About that William/Brianna Scene from ‘Outlander’ Episode 306, “A. Malcolm”

Running an Outlander news site that has our own reviews and encourages fans’ remarks, I usually get a pretty good feel for the parts of an episode that vocal fans do not like (or at least how a scene is shot or written).  There was a large response to a particular scene in episode 306, “A. Malcolm,” where Claire (Caitriona Balfe) tells Jamie (Sam Heughan) about Brianna.  After hearing about Brianna and looking at the photographs that Claire brought with her, Jamie decides to tell Claire about William (or Willie) by showing her a miniature drawing of his likeness.  Personally, I was a bit confused about why he decided at that moment to share this news.  It took away from the reveal of the daughter for whom he sacrificed his possible future life with Claire.  It came off sudden with a change in mood.  There was not enough emotion from Jamie.  She was the reason he sent Claire back.  Would he have sent her back even without her being pregnant?  Probably.

If Jamie wanted to come clean about his life since Claire left, why did he not include another important detail.  Book readers will know to what I am referring to, but I won’t spoil that for others (I believe this detail will be revealed in episode 308).  That is the only way this works, in my opinion.  With the way it is in the episode, it comes off as a show-and-tell moment with, “So that’s our kid, let me show you mine.”

I will point out that another scene that fans expressed disappointment with was Fergus (Cesar Domboy) reuniting with Claire. There is always the controversy with Willoughby (Gary Young), but I am not going to touch that with a ten-foot pole.  And that ridiculous hair that they have Sam wear or style with his existing hair.  I don’t want to focus on a physical attribute too much because it does not affect the story, but apparently, his hair never grows, and it is ridiculously distracting to watch.

The writers, actors, and producers look at reactions to episodes after they aired, and the easiest way to do this is on social media. I think by Sunday night, they may have received tons of praise, but when you hear about a certain scene over and over again, they might comment on it.

Some fans expressed their disappointment with the lack of emotion from Jaime in response to seeing Brianna’s photos to executive producer Maril Davis.  Her response was to show a photo of how that scene was written in the script.  The tweet has since been deleted, but here is a screenshot of it.  (The whole script can be viewed now in the Outlander Community.)

Skip to Tuesday, when the writers, specifically Toni Graphia and Maril Davis stepping in for Matthew B. Roberts, answered fans’ questions about the episode.  They addressed the scene again.

The next day, they clarified their statement.

Sam Heughan addressed this scene on Twitter.

The official Outlander podcast is not up yet, but I am sure there may be more discussed regarding this scene.  We also don’t know director Norma Bailey’s take on this scene and would be interesting to have her comments.

What did you think about this scene?  Was it the introduction of Willie so early that bothered you or was it the lack of emotion from Jamie?  Would the lack of emotion have been okay if Jamie was just allowed to sit for a moment and not present his own son?

Source: Respective Twitter accounts


  • Ann Volkes

    I felt the episode was somewhat flat in tone, not enough emotion, curiosity, or lively dialogue. Fergus and Ian seemed more expressive about Claire’s presence than Jamie did. Whispering is not acting, imo. The bit about spilling the ale on his pants was silly, I thought. It was distracting from the important scene. There were other tonal issues, I felt. Banging into each other in bed, Jamie’s flat, limited dialogue, the premature introduction of Willie’s portrait. I wanted to witness Jamie’s excited, emotional reaction to Claire’s return and Brianna’s existence.

    • Chris Zim

      agreed. You might want to read the chapters/sections in Voyager around their reunion – it is 100% more satisfying. Most of the time they do a good job transitioning, but this was probably one of the hardest sections since the Wentworth episode.

      • Ann Volkes

        Yes, I read it quite awhile ago and I’m sure I would love to re-read it. It is definitely a huge challenge to bring this to the screen, even with all the incredible talent involved at every level. I hope there will be no whispering in the next episodes! This episode was not the high point I had hoped for, so low key and slow. I am sure the next episodes will pick up again.

        • Janet Ewaskiewicz

          In the book, they did bang heads in bed though!

  • Toofless Granny

    I am very, very easy-going about the differences between page and text. I have been a fan of many stories that were translated from page to screen. I can roll with most of them. However, the lack of emotion showed when the photos of Brianna were displayed bothered me intensely. I have read Sam and Maril’s responses, and in keeping with what was said, watched the episode 4 times
    It wasn’t until the 4th time that I felt I could see the subtle thing Sam has said he was going for.
    This is one of those things that I think people are never going to be able to see eye-to-eye about. I love Sam and Cait’s portrayls of these characters, but I really, sincerely believe there should have been a bit more emotion (and fear or awe about the technology) displayed over the photos. Even if it was only tears in the eyes that didn’t spill. It just didn’t feel like it was terribly overwhelming to Jamie, when it should’ve been.
    I didn’t mind the seque to Willie so much but it certainly wouldn’t have seemed so ham-handed if Jamie’s reaction to Brianna’s photos had been a little more intense.
    I don’t see this as “disloyalty” to Sam. He’s a terrific actor, and I agree with most of his acting decisions. But he is still just a human being, like all of us, and I think in this case, his less-is-more decision was the wrong call.

    • Judith

      Mainly echoing Granny above, a most well writtien piece! I will hope to see it a 4th time and maybe I will be able to see in what she did. In general I applaud Sam not over-acting – and I don’t recall that he ever did. However, I do object to moving onto the announcement of Willie – unless it turns out the directors have something much better in mind for the wonderful sequence in Jamaica.

    • mable

      Yup. My guess is that Sam sometimes dials it down so as not to look too dramatic. He seems to downplay Jamie often and im fine with that but this time he should have turned it up a bit. I also wonder what the directors thoughts are on that scene. I do love that Sam stepped up to explain his process taking the heat off of Maril, Toni and Matt.

  • Jewel Thief

    Perhaps falling to pieces over Bree photos didn’t work well with transitioning immediately to the Willie intro, and that’s why Sam couldn’t find an honest and believable path to that emotional breakdown. So, I know Sam ‘fessing up to his part in this debacle, but I think the real blame lies in the writer’s room, for immediatly following an emotional scene with full disclosure of Willie’s existence.

    • fran

      I agree. I see a lot of people calling Sam out on the choice, but I saw plenty of emotion when he was looking at the photos of Bree. When he first saw them he had to take a seat. As he asked questions about her, his voice would catch in his throat. The problem was that the transition to Willie was so abrupt. If the script had allowed him a bit of time to process Bree before moving on to Willie it would have worked much better. All they really needed was a few lines to tie up the discussion of Brianna, before moving on. I’m fine with him telling Claire about Willie here, I just think that the scene needed a bit more room to breath.

  • Chris Zim

    I was okay with his general reaction to Bree’s photos, what honestly bothered me more was his breaking of the emotion of the scene (they had just had a lovely little moment remembering Faith, and a little laugh over the bikini) to cram Willie into the discussion. I believe that Jamie would have been reluctant to tell Claire about him at that point because he didn’t know if she was staying, did she want to resume their marriage, etc. It just didn’t make sense to have it there. I get that they didn’t want to wait as long as it is in the book for her to find out, but I think it would have made more sense for him to share it and maybe the story of Geneva, with Claire later that night when they were either dining, or during the afterglow – with it “hanging over him”. Really the only scene I felt struck the wrong chord. Sorry Sam – otherwise loved the performances by both of them.

  • Rossana Alcantara

    O episódio A Reunião tinha como foco central o reencontro do amor e da família perdidos por 20 anos e a custa de muita dor e sacrifício, vivenciados de maneira magnífica por Sam em sua perfomance do Jamie nos 5 episódios anteriores. Então é natural que quando essa emoção não foi externada na cena causou um impacto frustante. Não vai chorar, não vai desmoronar e nem abraçar? Nada? E logo em seguida, num corte terrível, insere a existência de Willie, como se nada do que foi sacrificado tivesse tipo muita importância, deu a sensação de vazio e decepção muito grandes. Adoro as atuações do Sam, são maravilhosas, mas esse momento foi perdido, infelizmente. No entanto, creio que tudo isso poderia ter sido melhor direcionado sem atitudes precipitadas no TT por parte dos roteiristas.

  • bevatlol

    I was definitely disappointed by Jamie’s lack of emotion when seeing the pics of Bree. On repeated viewings I can see the subtle things that Sam is doing, but think that scene called for more overt emotion. But I could have lived with that if the Willie reveal hadn’t happened right then. The two combined seemed to completely diminish Bree and Claire’s (and Jamie’s) sacrifice of separation of twenty years just to protect her.

  • Anne Johnson

    Really disappointed with the photo scene and Jamie’s reaction, also Claire’s meetings with Fergus and Ian. Could have done so much with the photo scene and it just fell completely flat.

  • distachio

    I thought placing the Willie reveal there made sense. Wouldn’t expect him to reveal that..other secret so soon.

    Still very much missed the tears, though.

  • ClaudiaK

    I agree with Sam’s adaption of this moment. Sam does such a great job of acting with facial expressions, his eyes and this season with his breathing. He knows the TV Jamie. I would have preferred a bit more time seeing Jamie looking at the picture of Bree before going to get the image of Willie, there were so many scenes that were deliberately “slow” that this one felt a bit too quick, however this may have been an editing thing. I just feel TV Jamie is still being very careful with his feelings. I was not troubled by the fact that the writers put the Willie reveal in at this point. It seems natural for them to discuss their kids at the same time, including Faith.

  • Julie Bennett

    I felt that some parts were very slow whilst others (like the Bree photos) were not given enough time. A breakdown may not have worked and we have to trust Sam’s instinct here. Sam’s and Cait’s performances were very moving, as always. What truly disappointed me was Jamie revealing the existence of Willie here. I understand why some people feel it was the right place but I fe!t it was too much too soon and it detracted from the impact of his seeing Bree for the first time. I also fear for how the later scene with Lord John will turn out. I am slightly biased (beings fan of Lord John) but I think the impact of Johns meeting in Jamaica with C!are and the feeling of jealousy between them because of his importance to Jamie will be diminished. I hope I am wrong.

  • Jeanette Ioannou

    The episode was good, and Sam and Cait did a brilliant job as always, but I too would have liked to have seen more emotion with Brianna’s photos, just a quiet tear or two would have sufficed. A long time ago I saw a documentary about soldiers in Afghanistan, and one solder had left his wife pregnant at the time with their first child, he received a letter later with a picture of his new born daughter, and the man just could not contain his emotions, he went away from the camera. It was a perfectly natural thing to do…. so it was strange to see Jamie get up so quickly and talk about his son – that was totally in the wrong place for me. It was their time, and Brianna’s. What I also would like to have seen was Claire stoke his nose and ask when he broke it, prior to him feinting, giving him a kiss from his Daughter after showing him the photos, and one last thing, when Jamie takes Claire’s hand and asks her to draw Brianna for him. They were the three things that were foremost in my mind when I started to watch the episode. This takes nothing away from the brilliant acting; it would just have made it more poignant if they were included.

    • Janet Ewaskiewicz

      I don’t think Jamie did break his nose at Culloden in the series (probably something they didn’t want to deal with for the rest of the series with makeup). After watching the episode a few times, I’ve gotten over Sam’s portrayal over the pictures. I really don’t mind the reveal about Willie here, either. I was never crazy about how Jamie never told Claire about him in the books until he had to, in Jamaica. The early reveal also may be explained by what happens when Claire meets Lord John, too. I think much of the disappointment in general is that readers had a vision of that scene in their minds, and any deviation at all is upsetting. It bothered me the first time I watched the episode; now I’ve come to terms with it.

      • Jeanette Ioannou

        Yes I agree, I have seen it another two times since, and it sits better with me now, but when you read a book is it’s the author that guides you giving you all the information (which Diana is brilliant at; I have found no other author like her.) The interpretation is yours, how you see the characters, how you perceive a scene, it is entirely up to the individual. With a TV series the interpretation is up the directors, writers and sometimes actors (how they see it played). But it is the subtle nuances, be they sentences or whole paragraphs that hold the essence of a scene sometimes, and if these are missed…. people just wish they had not been. I believe here the non-book readers; have a better appreciation of these episodes than the book readers. Diana is a very hard act to follow, yet the majority of the times it is portrayed beautifully. Episode 305 was heartbreaking.

        • Janet Ewaskiewicz

          I agree with all of what you just said. My husband watches with me and is a non-book reader. He liked 305 and 307 better than 306, but that’s because he thought the love scene in the brothel went on too long! Guys. You never know…. 😉

  • NanSmurf

    Having watched it more times than I am willing to admit to, I finally understand Jamie telling Claire about Willie at this point. I have read all the books and am patiently waiting on the latest one. It has been quite a while since I read Voyager so I don’t remember all the details but I am aware of the big changes made by the writers in the show, and I trust that they know what they are doing and will resolve it later to everyone’s satisfaction. For me when Jamie states that he has never told anyone, not even Jenny, about Willie it shows how important Claire really is to him. She truly is the part that completes him and he finally has someone with whom he can share this most important, exciting, heartbreaking news. I don’t feel that it took away from the Bree reveal however I think it would have been more impactful with a few more tears and discussion of Bree.