Outlander: Writers Toni and Shannon Put Wind Into 309

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The Outlander Writers once again took to Twitter to answer fan questions (these are not mine, but from many fans) about episode 309, The Doldrums.

The wind has died down, and we’re in the Doldrums – Shannon Goss and Toni Graphia here. Ready to answer your questions!

Q Is there a reason Jamie and Claire are going by “Fraser” and not “Malcolm” on the voyage? I thought Fraser wasn’t safe for them right now…
A Jamie Fraser has been pardoned for his crimes. The people who are after him know him as Alexander Malcolm, the name he went by in Edinburgh.

Q Why are there only 10 episodes this season? It feels rushed and seems disconnected from the characters and energy the book delivers. Is there a reason for a shorter season?
A Great news,,, there are actually 13 episodes! But no matter how you slice it, there are elements of the book we don’t have room to cover.

Q And yet again the editor screwed the pooch! What’s up with that? Do ya’ll realize you would NEVER hear 1 complaint if this dialogue had actually been in the episode? COME ON PEOPLE! Throw us a BONE! MORE Jamie and Claire scenes please!

A Aw, don’t blame our fabulous editors. Our Executive Producers work very closely and ultimately have to make the tough calls on what to trim from any given episode.

Q Is the young Brit on the ship helping Claire Jamie’s son?
A No, but wouldn’t that be something! (Jamie’s son would actually be a wee bit younger.)

Q Was it deliberate or coincidence that Yi Tien Cho was seen painting from a water bucket just after we saw Jamie’s sick bucket?
A Ha! It was a coincidence. Hope he didn’t pick the wrong bucket!

Q Is the director of The Doldrums related to Ron Moore?
A No relation. David Moore is a wonderful director from the UK.

Q Was anything written in the script and/or filmed with Claire meeting with anyone else in France?
A No, we knew early on that the episode wouldn’t be able to handle a trip to France as well.

Q Didn’t Claire give Bree her stuffed bunny when she was in the playpen and rolled over?
A Aye. There are rabbits seen/mentioned throughout the season, if you look for them.

Q Yes… definitely a theme here.
A Yes, we have slipped bunnies into some unexpected places. Very sneaky. Look for more this season…

Q What was Mr. Willoughby writing on the floor? Was it real? Can you translate?
A It’s classical Chinese poetry. The translation is “Fire rises, in my heart ash remains.”

Q Do the actors get the script for one episode at a time or do they get one scene at a time? How much time do they have to study and learn their lines before the actual shooting?
A The actors get the whole episode to read before filming starts. Then the individual scenes are xeroxed and passed around on the day of shooting for reference. They are called “sides.”

Q Who were all the men that came aboard with Jamie and Claire? I think I know but have heard different names.
A Traveling with Jamie and Claire were Lesley, Hayes, Mr. Willoughby/Yi Tien Cho, Fergus, and surprise guest Marsali. The others were part of Captain Raines’ crew.

Q In the books Marsali is 15. Did you age her up for the show?
A Yes, we chose to make her a bit older.

Q Curiosity: what happens with Brianna’s photos? In Voyager Jamie keeps the photos with him, all the time. He wants to know things about his daughter, etc. Will we get some of this in the show?
A The photos are still with Jamie. Stay tuned…

Q During the filming was the ship ever out in open waters or was it all filmed at the dock? Beautiful cinematography and excellent editing!
A The ships were never out on open water. They were specifically in a parking lot.

Q Sometimes the script describes an emotion or how a line should be spoken. When it doesn’t, the interpretation is up to actor or director?
A It’s a collaboration between the actor, director, and the writer/producer who is always on set. Some scenes/lines need little or no discussion. Some need more discussion than others.

Q Whose idea to use “Goodnight Moon”? Adore that book!
A It was Shannon’s idea to use Goodnight Moon. She did a wonderful job on the episode! Read her annotations here. (click Explore, then Inside the Script)

Q Could Claire have been pressed into service, as a British subject, even though a woman? Seems this is what is is intimated when Leonard sends word back to the Artemis.
A Technically women could not be pressed into service, but the Captain of a powerful military vessel was desperate for a surgeon and Raines was not going to deny him.

Q Why was Mr. Willoughby’s pelican left out of the series? Too difficult to replicate?
A We kept Ping An in until the 11th hour, we even looked for a trained pelican, but ultimately, yes, it would’ve been too much to do from a visual effects standpoint when we had so much VFX already in the show (every shot that is above deck was a VFX shot).

Q The acupuncture… real or prosthetics?
A It was makeup and prosthetics.

Q I love that Claire is more dynamic than ever. One minute she’s mourning her daughter with Goodnight Moon. The next, jumping into action to save an entire crew. What’s it like to write for such a complex and humanized character?
A In a word: wonderful. And having Catriona Balfe bring her to life is icing on a rad cake.

Q Is Marsali pronounced Mar-saul-lee (as enunciated in the audiobooks) or Mar-suh-lee (like the show)?
A Mars-lee. Rhymes with parsley. (But most of us spent about half a year mispronouncing it.)

Q Why didn’t the two Ardsmuir men tell Jamie they knew Marsali was already on board?
A They knew Jamie wouldn’t be pleased… to say the least.

Q I can’t wait to watch this episode with my mother! She teaches at the School of Chinese Medicine in Denver and Yi Tien Cho is a favorite. Thank you for showing the diversity and dignity of the books. Gary Young well done! XieXie
A Hi Mom! Hope you enjoyed the episode! Thanks for watching!

Q This was one of the best episodes in a great season. We had the intimate J&C moments that we love about the books. Is Shannon Goss writing episodes for Season 4?
A Yes, she is writing one at this very moment. 🙂

Q When the script says “off Claire” (or other character) is that a camera direction or an actor’s direction?
A It’s usually both, meaning it indicates what we think the “out” of the scene is for the direcdtor, but also often includes prose that indicates the emotional punch for the actor.

Q Was that really Sam Heughan up in the ship saving Hayes? No rope, no stunt man? My heart was in my throat!
A Yes, he was! As was James Allenby-Kirk who plays Hayes. They did have safety harnesses on, which were removed in post.

Behind the scenes photo courtesy Starz.

Q Did you use special effects to dry Mr. Willoughby’s poem away?
A Yes. Movie Magic!

Q Is it difficult writing/shooting season 4 without knowing whether there is a season 5?
A Not at all. Each season must stand on  its own and we just make it the best season we can. But of course our fingers are crossed for Season 5!

Q What’s the origin of the song the sailors were singing?
A We researched old sea shanties.

Q From a writing perspective, was it a difficult transition from the familiarity of Scotland to the unchartered voyage ships and beyond? What excited you most about this drastic change of setting?
A Shooting on the ships was unchartered territory (pun intended), but it was exciting – it’s rare in TV shows that you get to drastically change your surroundings episode by episode.

Q Opening with Jared in Scotland was confusing as he is supposed to be in France. Obviously the practical reason is one less scene and one less set, but what is the “story” explanation here?
A Though based in France, Jared does business in the UK, so it seemed plausible that he would be relatively nearby and able to help Jamie and  Claire.

Q Great directing. Will we see more of David Moore?
A Yes, he directed next week’s episode “Heaven and Earth.” It’s not to be missed.

The wind has returned! We must sail away. Until next week!

Thank you to Outlander-Online.com for allowing us to use their screencaps!

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Erin Conrad