SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses Episode 12 (titled “Never My Love”) of Starz’s Outlander Season 5, as well as the book series on which it is based. Please proceed with caution if you have not yet viewed all available episodes and wish to avoid spoilers.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) suffered dreadfully at the hands of Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy) in the Season 5 finale of Outlander. Abducted in last week’s episode, she was then brutally gang-raped by Lionel and other members of his group.
As reported by The New York Times, Balfe has now spoken out about how she handled the terrifying scenes. While the rape scenes can be associated with the historical era in which Outlander is based, she also pointed out that it is still a social issue even today.
“Sexual assault and rape is so prevalent in society — one out of every six women has been a victim of an attempted or completed rape in the United States,” Balfe said.
“That’s a crazy statistic! We have a problem in our society with sexual assault, and it’s reflected in our storytelling.”
While the rapes were horrific to watch on screen, as Balfe also pointed out, the writers decided to draw attention away from the actual attacks by not showing them as much on screen. Instead, they chose to send Claire into a dissociative state that saw her imagining a Thanksgiving dinner involving her family.
“You never really see the attackers,” she noted. “We didn’t want to give them any space.”
Outlander‘s showrunner, Matthew B. Roberts, also pointed out that the dream sequence was explicitly used in order to show a different way to how rape victims might react to the situation.
For viewers who also read the books on which the hit historical drama is based, the fact the TV show presented Claire’s recovery directly after she is rescued by her husband, Jamie (Sam Heughan), was also discussed by Balfe, Roberts, and the author of the book series, Diana Gabaldon. In the sixth book of the Outlander series, Jamie insists that he and Claire have sex nearly immediately after the attack as a way to try and wash away what happened to her. However, Balfe believed that this would not translate well on television.
“If you read that scene in the book, you see that as Jamie giving Claire confirmation that she’s still lovable and desirable,” Balfe said. “But if you film that, I don’t think it would come across in that way.”
Instead, Balfe felt that it could be perceived as Claire having her agency taken away. Gabaldon also noted that Claire’s experience afterward in the books is not a normal reaction to the situation and that they normally turn in on themselves. This is something that is portrayed on the TV show.
As to how Claire continues to react to the situation remains to be seen. However. Balfe did mention that the emotional journey would continue in Season 6.