In defense of our Laird…or why you should never f*** with an iconic scene…by Crystal Fann

Little spoiler warning here…if you haven’t read the books at least through Drums of Autumn you might want to steer clear of this blog – but since it’s mostly the book readers who are upset anyway, read on.

I awoke this morning –to a 5am text from an upset friend no less – to find out that it was Sam Heughan himself that made the creative decision not to include that iconic moment in his performance in A. Malcolm.  I have to admit I got a little chuckle about the production team throwing him in under the bus so to speak, quite frankly with all the upset about the Bree/Willie scene I’d probably be pointing and going he did it, he did it myself.

You know the moment I’m talking about don’t you?  It’s the moment where Jamie breaks down sobbing in Claire’s arms honoring not only the sacrifice of their parting to see the child safe but also honoring the sacrifice of that twenty-year-old girl brave and selfless enough to forever give her mother back to the man she loves.  I don’t know a person who’s read the books that didn’t dissolve into a blob of sobbing goo after reading this particular scene.  I don’t know too many who aren’t pissed to the nines that it didn’t air.

To some…having Sam choose not to do the scene the way it was written was tantamount to Clark Gable deciding to go with “Meh, I might call you tomorrow” instead of “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn” at the end of Gone With the Wind.   Sam had his reasons – Jamie hasn’t met Bree, he had a relationship with Willie, stunned by the technology of photographs, thought it would be melodramatic.  Do I think he was right?  Hell no!  But at least I think I know where he might be coming from.

You see for Jamie, Bree isn’t quite real yet.  The idea of her exists on celluloid and I think in Sam’s mind, Jamie looks at Bree much like most of us look at Sam himself.  He’s adorable, seems generous and kind, we’re proud of the work he does and we might even do a bit of heavy breathing in his direction from time to time but the “love” we claim to hold for him doesn’t begin to compare to what we feel for the living, breathing men or children we share our lives with – those we can hold and touch.

In Willie, Jamie had something tangible to love and hold in a time when he needed it the most.  It’s perfectly natural that at this point he’s going to be just a little bit more favorable toward him.  Doesn’t mean he loves Bree less – he just doesn’t have the emotional connection of knowing her.  Because he loves Willie, does it mean he had feelings for Geneva – which let’s face it is what is most important to not only us but Clare as well.  Not at all.  Just as you can’t hold the child accountable for the sins of the parent – you don’t have to love the parent for the child’s sake as well.

We need to keep in mind too…that Sam has read the books.  He knows he has the upcoming scene where Jamie meets his daughter for the first time.   Remember in my last blog I talked about emotional beats?  I think Sam believes the emotional beat of Jamie and his daughter should be saved for when it matters the most – when Jamie finally holds his living, breathing child in his arms.

The emotional drama from their meeting comes from Brianna in the book.  We get clues to Jamie’s reaction from Brianna’s descriptions of his words and physical actions.  It won’t work that way on TV, we will see the emotional beats played out for both and that is when we should see Sam Heughan portray the eruption of near-debilitating emotion as Jamie touches his daughter for the first time – and rightly so.  (Um…you might want to take a hint here Sam – since I know you haven’t filmed this yet.)

Ultimately though, the Print Shop isn’t about Brianna, William, Fergus, Ian or any of the others Jamie and Claire take into their hearts and home.  The soul of the Print Shop is about the two of them reconnecting. I think we can all agree the beautiful dance of Jamie and Claire coming together again, physically, mentally and emotionally was, well everything.  There wasn’t a single misstep in my opinion and I rarely say that about a TV show.

The loyalty to the book and performance of the actors on Outlander are as true to the original written material as I’ve ever seen in an adaption.  Let’s bring up Gone with the Wind again.   It’s a legend of both screen and print, although the two vary greatly.  TV and book are two different mediums, of course, there are going to be differences.  As I’m fond of saying- if they were going exactly by the books, we’d still be in season one.

It’s capturing the soul of the work that’s important – and Outlander does that in spades. Even though from time to time we may think a producer, writer or lead actor may need to be taken to the woodshed.  Let me put it this way…I really hope the Ian whipping Jamie scene is played out – I have a feeling a lot of us are going to enjoy it!

3 thoughts on “In defense of our Laird…or why you should never f*** with an iconic scene…by Crystal Fann

  1. Perfect, Crystal. I was sorely disappointed that iconic scene was dismissed. I’ve tried to do the impossible in putting myself in Jamie’s skin. We definitely feel him “fall to pieces” in a more subtle way than expected. Sam did a glorious job of conveying Jamie’s emotions such as they were. Sam has said he always goes to the source as his guide but circumnavigated a bit on this one. I can be disappointed and still be in love with the final product. And yes, I’m looking forward to that “woodshed” moment. Postcript..not a fan of the early Willie reveal.

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  2. The more I think on it, the more I think Sam made the right choice. As you said, he really has no connection to Bree. He is seeing her pictures, but he has never met her. Of course, he loves her as his daughter, but she is really just an idea to him at this point. He prayed for her to be safe and now has proof of that, but it is different. And he has no sense of the person she is – Claire described her with words about her physical traits – not her character. When he describes Willie, he talks about character traits. Because he KNEW him. He had a personal connection with him. He doesn’t have that with Bree. He is overwhelmed with all sorts of emotions in this moment. but it’s not like Jamie to sob. We have seen him in tears – Outlander Napalm as you so eloquently put it – but I think it would have been out of character for him to weep. Now…when he finally comes face to face with her in DoA – I think he will break down. She will become real to him then.

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  3. I’m a book reader and disagree. In fact I disagreed with the many watchers who missed Jamie falling apart before the writers made their comment and before Sam made an admirable response. Admirable not only because it’s the one with which I agree but also because I enjoyed an actor saying he made a (controversial) creative decision – especially one that has been so often been identified by his body.
    Back to the print shop and Bree pictures. I got it all, Jamie’s emotions on seeing the pictures, he’s in shock he barely knows if this is really Claire or a mirage, while she sets technology in his hands that brings home where she just came from and whether some equally new invention might as quickly whisk her away. Did I mention he was in shock? Bree’s photo with the fish, I think, is supposed to look like Willie, it at least brings Willie to mind like a blow, and Sam rocks fear as he looks like he’s walking the last mile to get the portrait and confess him to Claire. He wants to share all of their children, but he’s also an old fashioned moralist and the confession is his part in how Willie came to be. From the look in Claire’s eyes when he is done, it seems like she is just as moved by having them all in the room together.
    On the dramatic note, I agree with Sam. He had just fainted dead away, the first touch and kisses were an emotional (and performance) high from which I am still recovering. The less is more show of emotion was just as powerful – to me – and didn’t end the sharing their children sequence (which I loved) as falling to pieces would have done. Once the production made the decision to reveal Willie in this scene, someone had to decide how to play it. I liked that it seemed require bravery, in Jamie’s eyes, but that he still has to share this part of his heart Claire before she evaporates. He couldn’t do that as a puddle. It was clear to me how much those scenes cost both characters. Fantastically done, book-style or no.

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