- Outlander -Comparing Jamie & Brianna’s First Meeting On 'Outlander' — The Book Vs. The Show
Although there are plenty of heartwarming reunions on Outlander, there's nothing quite like meeting your daughter from 200 years in the future. Jamie and Brianna first meet in Outlander (Season 4, Episode 9, "The Birds & The Bees") when they encounter each other on the streets of North Carolina in 1769, but the factors surrounding how they get to this point slightly differ from how it occurs in Diana Gabaldon's fourth Outlander book, Drums of Autumn. But whether on the page or on the screen, the initial meeting between this father and daughter left fans in tears.
Even by Outlander standards, "The Birds & The Bees" is an emotional rollercoaster since it not only features Bree meeting her father but deals with the aftermath of her rape by Stephen Bonnet. These events occur in Drums of Autumn, but Gabaldon has the luxury of far more time to balance the trauma with the happiness.
"The Birds & The Bees" was written by current Outlander showrunner Matthew B. Roberts and executive producer and writer Toni Graphia. They made a point to stick to the book, with Roberts saying in the behind-the-scenes video of the episode that they wanted to capture "how we felt when we read it the first time — that's what we want to get on to the page and on camera."
Jamie and Brianna's first meeting (not reunion, since they've never met before) occurs in Chapter 41, "Journey's End," of Drums of Autumn. Let's see how the TV adaptation stands up to what was depicted in the 1996 book.
The Circumstances Surrounding The Meeting
Although the end result in both is that Jamie and Brianna get to meet each other in 1769 in North Carolina, there were little divergences from the novel that the show took to get there.
First off, Brianna finds Jamie in Cross Creek — not Wilmington — in the book. The towns are nearly 100 miles away from one another taking modern roadways. Bree in the book (like her show counterpart) was originally intending to head that way to go to her Aunt Jocasta's nearby plantation of River Run, but then she heard the news via Lizzie that her father would be in Cross Creek for a trial. The trial was for Fergus allegedly assaulting an officer of the Crown... but don't worry, the charges against dear Fergus were dismissed.
Claire had stayed at home at Fraser's Ridge while Jamie went to be a witness for Fergus. But on the show, both of Bree's parents were in Wilmington to see a play (attended by none other than George Washington) at the request of Governor Tryon where Claire made a surgical spectacle of herself.
Another significant change is that when Bree meets her dad, book readers don't know that Brianna has been recently raped by Stephen Bonnet. Although the assault had already occurred, it's not until Bree reaches Fraser's Ridge that she tells her mom about it. So while she's emotionally vulnerable meeting her father for the first time, readers didn't fully realize everything that Bree was going through in that moment.
Bree and Jamie's meeting occurs out back of a tavern where Jamie is relieving himself — in the book, he's urinating against a tree; in the show, he's urinating against a building. Either way, guess he never heard of the "curb your dog" rule. And he most definitely does not wash his hands before he embraces his time-hopping daughter... or touches her face. It's quite sweet he's wiping her tears away, but that pee hand is dangerously close to her eye.
The lack of hand-washing has haunted some people... and it's particularly ghastly in the age of COVID-19. When The Dipp asked fans on Facebook what they'd say to Jamie if they ever got to meet him, Emma Taylor wrote, "YOU DIDN'T WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE YOU HUGGED YOUR DAUGHTER!!!!" Guess he never heard of the 20-second hand-washing rule either.
The (Very Brief) Misunderstanding
When you're Jamie Fraser, you're accustomed to women throwing themselves at you. That's why he's always got to have his guard up when strange women approach him behind buildings... even if the women turn out to be his own daughter.
In both the book and show, Jamie may be a bit on guard when Bree approaches him because of the aforementioned peeing. He wraps things up and asks her, "What d'ye want here, lassie?" To which Bree replies, "You." He makes it clear he's not interested by saying, "Sorry, lass. I'm a marrit man." When she gets closer (in the book, she puts a hand out to stop him from leaving but doesn't dare touch him; in the show, her hand makes contact with his chest), Jamie kindly doubles down on his monogamous marriage vows. "I meant it. I've a wife."
If I'm playing devil's advocate, Bree's response of "you" could be interpreted as provocative. But read the 18th-century backstreet, Jamie. This isn't some come-on! This is your daughter trying to introduce herself!
The moment is resolved quickly enough when Bree asks if he's Jamie Fraser and once she's received confirmation, gets right to the point: "My name is Brianna. I'm your daughter."
While there's about to be a significant father-daughter misunderstanding when it came to poor Roger, this time it was just a cute (though, dare I say, egotistical?) flub on Jamie's part.
Skelton and Heughan's costuming is rather different from what Bree and Jamie were wearing in the book. Rather than don a petticoat and dress, Brianna was wearing breeches when she first encountered her father. He momentarily had to register that she was a woman as she was in traditional men's dress.
As for Jamie, he may be in the New World, but he still wears a kilt — "a faded kilt in pale greens and browns." But TV Jamie is all American with his tricorne and (gasp) pants. That kilt probably made urinating a bit easier, but Heughan still managed.
Another change that book readers had by now grown accustomed to is that Brianna in the books is 6-feet tall while Town & Country reports that Skelton is around 5-foot-8. Her height matters during Bree and Jamie's first meeting because her dad is taken aback by his towering daughter.
Upon seeing her, he proclaims, "My God. You're huge." To which Brianna brusquely replies, "And whose fault is that, do you think?" Since Skelton doesn't share her book counterpart's striking height, the show had to skip this part and chose not to add any other sort of tenseness.
Tracey Randinelli and Carol Stark of My Outlander Purgatory previously told The Dipp that Jamie and Bree's meeting was their favorite adapted scene from the book to the screen. And while they appreciated Jamie's "You're huge" remark as a "good tension-breaker in the book," they acknowledged that the show "very wisely guessed that viewers" would prefer to see the heartfelt emotions play out without the ribbing.
The Proud Papa
After the shock comes the acceptance — especially because Jamie can't deny the family resemblance between them. From here, the show's dialogue sticks very closely to what's established in the book. "Brianna? Is it true? It's you," Jamie says. "It's me. Can't you tell?" Brianna replies. "Aye. Aye, I can."
From there, Jamie confesses he never really envisioned Brianna as a grown woman. "Hadna thought of you as grown. Had ye in my mind somehow as a... a wee bairn always. As my babe. Never expected..." — more dialogue straight from the book. However, in Drums of Autumn, he references the photos Claire had shown him of her. But considering how the printshop scene from Season 3 with Bree's photos is a bit controversial for some of the fandom, it's probably best the show skipped this part.
The Gaelic Lesson
Jamie calls Bree some Gaelic terms of endearment in both the show and book. "Dinna weep, a leannan, dinna be troubled... It's all right, m'annsachd; it's all right," Jamie softly says in both formats.
Gabaldon immediately takes the opportunity to translate for the sake of Bree and readers. Brianna asks her Scottish father what the words mean with a leannan translating to darling and m'annsachd as my blessing. On the show, Bree doesn't ask until Jamie repeats the terms when they're hunting for bees together at Fraser's Ridge.
The delay was effective since the Gaelic lesson didn't take away from the emotion of them meeting and, as indicated by the Starz tweet above, it gave fans another opportunity to be touched about the father and daughter finally being together.
Similarly, Bree hesitates with what to call Jamie right after they meet in the book. But the adaptation waits until they're hunting for the exchange to happen. "You can call me... Da, if ye like," Jamie says. "Da? Is that Gaelic?" Bree asks. "No. It's only... it's only simple."
Rather than immediately get to reunite with her mother, as she does on the show, Book Brianna gets taken to River Run before attending Fergus' trial. Think of it as some unconventional (but pretty conventional for the Outlander series) father-daughter bonding time. She also gets to meet her aunt, Ulysses, Fergus, and Marsali all before seeing her mother again.
Book Claire is just as in disbelief as she is on the show once Bree appears, but she's in the comfort of her own home rather than on the streets. Although Graphia discussed in the behind-the-scenes video that executive producer Maril Davis ensured that Jamie and Bree were sitting on a bench when Claire first sees them together, just like in the book. And Book Brianna adds some anachronistic levity to the situation by quoting Monty Python in response to her mother's shock. "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" she says. To which Jamie "blankly" replies, "What?"
Well, Jamie, get used to the pop culture references flying over your head. But it'll all be worth it now that your daughter from the future is in your life.