HBO’s The Outsider
Episode 2: “Roanoke”
Directed by Jason Bateman
Written by Richard Price
* For a recap & review of Episode 1, “Fish in a Barrel” – click here
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, “Dark Uncle” – click here
Even if Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman) is innocent, he’s still got to survive his time in jail before he’ll get released. Right now he’s getting a late night visit from Detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn). Neither the cop nor the supposed criminal should be talking to one another by themselves. Terry claims to have never seen the white van with the blood on it “in his life.” Ralph admits to having doubts, but he says he can’t get past the “credible witnesses” who saw him covered in blood, as well as the woman who saw him talking to Frankie Peterson.
Terry denies coming into contact with the boy. He brings up Derek— Ralph and Jeannie’s (Mare Winningham) dead boy. The coach recounts teaching the kid how to bunt after Derek got a shitty nickname from his teammates, resulting in a new, better nickname that gave him confidence. He resents Ralph asking him if he’d ever “touched” Derek, only ever having ‘touched’ him in a positive way through their sports relationship.
People have seen leaked footage of Terry from the conference at the same time when Frankie was murdered. A reporter suggests the town’s curious whether there could be other potential suspects while Terry’s the only one being investigated. Nevertheless, many consider Maitland a murderer. He’s yelled at on the long walk to the courthouse, as his wife Glory (Julianne Nicholson) walks behind in a group of cops. Someone comes out of the crowd and fires, hitting several cops, including Tamika Collins (Hettienne Park), as well as putting a bullet in Terry’s neck. Ralph pulls his pistol and pops one in the shooter’s head— it’s the oldest Peterson boy, Ollie.
The detective rushes back to help Glory. Terry bleeds out while telling Ralph: “I didn‘t do it. I wasn‘t there. It wasn‘t me.” And in the distance is someone wearing a hoodie. Beneath the hoodie is a sagging, hollow face, like a mask. Is this the real child killer?
In the aftermath, Terry’s dead. Ralph’s on “administrative leave” after he had to gun down to Peterson kid. He’s urged to seek trauma therapy. He’s looking back at how he handled Terry’s arrest and feeling guilt for all that, along with Tomika taking a bullet. Yunis Sablo (Yul Vazquez) drops by to see Ralph and mentions the white van and a young car thief who left it in Ohio, where he stole a Mini Cooper.
At home, Jessa keeps talking about “the man” who torments her at night. Her sister Maya’s freaked out by it all, and Glory soon comes to comfort her daughter. But there’s clearly something not right in the Maitland home, it isn’t solely the fact that Terry was accused of murder and then killed in public. Definitely unsettling that there seem to be wet track marks left in the man’s wake. Is it the saggy faced man?
Meanwhile, Fred Peterson can’t go on living without the rest of his family. He tries to hang himself. His feet knock out the window of his bedroom, alerting a woman running nearby. Nobody notices the man with the sagging face lurking like Michael Myers a couple houses down, always watching. Fred survives, barely, lying comatose later in the hospital with nobody left to mourn him.
Turns out that Jack Hoskins (Marc Menchaca)— an angry, hunting, drinking, nasty fighting son of a bitch— is one of the local police detectives who works with Ralph. Albeit Ralph has to take time off. That doesn’t mean he’s ACTUALLY taking time off, digging further into the evidence room to try and stop whatever’s haunting him about the van. He has a chat with DA Kenneth Hayes (Michael Esper), who’s likewise being haunted but going about forgetting in his own way, citing the lost Roanoke colony and other pieces of American history better left forgotten, so he says.
Either way, Ralph’s not giving this up.
He’s insisting on talking to the kid who stole the white and left it in Ohio. First, Sablo’s convincing him to finally go see the therapist he’s been referred to see after the shooting. Ralph agrees. He doesn’t quite ease into the whole therapy thing, other than skimming the surface. He sees it as “more of a punishment” than something that helps, but then again he doesn’t open up about anything remotely personal on a deeper level.
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Yunis and Ralph go talk to the kid who stole the van, Merlin Cassidy (Jakob Gruntfest). They show him photographs to see if he recognises anything. Ralph is attempting to pinpoint the place where he got rid of the van. He’s pretty gentle about things, letting Merlin talk about “three cars ago” when he was in that location. The kid mentions a TV on in a 7-Eleven and he remembers it because the woman behind the counter had a smudge on her forehead. Yunis pushes for more and it sounds like the day was Ash Wednesday. They figure out it was March 6th, around when the Maitlands were flying in and out of Ohio.
Ralph appeals to Glory for her help in proving her husband’s innocence. He recognises he’s done things wrong. That’s not enough for the grieving widow to accept and trust him after all he did that led to his juncture. It can’t be easy for her, having to face the rest of her life with all these burdens, from being a single mother to a widow to someone who’s dealing with the stigma of having an accused murderer for a husband. A heavy weight to bear for anyone.
Finally, Glory does agree to speak with Ralph. She brings Howie Solomon (Bill Camp) and Alec Pelley (Jeremy Bobb). It’s a tense meeting. The on-leave detective fills them in about the car thief kid who dropped the van off in Ohio, when the Maitlands were flying in and out so Terry could see his father. Ralph’s looking for a way to disprove things but Glory has nothing to offer. That’s when Maya hears them talking and mentions that “daddy got a cut.” The little girl tells Ralph her father got the cut while visiting grandpa, from a male nurse. Terry bumped into the nurse, when he got a cut. Could someone have snatched his DNA?
In a barn, there’s a pair of jeans with a familiar belt buckle. It’s all wet.
Just like the outfit Terry was wearing after he’d apparently changed in the Peach Crease, what he was wearing in the video at the train station. Is that sagging faced man a kind of shapeshifter? Is he slipping and sliding out of identities to do horrifying, nefarious things?
Only time will tell.
The Outsider is incredible so far. The mystery’s stunning, for those of us who’ve yet to read the novel itself. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have such fantastic actors performing the material. Very haunting stuff so far.
“Dark Uncle” is next time.