Why Outlander Decided To Include That Rape Scene

Starz’s Outlander often focuses on some of the greatest joys that humanity has to offer: the ability to love and be loved, the sheer exhilaration of survival against all odds, the pleasures that can be taken in food and good conversation. However, the series has a much darker side. There are villains who have been emboldened in the time prior to a complex justice system being created. Those villains will often take what they will without caring about the consequences. Last week, Outlander chose to tell a story about Fergus meeting Jamie’s foe Black Jack Randall inadvertently where he was quickly raped by the villain. It was a pretty shocking and graphic sequence and recently showrunner Ron Moore explained why the series chose to take that route during the episode. Here’s what he had to say:

I thought that what we showed in the show was actually the minimum required to convey the horror of what had happened and to understand from Claire's point of view why she would change her mind about Jamie and about getting him out of the Bastille and come to an understanding about what made him break his promise to her and to really viscerally put her and the viewer in the point of realizing what had happened to Fergus. We had a lot of conversations about it with the cast and the director and then in editorial, and I went with what I thought was enough to convey the horror of it without lingering in it and making it too gratuitous.

This scene was tragic and horrific in ways most shows do not manage to be. The instance of Fergus’ rape was not as graphic as it could have been in the retelling, but while the episode spared us a prolonged shot of the act, it didn’t spare us much else. Violent shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and others have been showing us the darker side of human nature for years. Regardless, child rape isn't a subject that TV often delves into. The event needed to happen to explain why Claire would forgive Jamie for his behavior against Black Jack Randall and why Claire would also trade her body for an audience with the king in order to save Jamie from the Bastille.

While Claire and Jamie returned to Scotland this weekend, last week’s episode mostly focused on Claire and the loss of her child via miscarriage early on. That portion of the episode was harrowing enough, with Claire lying on a table, in and out of consciousness. After resting for a while, Claire returns home, where it is soon apparent that something is wrong with Fergus. The young lad shares a story about stolen perfume and how he was mistaken by Black Jack Randall as a prostitute. We’re shown a sequence of rape and the shame the little boy is feeling after. He blames himself for what happened. He blames himself for Jamie being imprisoned.

In the books, the sequence of events happens in much the same way, but Fergus’ encounter with Black Jack Randall was only mentioned in passing, rather than shown and explained in detail. Obviously, just knowing what happened is enough in Diana Gabaldon's novel, but Outlander has had a penchant for moving around timelines and giving viewers different details in order to tell a more compelling story on the small screen. We still have a few episodes left in Season 2 and you can catch them on Saturday nights at 9 p.m. ET, only on Starz. The subscription cable network has yet to make an official decision about Season 3, but the show is already planning to bring the next book in the series to the small screen, and we'll keep you updated.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.