Warning: This post contains spoilers for Outlander‘s Season 5 finale.
Steel yourselves, Sassenachs.
Sunday’s Season 5 finale depicted the brutal rape and beating of Caitriona Balfe’s Claire after she was kidnapped by Lionel Brown and his thugs. After Brown sexually assaulted Claire while she was tied up near a campsite, he invited the other men in his gang to take a turn. Though two men approached her, the camera cut away before the audience could see what happened. The next time the episode returned to Claire, Jamie and the other men of Fraser’s Ridge had shown up to rescue her.
If you had hoped that maybe only one man raped Claire (as happens in Diana Gabaldon’s novel A Breath of Snow and Ashes, from which the incident was taken)… the show’s executive producers offered an awful update after the finale’s airing.
EPs Toni Graphia and Matt Roberts told our sister site Variety that the Starz series chose not to show exactly what transpired after the other men approached Claire because they wanted to let the audience fill in the details, and “you can fill in the gap that more than one person attacked” her, Roberts said.
The EPs added that originally more of the attack was going to be shown on screen, and stars Balfe and Sam Heughan were on board with that decision. “They both said, ‘Why not? Why not go there?'” Roberts added. Ultimately, though, they went with the version that aired, adding in Claire’s mental retreat to a sunny 1960s family gathering as a way for her to cope with and survive her trauma.
Fun fact: That daydream at first was just Balfe and Heughan dancing under a spotlight but eventually expanded to the Thanksgiving dinner included in the finale. “And it’s also something that lets the audience breathe because it’s hard to watch — and it’s hard to shoot,” Graphia said. “It was devastating to even shoot and even simulate. It was some of the hardest stuff we’ve ever shot.”