Readers of Drums of Autumn should have been prepared for the ecstasy and agony of Sunday’s episode of Outlander, but it didn’t make Brianna’s experience any less heartbreaking. After marrying and making love to her new husband Roger, the time-traveling daughter of Jamie and Claire is raped by Stephen Bonnet, the same wretch who robbed her parents.
Unlike the disturbing rape scene involving Black Jack and Jamie in season 1, the sexual assault in Sunday’s “Wilmington” episode occurred off-camera. That was always the plan for what ended up being the series’ 50th episode.
“There is a lot of rape in Diana’s books,” admits Executive Producer Maril Davis to EW. “Obviously we’ve seen some of it and every time we try to figure out what is best for the story. We certainly want to be sensitive to the character who is going through this situation. We knew from the outset that we wanted to [have the rape occur off-screen]. We’re in the room with her at the beginning. Sophie did such an amazing job. It’s just a heart-breaking moment.”
That didn’t stop Starz, however, from issuing a warning before the broadcast and on Twitter.
Why flag something that doesn’t actually occur on-camera? Just because viewers don’t see the assault, Davis explains, doesn’t mean it is any less upsetting.
“It’s still horrible,” insists Davis. “When we approach a story, we want to see it in that time. The fact is, it happened quite a bit. We wanted to show how no one did anything and what a horrible thing that was. All of these people knew it was going on and did nothing to help … what it said about that society and how Brianna, as a single woman, was unattended and unaware and put in this situation. No one helped her. How tragic that was!”
After watching the episode, fans were both appreciative of the producers’ restraint and full of praise for Sophie Skelton’s portrayal of Brianna.
Want to continue the conversation about “Wilmington?” Make sure to tune into the next edition of Outlander Live! on EW Radio, Sirius XM 105. We’ll talk about the episode and do a special, Christmas Eve reading from Drums of Autumn.
Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Starz.