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B6B: TV REVIEW: The Outsider – Episode 9

By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – March 2, 2020)


EPISODE 9: TIGERS AND BEARS

The penultimate strikes again. Don’t say I never told you, because I’ve told you no less than 45,687 times during my writing career. When we get to the next-to-last episode, it’s about to get real, and some piece of sad drama is about to take place for the good guys. In this case, it came in the final seconds of the installment, where Alec Pelley took a bullet to the back of his head, courtesy of Jack’s rifle, igniting the push to the end game of the season, and or series.

When we first started seeing the flashbacks to Emmitt and his boys, it felt like a story about the barn, but we quickly found out it was about the cave, and just how non coincidental it was that we all end up at this place to end our story. This was an extremely effective setup for a finale, with compelling content throughout, and, with the exception of Seale, everyone had moments of likability. However, at the very least, he was necessary to first push us to the real backstory of the cave and also to screw up and clue El Cuco in to what was actually going on with the investigative team.

Seale is obnoxious and pretty stock and cliche, but at least he cares about his brother. His mistakes, including the big one, aren’t to cause damage, but to protect Claude. He feels like he has to take care of him, because the investigators don’t have his best interests at heart. He’s misguided, dumb, and flippant, but he does legitimately care about Claude. That said, he still elicits all the eye rolls.

Ralph has gone from skeptic to at least half-hearted believer, which terrifies his wife into begging for him to come home. The reason why has to be that the one thing that safeguarded her husband from problems was that he wasn’t an imminent threat. Now that he’s heard the theories and is willing to listen and behave as if he understands them, he now IS a threat. Jeannie remembers the entity telling her specifically to get him to drop it, which is virtually all she’s done since.

Before Pelley was murdered, he gave Ralph and the audience the best logic for how to grasp something that upends everything else in your reality or belief structure. Small bites. You don’t take on the whole meal. You take a bite and taste it, but nothing else, until you’re ready for another bite. Alec didn’t state it from the start, but every word he spoke intimated that he completely believed in Holly’s words, but was indeed taking it in tiny bites, small morsels. Even Howie Saloman, as sarcastic as he is, called Seale a “dumb f—” after spilling the story to his brother during the second babysitting session.

We have our where…this cave where two boys disappeared, never to escape, and where their father and dozens of others perished in futile attempts to save them. We notice Jack was in a cave the last time we saw him as well, which shows us El Cuco’s home, maybe not just where it has been a few times, but it’s actual domicile, is in that cave. It’s where it recovers before feeding again, drinking the tears of misery of the havoc he wreaks.

I was surprised it was Pelley who got clipped, as after Andy did the movie soundtrack quiz, kissed Holly, made her smile, and told her let’s go finish this thing, he had performed every heroic act necessary to be the perfect victim. His character has been terrific, because it hasn’t gone down the road so many like it do. He’s just genuinely a good person who cares for Holly and wants to help her solve the case. He’s someone who probably was a good cop and wants to do it again, but he not once showed a lack of integrity or any kind of bad intentions. He easily could have, but didn’t.

Grandpa Mike’s description of our monster’s eyes, about how even after he ripped the mask off, it still looked like he was under a mask, was one of those that would be corny if it weren’t kind of creepy. Sam wasn’t touched inappropriately, but even though Ralph assures Mike and Sam that the boy wasn’t in danger, that’s obviously to protect them from what he already knows. He stopped using the word “if,” which Yunis notices and Ralph doesn’t deny.

District Attorney Hayes is having a rough week, made worse when he takes a look at the photos of the boy, which luckily we only saw bits and pieces of. There’s more here, not just the Peterson case either. There’s a history with Hayes that makes it almost like a PTSD reaction, and we hear his assistant broach the subject carefully, knowing it’s likely to be difficult for him. This is an interesting time for that story to pop up, because we’re so close to the end of the main plot, or we think we are anyway. I didn’t see the full point of it, but maybe that will come into focus next week.

Glory Maitland still buys none of it, which she tells Jeannie in a conversation that at times is friendly and nice and at other times is more like, “You’re out of your mind but I respect your right to be a crazy lunatic.” I’m mildly surprised she isn’t willing to entertain this idea, because it would in fact vindicate her husband’s capability if he weren’t able to fight the entity off, even if he tried to do so. Jack showed signs of wanting to do the same, but he still killed Pelley. And, we now have Claude Bolton with a baseball bat, fully aware of what’s inside him, saying he can’t escape it, that no one can. “This thing wanted in. It got in.” When he gets “activated,” especially considering we know it’s about to happen inside that cave, then what?

We end the episode with Alec’s death and it closes up shop right there. We’ll begin next week, most likely, right then and there, although maybe there’s another flashback to show. We don’t know exactly how the search party and the boys died. We think we do, but what if there’s more to depict. The most likely scenario is opening right outside the souvenir shop with the reaction and the frantic hiding from Jack, who fires somewhere around 5-6 shots based on the echos after the fade to black.

We’ll travel down into the caves once Jack is dealt with or retreats for a time, and there we’ll get our answers. One thing I can declare is The Outsider has been better, more consistent, and likely will have a better ending than the first season of True Detective. As much as people enjoyed that show, and I did as well, The Outsider surpasses it. Both have strengths and even some similarities, but everything about The Outsider has clicked better and been less obtuse. We can hold onto this story better, without it trying to trick us or show us how smart it can be. The acting on both is great, but the story here is better. I can’t wait to read the book once we finish up next week.

Should the finale live up to all the setup, this will go down as one of the better shows of the past few years…especially in the limited series variety. I have very little to complain about, other than the fact we only have one more episode to enjoy. And we’ll break it all down on Sunday evening.

Without spoilers if you’ve read the book, how do you think Richard Price’s version of this story will conclude?

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