‘Outlander’ Season 5 Premiere: Brianna’s trauma from rape depicted more realistically than Sansa’s in ‘GOT’
The lasting effects of the rape can be seen when Brianna promptly comes undone on hearing her rapist, Bonnet, is alive. Till that point, imagining Bonnet was dead had helped her
One of the cliffhangers in season 4 was the possible death of Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers), the current villain, in the prison explosion. Episode 1 of season 5 cleared that confusion right up. Stephen Bonnet is alive and well. An informant whispers this information to Jamie Frazer (Sam Heughan) and the just-married Brianna Randall Frazer nee MacKenzie (Sophie Skelton) overhears them.
The series has done quite a few rape-related plotlines to the point that the series was accused of using something as serious as rape as a casual plot driver. The Brianna-Stephen Bonnet plot could be accused of this but for the efforts that the series takes to show the lasting effects of the rape on Brianna. Instead of the "brave survivor" trope who "grows" as a person because of the rape (a la Sansa Stark's "growth" arc on 'Game of Thrones'), Brianna is shown as someone who is devastated from within, holding the pieces together with Roger's love.
But she promptly comes undone when she hears Bonnet is alive. Till that point, imagining Bonnet was dead had helped her put the rape behind her and take firm steps into a new life with Roger MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) and also be a mother without thinking about her child's parentage. But now, with Bonnet resurfacing, Brianna looks shell shocked as she wanders from the marriage after-party looking numb till she finally makes her way to her baby's crib.
The child's parentage already weighs heavily on Brianna's mind. Her being violated just after she and Roger make love for the first time and the child being conceived are three threads that are interconnected now. With Bonnet alive, the future of the family she is creating is at risk.
But thankfully, Roger comes in right at this moment and pledges that the little boy will be "of his blood", marking the baby with a drop of his own blood. With this action, Roger declares they are a family of three, a solid and secure unit who will stay together no matter what. Roger's actions are because Aunt Jocasta riles him up but it also shows how deeply and willingly he accepts the baby as his own.
In a way, Roger's acceptance mirrors the love Frank Randall showed Brianna as a father, bringing her up as his own despite knowing that she was Claire and Jamie's child. Brianna takes Roger at his word in part because she has such a great example of a "step-father" in Frank Randall who never rejected her or made her feel othered.
However, do expect Bonnet to appear this season to cause more trouble. Hopefully, the Frazers and the MacKenzies will be ready when he finally appears to unleash his destructive villainy.
'Outlander' Season 5 Episode 1 is available for viewing on the Starz App and premiered on February 16 at 8 pm ET on Starz.