Outlander star Caitriona Balfe has spoken out about the show’s season five finale – which saw her character Claire become the victim of gang rape.
Speaking to The New York Times, Balfe explained the decision-making process behind the way the scene was handled, pointing out that the creative team “had so many conversations about how to empower Claire”.
“I felt that if we were going to do the dream-escapes, we had to keep in mind why,” she said.
“They’re not a gimmick, not a reason to wear cool costumes. Claire is experiencing something terrible. This has to show the progression of her mental state, to show that she’s reached a breaking point, that she’s snapped in some way, and is trying to stay in one piece.”
She added, “In the earlier drafts, Claire had a lot of dialogue. I felt that if she speaks, she is not going to be constructing a conversation about cooking or anything. She’s going to say the only thing that she can say in that reality. She says, ‘No,’ and she says, ‘Jamie.’
“This is her grasping onto moments in her life that make her safe and comforted. But no matter how hard she tries to create that protective layer, the sheer horror of what’s happening bleeds into the dream-escape.”
Balfe also said that when exploring these kind of stories, it is important to, “highlight something that hasn’t been in the public eye, so we can start conversations”, adding that the scene with Claire focused on the”psychological mechanism of disassociation”.
Earlier, series star Sam Heughan had warned fans that the season five finale contained themes and issues that could be severely triggering for some viewers, pointing those who might have been affected by the episode in the direction of resources that could help them.