Why Outlander Changed That Rape Scene From The Book

outlander geneva duslany jamie fraser

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Starz)

Warning: spoilers ahead for the latest episode of the Outlander TV series and a portion of the third book of the Outlander saga.

Outlander is probably best known for telling the grand love story of Claire and Jamie, and the show has already crafted one of the most complex romances of television. That said, Outlander has been known to get quite ugly over the years, and the show hasn't shied away from sexual violence. Season 3 is based on the Voyager novel, and readers knew that Jamie would be sleeping with a woman other than Claire to conceive his son. In the book, Geneva coerced Jamie into sleeping with her, and Jamie ended up losing control and raping her. The rape did not happen in the "Of Lost Things" episode, and executive producer Maril Davis has revealed why:

We didn't want to approach that part or include that part because, at the end of the day, we didn't feel like what that scene was about. That scene should be all about Jamie being forced into doing something, but still not trying to take advantage of [Geneva] -- and wanting the experience, even though it's being forced on him, to be an okay one for her. It's all about Jamie as a gentleman... Certain sexual violence is, not appropriate, but like the Jamie rape [in Season 1] -- no one wants to see it, we're not glorifying it -- but it's important to show it in its gory detail so that people understand why Black Jack has such a profound effect on Jamie and Claire moving forward. There are moments like the Geneva one where it's not an important part of the story, so we choose not to show that... We didn't want to bring that part in because it was unnecessary.

The scene in Geneva's bedroom after she coerced Jamie into joining her in Voyager actually starts off a lot like the scene in "Of Lost Things," with Geneva watching Jamie undress and Jamie assuring Geneva that it won't hurt as long as he takes his time. Things took a turn for the worse in the book when they got down to business. Geneva got scared and told Jamie to stop, but Jamie literally said "No" and kept going. It's an ugly scene for the man who's supposed to be the romantic hero of the saga. There was never any fallout, and Geneva ended up pregnant instead of traumatized a la Jamie and Fergus. Maril Davis' comments to TV Guide indicate that the show wanted to focus on Jamie and Geneva creating a child together, however unintentionally, rather than the rape featured in the book.

The result of the change is that the episode was able to focus on Geneva as the mother of Jamie's child and the birth of Willy, and viewers didn't have to watch the TV version of Jamie do something pretty awful. Instead of a heartbreaking scene in the bedroom, we got a heartbreaking scene at the end when Jamie had to leave his son behind before everybody at Helwater started to connect the dots about how young Willy just so happens to resemble the groomsman.

Season 3 as a whole has been quite faithful to Voyager, with a few key exceptions. Personally, I was pretty happy that the show changed Murtagh's fate from the books and kept Jamie's godfather very much alive. Even if we never see him again after he was shipped overseas as an indentured servant, at least we know he didn't die at Culloden as he did in the book. The change of the bedroom scene between Jamie and Geneva is a positive one for me as well. The act was already sketchy enough with Geneva coercing Jamie into bedding her. We didn't need another layer of force.

We'll have to wait and see what other changes from the book are in store for the Outlander characters on the small screen. New episodes airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Starz. Don't forget to swing by our fall TV premiere guide, and take a listen to the episode of the Cord Cutter podcast all about what to binge this fall on the small screen.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).