B6B: TV REVIEW: The Outsider – Episode 3

JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – January 19, 2019)

Whatever might be ailing you, all you have to remember and tell yourself is, “At least I’m not Jack Hoskins.” All the alcohol in the world doesn’t even appear to phase whatever various stab wounds the invisible man created in the back of his neck.” He’s in pain at all times, just begging for it to end, and at the tail end of the episode, he appears to be in lockstep with the mean man Jessa knows all too well.

“Whatever you need me to do.”

I had some Mind Flayer Stranger Things vibes here, but this is Stephen King’s story, and of course the Mind Flayer isn’t exactly a new concept. We’re getting more and more evidence of the “guy in two places at once” starting to poke its way into the proceedings, and we met Holly Gibney this week, which is where I want to spend much of this review.

Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo) is a character that we have seen so many times in television and movies that it ALMOST elicits an eye roll. The reason it doesn’t is because it usually creates something fun or interesting. When you really boil down TV drama, you find just a few repeating tropes and structural ideas that continually get recycled. Here, instead of being a hypnotist like Patrick Jane in The Mentalist or someone a little softer in approach, but still equipped with extra abilities like Olivia Dunham in Fringe, we have Holly and her “—- if I know” brilliance and eidetic memory.

It makes her quirky, socially awkward, and unapologetic. There are so many examples of it, but as soon as we heard she was “unique,” I knew exactly what was next. It keeps getting written and done in fiction because it keeps working. Cliches are often cliches because they’re so readily applicable and timeless. This is a tale as old as time, at least in our generation, but you can always go back to it. Think of Bones, think of Chuck Bartowski, think of Summer Glau in Firefly, and you can start to understand what Holly Gibney is going to do and how she’s going to act from moment to moment.

Erivo is good in the role and the way Gibney investigates, we get some information, most notably why the heck we kept seeing those two guys in lock-up throughout the episode, building to our confrontation and the suicide of the former hospital worker that was convicted of murdering the two young girls at Two Rivers Park. She’s no doubt going to be the crucial factor that breaks this thing open, and here’s the better prediction…

…she’s also going to solve the case of Derek Anderson’s murder. It has to happen, right?

Jeannie Anderson attempting to get through to Glory Maitland in the wake of Terry’s death worked really well this week, both the conversation with Jessa as well as the drop in that led her to try and just provide sympathy to Glory in an impossible situation. No doubt she’s trying to help her husband, whose presence isn’t something the widow can tolerate at this point, or not for very long. She’s able to extract a few facts about the mean man with the “inky” face or the one that looked “erased” that was mean and who intends to scare Ralph Anderson into backing the heck off the entire case.

Credit to Andrew Bernstein, who directed this week’s ep, for just how creepy he made that barn scene. Even when it was daylight and there were multiple people in it, I still would have preferred not to be anywhere near it. It was haunting, and once we got to Jack’s scene, it was basically the ending of The Blair Witch Project. And, as awful as that movie was, the ending was still pretty effective.

Also, note to self, whenever Richard Price is involved and there’s an incarceration involved, expect the worst. First we got The Night Of, now we’ve got The Outsider. He does dark drama well, being a key contributor for The Deuce and The Wire along with David Simon as well. It’s usually going to be hard to watch at times, but it’s going to be executed with precision. Three hours in, this series is getting more and more unsettling, with the worst no doubt yet to come.

I like the pairing of Holly with Ralph, because there’s a quiet respect and appreciation between the two, whereas Alec Pelley is a little more abrasive. Howie Saloman had the line of the episode though, when he described her as a “full tilt, full goose loony,” before immediately stating, “She’s very good at what she does.” Again, the eccentricity and flat oddity of her personality is why she’s great at her job and why she’s going to be necessary to solve this (and potentially both) crimes that matter to Ralph Anderson.

She already figured out that something went down at the senior memory care center that led reporters and police to want to speak to Terry Maitland’s father, stricken with Alzheimers and dementia, as part of the investigation. We heard very early in the hour that the dad had been arrested many years earlier, which felt forgettable, and may still be, but there’s more to the family dynamic here than meets the eye. Why else would Terry be dead, after all that went down, his father a key witness back in March, and Jessa being a conduit between the mean Outsider and virtually everyone else?

The episode was called “Dark Uncle,” which is the Swiss phrase for doppelgänger, a phenomenon Holly definitely isn’t willing to toss to the wayside, and one that assumably Ralph will gradually come to at least entertain, just as he indulged Jessa, when what she asserted seemed to be preposterous. Of course, it’s more than just possible, more like probable, that these things exist in this story, because why wouldn’t they? Again, source material author. I haven’t read the story, so I don’t know for certain, but I feel pretty safe with the prediction.

I’m enjoying the series. It’s definitely one you need to be in the mood for, but it’s really well done. The way this one ended…what is Jack going to do TO Ralph or someone near him, because maybe this guy actually borrows faces from others he’s possessed or attacked, and uses those identities to perform his special brand of hideous. Yeah, I might be way off, but that’s why it’s fun.