Merely Women of Consequence…A Reflection on Outlander Season 5 Finale

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I try really hard not to watch or read anything that will influence my reflections.  It is too hard to think your own thoughts if you are aware of what others are thinking.  But, sometimes I need a sounding board and I will reach out to my friend Jane.  She understands my process and I trust her. We knew it was coming, another episode where the writers would have to deal with another rape in their source material. The discussions around the portrayal or even the necessity of showing the rape were expected. I found my own feelings about this episode were confusing and so, this was one of the times I needed to talk before I wrote.

When Mary was raped there was talk in the fandom about the amount of rape in the show and there was even more discussion when they chose to show the rape of young Fergus.  As a result, Jane and I discussed whether we thought there was too much rape in Outlander.  I know I wrote about our conversation, but I’ll be damned if I can remember where!  If I remember correctly, we made a list of how many characters were raped or threatened with rape in Diana Gabaldon’s books and it is a pretty long list.  But, then we both wondered why, when reading the story, we didn’t feel there was a lot of rape.  We both came to the conclusion that it was because the books were large and so much happened between each event.  We also agreed that each character’s reaction was so different and how they dealt with the aftermath so different it felt like there was something new to say about the topic and new perspectives to appreciate and take in. Today, Jane shared with me that an interviewed Caitriona Balfe felt a lot like we did.  The books are large and the condensed format of the show doesn’t help with the perception there is too much rape.  Jane also shared that the producers felt they had to show the rape because it affected so many story-lines going forward.  So, they felt the rape needed to be told.  And, if they were going to tell it, Caitriona shared, it had to have meaning to the story.  I think this has always been their commitment to telling the parts of the story that involve sex or violence and for the most part, I think they have been faithful to that commitment.

The episode itself was beautiful and riveting. It was full of wonderful symbolism and call-backs.  The dreamscape house allowed me to escape with Claire, it helped me too, to think about Jamie and those she loved safe in the future.  The drip, however, reminds us that this wasn’t real, as did the empty chairs at the dinner table. Claire has no idea if her child and grandchild are okay. Drip by drip reality would eventually leak through. I loved that even in her futurist dream world, she couldn’t see Jamie as at 20th-century man. It was beautifully filmed, the costumes and sets doing their part to help tell the story,  The acting continues to be stellar and moving.  I believe the actors.  I can see what the characters are feeling.  As an episode, it was another story well told.  My issue is with the premise that this part of the story had to be told. Claire has and will suffer enough.

Jamie’s rape at the hands of BJR was one of the most brutal and visceral scenes I have ever watched on TV.  The conversations that ensued, of course, ran the gamut of revulsion to gratefulness.  There were fans who felt it was too much, unnecessary, and triggering. Others felt that it opened a door to necessary conversations about male rape.  Fergus’ rape, Brianna’s, Mary’s, and finally, …Claire’s gang rape were all scenes depicted in the books and all, important to the plot except…Claire’s gang rape.  I’ve tried and tried to understand how this moved the plot forward, I just haven’t come up with an answer that would warrant this scene being important to the rest of the story…at least for Claire. I looked at how this changed her going forward.  She has moments of PTSD, but in truth, I don’t think it does break her or change how she looks at the world.  I’m not minimizing the experience, it was awful and she suffers for it. PTSD has a way of making us understand that we cannot control our reaction to trauma whether we claim we won’t be shattered by it or not.  But, I just don’t see how Claire is significantly changed.  She is still kind, she still has mercy for those who don’t deserve it.  She may be more cautious, warier of men, but it does not seem to impact her choices.  She seems to be able to compartmentalize what happened to her. I know the death of Lionel Brown has some significance to the plot, but there truly could have been another way to move that story-line forward besides an even more brutal rape than the books portrayed.  Jamie, on the other hand, is changed.  He always called himself a bloody man, but I always felt his actions could be defended. When he utters”kill them all” some switch was turned on, a line crossed. “What a man will kill for he sometimes will die for” and at this point, for Jamie, the only thing worth killing and dying for is Claire. Jamie’s trajectory is changed by this event, but I have to believe he would have reached this point anyway… it’s not like Outlander lacks enough conflict to turn on his killer instincts.

I’m sure, like previous episodes that feature this subject matter, there will be folks who are angry and folks who are emotionally validated by this presentation.  Like in the past, I’m sure I will be able to see both sides, my own confused reaction to this episode confirms that for me.  I am just not sure what to think or even feel. I was moved and disturbed. But, when I reflect on all the images, symbolism, and words spoken in this episode, this morning the words that continue to resonate with me were spoken by Marsali. “He thought me no better than the dirt under his boot,” she tells Jamie. This has been our struggle, hasn’t it, to be seen as worthy of respect, dignity, and equality? For me, one of the most important things the series has shown us is the plight of women and how men value and devalue them.  Claire moves from respected wife and healer, the valued Lady of the Ridge, to “Hedge Whore” in the eyes of the men who want to teach an uppity woman her place. Lionel Brown is an archetype for male privilege and the evilness of patriarchy.  I would love to say women feeling like dirt under men’s boots is a thing of the past, but “casting couches” and every woman inspired to tell her story by the “me too” movement proves otherwise. Men like Lionel are alive and well still trodding us underfoot. We still struggle to be more than “a mere woman of no consequence”.  But, thank God the story includes men like Ian and Fergus and Roger and…Jamie who fight for us and beside us. There are men who understand that honor and courage are matters of the bone and  that  ” in her blood is his honor is christened.”

The image that has remained with me today is Claire naked in Jamie’s arms. I know that the premise is that they have had sex, but that is not what I see.  What I see is vulnerability. In each other’s arms, Claire and Jamie are free to be themselves without fear, naked, battered, and bruised.  I thought of Jamie’s trauma and his telling Claire that the part that makes him himself was a naked thing out in the open afraid and trying to find a blade of grass to hide underneath.  They came together physically then and something was restored and he felt that she had built him a “lean-to” to hide under rather than a blade a grass. In her arms, he is safe, his healing can begin.  In his arms,…she is safe…her healing has begun.

 

P.S. One of my readers pointed out that perhaps, I have answered my own questions, this deep relationship has been deepened by shared trauma.

“If my last words are not I love you. You will ken it is because I dinna have time”

 

 

69 thoughts on “Merely Women of Consequence…A Reflection on Outlander Season 5 Finale

  1. Joan Tinnin

    I cried reading your comments. Unbelievable how much this episode affected me. The times we are in are adding to it, I’m sure. Yes. There is a lot of rape in DG’s books. My thinking is that in that time, it was hard for a woman to be safe. Perhaps there was something to the ”protecting” of them. I feel that the show did a magnificent job portraying what happened. The 1960’s safe place for Claire added to the horror of what was happening to her. I don’t feel it detracted in any way. My husband and I watch the news nightly. Always have. I have thought to myself, “Women are just prey.” I think that a lot. So, perhaps, over 10,000 pages and approximately thirty years, perhaps there is not too much. It’s just being told. Thank you for your excellent. As always, perspective!

  2. Debra McCurdy

    I knew what was coming, so I watched the episode by myself, on my computer, in a room away from anyone else. I needed to be able to watch and process this without other’s reactions. I was relieved in the way they portrayed the rape scene. I could feel (and visualize) what Claire was going through and I didn’t want to see the men and the violence. Just thinking about this brings my anxiety level up.
    Again, the acting was superb on all counts. Beth, I always look forward to your response. As the English teacher, you make me go back, think, reflect, and revise. I thank you for that. And now, I’ll go meditate for a few minutes to bring a sense of calm back into my being.

  3. Anne

    Your last two paragraphs answer the question of why include the rape scenes. The dissociation was brilliant and so well done. The last image and your words about it are the reason. It adds depth to their already deep relationship.

    Thank you. I will miss you.

  4. I don’t know why people think there is too much rape in DG’s story, it was happening then, as it is now. And not just women, men and children, too. It was and is real. I was not looking forward to watching that either, and appreciated the dream sequences with all the symbolism, as I am still recognizing more of that as I rewatch and ponder it. Claire did disassociate during the worst of it. It was crafted so well. And the acting of all of them was brilliant, as usual. Too bad there wasn’t time to explain the significance of why Claire and Jamie had to have sex so soon after the rape, but I thought it was a beautifully intimate scene, vulnerable and safe, and I like what you said about what they went through together after Jamie’s rape and how they healed together.

  5. Susan Kamlet

    I am still reeling from Episode 512. Have you read the article about how Outlander has kept the writer sane from what’s happening in our world today? I think it is ironic how this season mirrored many of the experiences of our 21st century America.
    Usually I feel comforted by watching Outlander. Not this week. I personally felt bruised and battered, as if I was being beaten along with Claire. My usual sense of hope and love were diminished substantially. At the end, when Jamie speaks those famous words of love, with the oncoming storm clouds overhead, I shuddered.
    After a second viewing I realized that even though Jamie and Claire have faced horrible treatment by evil entities, they survived! They survived with love! Their bodies meshed together by love disregarded the blemishes, but melded together to form a stronger unit. Jamie and Claire again, gave me the enduring hope that I needed.
    Although I do not have a strong Jamie to hold me in time of need, I do have the love and hope of children and grandchildren which helps me think of the future in a positive way. Storm clouds pushed aside.
    I am looking forward to more Outlander views from you during Droughtlander. It will be long, but not endless. But if this episode is the finale, it ends well.
    Thank you, Beth.

  6. Terri

    Your commentaries are always thought provoking and stirring. I find myself often saying, “oh yes, of course; why didn’t I see that?” Thank you for these after viewing visits. I will miss reading them! Please don’t cringe but have you considered one more wrap-up the season review or a book review? I will miss your writing. Thank you.

    • annie5nomus

      Hello Shelia. I’m so glad you used the term “necessary” to the telling of this story. I don’t believe Diana G. uses rape or any other kind of brutality too often as some have suggested. It is what it is, and the 18th century was a very difficult time for any and all women, especially those who exhibited any kind of strength as does Claire. A woman like that was considered a threat to men and their ways of life. Of course it’s necessary. Nicely put.

  7. Val Lyon

    Thank you for another wonderful reflection on Outlander. I have so enjoyed reading your thoughtful and reflective posts throughout the season. In fact, I think I enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy watching the show! It’s all part of the experience. You are gifted in finding the deeper meanings in Diana’s work and weaving together thematic elements in a way that pays tribute to the work of the show creators. Although I have never commented before, I have been a faithful reader and so I wish you well during this next Droughtlander and look forward to the beginning of season 6. Take care and thank you.

  8. Beth,

    I don’t tend to comment a lot because I come at things from a very different POV from many Outlander fans. I don’t like causing conflict – at least not for stuff like this.

    I think – JMO – that the other traveler really nailed why Claire is so often the target for a certain type of men in that time-frame. She doesn’t act afraid, she’s outspoken, she doesn’t take shit the way so many other women do. Lional’s wife for instance. It challenges the small minded, nasty males (I don’t think of those types as real ‘men’ ) and they have to make up for their insecurities by being mean, petty & violent. Perhaps too, the storyline (not so much in the books) of the Dr. Rawlings writings will made this reaction (kidnapping / rape) necessary.

    I agree that the condensed series mean we have to experience these horrible events much closer together without having the after effects/healing being given as much space as we’d like. Every rape is different – each victim handles it differently (in the books, on the show AND our here in the real world). I identify with Claire in that, she doesn’t change much. She refuses to allow this event to shatter her. Better insight maybe – more awareness about who she is and how she interacts with the time – but she remains true to herself and moves forward.

    And while she refuses to let this shatter her – she does allow Jamie to hold her together, to be that protective layer around her while she heals and finds her balance again.

    Many in the fandom may not like all the rapes or near rapes….but it has promoted a great deal of discussion which should be a good thing. Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away or promote understanding. JMO

    Beth Wolfe

    • Beth TY!I especially loved what you said about Claire allowing Jamie to hold her together! Writing a blog is a tricky thing. You never know how your thoughts will be received, I just try to stay honest and true to myself and let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes people can relate some times not.

      • We all as human beings need the ability to fall apart sometimes. Having someone you trust to hold the pieces together until you can regroup is a huge blessing.

        I pretty much gave up on my blog. I got very little feedback on most posts and didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything. C’est la vie.
        Beth.

  9. Sharon

    Beth, you have written such a beautiful and eloquent review of Ep.12. It is the BEST that I have read or watched, as is the case always. Thank you so much for your thoughts and words on all that is Outlander.

  10. joyce Johnston

    Thank You. i was unable to sleep Sunday night I have read the books many times. The performances were riviing.

  11. Thank you for writing about the show Beth. Not only are you a fantastic writer, but your observations have enhanced my reactions to the content of each episode.
    This one was one of the best shows they have produced so far. I usually watch every episode twice just to pick up on things that I may have missed. Your observations help me do that.

  12. eataylo1

    As we are constantly told, TV is a visual medium. In deciding which parts of DG’s wide arching story to tell, the PTB have included all of the rapes and horrible physical trials our protagonists have endured while omitting much of the healing and grace that followed and add so much to character development. Two huge elements that were brought forward from book 6, Bonnet’s abduction of Brianna including his death and Claire’s abduction and rape made this season seem especially brutal. As a book reader, I find myself rereading sections after each episode because it is the only way I can restore balance and remember why it is I love this story. In the end, I remember the growth and overwhelming love that seep through the writing and not the horror. The TV production is teetering on the edge of melodrama in danger of catering to our basest instincts. Thank you for your insights while I cling to the hope that Season 6 will return to a more balanced adaptation.

  13. Meredith

    I submit observations here, rather than insightful comments that others write so persuasively. * We all caught the blue vase. Did you also notice the dining room wallpaper in Claire’s 1960 home? It is the wallpaper from their Castle Leoch bedroom. (I’ll take 20 rolls.) *The drip was a choice of multi-dimension to show Claire’s distancing. I had a moments thought ‘yep, that’s a 60’s house with a flat roof. * The police officer delivering the horrifying news is ‘Lionel’, didn’t recognize accompanying officer. * Fierce Woman Marsali used what Dougal referred to as a woman’s weapon, poison. * Naked /bed/holding does not always mean postcoidal comfort. I saw that image as Claire coming to bed after having a hot bath. A beautiful Renaissance style composition. *A moment of grace with the final word ‘Safe’. ——-

  14. Cathy

    I was looking forward to reading your commentary on the finale because I felt the same exact way.

    As a non-book fan, I get that the Claire rape incident happened in the books. But why did we need it portrayed in the show? I didn’t see the purpose of it. What possible point could it be to move the story forward (like you said)? I get that Jamie’s rape with BJR and Bree’s rape with Bonnet served a purpose to the storyline…but with Claire, what could it be other than telling the viewers that 18th century was a dangerous place to be?

    Also, this show felt like an ep 7 or ep 8 (middle of the season), definitely not a finale-type episode.

    I loved your comparison of them in each other’s arms to begin healing. Thank you always for sharing!

  15. Laura Michael

    I deeply appreciate your disquiet with this episode Beth. I wish this wasn’t the finale, that there was another episode as in previous seasons. That said, I was mesmerized by this episode, by the thought and care reflected by all involved.

    “What a horrific combination of words for an individual to find within themselves, let alone utter to another being.”

    IMO what makes this so difficult is that it is still so horribly relevant, if not more so from the 18th to the 21st century. Listening to the litany of insults from Lionel Brown as he used and abused Claire was gut wrenching but, unfortunately, sadly, familiar, “my God given rights”, “put manners on you”, “you’re pretending to be a man”, “you’re not so high & mighty now”, “have a go at the hedge whore”. I wish I could say that my life was free from fear but at night, alone, I am still afraid of what lurks in the dark.

    Few scenes in Outlander, in fact this may be my unicorn, have affected me as deeply as the last scene. Thank you Beth for your commentary. You went to the heart of it for me with the imagery of the blade of grass. I cannot help but weep at the sight of them together. Diana has at times described them trying desperately to become one and that image came so close to that, breathtakingly romantic, agape.

  16. Holly Towns

    I think the episode was done very well from beginning to end. Thank you for your beautifully written article.

  17. Susan Mills

    Beth Wolfe, I can’t help but feel you are bang on. Claire attracts attention because she is so different. Throw in a rotten soul like Lionel Brown and it is a recipe for disaster. And it’s a sad, sad fact that rape was extremely common and widely accepted hundreds of years ago. It would have been highly unrealistic had they kidnapped her, beaten her, and ended it there. As much as I hate it that fact it’s true.
    I haven’t read the books in years so the timelines of events are hazy to me but I knew this scene would come eventually. I was prepared and still sobbed like a baby. It was superb. Jamie and Claire get stronger with each trial. It’s what makes them beautiful.
    I had no issues with this episode except that it was the last. Thank you again for your insight. I look forward to it every week.

  18. Adi Tamir

    As always, I love your analysis. I have seen this episode twice and I think I will watch it many more times. In answer to your question, why did the rape have to be this way – I do believe that Claire has been portrayed as such a strong women that it almost had to be extreme for us to think of it this way. It’s so very sad to say it because I can’t even think of a rape as anything else but a kind of death. Claire is so strong that she can handle almost anything, Regarding the final scene where they are naked on the bed, I’m not so sure they had sex – I think they probably didn’t after what she went through but they had a closeness beyond it like in the previous episode where he almost died from the snake bite. At this point, they are so close that they only need to touch and hold each other.
    I do believe that what is going on with the Corona Virus and the fact that we can’t touch is what we are all finding so difficult. We need to touch each other.
    Anyway, thank you so much for this wonderful blog. It will be a long time before we meet again. Be well and Happy.

  19. GGW

    Beth,
    I haven’t commented all season but know that I have read, enjoyed and found much to ponder from each post. I’ve only followed you and Outcandour but did not read comments nor feel compelled to post my own until today. My self-imposed exile from social media didn’t diminish my enjoyment of this season. In fact, it may have heightened it. I took no one’s impressions on except my own. I didn’t worry as I viewed each episode what others might be thinking. I just thoroughly enjoyed each episode for what it was. I’m trying to do that in all aspects of my life right now. It’s a funny thing, I knew this episode was coming sooner than the arc of the books (as was the resolution of the Stephen Bonnet arc) but while I found myself wondering about the abbreviated timing, I never expected that it would be a part of the story that was re-worked or omitted to make it more palatable. The book and show have never shied away from the aftermath of sexual violence. As much as we would like to believe otherwise, “rape culture” and sexual violence is still massively present in our society and the disproportionate share is directed at women. I know too many who have experienced it. This is not a historical phenomenon and I guess it’s up to individual perspective as to whether portraying it onscreen increases awareness and promotes conversation or glorifies a heinous act. I think the way Outlander has chosen always lands in the former camp. Claire’s return to the Ridge was poignant and I cried when she touched foreheads with Marsali. For some reason, that particular gesture always floors me. Cait’s performance was, as always, award worthy, but it was the give and take with Jamie in the aftermath that will stay with me. We’ve always known that Claire needed Jamie to be whole and strong (and opinionated!), and her vulnerability in the final scene and Jamie being her safe harbor was perhaps the best depiction of their relationship, maybe in the entire series. I think you really did answer your own question. Take care of yourself and your family and stay well!

  20. Narelle Wiseman

    Hello from New Zealand Beth. I too look forward to your blog, & it helps me to deepen my Outlander experience. So much to digest each episode, this sadly the last of the season. I always read your blog, but this is only my second comment. Along with others I would love to hear from you during Droughtlander…no pressure though. Outlander soothes my soul, & has done since 1992. An escape & refuge.
    Many thanks, wishing you well.

  21. Hi Beth,
    Season 5 went by way too fast and episode 12 was riveting. All of us bookies knew this episode was coming and for me, it was gut wrenching.
    I was a little surprised that they made Claire’s ordeal worse than it was in the book. Watching her being savagely beaten and gang raped was shocking. I fear the TV versions was probably more realistic than Diana’s book description. Rape has figured front and center in the Outlander books but I was never shocked or sickened by any of them. Now I don’t think I will ever be able to read about Jamie’s or Claire’s rape without the visuals from the TV show overtaking my mind.
    It was strange but I liked they way they showed Claire coping with her ordeal. Everyone in 1960’s garb except Jamie. All the little easter eggs and the joy of finding a new one with each viewing of the episode. The drip of water was particularly poignant – reality always just a heartbeat away. “Never my Love” has become an earworm.
    I feel sexual violence was more prevalent then than it is now and sadly, we will never get to a point where rape isn’t a horrific reality.
    I missed hearing the beat of the bodhran as I wanted to see the look of horror the faces of Brown and his gang. However, they got most of the important dialogue in which was a treat,
    Sam deserved to win an award for his depiction of Jamie’s rape by BJR and Cait deserves one for her performance in episode 12.
    On a lighter note I guessed correctly that Bree, Roger and Jem went in a circle because they were not thinking of the 1960’s but of Jamie and Claire.
    Season 1 is my all time favorite but Season 5 comes next. Maybe because Sam & Cait had more say in Season 5 but I saw my Jaime and Claire. Kudo’s to the entire cast and crew they did a fabulous job.

  22. jehscribbler

    I understand your being of two minds about the necessity of showing the rape of Claire. I think the fact that we have these feelings about the rape scenes in Outlander actually stems from the fact that they aren’t treated as mere plot devices, or as titillating voyeuristic scenes. Violence of any kind ought to be, but often isn’t, difficult to see and hear. My own first realization of the difference between the usual prurient movie treatment of sexual violence against women in most American movies and the possibility of treating it as the stomach turning and degrading thing that it is in reality came when I first saw Vittorio de Sica’s scene of the gang rape of Sophia Loren’s and her daughter’s characters in Two Women. The scene was shown through the mother’s eyes and her reactions as she vainly tried to protect her daughter. Before that I had only seen movies or shows where sex was seen from the man’s point of view and there was no clear distinction between rape and consensual sex. There was an interview with Diana Gabaldon in Parade where she says “Jamie and Claire have always rescued each other,” Gabaldon concludes. “I would like to note something that the show illustrates brilliantly, and that’s that sexual assault–and its effects and its recovery–is a unique experience. Depictions of rape–especially when done just for shock effect–tend to be repetitive and done without much imagination or empathy.” I think that difference in how Outlander depicts rape and other forms of violence makes it harder to watch, but allows us a deeper understanding of the actual effect on people of violence and rape.
    Finally, I just want to say how much I always appreciate your insights into the episodes. They deepen my understanding of the story and the characters’ behavior.

  23. annie5nomus

    Your usual beautifully expressed prose. You use one word that stands out with regard to Claire and her ability to survive this brutal attack. “Compartmentalize.” Claire is a surgeon of the 20th century and has therefore been trained to compartmentalize her feelings. We see that right away in the few things she does say. We certainly see it in the dream sequence where she has safely ensconced her loving family and friends in the form of one of the happiest of American holidays, Thanksgiving. That holiday is symbolic in so many ways, especially when considered in context of the early arrivals and survival of Pilgrims. Claire herself is a Pilgrim in this world of the 18th century.

    Unlike so many others, I don’t believe rape is over used in this book nor the films. We must remember the period of time we’re dealing with. Much has been written in journals and small presses about how common that was during that time. It was a method of control and how men seized what they felt was rightfully theirs. As you mentioned in your own passage, even today we see the “me too” movement that has proven just how much women have been controlled by rape.

    Finally, I’d like to say something about that last scene with Jamie and Claire. What a tender and loving tableau that delivers so much. A closer look reveals Claire in the fetal position, one where most of us go when we are seeking shelter or safety. Jamie himself was in that position when Claire found him at Wentworth. Claire’s last word, “safe” makes us all feel as though she will indeed use the security of her husband and her family to come out of this horror.

    Your insights are greatly appreciated.

  24. Beth Lewis

    I too was apprehensive about this episode – knowing how it disturbed me when reading it (for what has become multiple times as I reread the books), so I also watched after midnight, by myself. Prior to watching I wondered if portraying it was necessary – couldn’t the writers have just skipped the rape portions, beating her so brutally should be enough, right? Then I watched, and the way it was portrayed settled the question in my mind. It was necessary and they gave us a glimpse into the mind of a very strong woman who took a horrific situation and survived it in the best way she could – her mind took her to a place of safety and enfolded her in the strength of her experiences and loved ones.
    My husband and I talked about the other rapes that have been in the show, and the differences among them. Jamie’s rape was shown in all it’s brutality – shocking to see on screen. In our opinions – the brutality was a vehicle to help understand that male rape does happen – it is certainly imprinted in our minds now. Mary’s rape was brief and mostly off screen, except for Mary’s screams – but enough to portray the impersonal experience of a rape where it is not a means so much of sexual pleasure with a known person, but a way for a man to gain entry into a club of the depraved aristocracy that puts no personal value on another persons life. Bree’s rape was a view into just how precarious it is for any woman who naively thinks all men view her as an equal – they do not, and Stephen Bonnet sees her as nothing more than a whore and his attack as nothing more than a financial transaction. Claire’s rape goes right to the heart of any abusive situation – she needed to be punished and put back in her place, lower than the dirt under Lionel’s boots; the others joined in as mob mentality took over. For all the rapes, experiencing the way each victim learned to cope is what helps shape them as the books progress. To have left off Claire’s experience would leave out the psychological trauma of having been so violated by another human being.
    As has been mentioned in several comments, I think the fact that the books are so big does play into the impression of how frequent rape is used, after all it takes about 5 years for a book to come out and then multiply that by the number of books between rapes. To me, the reaction to Outlander being “rapey” is as much a window into a feeling among some that “I don’t want to be reminded that rape occurs”, yet there are no qualms reading murder mysteries, for example, where people are hacked, shot, hung, stabbed, poisoned, etc all the time – somehow there are socially acceptable ways for one person to be in a position of power over another, and then there’s rape – and we don’t want to read about it, talk about it, or see it. Just look at the number of people killed in the books and no one says – oh there are far too many people killed! Perhaps there’s a feeling that there is a lower risk of being killed by another than being raped by another, so rape feels more personal. I don’t know.
    Overall I have placed the episode among my top of all seasons – despite the subject matter. I am grateful for the way the episode was played out, allowing us to spend more time in Claire’s mind than being voyeurs to the abuse. I loved the Easter Eggs – and I’m still finding more – not for the sake of finding them but for the insight into what brings Claire to a place of escape. I can’t fully explain the depth of feelings when Jamie wraps Claire in his plaid, and when they are dancing together – but they are intense. For Claire to see Murtagh again, married to Jocasta who is no longer blind; Fergus with both hands; Marsali as a carefree young mother; Ian as someone who has been away in service (my interpretation) but is home again shows me how Claire sees them. And Never My Love, a song I have always loved, is now forever linked to this episode. I think the entire team outdid themselves – this episode should make them proud.

  25. Lisa N.

    I know I’m a little late to the party, Beth, but thank you again for your wonderful blog and all your comments on Season 5. The recent finale was difficult to watch, for sure — however, I am always curious about the bigger picture. What I mean is how the episode is put together, artistically — this one was great. And if Caitriona doesn’t win something for acting for this episode alone — I mean. Actors don’t do what they do for the awards, but she was terrific. So, onward to Season 6. Thank you again and I hope you and your family staff safe and healthy.

  26. Beautiful review! I just wanted to share this poem I wrote after watching the final episode. Having gone through something like that – in real life we don’t have a Jamie or a men to defend girls.
    Dear Cait, did you cry or give a great satisfying sigh
    In your trailer, did you think of girls who couldn’t survive
    Did you find a shoulder to cry on or get a nightmare
    Did you choose to stay silent, once the shot was fair
    To me, it stirred memories, unaddressed, unhealed
    Spitting image of my Uncle, character Lionel, I kneeled
    My stomach churned as I recalled, I recoiled in pain
    I was 14, staring at the mirror, red, black and blue, partly sane
    How I wish, truly wish I could save myself and had a gun
    Kill him, while he pinned me down and said – it’s a little of bit of fun
    On the screen the words and images mostly blurred until I heard ‘I survived’
    I did too but not a day goes by, wishing, I really really had died
    My dreams of adventure, always turn into nightmares and screams
    No one hears, of course, it’s only me, wet pillow, as bedroom light gleams
    Is it too cowardly to think of dying and yet continue breathing
    With pestering wounds, still fresh, hidden well, heart’s piercing
    What a wonderful episode I thought, what a screenplay
    I recalled, I recoiled, I didn’t want to see another day
    Then I had to contemplate, one more sunlight, put on another show
    Pretend, force a smile, pull through, underneath let darkness grow
    I lost everything that night, my smile, my myself, I repel at my reflection
    Stories like these break and rebuild me, I go on with little direction
    Another night, I think of ending it all, another thought of how to do it
    I close my thoughts, no conclusion, as if stopped half way through the summit
    I love stories woven with dare, showing truth and despair
    In reality, there are no heroes, and not everyone is as brave as Claire

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