When you hear the name Stephen King a few words come to mind, master of horror, Maine, The Shining, Salem’s Lot, The Stand, and the hit SYFY series Haven based upon The Colorado Kid! These are just a few of the classic novels he has written over the decades. Another one to add to that growing list is The Outsider, a new show on HBO set in a small town with a BIG problem.
The problem? A brutal murder, the other problem, well where do I start. Richard Price, the genius behind that groundbreaking show called The Wire is the show’s creator. Price’s resume is a virtual goldmine of excellence in television, in addition to The Wire, he also wrote the screenplay for The Color of Money and Sea of Love.
Stephen King said he prefers writing novels because “I prefer to write novels because, well, I’m a novelist. I feel like an artist when I’m writing a novel, when I’m working on a screenplay I feel like a craftsman.”
Either way the master of mystery, suspense, and the supernatural still gives us fantastic content that we the viewer devour happily, now with The Outsider that has just completed it’s first blockbuster season!
That is the beauty of this series, it presents this scenario and you think, well, that is straight forward, a murder in a small town, how classic can you get, right? Not so simple, it is Stephen King after all.
Let us start with the cast, a stellar list of fantastic actors. Jason Bateman (Ozark), Ben Mendelsohn, Mare Winningham (The Affair), Julianne Nicholson (Law & Order True Crime) Oscar Nominee Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Bill Camp (The Leftovers) and Yul Vazquez (Narcos: Mexico). Some big names with great acting chops, that always helps when watching a series of this magnitude.
Bateman is great as Terry Maitland, the father and upstanding citizen who gets accused of this brutal murder. He also steps into the director’s chair, directing the first two episodes.
I must say as a fellow director, Bateman does a great job, he keeps the viewer engaged and the story moving along well. The cinematography is well done, too. The way that it is shot lends itself well to the story. It almost seems like you are watching an episode of Forensic Files.
This is not your typical Stephen King story, it has monsters, but not the kind you normally see in his novels. This one is seen, but unseen as well. I do not want to give away too much, the series is too good to spoil any more than I already have (sort-of). You must watch it to really appreciate it and understand where I am coming from.
Ben Mendelsohn is fantastic as the Sheriff of this small town that now must solve the murder that he never thought would happen in his little hamlet. The subtly of his character, the way that Mendelsohn plays him with a piece missing is evident. We learn early on that he and his wife (Mare Winningham) lost their son at a young age.
Neither one has really dealt with the loss as you can tell by the way they are around each other. Mendelsohn has an impressive resume, being from Australia, I expected nothing less.
You may have seen him in Neighbours (pretty much every Australian actor gets their start on that show), The Year My Voice Broke, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Bloodline and Robin Hood as the Sheriff of Nottingham. No stranger to leading roles, he takes the role of Ralph Anderson seriously with wonderful muted colors. He is an everyman, a neighbor, co-worker, regular guy. He is one to watch for sure as he tries to figure out this mystery going on in his town.
Forget everything you know or think you know about cop shows. This is not one that you have seen before. There are things seen and unseen that are at work in this story. Let me repeat that, there are things seen and unseen. Your beliefs will be tested for sure as are the beliefs of the characters in this series. To me this is another reason to love this series, it deals with a subject that is both controversial and shrouded in mystery at the same time.
There is an entity that has taken up residence in town. Now, you may think, what in the fresh hell am I talking about? Throughout recorded history there have been dark forces at work, whether you choose to believe that or not is your choice, but in certain cultures, more than others, those dark forces exist and have been interfering with people for centuries. Every culture with written language has, through the ages, recorded their demons both real and fictional. Dark arts and dark forces are part of everyday life, it is what you choose to believe that helps this story come to fruition.
Good and evil are parts of all our lives, energy is part of that, too. If you choose negative energy, then it becomes a part of you if you do not well then you may be immune. Figuring out how and why that happens is the focus of the show.
Cynthia Erivo is perfect as Holly Gibney who is a savant who gets recruited into helping the police figure out why this is happening. Her character is so out of place among the men in the department that the awkward nature of the interactions is felt by the viewer.
She is the one that works out what happens and why. It is great to watch how her character changes throughout the series and the more she lets her guard down the more things fall into place.
Mare Winningham is Jeannie Anderson, Ralph’s wife of many years and the voice of reason and devil’s advocate if you will. She is the one that does not have blinders on, in fact she is the one that forces the men in the sheriff’s department to listen. She is the one that not only tells them to listen to Holly and all she is saying but has firsthand knowledge of what Holly is speaking of. Jeannie is one of the ones that has “seen” the entity in its human form. It is a creepy scene and well done with the suspense and the uneasy feeling you get as you watch the scene unfold. I have always liked Mare, I remember her from St. Elmo’s Fire as the dowdy Wendy Beamish the shy, virginal, levelheaded friend of the group who was in love with Rob Lowe’s Billy Hicks character.
As the series progresses and more and more information are uncovered about what has been happening the more, we figure out that this all has a pattern. That this was not just a random thing, that all the people who are infected are connected.
Through happenstance, coincidence or maybe deliberate by the dark forces, the entity’s presence becomes clearer the deeper you delve into how it became part of the everyday lives of the townspeople.
As the sheriff and the other men involved with the case slowly start to believe, the series gets more intense. The stranger the better, the more mysterious the better. Stephen King is a master at these kinds of situations, it is what he has done throughout his career. How many times have you watched a Stephen King movie or read a book of his and you were riveted and at the edge of your seat?
If you love suspense, drama, and beautifully written shows, then I highly recommend this series to you. I will not say any more about what happens for the characters to defeat their foe, just watch the series. HBO has always been on the forefront of groundbreaking television, and this is part of that.
I do have to say a couple of things about the series before I end. With only 10 episodes binge watching will come easy over a few days.
My recommendation is when you finally do watch the series, on episode 10, PLEASE watch it all the way through the credits and then about a minute or so after the credits end. Trust me on this, it will be well worth it.
That kind of thing, the Easter eggs at the end of the last episode seems to be happening more and more. It helps set up the series for a second season of which I am looking forward to.
Thank you, my friends, for indulging me in this summary of the new series that is a must watch on HBO. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Thank you for visiting WormholeRiders News Agency. And thanks to Kenn for video embedding and additional images for my report. I will be back next season for more on The Outsider about the supernatural adventures at San Diego Comic Con 2022!
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Until next time,