Discussion Highlights & Insights with Diana, Cast, Crew & Fans ~Episode 401


First, a couple of informative, logistical things… You can find the scripts and the podcasts for the Outlander Season 4 episodes right here on good old Outlanderbts.com. Go to the Outlander Behind The Scenes homepage: Outlanderbts.com, and scroll aaaaaaaalll the way down to the bottom right-hand corner, where you’ll find “Links to Great Outlander Stuff.” 

Along with others, you’ll find these links, which take you to: the Season 4 episode scripts, podcasts, commentary about sets, and costumes…

OK, onward.

Sam live tweeted Episode 401, and here are some highlights…

Ref Jocasta’s affinity for all things Cameron…

It’s been said often that “Rollo” isn’t the easiest costar to work with…

And when asked about working with Tim Downie again, (they did a series of Tennent’s Lager ads together some years back),

Sam said…

Speaking of these two, there were questions as to why Jamie being a papist wasn’t cited as an issue for the Gov’nah, as is the case in DOA…

It’s wonderful how supportive everyone on the team is of each other. Sam praised John Bell’s performance in the graveyard…

and Maril gave Sam some well deserved praise…

Diana praise for Maril and the team…

Sophie love for Caitriona, and Cait love back to Sophie…

Diana for Keith (Lesley)

Colin for Tim…

and Diana for John and Sam…

It’s one big happy family!

Apparently the graveyard scene was on the chopping block at some point during production, and Diana spoke up…

Maril gave some insights about shooting sequence…

and casting…

Maril also tweeted about the use of America The Beautiful during the violent Bonnet murdering and thieving scene. That creative decision wound up stirring up lots of controversy, especially with the midterm elections coming on the heels of this episode. A lot of discussion followed, between everyone, on SM.

Some people objected because a modern song was paired with a sequence from the 18th century…

As #KiltDaddy would say, PHEW! I personally liked the creative choice. So many times we see the limits of television when trying to do justice to the behemoth of Diana’s work. In this instance, I think Toni and Matt capitalized on the strengths of TV to convey the irony and the horror of what was happening. Dialogue and grunts would have had a lesser effect, in my mind.

Here is adorable John Bell talking about filming those fight scenes…



Maril went on to comment on the love scene in 401, between Jamie and Claire…

Leave it to us book fans to become wise acres right off the bat…

I thought it was a beautiful intimate moment and love scene between Jamie and Claire. It balanced out the episode in my opinion. The stills from it are positively… art. 

Someone complained that there were 20 minutes of sex scenes in Episode 401 (I said, “I wish!”), and why did the show have to have so much sex??? That was another one that started lots of conversation…

About the love scene, Darlene Doughert tweeted: “Provocative, subtle, tender, emotional.Readers walk into a book, getting lost in our imaginations.Viewers see characters leap off pages thru rich visuals & dialogue.Bravo creative writers-for adapting a complex story, retaining its essence, while enhancing, not merely retelling,” which I think is a lovely tribute. 

Every Tuesday the writers take to Twitter to answer questions about the episode from the Sunday before. Here is a compilation of Tuesday’s Q&A…

Q: Was the voice-over of Ray Charles during such violence meant as a political statement, a foreshadowing, both or neither?
Writers: Neither. Use of the song was planned from the beginning, long before we even knew our premiere date. Originally, it was supposed to be instrumental, but we didn’t think it would be as recognizable.

Q: Did I miss something? How do they know about Lillington? How did they end up at dinner with the governor?
Writers: They received an invite to the dinner in a scene that unfortunately had to be cut due to time.

Comments: This is one of the bummers about TV: time! The writers often take it on the chin for things we perceive as missing, and often those scenes, or that dialogue is actually in the script! Which generally means they shot the scenes as well. Based on the Twitter comments I saw, there was a fair amount of confusion for non book readers about how Jamie and Claire ended up at this party, (and how they ended up in North Carolina from Georgia). 

Q: I love the medicine chest gift part of the book, and the way you brought it to life was wonderful. Truly a gift Claire would treasure. It is a beautiful piece – was it made for the show?

Writers: Yes, there were three versions of this chest created for the show. The first was the master with everything in working order. The second and third were practical, lighter versions to use as a moveable prop.

Courtney’s notes: I thought the medicine box was beautiful! For more detail on Claire’s anniversary gift from Jamie (just before all hell broke loose): go here: Claire’s Medicine Box.

Q: There are what, eight different writers this season. How do you all coordinate and keep continuity in tact? I admire the process and would love to hear more about it.
Writers: Lots of communication. We spend 8 hours a day in a room agreeing (and disagreeing) with each other.

Comments: Someone asked if all of the writers are book readers now, which I thought was a great question, but was not answered.

Q: Jamie still says Claire “left” him to go back through the stones even after their huge fight where she reminded him that he made her go back. Does he really feel like Claire left him willingly? Or is he just speaking generically about when she left his life? Thanks!
Writers: He’s just speaking generically. She did technically leave the 18th century.

Q: Did the sign over the tavern have the same design as the cover of Drums of Autumn? The tree?
Writers: Gary?

They are pictured above for comparison – not exactly the same, but maybe an Easter egg? I don’t know if Gary ever saw this question. 

Gary: (this was not in answer to the Q&A) That sign was designed by our Brilliant graphics Kimberly Bright and Craig! And it’s on our backlot in Scotland. 

Q: Why did you choose to have Bonnet tell Claire of his fear of dying in water?
Writers: We needed a way to ingratiate him to Claire and Jamie very quickly.

Q: How do you come to agreement on what is necessary to bring the story forward. So many characters, so many plots, so many pages in the books. You do it. It works for me But how?
Writers: Lots of hard work and conversations. It takes us a very very long time to condense 1000 pages into the most cinematic storylines, because they have to be able to play on screen.

Diana chimed in a few days later, saying “And you do amazing things in that small space!”

Q: What was the song that they all sang for Hayes in the pub? And translation?
Writers: The lament for Hayes was composed by Robert Robertson, and you can find both the lyrics and the translation in our 401 script annotations on http://OutlanderCommunity.com.


Q: Will we see the return of title cards in future episodes?
Writers: The titles cards haven’t gone anywhere. You might have missed this one, because you were distracted by the majestic eagle swooping across your screen ?

Q: the ending was gut wrenching brutal. I need to know how many boxes of Kleenex I am going to need for each show. Please tell me how to plan? I hope this was the worst (but I know it won’t) ugh.
Writers: Minimum 2 boxes: A sad tissue box and a happy tissue box. If you can get the kind with the moisturizer, that’s our recommendation ?

Q: Is one of the writers a “Captain Jack Sparrow” fan, hence the swagger Bonnet was doing? LOL! Loved the show and looking forward to next one!
Writers:  Ed Speleers brings plenty of his own swagger.

Q: where was Duncan? I’m thinking Murtagh will takeover what Duncan’s role was in the book since we haven’t seen either of them. ?Also, why did the episode begin in NC instead of Charleston? ?
Writers: Don’t want to spoil anything by answering the first, but the episode began in NC as a way to condense time as well as the amount of sets needed.

Q: At the dinner (as in all other occasions except at the Governor’s Ball in Jamaica) Jamie doesn’t wear a wig while the others do. Is this acceptable during that time?
Writers: Contrary to what many people think, not everyone wore wigs at the time. Jamie is wearing the hairstyle of the time for his station.

Courtney’s notes: This kicked off a big discussion (among fans) about Jamie’s wig. Many people are not fans of the bangs (understatement)…

(I cannot tell you how hard I laughed when I saw this photo)

Herself even got involved…

Ever the voice of reason…

And nit-pickers rejoice!

Not to be a brown-noser, but guys, Jamie did have bangs in Season 1, when Sam’s hair was Jamie’s hair…

Q: Does young Ian know Claire is a time traveler? And if he does, do they ever talk about it? I think he has to know based on the season 3 finale.
Writers: Nope, he doesn’t know.

Courtney’s notes: Yet!

Q: What was the most challenging scene to shoot in the premiere?
Writers: The riverboat. Anytime you add water, it’s challenging.

Courtney’s notes: The scenes on the riverboat looked very CGI’ed to me, which I was confused about, since last year’s CGI’ed water scenes in Voyager looked great. It’s not like it was Land Of The Lost bad, but it did pull me out of the story. It also looked like Eutroclus was just standing there holding that pole, was it for steering? I think the mechanics of that whole boat scene, while going down the river, didn’t work. 

More from Jon Gary Steele on sets/locations:

Gary told TV Guide earlier this year: “Normally, halfway through [the current season] we start researching and prepping [for the next season]. But we’re so busy this year, it’s really a big year.” He continued, “It’s my biggest build so far. It’s huge. It might be the best looking year of all.”

That’s exciting! And makes sense. He designed, and his team built a whole town on their back lot, including dirt roads (which often become mud roads, since they are in Scotland). 

Blacklanderz said, “Love this set. Outstanding!”

Gary, responded: “This is actually a real Historic home in Scotland.”

Liz Boulton of Outlander Costume department wrote: “It’s a real library, once called ‘the most learned drawing room in Europe,’ but its original books were all donated to the National Library of Scotland in lieu of death duties.”

This may explain why the house is haunted, according to Tim Downie and Sam Heughan…


Liz also said that this historical home re-opens to visitors in April 2019.

Get ready for the onslaught folks! 

As you guys know, this was Terry Dresbach’s last season as Costume Designer on Outlander, but she is still on Twitter talking about the costumes she designed for Season 4. When I went looking, I saw more wig discussions!!!

Starz put up a picture of the dogs who play Rollo when they were first cast (think Mary Kate and Ashley, however I think just Dewey does the acting at this point)…

And Terry responded, “This is the way they looked the first time I saw them…adorable!

Terry was explaining why modern audiences do not like TRUE period authenticity, using photos, and got a response from Maril Davis…

Here’s an interesting thread from Terry (no pun intended) on Season 4 costuming and textile history in the US…

Someone asked about cotton…

In the course of the discussion, Terry recommended a book…

Regarding making wool, Alison asked, “Did they have different methods of spinning so it wasn’t as heavy?”

Andrea commented: “Fabrics and linen existed they were just ridiculous $$$… people wore clothes to death. Hence all the patching and mending…as a poor person you might only have the clothes on your back. Literally.”

To which Terry responded, “I have used those word over and over and over…”

A big theme in Season 4 for Terry is repairing and reusing clothing, passing them down, etc. About this photo of Cait, dressed as Claire, she says: “Good example of the kinds of darning and repair work you are going to see in S4.”


Regarding the need to dress more or less warmly, Terry says that they used layering, and combination fabrics. She also said, “Yes. If you only owned a suit made out of heavy Scottish wool, you were going to be in trouble. What is fascinating is seeing the difference between clothing out in the wilderness and clothing in the cities. The freedom from societal standards helped with heat issues.”

Terry also tweeted: “Very early on, I pointed out to everyone above that if we dressed our cast and extras for summers in the American south, while shooting in Scotland…people might actually die. Not to mention that Scotland in the dead of winter looks nothing like anywhere in the summer.”

Denise makes a very interesting observation about what is commonly referred to as The Outlander Effect… “Absolutely! Outlander is an interestingly timed show. First season premiered during the Scottish referendum, now 4th season during one of the most important crossroads in US history. Your designs have aligned spectacularly, unfailingly. They’re their own characters.”

Terry wrapped up by saying, “Especially since we make these season so far ahead of any of the events that are unfolding. We have no way of knowing what is happening in the world, a year ahead.” 

For people wanting to delve further, Terry recommends this site for a basic overview of 18th century American clothing…  Looking At 18th Century Clothing.


Despite the unrest about Jamie’s wig, kudos went out to the makeup department, for the little details… From Maria: “I’m such a fan of little details so I loved seeing his scars in this shot. ❤️”


Ed Speleers really was a standout in 401. I love how he keeps with his Irish accent, even in the BTS clips (he is actually from England, and is only 30 years old, so easy there you cradle robbers!)


Sam had this to say about Bonnet’s character, when Vicky confessed her attraction to him…

Ed apparently read for another part before landing the role of Stephen Bonnet, (I wonder which part that was?).

And in case there’s any confusion about which “path” Bonnet goes down… psycho, or socio…

There was some discussion about how to pronounce the character’s name, and Herself set us straight… (it’s bonnet, like a cap)…

Costume designer Nina Ayers comments on the costuming for Bonnet’s character…“Bonnet is a pirate and thief. We put lots of rings on his fingers to illustrate that he takes what he wants from life when he wants it. When he was trying to steal the rings from Claire’s hands, the props team made lots of jelly-flavored rings for Caitriona Balfe to have, to swallow. Bonnet’s many rings hint at past crimes committed against others—he is a dastardly thief.”

The actor who played Lesley (Keith Fleming) was also on Twitter this past week, lamenting (OK, pun intended that time!) the end of his role on Outlander!

Sam and Keith on set


He had these lovely things to say about Sam & Cait, and working on the show…

“…He’s [Sam} cracking in the show…makes it easy to work together…very giving…eye contact…makes a huge difference to an actor..he makes you feel like you have worked together before.all round great guy.”

“He’s a fucking cracking lad…and Caitriona is quite brilliant…they both really own their characters, the storyline but are completely aware of the other characters that come in and out of the show that form the stepping stones for their journey…”

“…A joy to be involved… brilliant team … esp Sam, Cait, wee James, Cesar, Lauren, Gary, Nigel Betts.. a brilliant actor, and the gals in make up esp Annie..the boss…” 

“…The storyline moves on and is not mine.unfortunately, but a great experience connecting with what you follow, be via books, TV, the real deal, or as my late gran once said “there’s a good c£&t right there, son”….look after yer pals and they’ll do likewise.” 

To wrap this up, a shot of Hayes’ final resting place (on location), via New Glasgow Girls…

and a little something to whet our appetites from Colin McFarlane, whom we meet this Sunday…

That’s a wrap. Your thoughts on all this, are welcome, as always, in the comments section below. xo

14 comments on “Discussion Highlights & Insights with Diana, Cast, Crew & Fans ~Episode 401

  1. I have to agree with Bear Killer. They really could have done a better job with Jamie’s “hair”. I truly don’t mind wigs and have nothing against Jamie’s bangs. But his hair should be long enough to decently be pulled back into a queue and maybe even plaited (that’s mentioned numerous times in the books). AND the sides of some of the actors’ wigs that aren’t long enough to go back into the tie make me nuts! Their hair should be like Ian senior’s hair when they’re not involved in some kind of ruckus – tidy and pulled back into the tie.

    Thanks for listening to my rant. <3

    • Absolutely. Jamie’s bangs are not something men would have back then. It is clearly cut straight, meant to be bangs. No way. And moreover, they make him look much younger, whereas he is supposed to be in his late forties. The series is so great with costumes, I don’t understand why they do this. Apart from the fact that they keep changing the hue of his red hair…

      • One idea about it – Sam has a VERY prominent forehead, and his face looks really big next to Cait’s. Maybe it’s to soften the bone structure a bit, reduce the visual space his face occupies. But, they could be more irregular, looking almost accidental. I really can’t remember any references to men having bangs cut at that time, though. They could put him in a red wig more like the style that John Bell wears as Ian, but then, we’ve got the big forehead problem again!

  2. I am not a fan of Jamie’s wig either. It takes away from the character – my first thought is UGH, look at that mess on Jamie’s head instead of seeing Sam Heughan’s performance (love the picture in your blog). Jamie has always had bangs, but he had manageable hair and eventually longer hair as the seasons progressed. Claire’s wigs are very well done, so it is a mystery to me that Jamie’s are not. Here’s hoping that season 5 will give Jamie a better wig. Having said all that, I love the costumes and the sets. So realistic and just as I would imagine for 1760’s in the colonies in America. Terry Dresbach will be a very hard act to follow going into season 5, but she has laid a great foundation for whoever steps into that role. I really like Diana Gabaldon and Maril Davis providing answers and information on the episodes and hope it continues all season. Thank you, Courtney for another great blog.

  3. Courtney, your blog is awesome. It is always filling the blanks in regards to so much information we don’t get to know otherwise. Thank you for the entertainment. I commend cast, secondary actors, crew and everybody who makes this show be a respectable depiction of our beloved story. It is the best attempt to recreate Outlander Diana could agree on. For us, book readers, there’s so much missing, but I focus on what is kept, and I get goosebumps when I see it on screen, different, but the same.
    Question. Do you know if the Outlander Community site is going to post scripts of S4?
    Thanks, Courtney. I love your editorial comments to pictures

  4. Nice article! Lots of great info.
    The scene that Diana Gabaldon fought to keep in was not the intimate scene between Jamie and Claire. It was the scene between Jamie and Ian in the graveyard. Diana mentioned this during and interview on the Outlandercast podcast with Mary and Blake Larsen. Diana felt it was needed to show a strong bond and close relationship between Jamie and Ian. If that was not shown then a scene later in the season would not have as much impact. Thanks!

  5. Great article and you really did a job assembling all the different bits of info. Personally, despite the areas that I could quibble w/I thought the episode was wonderful. Really glad to see Jamie and Claire et al back together and have the story continue. Yes, Sam’s wig is annoying but it is what it is and he inhabits the role beautifully. I’m an Art Director and very visually oriented and I have to say that I don’t agree w/all the criticism of the CGI in the boat scene. It wasn’t an issue as I initially watched the episode as I was so taken w/the action and the story and I did watch it a 2nd time to see what people were criticizing. I actually was pleasantly surprised that they kept the boat scene in as I thought given all the restrictions they may have substituted it w/something else. The CGI for the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains is an issue for me as it just looks too painted. But as I’ve said, there’re always going to be scenes and areas that I can critique but overall I’m glad to have the show back. I try not to let the details of the book get in the way of the show, which isn’t always so easy.

    Thanks for doing all this!

  6. Great post Courtney! It must have taken quite a bit of time and effort to put it together. I am glad you included the bit about Lesley (Keith Fleming). I was sorry to see him go. I think that Keith is a great actor and his singing in gaelic is the moment that move me the most in the whole episode. Keith has a great voice.
    Thanks again Courtney for the great work!

  7. Fantastic as usual! No matter how much I try to keep up with everything Outlander on social media, I seem to always miss something! Thanks to you, I don’t have to worry about it.

  8. Thanks you so much for the excellent summary. Even though I watched it twice I missed many small bits. Love the comments from producers and Herself. I’ll keep looking for this post weekly!

  9. Why did they change the rings? In the book, Claire swallows the silver ring that Jamie gave her, and the gold ring from Frank is the one that is forced out of her mouth.

    • Ron Moore explained that they thought Jamie’s ring was more visible and I thing he’s right. I remember wondering when I read the book how Bree would realize so easily that that was her mother’s ring. DG explained in a tweet that in those days a gold ring wouldn’t be common, but still I agree with the choice and think it makes better sense.

  10. Thank you very much, Courtney. I’m always thrilled to read your fantastic posts! I appreciate all the time and love you put in them and your witty, humorous comments. I discovered the show and the books early this year and fell immediately head over heels in love with both. Since February I’ve been trying to catch up with every aspect regarding them and your blog has given me quality insights into Diana Gabaldon’s world and the show. I’m still in awe when I think what Herself has generated and still generates (creativity, friendships, passionate discussions, etc.).
    My first droughtlander proved so hard that I even joined social media. It’s helped a lot and has been interesting for me in particular to discover the fandom. If I had time, I woul write a sociological study. There’s so much stuff! But since last week I decided not to read any tweets until the show airs in Germany (that would be in about 24 hours) because there are too many spoilers. I read the book but still want to be surprised by the way it’s been translated on screen and which artistic choices they (director, producers, cast) have made.
    I found the first episode as amazing as the rest of the show. The last scene was just heart-wrenching, but OMG so good. The choice of using Ray Charles’ song instead of dialogue was a masterstroke! I think Ed Speelers did a fantastic job an all the cast is sublime. Can’t wait for episode 2 tomorrow! The CGI in the boat scene looked a bit artificial, but did not distract me from the story. The quality was definiterly better in S3. I wonder if they are using the same team.
    P.S.: I wouldn’t mind better wigs for Sam 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *