By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – January 19, 2020)
So… Terry Maitland didn’t do it after all, I guess. I got that part right, but went a little too far with reading into things, which can happen in a series opener. The end of the first episode turned out to mean basically nothing at all, which leads to why we saw it to begin with, except just to show how terrible his final moments on earth were. This was a tough hour, because we saw multiple deaths and we saw families absolutely shredded apart, not torn apart, but put through a wood chipper.
Not only does Terry get gunned down, leaving Glory, Maya and Jessa in tatters, we see the Peterson family decimated with the son’s death, following the mother passing away, Frankie, and even dad tried to hang himself, managing to fail due to someone strolling the neighborhood. Then, of course, there’s Ralph Anderson and his wife, drawn into a crime that is exceedingly personal to them, due to the unsolved death of their own son. Stephen King mentioned in an interview following the episode that he loves taking the protagonist, law enforcement or otherwise, and having a strong reason for that person to hate the perpetrator or the antagonist based on past experiences.
Here, we have that from moment one, and it leads to an emotional decision to arrest Maitland in public view and even to question him about inappropriate conduct with Derek, which takes us to the opening sequence of the second hour, which was the best portion of the show thus far. Terry’s story about Ralph’s son listening and learning how to drag bunt, how he hopes he “touched him,” basically showing the detective how wrong he was, and also that Terry Maitland deserved the benefit of the doubt. Ralph, to his credit, didn’t damn Maitland once the conflicting evidence began rolling in.
Hilarious and almost too obvious and contrived is the District Attorney with higher political aspirations that is SURE, just CERTAIN of Terry Maitland’s guilt, excluding so much that made it impossible. He says he isn’t running for re-election, but that’s probably because he’s going after a bigger office. However, although I don’t know the story past what I’ve seen in the series, I do know the story centers around how someone can be in two places at once, in this case at a Teacher’s Conference and murdering Frank Peterson in cold blood after other vile acts. We see “The Outsider,” or what appears to be our villain wearing a hoodie and looking to have a disfigured face that reminded me a little of the infamous “Slenderman.”
Losing Terry means losing Jason Bateman, although we could still see flash-sideways or flashback sequences as more of the story unfolds and Ralph begins to piece things together. Bateman is directing and executive producing, so he may have just wanted to play a pivotal role to set the stage and then move behind the camera. As usual, he was great, provided gravitas, and he and Mendelsohn were excellent together in their scenes.
We did see Anderson smoke his first cigarette in years and we did see him drink, but not excessively, even after being placed on leave following the incident on the way to Terry’s arraignment. He’s tortured, but at least he’s not pass-out drunk, which is what I mentioned in the initial review. He’s in therapy and he’s being pretty defensive, but he’s also gone through trauma therapy in the past and he’s skeptical about it, plus he seems to be a private person relative to his personal life, which fits with his character as well as the way he and his wife operate on a day to day basis.
It’s about to get ugly though, not that it’s not already, but this whole deal with Jessa and her conversations with the embodiment of evil, the one responsible for the footprints, yeah it’s about to get nasty. The end of the episode, with Terry’s outfit that he changed into at the strip club being discovered at the crime scene…not sure what that means as of yet. It ended and I was intrigued, but I wasn’t certain the significance of it. What is the implication there? Remember last week I talked about how Terry might be possessed in some way, which might indicate he…wait up…DID he do this after all?
As he’s dying, his final words aren’t to his wife, but to Ralph, when he says “I didn’t do this.” Maybe he didn’t, but maybe HE did. With it being Stephen King and with all the dangling threads out there that need to be addressed or tied, I’m not ready to rule out that what the girl saw in the woods wasn’t just legit, but exactly what happened. There’s also a major character we’ve barely met that we keep seeing in the ads and the teases that is going to alter everything in terms of the investigation. I’d expect we’ll see a lot more from her in the third installment.
Right now, I remain interested and invested in what’s happening and also have the feeling things are really about to take a difficult turn, not ruining the series, but making it one to watch with the lights on and maybe in daylight. We’ve barely scratched the surface of the nefarious nature of our hooded friend and whatever he’s associated with. And, once it happens, what happens to Ralph, his colleagues, and his loved ones? He’s going to be caught in something awful and he’s going to be deemed a major threat. So, he has some problematic days on the horizon.