Heading into Season 4 of Outlander, fans of Diana Gabaldon’s books had no idea how the show was going to handle Brianna’s (Sophie Skelton) sexual assault at the hands of Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers). In light of the heightened awareness of sexual misconduct in real life, there was talk that the series might exclude the scene altogether.
But that didn’t happen. Last week’s episode, titled “Wilmington,” featured the attack, though producers opted to depart from the books and cut out the more explicit parts of the scene.
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In an interview with Vanity Fair, Skelton opened up about her character’s assault and expressed a little regret about how it was handled on the show.
The Outlander star explained how cutting out the explicit scenes shows “how far we haven’t” come in terms of talking about sexual assault.
She also went into great detail about the other version of the assault and revealed that she did a lot of research on PTSD and how sexual assault victims cope with their trauma prior to filming.
Skelton and the rest of the crew filmed several versions of the rape scene. The scene that was cut focused solely on Brianna while the assault was happening. It also stuck closer to what happened in the book, minus the vivid details.
Although Skelton was disappointed, she understands that producers had to navigate some tricky waters given all the recent scandals. At the end of the day, they did not want to be insensitive to what is going on in the real world.
She also believes that including the rape will open up conversations and raise awareness about sexual assault.
“I do think it will encourage people to talk about the bystanders. They’re not the ones doing the rape, but the fact that they’re seeing it and doing nothing puts them on the same page as being guilty,” she added.
Given how the series departed from the books, it will be interesting to see how they handle the aftermath of the sexual assault from Brianna’s point of view.
New episodes of Outlander air Sunday nights on Starz.