Outlander Retrospective – Behind the Scenes in Episode 407, ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’

(First posted at outlandercast December 2018)
Here in Australia, we see the show a day later than those of you in the U.S., and I think we are still a day ahead of the UK and Europe. I usually haud ma wheesht but this time I just couldn’t resist looking at the discussion threads before I saw Outlander Episode 407. I had an inkling that this would be a controversial one and, sure enough, there was many a tirade from angsty book readers.

Not only is there too much of Laoghaire and Frank, apparently, but Lizzie is way too tall! It’s kind of funny that we get all het up about these details. It’s all fiction, after all. Like I said last week, even though I miss some book elements, I personally find it kind of zesty that something new and unexpected will happen to stories I know so well.

I also found it interesting to explore the back stories of some of the well known characters. I say again kudos to the creative team for sticking their necks out and exploring unknown territory. Think This is Us, a beloved U.S. show built on back stories, and we lap it up there. We could maybe do well to lighten up here in the Outlander fandom? Maybe?

So, down to the business of looking behind the scenes. I’ve been waiting for this one, because those scenes in the harbor were a big event for fans in Scotland. They were filmed at Dunure Harbour in Ayr (as Brianna describes in the show) in March 2018 and it was a big day with lots of onlookers. And it was the day I was fortunate to team up for the first time with the talented Scottish photographer, Gary Dempster. The Outlander scene was new to him but he was up for the challenge and we had a lot of fun.

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But first things first, to the scenes as we see them in the show. The beardless Roger at Craigh Na Dun, the third person we’ve seen go through the stones now. Many Outlanderfans make the pilgrimage to Kinloch Rannoch where the fictional Craigh Na Dun is set up. It’s a beautiful drive (2 hours from Edinburgh and 2½ from Glasgow) through the lovely village of Pitlochry on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park. If you go there you will see some spectacular scenery along the way. Wasn’t it lovely to see the place covered in a light dusting of snow? Here are a few pictures from my own travels there, and my newglasgowgirls buddies Dora and Naomi, who went there on an icy, snowy day, sporting some lovely jackets (wink!).

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outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

Next stop was Culross Palace and other locations at Culross, in Fife. This Scottish village is well accustomed to having the Outlander crew in town. Many familiar scenes have been filmed there. From Season 1 Geillis’ house and the pillory, Claire and Gellis in the Castle Leoch Gardens, and the Black Kirk (an amazing ruin up the hill behind the village). And in Season 2 Claire pulling teeth before Culloden and many interior scenes with Jamie and the Bonny prince in war council.

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The filming took place over two days in February 2018. On the first day, Graham Harris Graham (well known local photographer who specialises in Outlander-related photography), Lee Jenkins and Julie Windmill were there on the spot, and shared their pictures with me. Graham’s Gallery is right above the Culross Palace (National Trust for Scotland) shop and right in the centre of the village. He could look out the window of his home to see the filming on Day 1. Talk about lucky.

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Sophie Skelton and Script Supervisor Margaret Graham

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

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On day 2, I was there for the action at Culross Palace. Unfortunately it was all indoors and we now know what was going on in there! So we didn’t see much except the hard-working crew and then a glimpse of the actors as they went for breaks. And between scenes Bree and Laoghaire seemed to be getting on like a house on fire!

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

 

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4
Rigging outside the building to make the interior dark, for the night-time scenes

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

It was pretty exciting to see young Layla Burns (Joanie McKimmie) and there was a lot of chit chat and speculative banter amongst the onlookers. What could those three be doing in scenes together? And now we know. So sweet that Brianna formed a bond with Joanie.

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Another heart-rending flashback: Brianna at Frank’s graveside in a beautiful, tear-jerking scene. That scene was shot at Abercorn Church, which is in the heart of OutlanderCountry near Edinburgh. Angela Gourlay, who owns the Parkhead House B & B, in the grounds of Hopetoun House, noticed the filming preparations one day and shared her pictures with me. Abercorn Church is located very close to Hopetoun House (think Duke of Sandringham S1), Midhope Castle (Lallybroch) and you can walk from there along the foreshore to Blackness Castle (Outlander’s Fort William in Season 1). Needless to say, that churchyard is a very atmospheric place.

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

Angela also spotted the action at Midhope Castle, the day they were filming the scene of Brianna and Joanie arriving at Lallybroch.

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The harbour scenes were certainly one of my most memorable Outlander location days. There had been a lot of advance chat on social media with many locals sharing their pictures of the harbour being prepared, yet again, to host the Outlander crew.

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

Usually less than an hour south-west of Glasgow, on this particular day in March 2018 I travelled through a snowstorm and stalled traffic to get there. And when I arrived at the peaceful and charming Dunure Harbour there was no sign of that wild weather! Just grey skies and a biting chill that lasted the whole day. I teamed up with my intrepid photographer buddy, Gary Dempster and we were all set for a fun day.

There was already quite a crowd gathered thanks to social media alerts. The folk of Dunure must be accustomed to this, as their locations have been used a lot already for the filming of Outlander. The harbour (think Claire, Jamie, Lesley and Hayes setting off on the Artemis in Outlander Season 3), castle (think Jamie howling ‘Claire, Claire’ after his escape from Ardsmuir in S3) and foreshore (think Jamie and Claire watching helplessly as Young Ian is carried away by the bad guys while trying to retrieve the jewels in OutlanderSeason 3) are all familiar to us in the Outlander world.

We soon twigged that today was about Brianna setting off for America, accompanied at the wharf by her Uncle Ian.

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outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4
Sophie has a moment with the horses during a break in filming

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outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4
Steven Cree’s green screen wooden leg.

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outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

The crowd was abuzz with speculation about Lizzie Weymss. Could that tall young woman flanking Bree in the scenes be Lizzie? We all thought not because she looked too tall and robust (book readers inertia!) but lo and behold, some time later Caitlin O’Ryan was indeed announced as the actress who would be playing our beloved Lizzie. As book readers know she will be a familiar face, and have some mighty exciting adventures of her own in the new world.

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outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

And then, the big bombshell! A couple of people spotted Tobias Menzies, dressed in 1960s clothing among all the 18thCentury folk. What the? But we now know that this was the sequence where Brianna saw her daddy giving her a supportive nod of approval as she embarked on her dangerous adventure. (sob!)

We made the decision to hold back the photos that Gary Dempster captured because we didn’t want to give a big spoiler away at the time. But here now you can see Tobias on set, and chatting with crew and Caitlin O’Ryan (Lizzie). What an unexpected twist, eh? STARZ teased it in the first trailer with Tobias’ voiceover but who knew he would actually return?

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

Another buzz that day was the big reveal of Brianna wearing Claire’s fur-trimmed coat from Outlander Season 1. This is one of Terry Dresbach’s promises to the Outlanderaudience, the authentic nature of the clothing practices of the time. Back then people would have had very limited clothing, they would have kept garments for their whole lives, remodeled them and handed them on to others. So, naturally Bree would end up with that lovely garment, passed on to her by Uncle Ian.

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

The whole day was a hustle and bustle of the 18thcentury waterfront, with so many extras bringing that to life. Somehow, we did not see the scenes with Roger and Stephen Bonnet! Maybe they took place before we got there? Or maybe after we left? At that stage Ed Speelers had not been announced as an Outlander actor, so we wouldn’t have known to look out for him, and who would recognise Roger Mackenzie from a distance in that deck-hands garb! Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4
Check out the costume detail, even for the extras.
outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4
The harbour scene from above

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

And, where would we be without a bit of that wicked Steven Cree humour?

outlander episode 407, down the rabbit hole, outlander season 4, behind the scenes outlander season 4

I loved that episode, not least because it brought back great memories for me of fun times and shared Outlandish adventures. What did you think about the unexpected plot twists? See you next week when we go to ‘Wilmington’ together. Another location where I teamed with Gary Dempster, so expect some great photos.

Thanks again to those who shared their pictures with me: Graham Harris Graham, Angela Gourlay, Julie Windmill and Lee Jenkins.

Andrée Poppleton

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