When my friends started raving about the TV series, Outlander, I was more, meh. It sounds a bit outlandish, frankly. A twenty-something combat nurse from England finishes her tour of duty in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. On vacation in the Scottish Highlands with a husband she barely knows, after having been separated for five years during the war, she gets sucked back in time to the 18th century. Great. Another military conflict. Only this time, being English, she's on the side of the occupier in occupied lands. She eventually falls in love with a hunky (and educated, and potentially feminist?!!!) would-be laird who has a price on his head when the villainous Black Jack Randall, a Red Coat officer in the English Army, frames him for murder. Yes, the same Red Coats who fight against the rebels in the American colonies later in the same century (and later in the same series). Then it turns into a bizarre love triangle romance/adventure a la Hunger Games' Katniss Everdeen, Gale Hawthorne, and Peeta Mellark. Sounds kind of been-there-done-that.
But it's totally not. The entire series is brilliant. Moreover, the last two episodes of season one are not just brilliant, but important. If--and that's a big if--you can handle the violence.
Trigger warning: rape, torture, PTSD.
Not for the faint-of-heart, this DVD set contains two of the most powerful episodes on television I have ever seen--episode 15, "Wentworth Prison" and episode 16, "To Ransom a Man’s Soul." Many viewers complain--understandably--that they can't watch episode 15 due to its graphic portrayal of torture and sexual assault, and episode 16, which deals with the victim's painful recovery from such brutality. I had the opposite reaction. While watching these two episodes back-to-back, I experienced an unexpected moment of clarity. I felt like a television show finally got it right. One of the worst things about rape is not just the physical pain, but the emotional trauma. Sexual assault survivors often feel psychically scarred for life. Damaged. Debased. Contaminated. Rarely do they feel heard, let alone understood. The creators and actors of these two episodes understand what it's like to experience the guilt and the shame that accompanies sexual assault. Through such understanding, victims can heal and transform into survivors.
If you are a survivor of sexual violence, MOCSA, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, is an excellent resource to help you heal.