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‘The Outsider’ Double Episode Series Premiere Review: Supernatural Murder Case

BY Daniel Rayner

Published 3 years ago

'The Outsider' Double Episode Series Premiere Review: Supernatural Murder Case

The Outsider becomes yet another Stephen King Novel with a modern media adaptation. Along with the likes of Castle Rock, the latest addition centers on a seemingly quiet town. As the silence breaks with the tragic death of a boy, a shroud of mystery covers the town. Once the investigations begin, the accused and investigators themselves question the normality of their case.

On Sunday’s Double Episode Series Premiere of The Outsider, Detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) receives a tragic case: the murder of Frankie Peterson (Duncan E. Clark). Along with lawyers Kenneth Hayes (Michael Esper) and Howard Salomon (Bill Camp), they determine suspect and local Little League coach Terry Maitland’s (Jason Bateman) involvement. However, when evidence starts to make no sense, both sides find themselves dumbfounded.

Episode 1: Fish in a Barrel

Julianne Nicholson and Summer Montana in The Outsider Season 1

HBO

The first episode sets the tone of the series. Initially, it evokes a criminal drama vibe. The extensive use of flashbacks that lead up to the point of Terry’s arrest creates a sense of dread that his character possesses. Ralph, on the other hand, fumes with anger as the man who taught his deceased son baseball becomes the prime suspect to a horrific murder. The entire plot of the first episode works under mystery’s gears, plunged with a deep sense of grief. As the episode ends, the external force responsible for everything reveals itself, watching the chaos it caused from a distance. Mainly, the first chapter establishes characters relevant to the show. It plays with deeply emotional elements, much like trauma, disappointment, and shock. Effectively, it creates the scene of a once quiet town disrupted by the unexpected death of an unsuspecting child.

Much like stories similar to this, The Outsider happens in a remote town where everyone knows each other. One of the most emotional moments of the episode is Terry’s arrest in front of the school, his wife, Glory Maitland (Julianne Nicholson), children, Jessa Maitland (Scarlet Blum) and Maya Maitland (Summer Fontana). Also, Ben Mendelsohn captures his character perfectly. He seamlessly puts together the image of a no-nonsense detective and a father grieving the loss of his son when in the presence of his wife, Jeannie Anderson (Mare Winningham). The second episode, however, is when things become even trickier.

Episode 2: Roanoke

Ben Mendelsohn and Mare Winningham in The Outsider Season 1

HBO

The second episode presents more complications. With Kenneth and Howard each trying to prove Terry’s innocence or guilt, everyone else involved in the situation suffers. The Petersons mourn the loss of Frankie, up until Joy Peterson (Claire Bronson) dies from a heart attack. Frankie’s brother, Ollie Peterson (Joshua Whichard) takes matters in his hands and decides to shoot Terry on the day of his arraignment, dying in the process. Being the only Peterson left, Fred Peterson (Frank Deal) commits a failed suicide. The Petersons are not the only ones suffering at this point. Ralph himself goes on administrative leave following the shooting incident while the Maitlands mourn Terry’s death. Throughout the episode, however, the supernatural forces at work are more apparent, with the mysterious hooded figure appearing multiple times. Presumable, it makes contact with Terry’s daughter, Jessa, too.

In contrast to the previous episode, this chapter presents the show’s paranormal premise. As the evidence shows Terry being in two places at once, the case comes to a close. Also, the mysterious figure repeatedly appears, revealing itself both explicitly and implied by Jessa’s nightmares. Despite the case’s closure, the investigation continues. Slowly, it seems as if Ralph changes from fulfilling his duty to being obsessed with the case. While the nature of his son’s death is unknown, one can assume that it has a hold on how Ralph treats the Peterson case. Both are mysterious murders left unsolved, after all.

‘The Outsider’ Double Episode Series Premiere Final Verdict

The Outsider tells a Stephen King story set in modern-day America. It works on a premise similar to other shows of the same genre. Seemingly peaceful towns are always perfect for mysteries and other paranormal elements. Also, a well-written script paired with talented actors provides the show excellent performances. This time, it begins quite slowly, taking its time to craft the story. While the thing behind the strings revealed itself, it does not have a direct impact on the plot. At least, not yet, anyway.

The Outsider continues Sunday, January 19th with ‘Dark Uncle’ at 9/8c on HBO.

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