- Outlander -The Scene Between Jamie & The Cherokee Women Was Almost Different, According To 'Outlander's Director
Spoilers ahead for Outlander Season 6, Episode 2, "Allegiance."
When staying with the Cherokee tribe, Jamie had some unexpected nighttime visitors; two Cherokee women tried to seduce Jamie on Outlander while he was serving as an Indian Agent to the Crown. After his meeting with Chief Bird-who-sings-in-the-morning, an exasperated Jamie just wanted a good night's sleep and not to betray his wife Claire. So his nephew Ian had to intervene on his behalf in this scene from A Breath of Snow and Ashes that was brought to life by director Kate Cheeseman.
Cheeseman notes that the two First Nation actors — Blair Lamora and Barbara Patrick — knew from the get-go what their characters Walela and Selu would be doing with Sam Heughan's Jamie. "They knew from when they've been cast that what the role was," the director says, calling them "fantastic." She adds, "Sam was really happy about it because they were comfortable."
The comfort level of the actors was also boosted by the intimacy coordinator Vanessa Coffey, who joined Outlander for Season 6. Like with Marsali's birthing scene with Fergus, Cheeseman says they worked with Coffey on all intimate scenes for the safety of the performers. "If they've had a chat, and if they know that if they feel uncomfortable about anything, they can just signal it, then I feel more comfortable. They feel more comfortable," Cheeseman says. "They're all wearing the right underwear and they have agreed what they're happy to show and what they're not happy to show. And so I think it just lays down rules."
The scene comes directly from Chapter 14 of A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon. It's a favorite scene for many book readers for its humor ("I think, John Bell did really well and Sam was just really funny," Cheeseman says). But there's concerns about cultural sensitivity when portraying a storyline featuring Indigenous peoples in a historical series that's from the white perspective.
Cheeseman notes that Outlander has a Cherokee advisor and First Nations advisor. "They check all the scripts and make sure they're accurate." (As CheatSheet reported in 2018, executive producer Maril Davis said Outlander can't cast actors from the U.S. due to filming in Scotland and not being a SAG-affiliated production. For Native American characters, they have cast First Nation actors from Canada.) The director says she wanted the Cherokee scenes to reflect how they are "powerful, interesting people." But she did have an initial concern over this particular scene that went away as she began working on it.
"My concern would have been the idea of women coming to seduce Jamie. But actually, when we talked about it and looked into it, the Cherokee were an incredibly sophisticated tribe, and they had the tradition of allowing women to choose their men," she says. "So they were probably more advanced, more sexually liberated, equality liberated, whatever you want to call it, than a lot of people now."
There was an earlier version of the scene that portrayed the women as less empowered. "In the original script, there was something about the chief offers them, and [the writers] decided that that wasn't very good, because when they did their research, they discovered that it would've been the women's choice," Cheeseman says. "So I think that we were aware of that, and we wanted to make sure that that came across. That they wanted to sleep with Jamie and they weren't being forced into it in any way, and they weren't a gift of anybody's. It was them."
Cheeseman adds about Jamie, "He's a good-looking guy. He's very powerful, and he's in with the king, so he's like a bit of a catch." As if Outlander fans need to be told that.