‘OUTLANDER’ 4×08 REVIEW: THE LOWEST OF LOWS

‘OUTLANDER’ 4×08 REVIEW: THE LOWEST OF LOWS:

drunklander:

RAPE AS A TOOL

Finally, we come to this – the most important part of this review, if you ask me. Now, if you’ve read the books, or if you’ve been watching this show for a while, you can’t exactly be surprised that we are here. I’m not, not really. But I am supremely disappointed, not just that they decided it had to happen, but that they decided to shoot it the way they did.

This problematic storyline – the whole idea that because we are in a moment in time where sexual assault wasn’t an exception but a norm, we should be exposed to it as much as we have – is not on the show, but the books. And credit where credit is due, the show has, like last year, tried at times to dilute some of the sexual violence, with mixed results. They have also, in general, done a really good job of centering male victims of sexual assault, and even, in one particular case, of showing the repercussions of such a violation.

But just the fact that I can say this is what makes what happens to Brianna problematic. They have done this before. Not once, not twice, not three times. We know they can handle this storyline. We know they’ll do it with care. We know they’ll show that this is something that sticks with you, and not just brush off the mental health effects. We know all those things because we’ve seen the show do it before. Again and again.

And we’re only in Season 4.

So, at this point, why does it need to happen to another character? The lesson has been learned (one that, arguably, we didn’t need to learn in this way at all), and to suggest Brianna’s growth as a person depends on being assaulted is to suggest characters cannot grow without being subjected to violence, which is insulting at best, disgusting at worst. Her relationship issues with Roger, her personal issues with her parents, all of those could have been explored without this ever happening.

Rape should not be used as a tool to make characters stronger. Rape shouldn’t be used as a narrative tool to get characters, ANY CHARACTERS, to do shit. Period.

You want to hear the worst part? This isn’t even my only issue with the scene.

Now, I know the Outlander team was probably thinking shooting it the way they did, removing the actual violence and making it so we can only hear it and see other people’s reactions to it would be better. Except, it’s not. It reduces someone’s pain, depersonalizes it, makes it about someone else. When Jamie got raped, we got treated to two of the hardest episodes to watch in the history of TV, but we got to see it through his eyes, because he was the one suffering, and as horrible as that was, as much as I can never re-watch those episodes, I understood that choice.

I don’t understand this one. It reminds me, eerily, of Game of Thrones Season 5 and how they shot Sansa’s rape scene and spent the whole time focused on Theon’s reaction, as if HIS pain at seeing what was being done to Sansa was more important than the victim’s.

Fuck that.

Storylines like this are overdone. I hope Outlander realizes that, because the show, as good as it can be at times, is awfully triggering and at times, it even comes close to glorying abuse, and I’ve shied away from recommending it to people because of this very topic I just discussed. But I also hope they realize this for the sake of their characters, because I want to see them grow and evolve for other reasons than because violence was inflicted upon them.

However, if, and when you decide to tackle a storyline like this, you owe it to the victim to at least make it about them, to not hide being storytelling techniques to make what happened more palatable for your viewers. Anything other than that is disrespectful to the pain so many people have suffered through.

Either you don’t do it, or you have the balls to show it. For your sake, I hope you pick the first lane. Because I’m really, really tired of pretending this show is good enough to constantly “forgive” this shit.

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