Outlander: The Surprising Inspiration Behind That Dazzling, Show-Invented Bath Scene

This post contains frank discussion of Outlander Season 3, Episode 12, “The Bakra.” If you’ve not yet watched the latest episode of Starz’s time-traveling Scottish romance, now is the time to leave.

With only one more episode of Outlander’s third season to go, book readers will have noticed the final chapters of the source material, Diana Gabaldon’sVoyager, being condensed at an alarming rate. No sooner do Claire and Jamie Fraser land on Jamaica than they kind themselves at splashy Governor’s mansion party. Thanks to the compressed plot, and to borrow a phrase from S.N.L.’s Stefon, this party has everything. Lord John Grey, spurned gay jailor from Episode 4? Check. Claire’s former patient Margaret Campbell and her domineering brother Archibald Campbell from Episode 7? Check. Captain Leonard previously sailing the high seas in Episode 10? Check. Geillis Duncan last seen murdering husbands and traveling through time in the Season 2 finale? Check check check. The coincidental meetings were flying so fast and furious that Jamie was moved to chalk to it up to magic of Claire’s time traveling stones. But of all the fast-paced and surprising reintroductions in this episode, the most jaw-droppingly great belongs, without question, to Lotte Verbeek’s Geillis who gave new meaning to the phrase “blood bath.”

Just like Lord John Grey (who was cut out of an earlier episode on the way to Jamaica), Geillis was kept a secret as long as possible for maximum impact. The Outlander writers even invented a code name for her: Bakra. That bit of Jamaican patois—which gives the episode its title—means “boss” or “master.” You won’t find it in Gabaldon’s book, it was created purely to protect the Geillis reveal. You also won’t find Geillis soaking in a tub of goat’s blood in the pages of Voyager. That stunning visual was the brainchild of executive producer Matt Roberts who was inspired by the legend of Dracula.

In a behind-the-scenes interview, Roberts said he had read a Dracula story about how “the blood kept them young—the iron and the proteins.” Bram Stoker’s most famous real-life inspiration for Dracula was Vlad the Impaler of Wallachia. But Vlad’s fellow Eastern European, Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed a.k.a. the Blood Countess, is considered by some (and denied by others) to be the realinspiration for the Dracula myth. According to legend, the countess murderedhundreds of young virgin women in her day, and put the “bath” in Báthory by soaking in their blood in order to retain her youth. Compared to that, Geillis and her little pool of goat’s blood practically looks like a pussycat.

But, of course, in the context of Outlander we know for a fact Geillis is a major, lethal threat and I can think of no worthier introduction for the Season 3’s final villain than a daintily arched, blood-soaked foot flung lofted into frame. We were all young Ian picking our jaws up off the floor at what came next.

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