- Outlander -Why The Turtle Soup Sex Scene In ‘Outlander’ Still Stands Out, 3 Years Later
Just months before "Uncharted" aired on November 26, 2017, another fantasy premium cable show featured two characters having sex on a boat while a third character creeped on them. While Game of Thrones fans may still be haunted by that moment, Outlander fans have only the fondest of memories for our Boat Sex Episode. It’s been three years since it aired, and still it remains one of the best Jamie and Claire moments in the whole series.
It’s fun, it’s flirty, it involves turtles and booze and an interruption by the adorable Mr. Willoughby. Below, the seven reasons that make this one scene (that lasts for six minutes and four seconds) from Season 3 stick out among the rest.
1. Caitriona Balfe's Bawdy Performance
Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, and Gary Young all embrace the humor of the scene, but the moment truly belongs to the consistently Golden Globe-nominated Balfe (where you at, Emmys?). She begins the scene gleefully ladling this delicacy and from her first spoonful, the audience knows Claire isn't quite right. But dammit, she's having the time of her life eating it!
"This soup is delicious," she not-exactly slurs and then leans up to feverishly and drunkenly accept a kiss from Jamie.
Balfe demonstrates that Claire's not in the fittest of shape to be administering penicillin to herself when she unzips her medical kit with her teeth and spits out the stopper (both excellent touches). And she's so adorably pleased with herself when she puts the needle on the syringe with one hand.
It's such a rare treat to see Claire let loose — she even releases a surprised, "Oo!" upon Jamie pushing the syringe's plunger a bit — while performing a medical treatment. The turtle soup may be responsible for her woozy release of power, but Balfe's little sways, salutes, and hooded eyes embody it.
2. The Many Faces Of Sam Heughan
Of course, we can't ignore Heughan's straight-man act, especially during their foreplay. He gives all sorts of dubious, wary, amused, loving, and just plain sexy eyebrow raises and looks as Jamie takes in the drunken state of his wife. Claire might not have noticed them all, but I did, and here they are.
3. "Bolt The Door"
Perhaps what's most remarkable is that Balfe and Heughan are able to make a bowl of hot turtle soup sexually appetizing. After he accuses her of having her nipples stare at him through her see-through shift (excuse me, sir, your plunging neckline isn't exactly modest), she throws her medical towel to the side, slinks onto the table, and makes her attentions perfectly clear.
"Bolt the door," Claire tells Jamie. Balfe's delivery of this line with a mix of sultriness and drunken mischievous is what makes it the most memorable of the scene.
4. Claire Wants A Second Helping
Claire channels the "she-devil" Jamie accuses her of being when Willoughby, through the door, asks if she wants more soup. (Thankfully, she had taken the initiative to bolt it when Jamie hadn't listened to her demands.)
Though Jamie replies, "She's had more than enough," Balfe's Claire cries with delight, "No, she hasn't!" with Jamie's hand in her mouth as he takes her from behind. Claire has no restraint and is acting like a teenager, hilariously bringing Jamie down with her as he tries oh-so-hard to be the Responsible One.
5. The Willoughby Factor
Having someone listen to you have sex isn't the most comfortable feeling in the world (unless you're into that sort of thing), but somehow Young makes Willoughby's check-in and linger almost charming.
Rather than stay with Jamie and Claire, the episode actually ends with him being amused at the efficacy of his soup, as a nod to the audience's amusement. The show had already made improvements to the portrayal of Yi Tien Cho and the turtle soup (which he didn't make in the book) helped solidify him as a lovable character.
6. The Book Lines
Speaking of the book, the scene comes straight from Chapter 56 in Diana Gabaldon's Voyager — fittingly titled "Turtle Soup." Sometimes using direct lines from the books don't translate well in the sex scenes. (I, for one, can't forgive Roger questioning the color of Brianna's pubic hair during their honeymoon on the show, but had been totally fine with that sexy banter in the book.) Yet, the lines the show pulled from Gabaldon's work in this scene, with Claire's nipples the size of cherries and her "damn good grip" on Jamie's jewels, all work.
Unlike a certain Season 5 sex scene (*cough* the barn *cough*) that did not live up to book readers — or Gabaldon's — expectations, the TV adaptation nailed this iconic book sex scene. Even Gabaldon tweeted this episode was one of her favorites from Season 3.
7. It Gave Us Another Sexy Side Of Claire & Jamie
Whether you were waiting for this laugh-out-loud moment or you had no idea what was coming for you, the real importance of the turtle soup is how it further deepens our understanding of Jamie and Claire's love for one another.
It was a sex scene viewers hadn't really ever seen from Jamie and Claire before. Like executive producer Toni Graphia told The Hollywood Reporter, it would probably get boring for viewers to watch Heughan and Balfe pretend to have sex the same way season after season (I said, probably). But while married life is often portrayed as monotonous on TV, the turtle soup sex scene is a great example of the different ways longterm couples demonstrate love.
"They have angsty love scenes; long, drawn-out love scenes; the quickies in the woods; and then the light-hearted ones," Graphia said. "That's very much like a real couple, every time there could be a different mood for it."
Throughout all of their very distracting adventures, Claire and Jamie mix things up to keep the spark alive. Even if Claire didn't actively contemplate this particular sexual venture, it showed them displaying a very fun side to their sex life... which was desperately needed after all the drama (murder, and secret wives, and kidnapping, oh my!) that followed their reunion.
Season 3 asked fans to step outside of their comfort zones regarding where Claire and Jamie's story was headed (America!), and this scene proved that no matter where in the world the couple is, the heart of the show is their very sexy — and sometimes playful — love story.
Season 3 has quite a few memorable sex scenes with Claire and Jamie's reunion in "A. Malcolm" and when Jamie outlines what he'll do to Claire when they arrive on dry land in "Eye of the Storm." But this scene in "Uncharted" will always leave fans craving another serving of turtle soup.