In Sunday’s episode of Outlander, a horrified Claire (Caitriona Balfe) watches as scores of caged black slaves are auctioned off to the highest bidder. She risks her own safety by attempting to bring an end to the despicable practice but winds up getting a slave of her own as an uncomfortable way to resolve the conflict.
Rather than tip-toe around the subject in an effort to be sensitive, executive producer Toni Graphia told Outlander Live! on Monday that the writers always knew they would include the upsetting scene from Voyager, the third book in Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling series.
“We never considered not including it,” Graphia said on EW Radio. “Our only parameter for it was to show it as brutal as it was, and not try to whitewash it, not try to soften everything to be politically correct, because we believe very strongly that would be a disservice to tone it down or make it TV friendly. It’s in the book. We wanted to do justice to that part of the book. It’s something Claire encounters. It’s something that any time traveler would encounter. All of us in the writers room and audience, that’s why we like the books. We’re fantasizing about going to a different time, and we think about all the fun things but we don’t think about the negatives, that we are in a different time, laws are different. There are abominations back in those times.”
When Graphia and her colleagues finally did see the dailies from “The Bakra,” “we were kind of speechless,” she said. “We were kind of silent as we were watching. It was so horrifying to watch. We saw human beings in cages. It’s so disturbing. We felt bad even for the extras who had to portray this. How do you do that scene, then go to catering and have your lunch?”
For more from Graphia, including why they decided to give Geillis a bloodbath, click the Soundcloud below.