Outlander: Why the focus on the slaves in Do No Harm was so important

Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room
Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room /
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Outlander Season 4
Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room /

Outlander stepped away from the books to tell a tale that wasn’t in it. And it was the right thing to do. Here’s why Do No Harm was so powerful.

Outlander isn’t afraid to step away from the book material when it feels the need. Sometimes it’s due to money and time, but there are occasions where it’s a creative decision. Episode 2, titled “Do No Harm,” was one of the latter reasons. It was all a creative decision because there was an important story to tell.

In “Drums of Autumn,” Claire does help a slave at the sawmill, but never in the way she does in the episode. She doesn’t bring him into the house and doesn’t treat him to the point of helping him live. Yet, in the books, we got a good 20 minutes of the episode focused on Rufus’ story.

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And I’m glad the show has focused on this. Not only did we see Claire attempt to save his life and ironically do more harm than she ever wanted, but we also got a story for this young boy. We learned about where he came from and how he was brought to the New World. Once again, we were reminded that a dream for some is a nightmare for others.

We’re watching this show with 21st-century lenses. And we’re living it through Claire’s 20th-century viewpoint. It’s hard to even imagine what it would have been like in the 18th century. What it would have been like for the other slaves as they watched this white woman heal one of their own.

They weren’t thankful. The people were terrified of what this would mean. One woman wasn’t going to change the viewpoints of all the men in the angry mob. Claire was never going to change anything.

Instead, Rufus was going to die a torturous death and the other slaves would be punished for Claire’s actions. We got to see Claire try and fail — not because her skills weren’t there but because she had this naive view on the 18th century and of slavery.