Best of 2015: ‘Outlander’ Explores Male Rape

Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies in "Outlander" (Starz)

It’s been nearly seven months since the first season finale of Starz’s excellent drama, “Outlander,” wrapped up it first season and it’s still strong in my memory! Did the show go too far in showing just how sadistic Captain Black Jack Randall (the fabulous Tobias Menzies) was in how he treated prisoner Jamie Fraser (equally terrific Sam Heughan)? Or was this all par for the course especially since Jamie let himself be taken by Randall to save his lover, Claire (Caitriona Balfe)? How does sexuality figure into this since things got very physical between the two men?

The scenes were brutal and difficult to watch but I had to ask Heughan earlier this year how he handled shooting them with cast mate, Menzies."We went for it," he told me shortly after he shot the finale episode. " They're the most emotional and physical parts I've ever done."

While he's mostly naked and bloodied from the torture (including having his hand nailed to a table by Randall), Heughan explained there were other elements of shooting that were not exactly pleasant. "I was in prosthetics for two weeks from four in the morning until eight in the morning then filming for 12 to 14 hours, wearing pretty much no clothes, being beaten up, screaming and crying. It's a very hard place. I think we really went for it."

Admitting that he and Menzies "went to some crazy places" while shooting the final two episodes of the first season, he also explained that the scenes of torture were about so much more than just sex. "It's about two men's will. It's not about Black Jack getting his evil way or enjoying raping Jamie. It's more about…he wants to break Jamie and Jamie won't let him."

While it is open to interpretation as to whether Randall's feelings about Jamie are sexual or more about control and power (or perhaps a little bit of both), Heughan offered his take on what we see in the finale. "Black Jack Randall has seen this thing that Jamie has and wants to bend his will and Jamie is so strong and so stubborn, he won't let him," the actor said. "When eventually he does, he almost reprograms Jamie to think about Black Jack Randall whenever he thinks of Claire. So, he's really ruined this whole relationship."

But Heughan clears up his statement that it's not completely ruined by adding, "It's sort of the tragedy of everything happening was that we see this wonderful relationship that is irreparable, irreversible. It's been changed."

The Scottish actor wasn’t sure how the “Outlander” audience would take the intense scenes of the finale but said “You’ve got two hours of pretty intense heavy stuff [in the final two episodes of the season].”

He added with a smile, “I’m really, really proud of it.” (Read this complete post here.)

Interestingly, the subject of male rape comes up again in the second season of ABC’s American Crime,” which premieres January 6th. I have seen the first four episodes and it’s riveting television, which I’ll be writing more about in the new year.

Outlander will be back this Spring so we can see what adventures are in store for Jamie and Claire but this series proved it’s not going to hold back in the adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s epic book series.

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“Outlander” returns to Starz for Season 2 this Spring. Catch up on Season 1 here on XFINITY TV


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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