“Outlander” returned from its six-month hiatus on April 4, and the midseason premiere, “The Reckoning,” forced Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) to renegotiate the rules of their relationship, after Claire’s decision to return to Craigh na Dun without Jamie’s knowledge resulted in her capture and near rape at the hands of Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). Although Jamie and the Highlanders managed to rescue her (with unloaded weapons, no less) Claire’s choice put everyone in danger, and Jamie wasn’t afraid to let his wife know it, resulting in an explosive fight and subsequent spanking which threatened to derail their romance entirely.
“I don’t think she realizes what she’s done by putting all the men in danger and what the repercussions of that are going to be, obviously,” Balfe told
. “But the fight that her and Jamie have… sometimes when you’re scared or when you’ve been hurt, you don’t know what to do with all of this emotion, so you just lash out. And I think both of them are just giving it to each other and you really see them push each other’s buttons, but it’s coming from a place of fear. And it’s like a parent who’s like, ‘Don’t you ever do that again.’ And it’s incredible to watch them have this big thing, but then when he really shows her, ‘it’s because you scared me,’ all of her defenses just melt and she’s like, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.\'”
For Heughan, that fight was a way of vocalizing all the stress and terror Jamie had been feeling after discovering that Claire was missing. “We start the episode from Jamie’s point of view, and you see where he’s gone, what he’s had to go through to get to the rescue,” he pointed out. “Caitriona and I really relished that scene. It was kind of the first time I really got to do some gritty
, and it was great. We sort of tore it out of each other. I think it might have been one of the first scenes we tested on, actually. You get to see the frustration and the anger, and it almost becomes physical. It was really intense, and great fun to work with her. And it really takes the relationship somewhere [new].”
Executive producer Ron Moore noted that although they had Diana Gabaldon’s book to work from, their focus was on “digging in to the scenes themselves, and the page, and working with the actors, and really wanting it to be as raw and emotional as it was. It’s the culmination of a lot of things that they just haven’t been sharing because [they were] in that magical ‘get to know you’ kind of phase. And then here [we thought], let’s have a real problem and really see them go at each other. It was a great opportunity.”
But the verbal confrontation wasn’t the end of the argument, as Claire discovered after the Highlanders began to shun her for putting them in danger and disobeying her husband.
While Heughan understood why the spanking scene might’ve been shocking or repellent to modern audiences, he was able to rationalize Jamie’s decision, given the time period and surroundings the Highlander was raised in. “He has to punish her, whether or not he believes in it. He says he doesn’t, but he has to because otherwise the Highlanders won’t protect her. She’s in danger. There’s a moral code, and it’s the way he’s been brought up, and he’s now got responsibility, and he’s trying to do everything that’s right. He’s trying to play that role and be responsible, and she keeps bloody messing with it,” he laughed. “And obviously, out of that, he learns a very valuable lesson, and she does, and their relationship is yet again developed and moved forward. And if he hadn’t, if he’d said, ‘I won’t punish you, it’s okay — it’s not the right thing to do, but you’re very naughty,’ then they wouldn’t have learned anything. And I think it’s interesting, because this relationship is just developing, and it’s like any marriage — it’s taking on different forms. It’s going to keep doing that. God knows where it’s going to be in a year’s time.”
Moore admitted that the producers and writers “talked about a lot” before the scene finally arrived. “I always knew we were going to do it because it was a key moment in the book and we wanted to do it. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s really about justice and that’s what Jamie says in the scene: it’s a scene about justice; it’s not a scene about domestic abuse; it’s not a scene about anger. These were the mores of the time. As he says to Claire, if she was a man, she would’ve had her ears cropped, or something worse. And so there was a sense of righting the scales of justice. To her mind and to ours, as 21st century people, we kind of recoil from it like ‘oh my god,’ but I think we also understand the context of the time and why he’s doing it and what it’s about.”
“We knew it was going to be a controversial scene that people were going to ask a lot of questions about,” Balfe conceded. “We really had a lot of conversations about it. We went back and forth with the writers about how they wanted to do it and what we felt comfortable with, but we had the blueprint of the book, which was great. But we really wanted to give it the respect that it deserved, because it’s not something that can be taken lightly. And the thing we always came back to is that we have to understand that, no matter how we as modern people perceive it, this has to be taken in the context of 1743, and this was a perfectly acceptable justice in that time.”
While the scene itself is memorable, it’s the aftermath that truly redefines Claire and Jamie’s relationship. “What happens after is very important because here we see two people figuring out how to make their marriage work, because not only has Claire suffered physical wounds from this, but there’s been a great psychic wound,” Balfe observed. “And I think that the betrayal she feels — that this man she’s fallen for with heart and soul has now betrayed her, in a sense — that’s a big thing for her to get over. But I think the thing they’re learning within the confines of their marriage is that you don’t always have to accept what the person does, but if you can understand where they’re coming from, then you can build a bridge to forgive and move forward. And he also realizes, ‘okay, I can’t treat you as everyone else treats everyone else in this time, and I’m willing to change, and to grow, and to meet you halfway.\'”
Claire doesn’t forgive or forget easily, however — banishing Jamie from their bed and giving him the cold shoulder even once they’re back at Castle Leoch, until they finally confront their feelings and reconnect physically — allowing Claire to pick up Jamie’s blade mid-coitus and warn her husband that if he ever raises a hand to her again, she’ll cut out his heart.
“She really draws her boundary line,” Balfe noted. “When we have that other intense sex scene, I think that that’s her saying, ‘Look, I will love you with every fiber of my being, but not more than I love myself, and as long as you respect me, then we’re good.\'”
What did you think of “The Reckoning” and the spanking scene? Weigh in below.
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Extremely well done and gripping. Cait and Sam are perfect for the parts they portray. Just love this series.
My new favorite episode. I think because it is finally bringing real interactions between Jamie and Claire. For example, when Claire is still in BJR’s clutches and Claire tells Jamie to go – it’s the first time I felt she showed she really is concerned for him and selflessly is willing to die if he gets free. Then the argument after Ft William – it’s finally a look at the heat and passion that’s just below the surface for both of them – Claire’s conflict over Frank and Jamie; Jamie’s conflict over a forced marriage with a woman who intrigues him, and whom he is realizing he is in love with, but he doesn’t quite understand. When he realizes the level of emotion he feels, he is shocked by it. The spanking scene has never been an issue for me, and has never carried the emotion that some fans have about the scene. I viewed it as Jamie’s age getting a bit in the way (he’s only about 22 or 23 at this point), and his ego among the male members of the clan is being pushed a bit to teach his wife a lesson for the danger she has put everyone in. (The cost is more evident in the book and she has raised the stakes on the level of danger they are in.) I think Matt Roberts did a great job writing the scene, and Cait and Sam acted it out in a very authentic way.
I think it was well done and was inportant to the story. Clair is selfish sometimes and needs to rethink some things. I love the show and enjoy your interpretation of the books.
Whole episode gripping and memorable. Sam & Cat superb and the spanking scene handled brilliantly.
Resulted in sympathy for both Claire & Jamie. They fight with great passion & the making up at Leoch was wonderful.
So the spanking didn’t turn her on? Yawn. Was going to pay to download episode on Amazon but I think I’ll pass.
After the hiding, Jamie explains when and why his father spanked him. This exchange is a claifying and connecting point in their relationship. Jamie explains that his father used this form of discipline and it has lead him to have his Sharp sense of justice and honor. So until about 1965 spanking was an acceptable form of discipline. Human rights are relatively new concept with regards to human history. In 2015 women earn less money than a man while performing the same job. We are evolving and eventually people will be treated fairly. Until then it is important to acknowledge our shortcomings so that we do not repeat the same mistakes.
I expected it. Wasn’t crazy about it but understand totally. Love them .
I’ts all a manner of context. It was handled perfectly and exactly as written in the book. Well done!
This episode was everything I hoped it would be. Everyone involved made it absolutely perfect!! I was really worried that the spanking would come off to much as abuse or sexual but it wasn’t at all. You could see that Jaime wasn’t doing it out of anger or desire. He did it because he felt he had to. It was also totally believable that Claire was able to fight him to some considerable length. She got in a few good whacks, the kick to the face being the most memorable. The attitude of the men before and after really showed partly why Jaime had to do it, before she didn’t exist and after they teased/commiserated with her – she was one of them again. This whole story is just spectacular and if it doesn’t win all kinds of awards next awards season it will be a crime.
I forgot to say that the spanking in 50 Shades was far more disturbing to me even tho it was consensual. Jaime spanked Claire because he felt he had to not just for no reason other than that he was turned on by it.
Really well done, I have read the book and wondered how they would handle it, I actually laughed.
In the eyes of the highlander Clan she deserved what she got even though we all know her motivation for leaving the hidden spot, they do not. I feel sorry for her for having experienced it, but the truth is that being a modern woman placed back into a totally different time period, she truly does not have a sense the smallest decisions she makes can have serious consequences to herself and others. Given this, she most likely will never make that particular mistake again. Jamie on the other hand learns that she is not a typical woman, she is unique and he may have to compromise in order to stay with her. He therefore makes a decision to compromise and promises himself and her he will never do that again. Both of them come away from the encounter learning a valuable lesson about the other, the end result being that it strengthens rather than weakens the relationship. The experiences such as these shared together ultimately seal their bond.
I’m a woman but i supported Jamie in this spanking. I asked myself why and truth be told, in my eyes, Jamie can do no wrong. It’s as simple as that.
I was raised in a home that spanked and I only received a total of 5 times in my life because in my home a parents word was the law.No meant no and I knew it and understood it.I also remember many times asking myself if what I was about to do or say would get me a spanking!!Consistency and corporal punishment worked for me as a child.
Loved this episode. It was so well acted – these two actors are amazing together and their chemistry is fantastic. I understood why Claire had wanted to go back to Frank in episode 8 but got caught by Black Jack Randall but can certainly understand why Jaime had rescue her and inflict punishment. It’s like a soldier deserting this post – there were so many lives that were put in danger. I think Claire got off lightly.
The spanking did not bother me and I’m 72 years old. It was part of a great story….and I think Jaimie’s reaction to almost hitting her when they were arguing about saying she was sorry or apologizing shows that he’s really a good man who loves her with his whole being. Sam’s acting – his trembling with rage and realizing he could hurt her and backing off from it – that is more important than the spanking. Remember in the 1700’s spanking was considered (mild) discipline. Jaimie and his friends laid down their lives to rescue her. At the very least, she should have said she was sorry for disobeying him and causing all the trouble to begin with!
Frankly, the spanking did not bother me when I read the book twenty-odd years ago, nor did the prospect of seeing it in the film offend me. Given the situation, the time and Jamie’s character, I accepted the punishment as legitimate, not abusive. I do not in any way support domestic abuse, but Claire’s impulsiveness and verbal belligerence proved constantly aggravating. For readers of the entire series, Jamie’s rescue of Claire from Fort William is only one of many occasions when he must come to her aid or save her from harm. As intelligent as she is, she more often than not uses very poor judgement. In fact, most of the horrors of Wentworth which will leave psychological scars on both of them result from Jamie once again “saving” Claire. Even though she is vital to the three dramatic points of the plot, Claire’s feminist independence is tiring, her salty language is offensive and her threats are ridiculous. Caitriona Balfe does a fine job of portraying Claire because I really wanted Jamie to slap her when she shoved him several times and said she didn’t like being his wife.
I couldn’t agree with you more here. I find Claire’s belligerence tiresome. Under the circumstances, I think that she got off with a light punishment. What bothers me by the end of the episode, is that I feel that Jamie has given a lot of ground. And Claire has given almost nothing. In the book, Jamie’s long (as often funny) explanations of his own experience of corporal punishment served to have Clare come to a better understanding of why Jamie punished her as he did, and helped her to understand that she could no longer afford to be so head strong because her actions had endangered so many others. By the end of the TV episode, I feel that Jamie has given up a lot of ground. He volunteers never to beat here again whereas in the book Claire forced that on him and he reluctantly agreed, They came to a balanced point of mutual respect which makes the relationship interesting and endearing through all of the books. But in the TV version, I think that went overboard in making Claire so belligerent. After tonight, I don’t see Claire as strong, I see her as spoiled and ungrateful for all the things Jamie has done for her. I think she should give way a bit in honour everything Jamie has done for her (more than once already). I didn’t like having to see Jamie groveling for her approval at the end, and even that wasn’t really enough for her. I hope that they balance this relationship a little bit more over future episode into one of mutual respect which includes Claire learning to respect all the things that Jamie has done for her and show some gratitude. I hope she comes to learn that she really does need to give Jamie the lead on some of these issue, because he understands the dangers and consequences far better than she does.
This is an interesting comment but remember, this is the first episode shown from a POV other than Claire’s. She is deliberately portrayed in this way to help the viewer sympathise more with Jamie and understand his perspective on her disobedience and unwillingness to compromise – it’s how his character sees her in the other eps, we (the viewers) don’t. Remember that a Outlander is told very distinctly from a particular POV and this clearly affects the way the story is told. From next week we will go back to Claire’s POV and back to sympathizing with her thoughts and motivations.
Susan I could not agree with you any more concerning Claire; however, I love the books and I felt truly lost and lonely every time I finished reading them. However, I believe the two Actors that play Jaime and Claire portray them wonderfully! Starz has a winner with this series in my opinion.
What I find most fascinating is the ability of the actors to depict this and all scene with an emotional context which is real and true. I truly believed the profoundness & feeling of this storyline because they were able to communicate authentically the subtext in which the words are delivered. This prism in which audiences are allowed to live these characters so vividly is only made possible by actors with an innate ability to embody a role & through this prove credit to their profession. Bravo.
the best love scene ever!!! Catriona nailed it! Looked so real-flushed skin, uneven
That the spanking scene was as funny as it was is a great testament to the actors, the writers and director. I laughed out loud, several times, because it was set up to be light-hearted and slightly ridiculous – in particular, the music in this scene is a great guide and works powerfully to position the viewer. Was I bemused and slightly troubled that I was laughing at a woman being spanked? Yes, but far, far less troubled than watching the ‘gratuitous violence against women’-porn genre of many modern detective shows including The Fall, Ripper Street, Luther, etc. These shows specifically exploit women’s vulnerabilities (real or perceived) for entertainment purposes on ways that make me a thousand times more uncomfortable than this one scene from Outlander. It’s the best show on television and it’s unique female perspective – even in this episode, which is from Jaime’s POV – serves its original story, and its audience, incredibly well.
The entire episode was fantastic and very entertaining. The chemistry between the lovers is sizzling. One of the best programs on cable.
Absolutely loved it!! Brilliant, all the way around. BEST SHOW on TV. Period.
In this time in History this was acceptable. Plus they followed the book. Really great acting was involved in this case by both Sam an Cat. They are the best!!! All involved have not disappointed by putting this screen in the movie. Keep it real as it is in those times.
I liked how they handled it. I am glad they left it in. Plus the make up sex was hot. Damn do these 2 have chemistry or what?
I’m a big fan of the books, and often, a scene like this doesn’t translate onto film/into real life. I was thrilled at the reality and raw depth of feeling in the scene. As an actor, this is the kind of scene I’d give my right arm to play, so, bravo, Sam and Catriona!
Tremendously WELL DONE!!! I am so glad you kept the book in mind when making decisions regarding this discipline and respect issue. My first thought to those that compare this to Fifty Shades is: READ THE BOOKS and put your mind into the time period and the events of that time period. To see Jamie “bare his soul” even if in fear and anger was some of the most heart rendering scenes yet. Claire’s own reaction to realizing just how fearful he was grabs hold of her and her expressions so beautifully. The last scenes on the floor in front of the fireplace was AWESOME! Claire standing her ground regarding their relationship and Jamie stating they will find what works for them as a couple continues to reinforce the great story taking place. To see them grow and move forward only gels their relationship more and more. THANK YOU FOR A GREAT START for the second half of this season.
BRAVO your talented actors so deeply understood and presented the transformation of duty into love and I into we. thank you for making it so.
It’s important to note that in 1743, punishment of this type would have not only been OK; it would have been expected of a man who wanted to stay in good stead with his fellow warriors. In today’s world, we see it very differently, but good for Gabaldon and Moore to make it authentic. Although we get that Claire is about the strongest woman ever, it would even have been marginally OK for a man to punish his wife in the 1940s. How lucky we all are to be living in the 21st Century!!
The catchy tune that played in the background helped alleviate some of the tension from the spanking….almost gave it a comical air. But the dialogue was genuine and explained Jamie’s logic behind the action. As a lover of the entire Outlander series of books, I felt the show treated the subject matter perfectly, with the right blend of humor and sensitivity. Am loving this show. They are doing this just right. Well done, Starz.
I find it strange that the historical accuracy of this scene has garnered so controversy when the severe flogging of Jaime or the child having his ear nailed depicted more cruel and inhumane treatment this act did.
I think they handled the scene quite well. They have taken great pains to make the time. As realistic as possible and with that has to come the ideas of the time as well. In fact I think that he actually went easier on her than most men of that time would have with their wives.
I agree,I haven’t heard one complaint about the ear nailing of a child.Back then life was easily lost due to violence,disease and just the sheer hardship of day to day struggles.I say people today have gotten soft.We are used to grocery stores on every corner,electricity,vehicles.I have a horse and even I can’t imagine riding a horse for days on end just to get some where.Have gone a month without electricity,dont want to do it again but I can if need be.A person had to really think before they did something back then.
I think both actors did terrific. I could feel his compassionate anger (is that an oxymoron?). As a modern women it also felt brutal. This scene brought up all the emotions that it was meant to. Claire and Jamie did go one step back but, definitely two or three steps forward. Wonderful episode, can’t wait for what we know is coming.
Saw it last night, had no issues with the scene. Took it for what it was and what time period it was set in. We are all grownups, and know the difference between 21st century and 18th century. Truth be told in the 1940’s it was still accepted by society for husbands to discipline their wives. Watch any t.v. (I Love Lucy), movies from that time period or even slightly later… some of even the old James Bond movies threaten it. Therefore if the situation that Claire got herself into was mirrored in a 1940’s scenario, then Frank could have actually potentially done the same thing, based on the temper we see ancestrally or when he was duped about the reward, he too had the ability to go there.