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  • I have a question about episode 306, “A. Malcolm” and would love to hear someone’s take on it, particularly if they have read the books, as I have not. At the end of the undressing session, once Claire is naked, she tells Jamie that she wants to see him and he takes off his shirt. But she doesn’t spend any time looking at him. Instead, she asks “Are you as scared as I am?” to which he replies “I suppose I must be afraid, aye.” What’s going on there? Does Jamie not have an erection? This threw me off because she then says “Do you remember on our wedding night? We were both scared. You held my hands. Told me it would be easier if we touched.” This sounds like bad writing. It makes it seem like Jamie needed help getting there and she’s telling him what to do. Was that in the book? It certainly wasn’t in the dialogue in The Wedding episode that she seems to reference.

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    • I think it comes down to the writers' desire to include as much of the original scene as possible, while also fitting the episode into the 60+ minutes they have. (IIRC this episode ran to 75 minutes.) There are any number of reasons for why certain things make it into the episode and others don't, so I'll just focus on what those things were, rather than speculate why the writers chose to do it this way.

      In this particular scene in the book, after Jamie disrobes, Claire spends several paragraphs taking in Jamie's naked appearance (from head to... well, mmphm), culminating in the observation that "he did want me, and very badly." Now, in the TV scene, if the director and/or actor doesn't want to show a full-frontal shot (which, for an erection, would definitely be a prosthetic), then that makes for an awkward business of conveying how ready (or not) the character is, without showing it. You could have Claire make a verbal observation about his readiness, but that runs the risk of killing the mood, sounding forced/unnatural, etc.

      So, that part is cut. Next they start to approach each other, both naked. In the book it goes like this:

      We stood still then, awkwardly hesitating. We were intensely aware of each other—how could we not be? It was quite a small room, and the available atmosphere was completely filled with a charge like static electricity, almost strong enough to be visible. I had a feeling of empty-bellied terror, like the sort you get at the top of a roller coaster.
      “Are you as scared as I am?” I finally said, sounding hoarse to my own ears.
      He looked me over carefully, and raised one eyebrow. “I dinna think I can be,” he said. “You’re covered wi’ gooseflesh. Are ye scairt, Sassenach, or only cold?”
      “Both,” I said, and he laughed.

      They then get into bed, and Claire, in closer proximity to Jamie's considerable body heat, observes that he definitely isn't cold, and huddles closer to him.

      He laughed a little uncertainly. “No, I’m not. I suppose I must be afraid, aye?” His arms came around me, gently, and I touched his chest, feeling hundreds of tiny goose bumps spring up under my fingertips, among the ruddy curling hairs.

      Jamie is saying he must be afraid because his goosebumps aren't from being cold. As for why he's afraid... Throughout the scene, it has become clear that their nerves don't have (much) to do with the physical act – they're both still incredibly attracted to each other – which leaves the emotional aspect. We have to imagine the feeling that would come after twenty years of longing, of grieving, only to suddenly have back what you'd thought was lost forever; being terrified of stepping into that vulnerable place after so long, when you know from experience how painful it would be to lose your heart again. That – in my humble opinion – is what Jamie is afraid of. Stepping into the abyss.

      With the TV scene, the bridge between "I want to look at you" and "I suppose I must be afraid" is almost non-existent – none of the emotional context from the book. Then, at that point in the book scene, Claire says the line about their hands touching – which was in the book wedding scene, but not the TV version.

      So in attempting to include as much of the book as possible within their limited parameters, the TV writers lose the original resonance of the scene, both in terms of Jamie's fears and the callback to their wedding night, with the result that the scene falls flat with an audience that has no knowledge of the books, and possibly with the book audience as well... All I can say is, I don't envy their job!

      (ETA: Excerpts are from Voyager, chapter 25.)

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