because of Brianna. All that was needed was a scene or two showing them together, on a road trip, or teaching her how to shoot a rifle, something that demonstrated his love for her. In the book, Claire, Frank and Brianna had many family outings, so Claire really did try to make the marriage work. The double beds business was silly. If Frank had to live like that with his wife, then we should have seen the reason he stayed – because of Brianna. Like many, I nearly threw my shoe at Episode 307. To justify Claire’s actions to save the man who nearly killed her needed action and dialogue that was clearly missing. Regardless, I do love the show, and will be sorry to see the season end. I have a dear friend who is a rabid GoT fan and we talk about how far “down the rabbit hole” we have both become in our obsessions with our favorite shows. Ah, well, it’s all for the good. Happy Holidays everyone!

  19. I agree with this – for some reason episode 307 just left me feeling like I was watching a different show. I didn’t like the characters, the story line, especially Claire’s surgery on her attacker. Everything felt disjointed and forced. The characters felt different somehow and not in a good way. I can’t articulate as well but I certainly felt that was my least favorite episode of the entire series to date.

  20. Thank you for saying this. Hopefully, if enough people express this sentimen, the writers might start to listen! I’ve been saying for 2 years now that the ESSENCE of the story and J&C are missing. That essence is what makes Outlander.

  21. Kudos! That was very diplomatic and well written. I have thought the same thing myself- that the editing should be from those who have an understanding of who the characters. Do not cut and paste so much that you can no longer see the characters and who they are because that’s the whole reason people watch the show.

    So what if you have to do only half the book in one season. I think people would be far more understanding if you stopped worrying about doing 1” book for 1 season” and just let the artistic creativity flow. After all, it is an ongoing storyline and when you read the books they don’t start new at their beginning of each book. They continue the story.

  22. You put it so well. I know from watching shows on tv how vital editing is. There have been many times my husband and I have looked at each other and asked, “What just happened here?” Editing. Most viewers didn’t know what you informed us about the Laoghire scene. Oh my! What a difference. “I have a got anything for you.” There it was! Instead of claiming his vow was all that was keeping them apart. That bothered me so much! If only that was left in! My biggest complaint was the over and over departure from who Jamie and Claire are! Absolutely _VITAL_ to this story. It is what I adore about these books. The characters. As they are. I also agree that the worst departure, as you referenced, Claire’s action with the excise agent. That was horrible to me. Horrible. All that being said, I do love this show. The actors are the characters in my mind. The amazing costuming. The acting. The love that is put into it. I am so very grateful to all involved for their talents. One more thing. Jury is still out on Bree casting.

  23. I agree with your article so much. Perfect examples: Season 1 “Rent” -the things Jamie says are not him. S3 “Crème de Menthe” again he says things that are not Jamie. Do not like these episodes at all. It’s too bad they hire writers who do not know the characters. They could have shortened some episodes in S3: Freedom and Whisky, Uncharted, and Heaven and Earth, for example, this would allow more for time for the ending episodes and more time to include things from actual book. They now try to squeeze all the important information re: Geilis, the jewels, Young Ian, the prophecy, what Brianna is doing and thinking in 20th century, the storm, etc. (things that will affect future) all into 2 final episodes. Really too bad as it could have been so much better.

  24. Excellent commentary…..I totally agree with everything you have said. Hope everyone who needs to see this absorbs and reacts positively!

  25. Well written, I agree with your comments.
    Having read the books several times, you notice when Clair or Jamie do something you know isn’t them.

  26. Having read a number of the comments, I have one more point to make. In GOT, not only has the show gotten past the author of the books snail pace writing, it went off the rails many seasons ago. I read the books. I had tried once before in my life and only made it through the first book. I had never read such a misery and horror packed book in my life. Well written. Missing one factor. Humor. I read all the books before watching the show while being taken down by my back breaking four times in several months. I told my daughter that I enjoyed them more then because as miserable as I was, these characters had it way worse than me. Then I began watching the show. The show had humor. The changes brought GOT to a much better place than the books.

    Now. Outlander. While I am good with a lot of the changes and understand the need to cut parts, the changing of Jamie and Claire is a bad thing. They cannot be changed and make the show better. That is not possible. Done now.

  27. As I read through your commentary and all the comments, I realize what you all are saying is what I have been feeling all season! I knew something was amiss and Jamie & Claire in the story didn’t feel right to me this season. I thought it was me since book 3 is my least favorite in all the series. Don’t get me wrong, I still like it, but just not my fav. My husband, who has been an avid tv fan, recently told me he didn’t care for the way this show/season was going and actually stopped watching! He said the characters just weren’t as interesting this season and the “heart” was missing from the show.
    Hopefully the writers/editors will take note of what their public is saying and wanting. Thanks for putting my feelings into perspective.

  28. Will we miss this? The conversation between Jamie and young Ian after they get away from Rose Hall.. Ian talking about what happened during his stay and asking his uncle if he ever had sex but did not want to (think of Geneva) and Jamie needing the portrait and pictures saying he sleeps better when his children are close. Those small things will be sorely missed by me. Excluding these things change the ultimate character of J and C. If they had not spent so much time on the “bat suit”, Claire drilling holes in head, and Claire in the jungle – maybe would have had more time to include these things. And yes I agree with others- the sitting in his lap, kissing her forehead “between her eyes”, Jamie’s humor, his love of her and his children – these things between them- I really miss. I have been frustrated this season so I have read all the books again. Brings me peace.

  29. Courtney, very well expressed how many of us feel about the essence of the characters. While tptb feel they are making Claire this extraordinarily strong woman (which doesn’t need emphasizing as she already is one), they are actually doing her a grave disservice in that she is coming across as a bossy, condescending, mothering to Jamie, scolding know-it-all who is at times unlikeable. And the worst thing about it is that they don’t understand why people are seeing their beloved Claire this way. Jamie on the other hand has been diminished because so many of his ideas and lines have been given to Claire and they had to show his growth into the man he becomes by showing him in the beginning as somewhat of an immature oaf, when those who know him realize he has always been a man who intuitively knows the correct thing to do in almost any situation, even when he was only 23 and first met Claire.

    Hope they read this and it’s not too late to correct this. The ironic thing is that some non-readers have also been expressing similar thoughts and they don’t have the luxury of comparing the books to get this opinion.

  30. I have noticed that Jamie & Claire are “more different” 20 years later, than they are in the book. Yes, 20 years changes a person, but not as drastically as has been portrayed this season. The only other complaint I have is that they seem to spend way too long on inconsequential scenes at the expense of a few precious moments of important scenes. Example – Claire’s long, long journey after she was washed ashore. I didn’t think that woman would ever find her way. I have missed the moments of love between Jamie & Claire the most. It’s been a very adventurous story indeed, but I need to see the characters I love on this adventure, or it’s just not the same.

  31. So very well said. I have been really quiet myself over the adaptation from the book. However, it has been very difficult to watch in Season 2 and 3 the changes to Jamie. It is just very disappointing and hard to watch some times. Clare just comes off basically caring about herself most of the time. I so miss Diana’s Jaimie and Claire.

  32. Well said!! Bring back Jaime and Claire! They are the heart and soul of this story. Make it a requirement that the book series is read before any major changes are done by writers, directors, and all creators of these wonderful characters. There’s one more season to prove you can keep the essence of the stories and more important the characters. Thank you

  33. Thank you for putting to paper, so to speak, what many of us have been feeling. I really appreciate that you are not one of the book purists, like those who felt Sam, by choosing to react to Brianna’s pictures in a way that was different than the book, changed the whole scene. I felt it was more in line with how Jamie, still in the state of shock, would have reacted. It also made more sense for him to include Willie at that point.
    Personally, I have often felt that the screen version is truer to the essential characters. Also the characters whose parts have been expanded have enriched the story, such as Murtagh and Frank. I do feel Claire is harder edged in the film version.

  34. Wow! Exactly my thoughts. Agree with everything said. The changes to the essential Jamie and Claire have bothered me from the beginning. And do they they not recognize the quotes from the book that are iconic. Missing!
    “Should have let them burn ye….”
    “You are John Wayne…”
    “Here, alone in the dark with you, I have no name”
    there are lots more.
    I think it can be summed up this way.
    At the end of season one on the ship Claire says “I’m pregnant”
    In the book in the pool below the abbey, she says “I have a gift for you”
    Why mess with perfection.
    One of the changes that has really bothered me is Jamie and suicide. Jamie expected to die in battle, going down swinging, or be shot in his turn after Culloden, but never would he have asked for a knife from Willie, or kneeled to LJG. He may passively expect it, but to actively seek it, never.

    • I agree with you Leslie! One of my favorite lines, which spoke volumes, was missing…
      “Do ye want me?” was included but why cut out “Sassenach, will ye take me — and risk the man that I am, for the sake of the man ye knew?”
      As an avid book reader, it’s been an amazing journey watching the books come to life, but now I’m struggling to retain the excitement. Not to say it’s still not an incredible show, but something’s not quite right, and I think all of the above posts have done a good job articulating that.

    • Hi Leslie,

      Good point. This is an example of something that is missing or inconsistent in his character. Jamie is deep down and fundamentally Catholic. This makes him who he is and informs his thinking and choices. We saw that in 304, but it’s missing in nuances throughout the show.

      • Rumour has it that Ronald D Moore decided to drop the Catholic references – don’t know how true that is, but for book readers, many not religious at all, it is a BIG part of who Jamie is, and although Claire wasn’t brought up particularly in the Catholic faith, through the books she also turns back towards it, and I think their faith is very important to them, a huge part of the books, and his faith is partly what makes Jamie the man he is, how he uses his faith before battle, during times of great need of “something” to hang onto, and even down to the hunting of animals, the Gralloch prayer for instance – although not Catholic – it’s an utterance of a grace for the beast’s life and for the food the hunter will gain from it… Whilst not needing to make Jamie overly Catholic, I believe a nod towards his and Claire’s faith would strengthen the viewers belief in their own beliefs – making them the people we (book readers in particular) know them to be

  35. Thank you for this, I think you express what many of us have been thinking, yet are afraid to say because we are still so thankful for the series. Brava.

  36. You have eloquently voiced my exact feelings. It’s the main characters and the essence of who they are that should never be changed. Like you, I feel the same way while watching sometimes. It is unbelievable because the Jamie (or Claire) that I know would never act that way. I agree about Episode 307 and could barely watch it. Claire would never have done that.

    Bravo to you for this well-written piece.

  37. Yikes! I’m swimming upstream here. I liked the scene by the river between Jamie and Leery. He may have been tempted for about one tenth of a second but quickly returned to his true self. And most importantly the encounter was the catalyst that sent him straight to Claire to once and for all repair their relationship.

  38. So well said. Exactly how I feel. If Jamie and Claire remain true to self there will be NO complaints from the peanut gallery. We know them, better than we know some of our friends. We know what they would and would not do. Plus, the lines! Jamie has do many great lines. Sadly missed many of them in S1 but I think they are getting it now. I love this show and am so grateful that we have it.

    • But Dolly the writers and production team AREN’T getting it, Claire gets Jamie’s lines, Claire is the all singing all dancing DOCTOR here – where she wasn’t, she knew in Jamie’s time she’d be thought of as a witch – so she was known as a healer – WE know she can do more than that… but saving the Excise man – that was wrong – Jamie’s protests, Madame Jeanne’s protests, all flung aside because Claire knew better, she’s a doctor… There’s been far too much emphasis on Claire being strong, Claire being a survivor – and so little emphasis on them reuniting and reigniting their love – and if the production team and writers don’t get a grip on this, they will lose viewers in their droves – we keep watching to see if that spark will come back, but it’s faded again this series – get back to the books, get back to the continuity of having the same writers, writers who know the characters, know the books, realise the repercussions down the line – and keep to the story and the essence of who Jamie and Claire are – we don’t need a different story, we love the ones we have been reading since the 1990s

  39. I agree that sometimes small things change the whole feeling between Jamie and Claire which is central. Just a few lines make a difference or if Jamie and Claire are touching or looking at each other when the dialogue is happening. The small things are important in feeling they are connected – no just a few sex scenes thrown in…. I

    • Agree -it’s “sex”, not love making….they don’t even kiss. It is just hurry up and F$ck. Not enough intimacy

  40. Excellent analysis of the impact of the choices made in editing and adaptation.
    You’re absolutely right about the boob gate scene. Editing made all the difference.
    And the addition of the surgery scene in episode 308 contributed nothing to the plot. It served only to forcefeed the viewer cliches about strong women, and waste valuable time. The distinction between Claire being a strong woman and acting like a strong woman is one I fear the writers will never understand. They are either ignorant of the difference between strength and stupidity, or they are pandering to a different audience. Claire in this episode isn’t a woman I particularly like, and I found myself wondering why Jamie does.

    Truly good writing doesn’t rely on cliches about strong women. Good writing tells us stories about women who are strong and capable.

    The other example of poor adaptation was to have Laoghaire appear in season 2. Another ridiculous waste of time and an excellent example of what happens when the writers don’t read the book.
    And don’t even get me started on the trek through the jungle.

  41. Agree. The plot devices that need to be changed to condense the novel to a screen portrayal I can accept. It is extremely painful to see the essence of Claire and Jamie and their relationship changed. The decision early on to make this show a “strong woman” show and not a relationship show has diminished Jamie especially, and therefore, thrown the balance of their relationship off. Please, please, could all concerned have a reexamination of how the creative team understands Claire and Jamie.

  42. I agree 100%. I didn’t recognize the adult Jamie and his relationship with Claire until he tells her she has to stay, that they were meant to be together. This happened when Young Ian was on Silkie Island.
    I cannot express how much I finally felt their relationship. He had stopped being the victim of all the travails that had been happening to him since the beginning of season 1, and truly took control of his life. He is supposed to be a strong character, yet up until this point he has been the underdog. taking all “on the chin”. Claire has always had to be the caregiver in the relationship. That feeling was not as strong in the books, as it is in the visual.
    I am looking forward to seeing their relationship form into a truly adult, equal, loving one without having to keep finding each other time and time again. (that sense was not as up front, in your face in the books)
    P.S. Yes I have read all the pros and cons between the difference of the written and visual, and do understand the why, but please come back to the adult relationship we all love so much.

  43. Wow this read-a-thon was terrific. I too believe this season is missing more than the episodes pre-reunion… Claire is brittle and confused in her return. Where is her confidence in this arena, rather than in the shabby “saving the thug who attacked her” scene. It is out of whack, even for the years apart and their different circumstances does not ring true. I know a lot to cover in this book, but the most “intimate” scene thus far was the little get-a-way on the ship in the storage room. They connected wonderfully. Then regressed. No wonder Jamie did not tell all his truths in the beginning, this Claire is confusing. Now I am a strong woman type myself and love Claire’s strength, as does Jamie, but don’t like our Jamie to be so twisted into a knot. He’s lost his place in Edinburgh, his home, livelihood, connections. Claire is in her take no prisoners mode, where is her longing for her man mode. He is the King of Men, and his core is strong – really – Armsmuir, Cullodon, cave living for 7 years – but this Claire is a befuddlement to me as well my man.

  44. Courtney, thank you for the positive support of the show with your constructive comments. I am so grateful that we have the TV show. I am missing the simple affection between Jamie and Claire, your example of her sitting on his lap is perfect. When they had that long look while standing in line I could not believe that Jamie did not touch her, draw her in or give her a forehead kiss. I was troubled by the Claire that insisted on the risky surgery and the Jamie that lied to Ian. Changing supporting characters (to a degree) is fine. Loved the Geillis and blood bath! I loved the books and love Claire, however I am hungry for seeing things from Jamie’s viewpoint and this is something the TV adaptation can give us and has somewhat. Hoping for more in the future. Finally, I support Sam’s portrayal of seeing pics of Bree.
    Thanks for the conversation, Courtney.

  45. Short & sweet it’s obvious to me the “strong woman/women’s lib” Claire theme is killing the Jamie/Claire love story. Are the writers/editors oblivious or what! They need some serious Diane coaching. I loved all your comments.

  46. Yes please! I don’t particularly like it when the story or characters are changed, however can tolerate that. Changing Jamie and Claire however, we’ll why bother calling it Outlander of your going to do that. Let’s hope they read your blog and take it to heart, you speak for us all.

  47. Totally agree. I do understand they cant do ths whole book and stuff needs to be left out..

    no need to add new stuff! I dont like the bigger changes.. bringing Murtah back this change so much in the future.

    I feel like you, they have changed the personal characteristics and value base of Jamie and Claire … the things we most connect with .

  48. My disappointment with the season is the direction. I have problems with some of the plot choices etc but the major problem is the way the make the actors portrayals of their roles. I just don’t believe Jamie and Claire. They don’t seem to have much chemistry. If i didn’t know better I would say Sam isn’t a very good actor but we all know that isn’t true. He has to act the way he is directed. I just binged watched the first 11 episodes and feel so let down. I couldn’t wait for the print shop and their first love scene lived up to my expectations but then things changed. For Jamie to just pull out William’s picture was so jarring. he didn’t seem to show much emotion. One thing I love about Jamie is his strong emotions. he hides them to others but never to himself or those close to him. he is a man of intensity. he shows his anger, frustration, love but this season he seems so flat. He especially shows these feelings to to Claire. The scene between him and Claire after Leery showed up was just WRONG. This should have been a knock down drag out fight. Claire left her comfortable safe life and the 2nd love of her life Bree to comeback to Jamie. now she finds out about his marriage and they have a “strong intense calm discussion”, instead of the fight in the book. Claire should have been clawing at Jamie. Jamie and Claire know how to fight as seen in S1 episode9 The Reckoning in the fight by the river ( my favorite scene in the whole series). ” Claire,you are tearing my guts out” That fight and the one between them in the bedroom where they have makeup sex are the definitive scenes of who Jamie and Claire are. They love each other to the depths of their souls and along with that love brings out the emotions of jealousy and anger. Book jamie sayed i would have never married L if I knew she tried to have you killed.

    • Hi Monica – Thank you for your comment.

      Are you talking about the scene in 308 when Jenny throws water on them? You did or did not like that one?

  49. Right on. Jamie waiting on beach while Claire is hot footing it through the dense forest… ( how long was Mamacita at the beach and how did she get back so fast.. ah well it doesn’t matter). I miss Lawrence Stern, I pictured the ” Professor” from Gilligan’s Island.. don’t ask why , just did. But back to the beginning, Jamie waiting looked bored, not anxious to get under way to meet Claire again in Jamaica. I know there are a few ‘wonder abouts’ the speech about dying, Brianna’s time of birth,etc etc. it is a big Web with Characters here and there connected to nearly everyone. Keep on keeping on, I am enjoying the road.

  50. Your best column. Ever. So succinct. So restrained. Yet so powerful. Thank you. I pray it will be heard and understood.

    My own take may interest you. I’m a non-reader. Yep. Never heard of Outlander until an influential friend began to crow about the upcoming show. All I know about Jamie and Claire comes from the show. And yet, I haven’t watched since the Print Shop episode. Oh, I will, indeed. But only because I must in order for the story to progress. But it won’t be with joy. Because Jamie as I knew him was not in that heart-stopping episode. The entire thing was ham-handed and false for me. (Unlike many, I didn’t rewatch the episode until I could accept its “intent” was at least point on.)

    I hope the writers and whoever in the world is in charge of direction and editing will understand that it’s not only the “book readers” who are missing these two characters this season. So are “show-only” viewers. I used to recommend this series like crazy, now I don’t even mention it. Apparently Droughtlander was not long enough to produce stories and behaviors congruent with these characters.

    Thanks again for your very eloquent post.

    • This makes me so sad. As an admin in a large group that has a lot of show watchers only, it has been heartbreaking for me to see many of them say, they really don’t like Jamie and can’t see why the book readers like him so much. A few have started reading the books and have then commented that now they see why we love him. When I started seeing those comments, I knew that it wasn’t just my expectations being off.

    • Lyzz, Thank you for the glowing review of my piece .

      And thank you for sharing your “show only” perspective. I personally hope the creators read my piece AND all your well thought out, well written comments. This stuff is gold. We’re all on the same team. xo

      • I am a show-only viewer also, and up to S3 I was loving it all in my book-innocence. In S3 (I’m just catching up – at 311 now) I have missed the relationship between Jamie and Claire. Reunited after 20 years, I thought they’d be touching each other (hand touches, resting hands on each other, etc) constantly when they weren’t alone together to reaffirm their bonds. I too have been a disappointed at the seemingly unbalanced focus on/portrayal of Claire, The Great Woman Doctor. She seems to the the Dominant One in the relationship now instead of two equally able partners with complementary strengths. I have the books on my Christmas list for Santa.

  51. Courtney, thank you for your thoughtful and insightful post. I agree with you that in many episodes we are losing the essence of Jamie and Claire. I think “Faith” is a clear example. While Cait’s acting was heartbreakingly beautiful, where was Jamie? He merely shows up at the end of the show, almost as an add on. Then we find out from the original script that Jamie did share some heartfelt, bonding moments with Claire over the loss of their child. Why was this vital dialogue edited away?

    Another jarring Jamie/Claire development was where Jamie and Claire go at each other after encountering BJR in front of the king. The fight was especially well written by Richard Kahan, a writer who should be brought back on staff. Unfortunately, the following episode doesn’t touch on Jamie and Claire’s argument or how it was resolved. These are things viewers need and want to see.

    The show’s writers make many excellent calls. As you point out, Gary Young is doing amazing things with Mr. Willoughby. However, if the beating heart if the show, Jamie and Claire, isn’t right, then it’s very difficult to keep audience interest.

    I feel that the show has undercut Jamie and Claire by writing Claire as superwoman and Jamie as her lesser follower/supporter. Cait and Sam are incredible in their roles. I just wish they could be portrayed more as loving equals.

    • DJ, I’ll have to go back and read Richard’s script, I didn’t know about the fight in front of the king.

      I will say that Jamie has been portrayed with more chutzpah in S3 than in S2 IMO. In S2 she felt like his leader. Thx u!

  52. I do not twitter and have not commented socially on Facebook so this is a first for me. I had watched the first few episodes of season 1 this summer with a fair amount of trepidation and unexpectedly found my imagination so captivated by moments of cinematic brilliance that I binge watched the remainder of the season, followed immediately by season 2. Unaware of anything called “drought lander”, I raced to read the books to pacify my cravings for future installments but also found myself able to experience the revelations of the first two books in a totally different way. Wanting someone to share the experience with, before long I was encouraging family and friends, none of whom had read the books, to catch up on previous episodes and watch the new season with me only to have these same people begin to loose interest as this season progressed. I was having my own difficulties with a couple of the episodes and began to wonder what the problem was. Following the storyline was not the issue. The adjustments to the plot necessitated by the change of medium are a foregone conclusion and can actually be intriguing to predict and enjoy. Since the acting remains stellar and only adds to the many high caliber components that elevate the series to higher standards of quality entertainment, the problem seemed to stem from other issues more difficult to define. This post helped to clarify the thoughts that had been bothering me for sometime. The character deviations are the most frustrating to explain and the narrative loses momentum when creative impulses are allowed to prevail over character and relationship development. Inconsistent writing remains the most likely culprit but editing and directing are equal partners making it difficult to adequately pinpoint the problem. It is great to include jamie’s POV. Just make that POV true to character. And yes, the intimacy is lacking while not referencing actual sex scenes to be included. A visually stunning snake scene takes precedent to understanding the cause of a shipwreck. So many examples have already been given. One can only hope that the powers that be can understand and listen so that a wonderful television experience can become an outstanding drama series finally reaching it’s maximum potential.

    • Beautifully put. All I would add to your great comment is the editing. Cutting out great scenes (per the scripts on the Outlander Community website) so Claire can drill a hole in the head of a villain (so we can see she is a doctor, yet 2 more episodes demonstrate she is a doctor), or as you point out to watch a snake crawl across Claire. I hope they find the heart of this series and we get a stellar drama series as Season 1.

    • Dear M, welcome to commenting 😊. Yes, the series is good, but reaches its full potential in moments or occasionally in single episodes (301,304). If they stay true to who the characters are, I believe this will increase. And yes, some scenes go on too long in a show that’s pressed for time (2nd half of “The Search,” Claire in the jungle…

  53. Well said Courtney, i am not a “booker” i have watched each episode at least 10 times. I feel some times that the scripts are written on an etch-a-sketch. They no longer have any continuity and jamie and claire act towards each other as if they were second cousins once removed. It’s as if the writers as well as the editors have someplace to be and rush through scenes. I am at the point where i dvr the show, i watch it during the week. Season one…i wrapped myself in my tartan fleece, no lights on and let the journey begin. Now, i do laundry instead.

  54. Thought I was alone. I am glad people shared here and especially Courtney to have the courage to put these thoughts out there. If all TPTB hear is perfect perfect perfect they will keep on same trek. Adapt what you want but keep Jaime and Claire’s essential characters intact (equals) and their loving partnership as well. I am a fan, but also a consumer.

  55. Thanks, Courtney, for raising these concerns. Like many others, I too share them. As far as I am concerned, the whole season has been a disappointment. The fire between Jamie and Claire is missing. The story hardly seems like it’s about them anymore. Instead it feels like a sea journey, not a wildly unique love story. Something is deeply amiss. I have wondered if it is because there are new writers, and there are so many of them. It’s no wonder the story lacks flow.

  56. I’ll add my comment that echos so many others to say I totally agree with your post. I am a lover of both the books and the TV series and don’t try to “match” them word for word but do think the essence of Jamie and Claire’s relationship has been lost a bit and they each have been turned into more one dimensional characters. Claire’s character has been turned more shrewish than strong. I also think the lines written for Sam and Caitriona have been, in some cases- not all, trite and uninteresting. They are such wonderful characters and actors – please give them more to “chew on”. I could go on about this but I also don’t want this comment to come off as negative because of the high regard and respect I have for the entire production. I can’t believe we are at an end – already! Thanks

  57. Yes! Yes! Yes!! I didn’t know how to say it but here are my true feelings so eloquently expressed!!! Please Outlander hear us!! This is why ratings are struggling!!

  58. I love this article from S3 E1 I got excited I saw the humor in Jamie facing execution and the depth of remorse with Rupert facing execution
    And I thought WHEW they got it Jamie is so much more than sex scenes with Claire….and then the episodes following A.Malcolm came and I started to become disenchanted
    It is exactly what Courtney wrote
    It’s not the fact that some of the
    Story line changed it’s the dynamics between Jamie and Claire that unconditional love that feeling that the fact that they are back together outways anything they go through
    They never doubted being back together…. yes she knew he had changed and the whole 2nd wife thing ticked her off because he lied
    But once the reconciled they were back on track and you just don’t see it
    I thought the scene in line waiting to see the governor was sweet and moving. But then all was lost

    I do feel they are missing the line with
    Execution of the characters
    I’m not a book purest either but Courtney I love what you said I’m a Jamie and Claire purest
    The comparison is hard not to do because although fictional characters the writing had such an impact on me personally

  59. Having read the books as well as watched the show, I think the problem (or part of it, anyway) is that the decision to film one book per season has turned out to be a poor one. 13 episodes are too few to cover the plot of Diana’s books……they cannot seem to retain the actions and conversations that are true to Jamie and Claire’s characters while also moving the show along so quickly in order to get from Chapter One to the last chapter. Add to that the propensity to make certain scenes much longer than they need to be while omitting the ones the viewers so anticipated because of their importance to staying true to the characters, and you end up with viewers who WANT to love each episode but are disappointed. Jamie and Claire were and should always be the crux of this story, and as I know from reading the books, other characters will begin to take up more and more of the onscreen time. I worry about how that’s going to be written, and I worry that some who will become much more prevalent in episodes are being portrayed by actors who might not quite be up to the challenge the roles require.

    One area the casting team has excelled has been casting actors who embody the essence of the role, especially when considering that millions of readers formed a mental picture of the character when reading the books. Here is where I have a complaint….the casting for Bree. Bree is supposed to be almost 6 feet tall. It wouldn’t be a major problem for me, except that the books emphasize this several times, and it ties in with her actions and how others perceive her. Sophie Skelton isn’t even as tall as Caitriona, much less Sam.

    What’s the answer? Take 2 seasons to cover one novel? Work at finding a better balance between plot and character? Use Diana as a consultant more often?

    Maybe all of the above?

    • It’s complex to be sure. Fans are all over them to do more faster, so I think some people would have a conniption if they slowed things down. I think putting in more moments like the lingering look between Jamie & Claire in 312 – as you say – the small moments – like the stinking papist scene between Willie and Jamie in 304. Those are the heart warmers. 304, written by Toni, directed by Brendan Maher, was a masterpiece IMO. Thanks for your comment x

      • Thanks Courney for the effort you put into this post. I agree with your analysis and 304 has been my favorite episode this season.

        I agree that the Jamie and Claire Relationship and their characters have not been depicted properly this season, But I am just wondering if, maybe, Season 1 was so extraordinary (at least for me) that none other will ever match the excitement I felt when I discovered Outlander ( had not heard of it before) . I particularly loved all the Highlanders (Colum, Dougal, etc.), the historical backdrop, the burgeoning relationship between Jamie and Claire. I miss the excitement I felt. Hope they can bring it back in S4. Claire and Jamie will always be together on Fraser’s Ridge therefore their relationship might again be the focus.

  60. Spot on. Keep in mind a few factoids, directed toward all. I read Diana’s posts. They hired 10 new writers. Some not up to speed. Maybe putting a few second stringers in the mix. Maybe too many cooks. Maybe not catching inconsistencies. Even she said she knows they switched lines of who says what, but those are small potatoes. They do consult her. She fights some things, concedes others. But don’t fix what’s not broken!! The characters we know and love. People often state it’s an adaptation. But even in adaptations, you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water…or shouldn’t. And, call me sexist, but maybe not have men (some exceptions) write the lines, internal dialogue, backstory, emotional direction for females. Who understands the female brain better than a female? Would be interesting to know the mix of male to female writers on the show….Courtney…possible to find out? Most shows have a dermatoge, not spelled right, who is suppossed to check scripts for mistakes, inconsistencies, lack of continuity, even facts like dates, times, references, names, etc. Courtney, that could be a great interview! Sometimes they’re called something else, like the “book” person, but book meaning script.

    • I, too, think they may have too many writers. In another forum I brought this up and was told that they have a split of writers who haven’t read the books and writers who have – or at least the book they are working on for the season. And, all the writers have a say on each script. I’ve seen pictures of the writing staff and it looks like there are a number of female writers. The one writer and executive producer, who has sadly left the show, is Anne Kenney. I thought all of Anne’s work was great, but she only wrote one episode in season 3. I also read a recent article where Caitriona Balfe mentioned that she and Sam Heughan have read scripts and they are asked to do things they know Jamie and Claire wouldn’t do or say and it becomes an argument with 7 – 8 writers. Sometimes they win with the writers, but the editors remove the scene anyway. I also read in Variety the other day that they have hired 4 more writers for season 4. So, that would mean 14 writers (if no one leaves, of course) and could point to another season like this one. My only hope, is that Ron Moore, once again becomes more involved, writes more episodes (with his wonderful wife Terry looking over his shoulder correcting the oopses) and gets this production back to the love story of Jamie and Claire. You may remember that Maril Davis and Ron Moore worked on another project this past year – Electric Dreams – that had to have taken them away from a lot of the Outlander world. If they are back full time, this huge production just could give us the Jamie and Claire love story that has stayed with us for 8 books.

      • There’s a saying “Too many cooks spoil the broth” and it would appear, too many writers spoil the adaptation

        What the series needs is three key things… 1. Continuity of writers (not chopping and changing) 2… The writers to be really up to speed with the books and the characters and 3… For the adaptation to solely use storylines FROM the books

        What has lacked this season is the story hasn’t flowed – it’s chopped and changed – and I know it has to be foreshortened for the small screen – but the writers have put in things that just didn’t happen in the books – firstly, the change in the death of the Excise man – dragged that out for half an episode – what happened and how it happened worked far better in the book – maybe Claire would have shot him rather than Willoughby – but he’d have been dead and disposed of a lot quicker… leaving Claire to meet Archie Campbell when she was getting herbs, and we could have had the lovely scene after Ian thinks he killed the man in the Print shop of Jamie taking him to confession… it’s these little scenes, conversations, nuances of the story, which have been missing… Also Claire’s trek through the jungle – in the books the Artemis was hit by a storm, breaking the mast, so a quick shot of the storm, not necessarily the damage to the ship, but see the storm heading towards it, and cut to Claire climbing up into the trees to escape the incoming tidal surge due to the same storm… then she comes down, Father Fogden finds her, takes her back to his home… and then it makes more sense the timeframe from Mamacita coming back with the goat’s head, to Claire reaching the shore and signalling to Jamie… same story, half the time spent on it, and we could then have had the lovely touching scene on the beach with Jamie telling Claire what he was going to do to her, and the noises she would make… then she could have caught her arm on the branch, and sat on his lap to have it stitched – again, another lovely few moments of the love between Jamie and Claire, all sadly lacking this season including the much anticipated, and biggest let-down, of their reunion … I really hope that Ron Moore and his entire team read all these comments and Courtney’s very well put together essay, and for S4, they up the anti and get it right again, like Season 1, which was just so good overall

    • Oh – one more comment. Someone give Matt Roberts a vacation – I don’t think that poor man has had a day off in 4 years and his job responsibilities have increased 10 fold.

      • I agree Karen! It’s a double edged sword though. Fans are clamorimg for more faster which is why no break and more writers. Creativity requires quiet moments of respite – as does sanity 😜. I agree, give our hard working team a break.

    • Hi Jodi,

      In S3 there were 5 women writers – Toni + Anne and 3 new ones, (Karen, Joy, Shannon) and 3 men – Ron, Matt, Luke. Karen wrote 307. And, interestingly, Toni is one of the ones who’d never read the books. So, I’m not sure either of those are predictors for “getting” Jamie & Claire. By the same token, someone can be a good writer and still not understand the essence of these characters. I think the fast pace makes it all a bit of a gamble & a learn on the fly situation. I would love to do that interview – I’ll see what I can do… x

  61. I agree. With the attackers surgery aspect, her commitment to the patient seemed very contrived considering that the guy tried to kill her. The book mentions frequently how Claire seems to just know who she is. She doesn’t need to go to such lengths to prove how capable she is. The end of this season seems to be running at light speed considering that there is so much important content is at the end. The episodes are so good though that I can’t help but be riveted in any case.

  62. I absolutely agree with you, especially when it comes to the two fundamental characters, as you mentioned. But especially in season three there are quite a number that I found unnecessary, as well as the latest episode where I fail to see why Gellis is portrayed so completely different from the book, with the blood bath and everything. Changes like that is unsettling as you pointed out, and any changes the writers make, should be done with the greatest necessity and consideration, not only to the readers of her book, but also to Dianna, who always graciously defends them.

  63. I totally agree. I love the series, but am concerned that the relationship between J& C is not as strong as it needs to be to endure what they both do to be together. As they age, I’m afraid to focus will turn to the younger actors love stories and that will gut it for so many of us.

  64. I agree with the majority of the comments here, and join with them to encourage the TV series writers to actually Read the books! Great comment about 21st cen thinking in an 18th cen series. And yes, the episode with Claire operating on her attacker????? Like being teleported into another show that I didn’t want. One thing I found incredibly strange was spending 20 min on Claire writhing around with bug bites, snakes and sand, before finding “civilization” on the island. Voyager was such a long book, with such rich development of characters, and insight- WHY spend so long on something so unnecessary to the plot, and yet Lord John was not on Porpoise and Stern was written out??? We want Jamie and Claire back, and less time on such silly scenes (which includes the Geillis in blood scene). Show the deep rich love and respect Jamie and Claire have for each other. As much as I love the books, these deviations are boring.

  65. Thank you, Courtney for your insight. It is wonderful for a fan to be able to get feedback from someone so close to the production. Your thoughts and mine are exactly the same. I decided not to comment until I had seen the finale and now I have.
    I have had a love/hate relationship with Season 3. I LOVE this show..the look of it, attention to detail, costumes, acting..all of it first rate. The musical score is one of the most beautiful ever brought to TV. Like you, I am missing J&C. The tenderness is gone. It seemed more than awkwardness to me. It just felt more like indifference and these two are never indifferent toward each other. For that reason I’ve HATED some of the episodes this season. Like you, without going in to a laundry list of complaints, I’d like to mention two disappointments that stand out to me. The decision to have Jamie tell Claire about Willie right after he first saw pictures of Brianna seemed totally wrong to me. In the book she doesn’t learn of him until they’re in Jamaica and in the book Jamie himself explains why he withheld this from her. He didn’t wish her to think he was producing bastard children everywhere AND he didn’t want her to think he didn’t care about Bree. Because he does. Many who’ve commented here do not agree and found that scene logical. It might have been. But to me it wasn’t Jamie.
    My second big disappointment was in episode 307. A complete waste of time. I did not recognize these two characters at all. I cannot even imagine under what circumstances the writers thought the millions of Outlander fans would enjoy this episode. It’s seemed to belong in another show all together… Dr. Randall, MD.
    In an interview I saw on TV, Caitriona Balfe herself described Jamie and Claire’s relationship as aspirational. I thought that was a perfect word to describe this couple. They are the couple we all want to be. They have the marriage we all want to have. It isn’t perfect for sure but they have an incredible fondness, tenderness and respect for each other, as well as a palpable physical chemistry. I loved Voyager, the book, because they were able to quickly return to that extraordinary relationship after 20 years and it was lovely to see. In Season 3 Jamie and Claire reminded me a bit of Claire and Frank in Season 1 in that they had some sexual chemistry, seemed compatible enough and not much else.
    I am not a social media person so I don’t know what all is going on within the production. My only hope is that they do stick with the Jamie and Claire story. And Jamie and Claire need to be the J&C we have come to know and know well. That’s what Outlander is about.
    I am so anxious to see Season 4! Thank you again for your post.

  66. I read your letter and realised what you were saying was absolutely true. The adaptation was brilliant considering the vast size of the novel and the complexity of the subject matter. There were however a few occasions when there was a conflict and I was uncomfortable and wanted to go and make a cup of tea. This was usually because of Claire’s strange behaviour.
    Yes, Claire, in the books, is strong and stubborn but she is rational and the exchange after the death of the corrupt excise man was irrational. She was no longer in Boston, she had chosen to come to Jamie and the Claire that Diana created would not have grizzled like that.
    Claire also said she would never leave him again several times, but she did stomp off as soon as things get complicated in a way that was not portrayed in the book (she leaves but des not stomp off) Thank goodness for the wonderful portrayal of Jenny and Ian who did a great job. Te writers seemed have adapted their parts ok as far as they could.
    The one real peeve I had was the half an episode devoted to Claire’s trip through the jungle what a waste of precious screen time.
    The best of the whole series was Young Ian and Fergus what a treat to see those beloved characters in the flesh.
    So looking forward to watching season 4 with Ian and Rollo !

  67. Thank you Courtney for going to the trouble to write this. I have a few ideas.
    First I think people today may find it hard to actually think a relationship may be the be all and end all of a life, perhaps this is why they give particularly Claire’s character the 20th century professional woman agenda. Today it would seem a woman is only ‘strong’ if she is also the super woman metaphor – perfect job, perfect home, perfect husband/family etc etc. It wasn’t like Claire doesn’t have amazing talents and actually a calling as is discussed in the books. Too much of an agenda in that for me. Isn’t love central to life? Anyway…
    The other thing I was trying to understand why, was the Laoghaire meeting as described above. I believe perhaps the writers focussed more on allowing a possibility of connection between Jamie and Laoghaire as a portent of the future. I mean it may have been a greater leap visually to see them as a potential couple if Jamie had responded to Laoghaire as in the books. ie polite but dismissive. Not sure.
    And finally I have a great quote from Compuserve from Diana, basically saying that in conversation with her husband he felt that book fans -” don’t realize that the show thinks it’s telling Claire’s story, and Jamie is an important part of it. What _you’re_ doing (Diana) is telling Jamie’s story all the time, through Claire. That’s your particular magic, to make those two be part of each other, and no TV show could ever do that.” FWIW.

    • Wow, that quote sums up the issue succinctly doesn’t it. It often feels like Claire’s story on TV. That probably means that they will stay on that trek with additional new writers telling Claire’s story with Jamie as important secondary character.

    • Great points Deborah – and great quote from Doug. I think there is a fear about making Claire seem too vulnerable or openly prioritizing/ wanting Jamie as he openly does her.

      I think feminism & the history of women is all a bit too raw in our culture – but I’d love to see them take that risk. Make her strong AND vulnerable and prioritize Jamie – have to be able to convey that in the nuances of the writing I think… culturally challenging today. Thanks again for your comment.

  68. Yes, yes, yes. Once again, Courtney, you put eloquently what many of us, I would guess, and certainly me, have been feeling. Let’s hope they listen!! This is a marriage of equals, but the series directors seem to have lost that… Outlander is more than just a great story, it is, as Cait said and Diana seconded, about a marriage that lasts, and it lasts because of who they are.

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