Outlander season 4 episode 8 top actress: The devastating work of Sophie Skelton

OutlanderIn this week’s Outlander top actress piece, we’re going to start everything off with a question: Is there really any need for debate? As great as Sophie Skelton was in “Down the Rabbit Hole” last week, “Wilmington” is the best overall performance we’ve seen from her to date.

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We have to start, first and foremost, with the extreme degree of difficulty of what she took on in this particular episode. This was a painful, gut-wrenching story for Brianna, one that began with some actual joy before transitioning into something horrific. It was important to show that range for Brianna throughout the episode just so that you could get a proper sense of everything that she went through here. You had to buy in, first and foremost, to the love that she had for Roger and the celebration that they had in the hand-fasting ceremony. This was a relief for Brianna in that she finally had someone present before her from her old life. This ceremony was her putting things into perspective and recognizing what it was that she wanted … or what she thought she wanted at that moment. All of that changed when Roger’s decision regarding the obituary came to light. Her anger was palpable and appropriate, especially when it came to Roger’s poor attempt at actually justifying his actions.

Then, of course, there was the horrific assault at the hands of Stephen Bonnet. We’ve read in numerous places the amount of preparation and commitment Skelton took on for that scene, and the challenge for her as a performer was finding so many different venues to channel Bree’s pain. She was unsure at the time it was shot how it would come across on the air; production eventually opted against showing the scene itself, and instead focused solely on what happened outside the room. Yet, through her audible cries for help you could still sense the suffering. It was played like the stuff of nightmares and your heart broke on every word.

There is a lot of sensitivity that has to go into taking on this sort of subject matter, and there is also a great deal of effort from a performance standpoint. You have to make sure that your actions are reflective of what victims go through and that you give the moment the proper weight — not just during it, and after it. The closing scene of Brianna in this episode echoes that completely. It’s not so much about what she says; instead, it is about how she acts, her facial expressions, and the way in which Skelton moves about as the character. This spells out the horror of what happened and sets the stage for the immediate aftermath. It was a fantastic performance, and one that will stick with us for every haunting moment.

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What did you think about Skelton’s performance on Outlander this time? Be sure to share right now in the attached comments. (Photo: Starz.)

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