There has been speculation online for months about whether Outlander season four will include a somewhat controversial plot point, one that might seem particularly insensitive or gratuitous in this day and age.
Warning: do not keep reading if you don’t want to be spoiled about future events on the show.
In Drums of Autumn, the fourth book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, after Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) daughter, Brianna (Sophie Skelton), travels back in time, she meets Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers), an odious man who has already robbed her parents. When she sees that Bonnet is in possession of her mother’s wedding ring to Frank (the man Bree considers her father), Brianna approaches him about buying it back. Instead, Bonnet rapes her and gives her the ring as “payment.”
The rape not only devastates Brianna at the time, but it also continues to have a ripple effect as the book moves forward (and into subsequent books), as Brianna finds herself pregnant and there is a question of the baby’s paternity. A couple of years down the line, they come to realize because of a birthmark that Roger (Richard Rankin) is the boy’s father, and Brianna eventually gets her revenge on Bonnet for the rape, but not before it deeply affects her and those around her.
However, based on a couple of things that happen in the season four premiere, “America the Beautiful,” we’re wondering if the rape is going to be omitted from the show (which would be just fine with us). Here’s why we think it might be.
First, it seems the show is making Bonnet more unlikable right from the start. In the book, he seems more like a charming thief when we first meet him. He certainly acts like he is a petty criminal who would only kill someone if his life were threatened. On the show, during the robbery of Jamie and Claire’s barge, Bonnet mercilessly slits the throat of Lesley, one of Jamie’s friends who is traveling with them and tries to protect Claire from Bonnet. That is not in the book.
In fact, in the book, Bonnet sees himself as honoring his debt to Jamie for helping him escape the British in Charleston. He does rob them, but he won’t let his men lay their hands on Claire because Jamie helped him. So until he rapes Brianna, Bonnet seems like a bad guy, but not that bad — a petty criminal, rather than a rapist or a murderer.
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