'Outlander' Writer on Claire's Shocking Decision, Geillis' Daring Move

"That's the beginning of their relationship then developing into something else," Sam Heughan says about Saturday's big reveal.
STARZ

[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Saturday's episode of Outlander, "The Devil's Mark."]

For fans of Outlander, Saturday’s episode was a one-two punch of major plot development and character reveals. After being accused of witchcraft alongside Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek), Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is put on trial, where her good deeds were used against her to prove the case. It is only when Geillis cops to being a witch to save her that Claire realizes she was not the only time-traveler in town.

But she’s not given much time to process it all before she and Jamie (Sam Heughan) must flee to Lallybroch. It is during their travels that Claire finally comes clean, revealing her past in the 1940s and explaining her origins as a woman fallen through time.

When Jamie gives her the option to return to Craigh na Dun and go back through the rocks to Frank (Tobias Menzies), Claire turns against her past and toward her new future.

"He says he trusts her word. Whether or not he can quite even grasp what exactly it means to be from the future is another story," says Heughan. "But he knows her soul and he knows her as a person, and that makes it easier for him to accept what she says. In that moment, in a way, it makes sense. And that's the beginning of their relationship then developing into something else."

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with the episode’s writer, Toni Graphia, about the major moments of the night.

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Why do you think Geillis sacrificed herself for Claire?

Geillis has been focused all along on saving her country. That's why she traveled back through time. She is uppermost a patriot. However, when Claire refuses to renounce her in court, it stuns and moves her. Geillis doesn't connect to anyone on an individual level — even her relationship with Dougal is bound up with their mutual goals for Scotland. We think of patriotism as involving nations, but the word patriot comes from a French word that means “fellow countryman.” And what Geillis saw was that Claire's decision in that moment amounted to a personal patriotism. That's why Geillis, in turn, made the decision to save Claire.

What drew you to this part of the story in particular?

I fell in love with this section of the book. I would’ve wrestled to the ground any [other] writer that wanted to do it. I would have had a sword fight for it. Geillis was always my favorite character besides Claire.

Geillis' reveal itself also opens up the whole universe of the show itself.

Right. Geillis has always been a little different than other people in the town, and she and Claire were always drawn to each other. You got the feeling that Geillis was always trying to ferret out information. I don't think she knew the truth about Claire, but she suspected it. It wasn't crystallized until the scene when Claire says that Nathaniel Hale quote, "I only regret I have but one life to lose for my country," and Geillis says, "Nicely put!" That for me was the moment she knew for sure that Claire was from the future.

It’s interesting that even though they spend two nights in the hole, they never outright say it to each other.

We had a lot of discussion in the writers room about whether or not Claire should say she's from the future and vice versa, and we didn't want to do it because we didn't want to step on the Jamie reveal later on. Once we see [Geillis’] vaccination scar we know for sure. We also added a little nugget: The scene in the back of the church where she mentions the "f—ing barbecue." (Laughs.) That's something that was not in the book. I have to credit Ron Moore with that line though. I love it. It's my favorite in the episode.

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What brought the addition about?

We added it because we thought it was crazy to have these two women in the thieves' hole for two whole nights and bare their souls the way they do without the future coming up.

And it paves the way, ultimately, for Claire’s outpouring of the truth to Jamie in the next scene.

It's such a big thing in the book when Claire reveals to Jamie that she's from the future. To fit that in with the witch trial and do justice to both things, it's almost like two disparate stories. There was talk in the beginning about making it two separate stories. But of course I didn't want that because I love both parts and I wanted them to work. She and Geillis baring their souls in the thieves' hole to one another is [the] bridge to the scene with Jamie. Claire realizes it's a shame for two people that love each other — or that are close especially in times of crisis — to not be who they really are with one another.

Claire's reveal to Jamie feel like such a release, to hear her finally speak her truth out loud.

Ron has always said that even though Claire does all the talking, it’s Jamie's scene. It's all about his reaction.

How and why do you think Claire decided to stay?

We wanted to show the passage of time because it wasn't an easy decision for Claire. She sat there thinking all day long, and we wanted to make it clear that he wasn't waiting for her. And that's why he's so surprised when he wakes up. My interpretation is that the rocks are magnets and both sides of the rocks have a pull. For me, the pull of Jamie and this time was just stronger at that point. I think she does love Frank and was very tempted to go back, but in the end the pull of Jamie won out. Not to say that choice doesn't have repercussions down the line. You'll see — without giving away too much — that decision cost her something. She is very aware that she abandoned someone she loves, and that's going to lay on her and have some repercussions and cause some drama down the road.

Outlander airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.

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