OutlanderBTS Episode 402, The Discussion – Do No Harm

Photo: Starz, Claire, Jamie and Jocasta, Ep 402

After seeing and digesting 402, I decided to do something a little different to cover it this week. After some thought and coordination, it worked out that Friday, I spent a lovely evening with three fascinating women: Karmen Schmidt, whom most of you know as Outlander Anatomy, Cathy Toomer, who is one of the contributors at Blacklanderz, and Antoinette Simmons, who is a force all on her own ?. We discussed everything about 402: favorite scenes, standout performances, scenes that worked, and ones that didn’t, and why, Jamie and Claire’s characters, slavery in the US and in the Caribbean, medical accuracy and details, and a lot more. I learned so much, and found it fascinating; I think you will too.

I always love to hear from you in the comments, so let me know your thoughts…



For more Episode Discussions like this one, go to Episode Discussions

If you’re looking for more Outlander during Droughtlander (aside from anticipating Bees, re-reading Diana’s other 8 books, and re-watching the show), visit my Interviews page, and Reader Favorites page.

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Be well xo

98 comments on “OutlanderBTS Episode 402, The Discussion – Do No Harm

  1. The women were very interesting to listen to. Wonderful to “meet” them in this medium. This medium is wonderful for people who can’t travel and meet in person other Outlander fans at different events. It just felt so cozy and warm. “If you love the Outlander books, ya gotta love the people who love them too”. Thank you!

  2. I loved this very much. So much was said, it’s hard to react to it all. I love that you agree the story is about Jamie (told by Claire). I love that you agree that Claire in Ep2 was too … well. … too ‘show-Claire’. I loved that you, like me, never experienced a show like this before and it made you contact other people about it. And I agree with Catherine that Steven Cree is a good actor, loved The Little Princess, but I don’t like the tone behind his ‘jokes’ towards Sam lately.
    Thank you all for taking the time to do this, I hope you wll do this again this season.

    • Hi Andrea, So glad you enjoyed! Thanks for all your kind words. I think Steven is just doing his Scottish job of making sure Sam keeps his feet on the ground through all this fame. Plus Cree is a twisted sistah! (in a good way). We were drinking whisky and wine etc, I think we all really enjoyed doing it! x

  3. Very interesting and informative. Good to hear others in agreement to some of my feelings about the books and series and in particular this episode. I have not wanted to watch this episode a second time because I did not like the way Claire was written. But after hearing about other things that were brought to light I will now watch again and try to have an open mind. Thank you ladies for this hour.

    • You’re very welcome! And I encourage you to fast forward the parts you don’t like (kidding). No, there are SUCH talents to be appreciated imo…

  4. This was fantastic. The women are fantastic. And you! Made me feel better about this episode. As previously commented, too much to say, so I will comment on one thing. The criticism of show Claire in this episode. Recognize her from Creme de Menthe? That stands as the only episode I really hated. Her arrogance. Her going back to be with a man she thought dead and loves more than life. Then running off the rails, treating him like scenery. The badly thought out death of the government man. Familiar? Same writer that I hoped with all my heart we would never see an episode from again. And here she is. If book Claire was like the woman portrayed in these two episodes I would never have read the books. Nor watched the show if she was the sole writer. The powers that be must be done with her. This is from my heart for these beloved books and beloved show. Thank you for this! I loved it.

  5. I did love that episode almost as much as Ep1. but I also think that the writer of that episode should go. She makes viewers almost dislike Claire. Yes it was a little over the top. But overall good episode. I watched 6 times just like I did for Ep.1. And every time I realized that I missed a word here and there. I know that the episode with the death of the young slave is not exactly like in the book but I think it is because they wanted to show us River Run and what the laws were regarding slaves.

  6. Re, E2, I thought that Claire acted ignorant! She shows no respect for Jocasta, who is her In-law, & no gratitude for her hospitality. Jocasta deserves both even if she owns slaves. Too many times, Claire acts stupid & uneducated. I didn’t like the episode-was verra disappointed. Deviated 2 much from bk. Thought it was more a political statement than Gabaldon’s book. Thank you.

  7. Thank you for this in depth look into Ep402. It wasn’t one of my favorite episode’s, but through your conversations, I now think that the writer’s intent ,was to elicit those conversations between fans. The episode opened my eyes to alot of laws that Ididn’t know existed. I do agree that they did make TV Claire seem more arrogant and sometimes had a total disregard for Jamie’s opinions. Hopefully Courtney, you can do this more often! I absolutely loved everyone on this panel. Bravo.

    • Hi Susan, I am hearing how much people loved it, and that makes me feel very gratified. Also, it was fun to do, and a bear to edit and produce (quickly)! We shall see about more… Thank you.

  8. This discussion was fantastic!!
    All three guests are so well educated and express their views so profoundly. I loved hearing their backgrounds and how that effected their interpretations.
    Courtney, thank you for this piece. We all enjoy Outlander so much and you always make it even more interesting. Great job. Do this more often??

  9. I sadly have to agree with all that was said. I belong to a small, diverse group of people who come from USA, U.K., Australia and New Zealand. We also have 1 articulate gentleman with us, a retired policeman from San Francisco. His cry is please include a man if you do this again. His talk at the beginning of our discussion post 402 was very similar to those of your panel. He didn’t like the emasculation of Jamie and the arrogance of Claire. To which we all agreed. But there are shining parts in this episode and I particularly felt Ulysses talk to Claire was very moving, the final scene absolutely gutting particularly when one realised this was not unusual at that time.
    I also thought the comment as to whether the writers were ‘book people’ rather interesting.

    • Diana, I was just thinking that I would really love to add a man to a next discussion. Send me your Outmanders! There is also a man who follows this blog, James. I would love to hear a man’s perspective, and include him in a discussion. Jamie and Claire’s characters are (hopefully) like a slow cooking stew, and can be tweaked over time. An update is needed!

  10. Courtney: I thoroughly enjoyed this discussion. There were so many comments that I totally agreed with and it will give me new things to look for and appreciate when I watch 402 again. If these women are willing and it can be accomplished I would watch a discussion after each episode. It completely deepens my enjoyment of the TV Outlander and also good memories of the book. I think Diana would get a kick out of listening and it would serve Matt and Maril to listen as well. Thank you so much for providing this discussion. Can’t wait to hear comments about 403 as TV Claire pulls a bonehead move again. Also would love to hear your thoughts on the recent news that they will skip an Echo in the Bone and go to ABOSA. I hope they include the very important plot line at the end of Echo. All in all, I tremendously enjoy the TV series and am not a book purist but was not impressed with 403. Can’t wait for your comments. Thanks again for providing this EXCELLENT discussion.

    • Hi Claudia, You are so welcome! I haven’t watched 403 yet, oh dear… ?, more Loose Canon Claire. I had not heard that news about skipping Echo In The Bone… that seems weird to me. I will have to get some more info on that. Thanks for writing, and I am really glad you enjoyed the discussion. ?

    • Have to say I agree with you, especially about Matt and Maril listening. One question, isn’t Echo In the Bone after ABOSAA? When and where did you hear this news?

      • Maryann you are right. ABOSAA is before Echo. The site I looked at had those books in the wrong order. Maybe the person that made that comment made the same mistake. I’m not sure what the source was, it showed up on my news feed and I don’t remember. When I looked at publish dates Echo comes later. Thanks for clarifying!

    • Hi Claudia, I did not like 403. Rather, I liked the Roger and Bree part, but not the Jamie and Claire part. I did like 404, and I loved 405! Let’s hope things keep going in this direction!! I am so glad that you and others enjoyed the discussion! We will do it again, and I may do it with a combo of guests – Thanksgiving and a fan convention trip intervened for the immediate. Stay tuned…

  11. Loved listening to you all and your diverse backgrounds and thoughtful discussion. It was educational, thoughtful, funny and just plain a joy to listen to intelligent women discussing a series and books they love. I had also noted that Karen Campbell the writer for Ep. 402 “Do No Harm” which for me is an ironic title, also wrote not just 307 Creme de Menthe (one of my all time least favorite episodes) but also co-wrote another of my unfavorites Ep 311 Uncharted, where we spend about 20 minutes watching Claire make her way through the jungle. Time which I felt would have been better spent in character development/exploration and work on the onscreen relationship between Claire and Jamie which has taken a turn for the worst last season and this so far. I really appreciate that Diana and the show chose to explore slavery and I thought some things were well done—but the overplaying of Claire’s surgical prowess and over the top caring on the one hand and complete disregard for anyone but herself is making her a very much more unsympathetic character on film than she is for me in the books.

    I adored Jocasta and I thought she struck just the right chords where Claire was strident and self-absorbed and I too felt that maybe Jamie should give her a good thrashing. (Not that I advocate that sort of thing—but the thought did cross my mind.

  12. I’ve never read any of your posts but happened to stumble across this discussion of 4×02, so I apologize if this question has been discussed elsewhere, but I had a question about the group’s criticisms of TV Show Claire. I have read all of the books so understand some of your points, but I couldn’t tell if the criticisms were aimed at the writing or at Cait’s performance. I personally think she is an incredible actress and have loved her portrayal of the character and her chemistry with Sam. Do you all disagree or merely dislike how her character is sometimes written? Even reading the books, I felt like Claire sometimes did dumb things despite being a smart woman, but I do get how it seems exacerbated on the show. I think my biggest complaint of the show is that there are so many impactful quieter moments in the book that focus more on character development or exploring Jamie and Claire’s relationship that are sometimes cut out in favor of action-driven plot points (understandable when considering how much needs to be covered in so few episodes.) I really love the story so always hope people respond to it positively, so they will continue making it through the book series.

    • Natalie M,

      Not sure who your comment was directed at—but it is the writing and perhaps the directing that is not working for me. Both Cait and Sam have proved they can act and give incredible performances. I totally agree with the lack of character development. The first two seasons actually were remarkable because they gave up so much time to that and the quieter moments. But as the seasons have progressed they seem to be emphasizing the action/shock points and giving us gratuitous sex that I don’t even care about any more because the on-screen chemistry that comes with taking your time is lacking. Jamie in 401 & 402 just is flat and I am looking forward to his reemergence as a “King of Men” or will have to get my satisfaction elsewhere in the series. I do hate the bangs these days…

      • Ditto the emphasis seems to be moving to action/shock and not the nuances of the situations Clair and Jamie find themselves in. Also, ditto the bangs! Costumes have been great, but what were they thinking with those bangs! Please get rid of them. And ditto I need the return of “King of Men”. I know he is a fictional character, but love reading and seeing a man portrayed with such morales and who tries so hard to do right all the time for everyone. He is a true leader and I miss seeing Jamie’s leadership skills in the recent episodes.

    • Natalie thank you for your comments. The criticism was aimed at how. Claire the character is written in the show. I for one think Cait is a wonderful actress and said so during the discussion.


    • Welcome Natalie! And have no fear, if people are watching, and rewatching, and discussing, that’s viewed as a positive by the creators! To clarify, I think all 4 of us in this discussion agree that Caitriona is a fabulous actress. I do think that she is written and acted in Eps 307 and 402 as an alien Cliare. In the books, Claire shows up and is reckless, but gradually she gets a clue, and is much smarter about her actions going forward (after Season 1, for example), because she IS a smart woman, and she comes to realize that her behavior puts others (especially the love of her life, Jamie), in danger. So she tempers her behavior. Show Claire seems to have a learning disability when it comes to this. (tongue in cheek). I respect Caitriona immensely as an actress. I think she just gets stronger and stronger. Thanks for joining in the discussion!

    • Dear Natalie

      Hello. I am Karmen, one of the panelists. Thank you for your comment. I apologize if you came away from the discussion with the impression we were disquieted by Cait’s performance. You probably have not read through all the comments, but early on, the panelists clarified that it is not Cait’s acting but the writing of her character that sometimes makes her unlikeable. Cait is a fabulous actor.

      It seems that some writers believe a strong woman means bossy, pushy, throwing stuff or yelling. Or, when her call to duty is so strong, she pushes aside every relationships to act on her medical calling, no matter the price. In my view, this is the opposite of strength. Yes, Claire in the book is a passionate woman and she sometimes does foolish things, but the character I have come to love from the books is also brilliant, thoughtful, compassionate, articulate, tender, loving and generous. These are the traits I would love to see brought to the forefront. I felt they were in, especially in 405, an episode in which she faced down indigenous people, a distraught Mueller, and being entirely alone for many nights with barn yard animals and Rollo as her only companions. No lack of strength there!

      I hope you were able to hear the positive things we said about the episode because there were many. I strive for balance in my perspectives. I want the show to continue, too, but that doesn’t mean I agree with every choice they make. I continue to watch and support their efforts. And, I buy the discs and subscribe to Starz. Best regards.

  13. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed listening to this. While I disagreed with a few points, I agreed with the majority of all partaking in this. I wish I had the opportunity to take notes as I listened so I could mention the specific things I found most profound, but there were a few that really resonated A LOT and opened my eyes to a different but very thought-provoking perspective, while others greatly surprised me. Made my walk today very enjoyable as I listened to it. Thanks so much!

  14. This was amazing. Informative. Sensitive. Wise. Thoughtful. As well as being food for further thought, I am thrilled to see women of color as part of this exchange of ideas.
    I live in Georgia, where we have just had a very hotly contested race for the office of governor: an extraordinarily well educated and brilliantly eloquent woman of color, running against a white man whose scruples are under suspicion. My heart breaks for the inhumanity of my ancestors. I know they owned slaves. But I was brought up to recognize education and wisdom. I voted for Stacey Abrams.
    I also want to say how very refreshing it is to hear women with WOMEN’S VOICES, instead of Disney-mice-in-the-nose sorts of voices, having a serious discussion about what has been presented, and HOW it has been presented. This was totally fabulous.
    I only contribute $3 a month to your purpose – it’s about all I can manage. But, I will say, that a full year’s worth of support was evidenced in this presentation of Outlander IV:2. Thank you so very much – and I hope you can do it again during this season!

    • Aww Cynthia, thank you so much for being my Patron! And I am glad we are not Disney-mice-in-the-nose sorts of voices ?. That cracked me up.

      I am for anyone who is extraordinarily well educated, brilliantly eloquent, and ethical: white, black, brown, woman, man, LBGT… etc. Not much we can do about history, except do better moving forward, and acknowledge the pain caused by our ancestors – I do think that helps.

      I hope to do this again. Thanks for your kind comments. x

  15. Loved this format Court! Many of the thoughts put forth a very akin to my own. Ep 402 is not one of my favorites for many of the reasons discussed. I wish/hope the writing of the episodes improves as the season goes forth. I suspect they do as Diana, Sam and Caitronia have all expressed how good this season is. I suspect we all value they’re opinions.
    I happen to be watching 402 as I write this and I have many issues with some the transitions Including; Pheadra just having Hector’s guns to give to Jamie as he goes to the Mill (does she have them on her always? Had someone asked her to get them?). These, in my opinion ‘slips’, diminish the quality of the writing. I get the need to move the story along in a specified amount of time is necessary, but…these are distracting and somewhat insulting to the viewers (just my humble opinion). I noticed other ‘slips’ in Ep 401 as well, such as after an evening of love making they ‘wake’ up fully clothed…really?). It makes me sad, as these types of slips were not as noticeable in previous seasons. I wish they would quit writing Show Claire as, well, arrogant and omni-focused when she is in Dr mode…not at all like Book Claire. Seems dis-respectful towards Jamie…Not the equitable relationship we know they should have. Ok, I’m done ranting for now…all that being said, the lushness of River Run and the visual story are so delicious, I can forgive, for now, the writing that seems to have taken less care with Diana’s story.

    • Hi Leslie, I’ve just watched them all again this evening and I’m afraid I have 2 more slips for you…the carriage lamp that disappears…and Claire takes off 3 stockings…???(once seen …never forgotten!)

    • Hi Leslie!

      I think they expect us to make the leap in those instances – Jocasta told P to get the guns, Jamie and Claire already had a morning sesh, got dressed, and are now hanging out in their clothes before they leave, etc. I just spent the weekend listening to Ron in Iowa, and I gained a greater understanding about how precious the air time minutes are… Eps 4 and 5 have me hopeful, how about you? xo

  16. This was great except for the fact I would have loved to be part of your conversation! LOL! 🙂

    Luckily we only have to endure one more episode of Karen Campbell’s writing…

  17. Hi Courtney, Just finished watching your post about ep. 402. I realize that it must have been a lot of work for you but how interesting and worth watching. I agree with most of what was said. One point I’d like to make is that if Catriona is playing Claire as an arrogant and self-centered person, it may also be the director’s fault. He/she is the one giving directions and notes. I also want to pay tribute to all the four smart women on the panel. I thought I was a super fan but I have definitely met my match. I particularly enjoyed Catherine and Antoinette’s input on slavery. Thanks for a very entertaining post. As always you put your heart into it.

    • Diane, your wonderful comments help fuel my heart for Outlanderbts.com! Good point about the director! Definitely. That is on my radar, but I will be pondering it more…

      Thank you xo

  18. Thank you for this interview! It was so affirming to hear others articulate so many of the same thoughts I have about the episode and series. What fascinating women, yourself included! I too, have never been a “fan” before until Outlander. Happy to be among so many thoughtful and intelligent women. I hope the producers see this interview and take heed of the thoughts expressed. Thank you again!

  19. Enjoyed watching the discussion and views expressed. I have been paying attention to the writers and directors, which have changed a bit since Seasons 1 & 2. For example, Anne Kenny did not write on S4, sad to say. Diana has always said the Highlander on Dr. Who inspired the story, so to me the protagonist was Jamie accessed via Claire. However, the way Diana writes you get Claire’s inner thoughts and little of Jamie’s. You know him from his actions and words expressed to Claire. I could see where Claire might look to be the driver to some. I know it used to be the writers were half book readers and half not, but it certainly looks like an early decision was made to focus on Claire as the protagonist In the show. So, the show is a separate work and I do not expect it to follow the books. They do not go far out of bounds. However, we do not always know the path of their arcs or their intent. I know some is due to the episodic requirements for a television series.

    One of the strengths of the series is what the writers fleshout. Secondary characters and scenes that expand events like the wedding or personal relationships like Jamie and Murtaugh. These really enhance the richness and diversity. Humor and lightness are also added. In season 4, things seem a little off to me, and I do not feel that honest connection flowing between Jamie and Claire yet. I hope it is just me. I have enjoyed the new faces. Aunt Jocasta provides a very interesting addition, like a female Colum. Phaedre, Mary, Rufus, Ulyssess added the personal dimension of people in a terrible situation they had to endure. Episode 402 was a tough, but well executed brief story on slavery, the abysmal laws, and impacts to all people involved in that system. I think Native American portrayals and events will also provide challenging discussions. However, I am also hoping to see series additions that expand the story in ways we saw on earlier seasons. Each person and their own life conditions create unique views to the same input and hearing them enriches my own experience. So, I look forward to seeing more discussions like this.

    • I enjoyed reading your reflections, Candi. Now we’ve seen up through 405, and I think they are exploring the side characters and relationships, and Jamie and Claire seem to be balancing out. I hope it continues. Thanks for your comment!

  20. I thought this was an amazing, erudite discussion and look forward to more–I hope with the same participants. You each bring such different points of view to the table. I also liked how your diverse backgrounds informed the discussion. Thank you. I will be looking for Outlander BTS from hereon.
    I am a latecomer to this series. I watch very little TV. I have binge-watched selected series (mostly British) each spring after a year’s worth of academic work for the past 4 years as a way of decompressing. My best friend in Jamaica’s interest in Outlander spiked mine. I first watched it in May. I read all the books rapidly over the summer and am going back to them. Nothing compares to Outlander to this point.
    What I most liked about your collective (and individual) analyses was that I now appreciate how the detail of the costumes and sets, historical detail and nuanced acting on the part of the supporting cast balanced the things that I found irritating about this particular episode ( i.e. the portrayal of Claire as headstrong and concerned with her own preoccupation to do no harm, and Jamie’s “emasculation”–although I found that descriptive a little strong.) I agree that Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan do a remarkable job with the material even when poorly written. I too disliked Creme de Menthe. I hope future scripts are as strong as, say, All Debts Paid or Of Lost Things. Again thank you for the discussion. If I have time I will watch it again.

    • Hi Susan! I like that word erudite! How funny that you came to this series via your best friend in Jamaica, and we had wonderful Antoinette in this discussion. The two episodes you mention are by Matt Roberts and Toni Graphia, respectively, both veteran writers, with the show since the beginning. It is pretty fascinating how the supporting cast (including Scotland, costumes, & sets) held this episode together. I don’t care for how Young Ian was written either in this ep. (dialogue-wise). Now we’ve seen through Ep 405, and I have been very happy with the last 2. I hope Jamie and Claire remain sorted out (in the writers room!).

  21. I’ve just LOVED listening to this conversation and now want you all around my dinner table please! How refreshing to listen to such a diverse group of women speaking my thoughts!.” Intellectually lazy”…YES I shouted..”I’ve never been a fan of anything before” ..Me neither!…”Jamie’s a genius”…yes! Consumate chess player thinking many moves ahead!….I could go on but thank you ..so much more interesting than Twitter or Facebook banter and bile. Please do this again Courtney? (And do you want a Brit on next time?……) ?

  22. Thank you Courtney for this discussion with such diverse women. They were amazing, using their individual expertise brought into the discussion of the books and the TV drama to dissect various scenes. And at times they were hilarious with some of their comments! It was quite enjoyable. I too am a book reader and a show watcher and I agree that the story is about Jamie as told through Claire and at times I feel Sam has been short-shrifted with how Jamie has been written for the show at times. He has so much potential as an actor and he often isn’t given the “meat” to depict a scene the way he could. Caitroina is also an excellent actress, but it seems she gets all the poignant, meaty lines and thus she gets all the accolades when it comes to awards. I know this discussion was about 402, but I loved the scene in 403 when Aunt Jocosta gives Jamie his mother’s candlesticks. The expression on his face and in his eyes had so many different emotions of gratitude and remembrance and was so touching. Hopefully he will get more of these kinds of scenes where he can really sink his acting chops. And I really had to laugh when the group thought its high time Claire gets spanked a little more often! I have to agree with that wholeheartedly! There are times when Claire is very annoying to me as well because whenever she gets excited about something or is lecturing Jamie about something she has this braying tone to her voice that would get really old after a while. She needs to be taken down a couple of pegs and Jamie should be given more of a voice in things, especially for those times. I love your blog and I loved this edition. I’m jealous, I wish I could be part of a discussion group sometime!

  23. Two Tweets by Scott Derrickson, director of Dr.Strange, that seem apropos to the above discussion:

    “It’s so satisfying to see a movie you’re unsure of or perplexed by, only to have a great filmcritic turn the light on for you and help you see why it’s great.”

    “Words become films, then we communally turn them back into words again.”

  24. Thank you so much for organizing this panel and to the women who participated. The breadth and depth of the discussion and respective areas of expertise was extraordinary – and that’s above and beyond knowledge of the books and familiarity with the production of the show. This could be my other OL series! ?
    Most of my thoughts about the episode were covered during the panel and in previous comments.
    But the portrayal of the Jamie and Claire characters is, of course, endlessly fascinating. The issues I have with it are not always discussed in such a blunt but measured way and you, collectively, took the words right out of my mouth! Some things that aren’t as frequently mentioned are the loss of Jamie’s intelligence and education. Huge loss, not just to character but to plots and story. In the books, what makes Claire and Jamie special is the accord between them, even if sparks fly, they are excellent co-workers. There is no need for them to have the same strengths (even if there will always be shared survival chores.) They are endlessly fascinated by each other’s thoughts and activities. Claire doesn’t need to be Jamie’s “equal” in physical strength, knowledge of the times, plotting their future. They discuss and make final decisions together, but Claire has a whole world of science and medicine to run. They are each completely confident in and committed to their own work – and in the other doing theirs. The show has often made it seem like a competition and has too often portrayed a simmering resentment in Claire toward Jamie. I don’t mind the fights, some of Sam and Cait’s best work ❤️ but, after season 1, there have been a few notes missing between that and “making up.”
    To me, the difference between how the couple were written in eps 307 and 402 is the ending. I don’t remember who said that Jamie was suddenly invisibly to Claire in 307, or an impediment to her medical practice? The dynamic started out that way in the treatment of Rufus but, by the end, Claire heard Ulysses and heard Jamie. She and Jamie were together in the final decisions and they were in accord emotionally as they saw Rufus off together. There was no such transformative process for Claire in 307. In fact we have been waiting to see it since Claire returned to the 18thC. It wasn’t close to the most important thing about the episode, and barely registered within the last scenes, but it was a sorely needed development in the J&C TV marriage.

    • That is my concern for the show. Jamie and Claire’s wonderful partnership in life. They are different and both very strong. They love their differences and each other’s strengths. I wouldn’t have cared a whit about these books and the show if it were as this writer portrays it. I am hoping it was just the writer for Creme de Menthe. Same one for 402. And, I heard, one more. Please that they stop her. I am wondering about S1 and the show where Jamie is foolish about rents. No. No. He was born to the task and did it. Not in that episode. Thank you for your insights.

    • Diane– I am in complete agreement with your following comments:
      “The issues I have with it are not always discussed in such a blunt but measured way and you, collectively, took the words right out of my mouth! Some things that aren’t as frequently mentioned are the loss of Jamie’s intelligence and education. Huge loss, not just to character but to plots and story. In the books, what makes Claire and Jamie special is the accord between them, even if sparks fly, they are excellent co-workers. There is no need for them to have the same strengths (even if there will always be shared survival chores.) They are endlessly fascinated by each other’s thoughts and activities. Claire doesn’t need to be Jamie’s “equal” in physical strength, knowledge of the times, plotting their future. They discuss and make final decisions together, but Claire has a whole world of science and medicine to run. They are each completely confident in and committed to their own work – and in the other doing theirs. ”
      Where I disagree with you is that I don’t think Claire heard Ulysses and I think that is one of the points the 4 people in this wonderful discussion brought out. Here Claire is appalled by slavery but yet she doesn’t take the time to listen carefully to one of the slaves–the articulate, measured and courageous Ulysses–and still insists on trying to find a solution that is more palatable to her and to her ideals. This resonates for me, for In reading articles by, and listening to, people of color I think that perhaps I have, regrettably, and with the best of intentions, done the same in trying to live in faith and act with compassion. My ministry involves working with homeless women, many of whom are people of color, and/or members of the LGBTQ community–some of whom are in transition–and despite employing active listening skills and listening with my heart and spirit as well as my mind, I, like Claire, make mistakes. I have been trying to review how I may be (unintentionally) complicit in perpetuating injustice. Being able to hear Claire’s mistakes discussed here, and the context of this episode as well, is informative and instructive, especially since I was born in Canada and did not grow up with American history and American mythology. (We studied Canadian history and European history.) Some things about the U.S.A absolutely confound me even though I have lived here since 1992 and am a U. S. citizen . (That does not necessarily mean that Canada’s history is better per se…for example, what I have recently heard about Canada’s treatment of indigenous peoples is appalling.)
      I believe someone else mentioned they would have liked to have been part of the discussion. I wish I could have all of you involved in this discussion (on the panel AND in the comments) around my dinner table to discuss all things Outlander and anything else that comes up.
      Courtney, please do this again!

      • My background is not germane to this discussion but for the fact that I wanted to illustrate how discussing Outlander can inform many parts of one’s life. Not all books or TV series lend themselves to this.

      • Susan, thank you for making me think more about this, with an extra nudge I got from another excellent article I read this morning. I was wrong. I had been looking too hard for a moment of accord between Claire and Jamie and thought I had found it in a way-too-late rise in Claire’s consciousness. Claire and Jamie may have had an emotionally bonding moment at Rufus’ beside that reminded me of their book partnership, but I now recognize that any focus on that was once again adding insult to injury in this episode. And you are right, she did not listen to Ulysses. It took exhausting every far fetched idea she could come up with to get her to recognize that she was doing her patient harm. I don’t think she ever really got the message that she was endangering all the slaves – along with her family who aided and abetted her breaking the law of bloodshed.
        If Claire made a conscious decision to lay down her life in protest against that law, fair enough and brave. It was a heinous rule. But she didn’t have the right to decide that everyone around her should risk that ultimate sacrifice as well.

        I appreciated that the episode ended with the lynching – for a minute I thought it would end on Jamie and Claire deciding they couldn’t stay at River Run. It finally brought the focus back to the point, Rufus and all the slaves at River Run weren’t leaving the plantation in a wagon full of trade goods and the family silver. The noose was the reality and the time deserves us to beat witness.

    • Totally agreed! But Anne has indicated she is done with Outlander and has moved on. We need to impress on the ‘powers that be’ that their choices have not done the source material the care it deserves.

      • Thank you for the link Kelly W. It is a shame that Anne Kenney is done with Outlander, Leslie. Much to my relief, however, Toni Graphia writes the last episode. But she and Matt Roberts don’t write as many episodes in S4 as in S3, and with Anne Kenney and Ron Moore, they are my favorites.

  25. Loved all the discussions and opinions above. I would love to be on a panel such as this one. I don’t want to criticize the show, nor the actors. The actors. follow a script – they do what they can with it. I love the books, have read them many times. However, if I may, I think the scenes with Claire and Jamie need a redo. I get the feeling Claire is treating Jamie very poorly, she seems very full of herself. This is not the Claire as we first met and came to love. However, I love Outlander too much to be too critical. I get a lot out of every episode. Thank you for sharing such an intelligent and insightful discussion.

    • I agree with your assessment of how Claire treats Jamie and, particularly about the actors doing what they can with what they are given, Rhona. I get the feeling that it is not exactly what the expected either. They laugh about it in interviews, about Claire bossing Jamie around or Jamie doing whatever Claire tells him to. I don’t think this is the Claire that Cait was first cast to play. She is forced into a role to which she is not able to give much dimension. I get the feeling she is frequently told to “stand there and glower.” As poorly as some of Sam’s role has been written,, the fact that he got less dialogue and direction, at times, allowed him to show emotion in other ways. Even though I’m thrilled that Claire has finally made the commitment we all waited for last season – and they’ve had beautiful dialogue for that – the show seems to have doubled down on some of the unfortunate reshaping of the characters, and their relationship, that conflicts with what they were in S1 (let alone in the books.) We are told there is some reversal of that once they start building their home and I hope so.
      Despite that fairly serious problem, I still absolutely love this show. Jamie and Claire – and Sam and Cait – still get to bring us an extraordinary level of emotion and passion for TV. In affection or anger – sexual or otherwise – together and apart. And, course, there is the wonderful cast off characters being introduced and all of the transcendent aspects of the production.
      Still, much as I try, it is way too often impossible for me to ignore the inexplicable adaptation of our central characters ???.

      • Hi Diane: I enjoyed your comment and appreciate your perspective. I can’t imagine a week without Outlander, Jamie and Claire. There is that special bond between Jamie and Claire that shines in spite of. Sam and Caitriona have made Jamie and Claire so real, they have become a part of our lives. It would be very interesting to see the results if Sam and Caitriona were in control of their roles. I do remember when Sam saying he insisted on wearing glasses when he was in the Print Shop scene in Voyager because it made common sense. And later near the end of Voyager he didn’t want to say a certain line but was told “he had to”. So, I guess, the actors, the directors, the writers, and everyone all have their say one way or the other. I am loving every minute of Season 4, every Sunday is special because I know Outlander is on. I am hoping Outlander will go beyond Seasons 5 and 6. So, again, thank you for your reply and have a wonderful week.

  26. I just watched the episode again with Toni Graphia’s and Luke Schelhaas’s podcast. It was interesting to hear why they made the choices they made. I stand by my observations regarding the interaction between Ulysses and Claire above. However, having listened to the podcast I am more sympathetic to the choices the write and director made for Jamie and Claire. But I have not had the time to listen to The Discussion again yet, so I am reserving judgment for now.
    Something Toni Graphia said, which resonated with me, and which may have been touched upon in The Discussion, is that it must have been unbearably hard for Jerome Holder to play this role. His performance has been commended in every interview I have read or listened to.
    So a little about grief and suffering and anger and faith and prayer in this episode. I believe Jamie’s faith was touched upon in The Discussion. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    I cannot speak for others in ministry (I am Presbyterian) but one of the things that we learned in seminary is that each person’s grief and suffering and anger within that suffering is unique. To say “I understand what you are going through” is, in fact, incorrect, even though one may mean it as comforting and with the best of intentions. I think the same can be said for our differing reactions to this episode on the part of those who engaged in The Discussion, and also the rest of us commenting here.
    I have come to that one person cannot “enter into” the grief and suffering and anger of another (except when two are as one as in To Ransom a Man’s Soul–but that is rare.) From my faith vantage point, only Christ can do that. Try as I might I cannot enter into the grief and suffering and anger of those who performed in this episode or those who have watched it. But what I find is that I am coming to a better understanding of those feelings because of The Discussion and the ensuing comments here. I suspect that I will also come to a better understanding of the feelings of Native Americans (I googled the preferred term–the majority of 7 or 8 people profiled in one article preferred that term) as the season matures.
    What I can speak to is that for me, perhaps the voice over of Jamie’s prayer might have come at the right moment in the Outlander series. Yes, his prayer over Claire before Culloden was tender and heartfelt (and was somewhere in the book) but here the formal (and I think someone somewhere said Celtic) prayer both shows the depth of Jamie’s faith hitherto downplayed, and the fact that in such horrific moments what is left to us as human beings is prayer. And given the way that Jamie’s prayer is handled, it could be seen as a prayer not only for him and Claire, but for the angry mob “for they do not know what they are doing.”
    So I am revising my opinion of the writer, Karen Campbell. There are aspects of this episode I don’t care for, but on another level it is, at least for me, deep. (So I suppose Creme de Menthe deserves another look.)
    I need to read Drums of Autumn alongside S4. Every time I read the series I admire Diana Gabaldon skills as a writer more.
    I realize I have gone way off track here and so If you got this far, thank you for indulging me. But in my defense Jamie’s faith was touched upon in The Discussion.
    THIS is why you need to gather your panel together for discussions of future episodes! You stimulate a lot of thought.
    Oh, and if anyone is inclined to look more closely at the spiritual aspect of the show, visit Outlander Soul and listen to their podcasts.

    • Dear Susan.

      Thank you for listening. I would like to comment here as I was one of the four participants in this discussion.

      Like you, I was gratified to see Jamie kneel in prayer at the end of 402 and agree with you that its content, if not intentionally directed at all of us, certainly will resonate with those whose hearts are touched by it. The episode has many merits and I think we covered these. The object of this discussion was to compare, contrast and analyze the content of the episode keeping in mind, DOA is the penultimate resource.

      Despite medical and anatomical hits and misses, the main issue I grapple with is that Jamie’s character is diminished seemingly so Claire can show what a powerful woman she is (shouting, yelling, being bossy, ignoring advice, judgmental, being ungrateful, throwing stuff (in past eps) ). His character is in danger of being relegated from star status to supporting role. I prefer episodes when both are allowed to shine – something that has been successfully done in many past episodes.

      The Claire I know from the books is capable, fearless with a scalpel and brilliant but also thoughtful, generous, grateful and aware of nuance. She seems oblivious to many of these in 402. Do the writers really think that the only way a woman can be strong is to become patriarchial herself, the very thing she rails against? The Claire I appreciate would not have taken Rufus to Jocasta’s home and laid him out on the dining table. She is much too savvy for that and when 18th century situations arise that seem beyond her ken, she seeks Jamie’s perspective. IMO, advancing the cause of the feminine should not mean trading places with patriarchy, but finding a new path that appreciates the gifts, perspectives and intelligence of all humans.

      Happy Thanksgiving (if you celebrate it)

      Karmen Schmidt
      Outlander Anatomist

      • Wow, Karen, that was such a comprehensive, succinctly expressed, and brilliant (had to add that, it was that good) description of how Claire is too often portrayed – as well as how her rewritten character impacts Jamie and everyone around her.
        Perfect: “Do the writers really think that the only way a woman can be strong is to become patriarchal herself, the very thing she rails against?…advancing the cause of the feminine should not mean trading places with patriarchy, but finding a new path that appreciates the gifts, perspectives and intelligence of all humans.” I have written so many words about the evolution of show Claire following S1 and those words, which explain so much, never occurred to me. Thank you!!

      • Yes, Karmen. Yes. I love both books and shows. Most of all, I love seeing the cast. It is my biggest sorrow that the writers are taking away what I love about Jamie and Claire.

      • Dear Karmen
        I just lost a long response to your comments because of my router, so here is what I tried to say in a nutshell:
        (i) I am new to all things Outlander, having only binge-watched it in May and sped through the books over the summer.
        (ii) I agree with you about Claire. Where is the Claire who is, in your words, “thoughtful, generous, grateful and aware of nuance”?
        (iii) I agree Jamie is diminished in 402, even from prior “screen-Jamie.” Where is the Jamie who convinced Collum to let Dougal “play the rebel” or the Jamie who knows how to be a leader, both while training his men before Prestonpans and while in Ardsmuir.
        (iv) I loved “The Discussion.” I believe the words “amazing” and “erudite” are floating around somewhere. Please do another one.
        (v) The prayer did touch me, but that is because I notice these things much in the same way you notice medical details.
        (vi) I was trying to be generous to the writer in my discussion of the prayer.
        (vii) I liked Toni Graphia’s and Luke Schelhaas’s podcast because it explained some things. It also brought home to me how actors can redeem a weak script.
        (viii) I shall have to watch S4 with Drums of Autumn in hand.

        I love this line of yours:
        “IMO, advancing the cause of the feminine should not mean trading places with patriarchy, but finding a new path that appreciates the gifts, perspectives and intelligence of all humans.”
        Happy Thanksgiving!
        Oh, and did I say please do another Discussion?!!

        Susan–Outlander Newbie

        • P.S.
          Susan McDougall and Susan M are both me. But I posted the long post under my full name in the wee hours of the morning because I forgot that my computer auto-fills the name boxes. Posting at dawn also explains the numerous typos and grammatical errors for which I apologize.

  27. A hearty thank you, Courtney, for this fantastic idea and for all the work it implied! And thank you SO MUCH to ALL OF YOU ladies for this intelligent, fascinating discussion. Like many others, I would be delighted if you could repeat this sort of exchange regarding other episodes.
    I agree with many of your opinions but also disagree quite strongly with some of your comments as well as with those of some fans’. I wonder why. I probably perceive certain aspects differently because I saw S1, S2 and S3 in a few sittings (almost non stop!) and afterwards read the books and because I’ve only read the books once, so I don’t remember so many details of the book. I’m convinced that the impact any shows has on you diverges if you watch a whole season when it’s finished or if you watch an episode every week without knowing how the show will go on, For instance some details may be included later in the show (I’m not saying that there are no slips). Of course there are episodes which are better than others and writters and/or directors who are better than others.
    I cannot see such an imbalance in how much room Claire and Jamie are given, it only depends on the episode and the story line. The narrative wouldn’t be good if both were as important in every episode. But you’ve given me much food for thought and I may reassess my opinion…

  28. I loved the fade between the road below the NC peak and the wagon path. That peak looks suspiciously like Grandfarther Mountain- the site of really great Highland games – even in the 1970’s- so I like the change from the book that has us see both couples there 200 years apart. Good job location crew!!!! I lived in that area for 8 years and it’s more than believable.

  29. Oh, my gosh! These intelligent, professional women on Courtney’s panel have such incredible insight, and were able to so eloquently express their thoughts and feelings about the show vs the book. Phenomenal webcast! Thank you so much ladies. I hope to hear from you all again after the next episode!

  30. Hello Courtney- Many thanks for this insightful, intelligent and honest discussion of Episode 402. I have long felt that the writers and producers are doing a huge disservice to Diana’s portrayal of Jamie and Claire. I am certainly not a book purest by any means. However, sadly as you and our guests pointed out the writing has become very lazy, transitions are weak and the show’s servitude to the character of Claire has become boorish at best! The writing has turned what endeared so many readers to these books; the partnership between this couple, into a gratuitous celebration of the Hollywood premise of the “strong/feminist woman! It’s the same old story of win and lose! If a woman wins she has to be shrewish, emasculating and ostentatious! Instead of embracing an egalitarian win/win model as Diana’s characters live: Claire’s behavior is not strength, acceptance or tolerance based. The powers that be cannot see beyond that old paradigm. They must believe that making money at the cost of the amazing quality and strength of the original writing is worth it. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am. However thank you for this wonderful place to be honest!

    • Dixie, I’m very grateful for your description of how Hollywood, TV even more so, depicted the strong woman. I’ve been angry about that since the first episodes in Paris. In part because many viewers have complained that the change in Claire after S1 is based on a “PC feminist” POV. I’ve been arguing that it is the absolute reverse but could not articulate it as well as you have. It takes the TV view of a strong woman back decades, exactly as you describe. Decades of fighting against that trope to the point that there are realistic portrayals all over TV now (even if some are sci-fi/fantasy characters, so is Claire, Lol)
      I hope you don’t mind me quoteing you if I need to explain what I mean again. Many thanks!

    • Perfectly stated Dixie. I always think of book Jamie and Claire as partners, as equals. The series has been one downhill slide into subjugation. In this case Claire’s subjugation of others to her will. It isn’t consistent, but it’s enough to be bothersome. And worse is that what makes me want to read or watch is my sympathy for the characters. Even Frank or BJR have you caring about them. However I have come to the place even with Ep. 403 where I do not care, or I don’t care as much as I used to. The flatness and boorishness of the characters means no amount of sex appeal can overcome. The rote sex of Ep 401 did not titilate it had me askin questions and getting bored. I guess I am old fashioned but the foreplay and relationship development is MORE important than screen sex. And if you make the King of Men into a sex object it turns me off not on. And as I have stated previously and others have mentioned screen Claire needs a good thrashing, or at least a gag in her mouth.

      • Kelly, I won’t get into the thrashing or the gagging, lol. But I will say that as much as the act of sex itself was beautifully done in S1 (IMO,) a great deal of it’s expression was in the passion and yearning for each other in every episode. One reviewer referred to pre wedding as six episodes of foreplay, as a compliment. No one does sexual tension like Sam and Cait. Think of the picnic on the cliff after the wedding episode, the dialogue and their hands together did me in. Where did our love go!!? As someone who fell in love with the show as Claire and Jamie fell in love with each other, before I had heard of the books, I still miss that and see no reason for it to have diminished – it most certainly is not age related. We have had some great scenes of passion, both loving and fighting during the last two seasons. But, in between… well, we get a lot of “Eskimo” kisses now and, as you say, flatness. I am hoping we see that love again but Jamie can’t carry it himself so much. Even with some excellent scenes last season, Claire’s seemingly constant anger toward, or annoyance with, Jamie, and her failure to say yes to “will you risk the man I am, for the sake of the man you knew” was all so awkward. I am sad to say that my investment in the relationship has somewhat flattened as well. But, hope springs eternal, I’m willing to fall in love again if the writers allow my characters to make sense again in the coming episodes. Somehow. The last lines of 403 seem like a good restart but we’ve seen many of those come and go.

  31. Diane– you hit the nail on the head. There have been some tender and well done moments since Season 1, the overall arch of the relationship is failing me and it isn’t for lack of trying. Wonderful “six episodes of foreplay” and then they gave the sex time to go from awkward first sex for Jamie to Claire teaching him a thing or two. I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs it’s the Relationship Stupid! Even eye candy gets tiresome without passion. That tension is so missing…and mature sex can still have that. And like in Japanese landscapes strategic conceal and reveal can be employed. I too keep hoping…..and I hope the message is received up high but I think maybe the commercial success has “dumbed down” some of the thought provoking, more intelligent and nuanced aspects. Hell if all I want is sex and violence I can watch Game of Thrones. I do feel my interst shifting to Bree and Roger as a replacement to what has gone sour with Jamie and Claire.

  32. I think we all believe that the scenes with Clair and the slave at Jocasta’s did not work.. it was too far from the book and made both Jamie and Clair seem stupid. This new season is getting better but I think the changes from the book are too drastic and feels like they are rushing though the story without the special details that make her books so great.

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