If you watched STARZ series Outlander season 4 episode 8 “Wilmington”, we know. We KNOW. That’s why the cable network warned viewers ahead of time, that’s why we made damn sure you knew too.
That said, if you HAVEN’T watched the episode, you may want to find something else to read/watch, as there will be spoilers here for what happens to a certain character in “Wilmington”.
Be advised also, if you need trigger warnings for talk of rape and the portrayal of sexual violence towards women, you may want to steer clear of this article and the episode.
Alright, if you’re still here, that means you know exactly what happens on Outlander to Brianna (Sophie Skelton) at the hands of one Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers). We will say the scene as presented in the show was less harsh than how the same seen is written in the book, but that doesn’t make it any easer to watch.
Outlander EP Maril Davis spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the episode, in a lengthy reveal of the thought process that went into the scene, and what audiences will see in the coming episodes as the aftermath sets in:
“The tragedy of Brianna at the hands of Stephen Bonnett, which we’ve talked so much about how much rape there is in Diana Gabaldon’s books, do we have to see them all? This one, unfortunately, is very integral to the plot and as we move forward, so we needed to include this moment of violent aggression.
There is no easy way to portray rape on television. There just isn’t. No matter if we see it, if we don’t see it. The important thing for us is the aftermath, that it happened to this character and making sure that we’re sensitive to that journey and that we’re not shortchanging it at all.
From the outset, we always knew, and we talked to the director [Jennifer Getzinger] about this, but we weren’t going to remain with Brianna and Bonnett in the room the whole time. We certainly start there, but we also wanted to show the tragedy in this time of how rape was not seen as that big of a deal and…how horrible it was that no one raised a hand to stop it. All these people in this bar knew this was happening and didn’t reach out to help this girl, and that’s tragic.
Whether we show the rape occurring or we’re outside that room, it doesn’t lessen the tragedy of that horrific experience for Brianna. But we also wanted to show the tragedy of this environment that she’s in and thrust into this new world and the violence and the fact that no one was going to help her and how awful that was.
The next episode we’ll see the morning after where Bree just doesn’t want to be touched. She has the kind of horror and skin crawling feeling and doesn’t even know how to deal with it. We wanted to give that its time and give her that moment.”
As to the change to the scene from the book to the show, Davis said:
“In the book, we don’t know that rape has happened; several things pass and we just find out about it in flashback. We felt like that’s certainly an interesting way to go, but we wanted to see her struggle with it and not have to have her hide it. We see that she’s working through this, and we stay on that journey with her as opposed to having to look back and seeing if we could track where this happened. We wanted to give Sophie the ability to play that as a character as how it would affect her moving forward because this is a life-altering moment.”
And obviously this series takes place in the past, Davis explains how the show tries to not bring in contemporary/modern ideals in scenes and situations like the one in “Wilmington”:
“It comes up but I’ll be honest: it’s hard. We have to try really hard because we are doing a period piece. We’re not in a contemporary time. We can’t be swayed too much. We’re not trying to tell a political message in this show. Claire as a character is already a beacon for women’s rights and feminism. We don’t have to do a lot to convey that image or push forward that agenda.
We try very hard not to put a contemporary spin on this show. People did act differently in that time. And certainly rape happens now and I have no doubt that there are instances where people don’t lift a hand to help someone but even in showing that in that time, people can take from that what they will in this time. Yes, it’s been 200 years, but let’s be honest — not that much has changed. You are going to get that from this show anyway, but we tried very hard to keep a historical perspective and try not to bring in too much of a contemporary look on it or get political or champion certain causes.”
Outlander season 4 continues on STARZ on Sundays.