HBO’s The Outsider
Episode 3: “Dark Uncle”
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by Richard Price
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Roanoke” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Que Viene el Coco” – click here
Yunis Sablo takes a look at a new crime scene along with other GBI officers— this is the same barn where those wet clothes were found, the same Terry Maitland was apparently wearing the day Frankie was murdered. Back over at the station, Tomika Collins is back on her feet, and Dt. Jack Hoskins isn’t thrilled he’s got to drive an hour over to the barn. Jack takes a fast detour to the strip club, where he causes shit briefly for the dancers and security man Claude Bolton. What’s his deal, anyway? For those who’ve never read the book, such as Father Gore, this is part of the exciting mystery of The Outsider so far.
Dt. Ralph Anderson is at the grave of his son, Derek, mourning all he couldn’t do. Afterwards, he’s digging into Terry’s background. His wife Jeannie tells he ought to “take the time off they gave you” instead of pushing himself any further. Ralph clearly wants to, simply out of instinct, but he’s also got demons haunting him that keep him searching for the truth.
Later that evening, Jack arrives at the barn when everybody’s already gone. Not exactly the guy you’d want on your case if you’d brought something to the police. He goes inside the dark barn but fast decides he’s going to leave. He turns and sees the hooded, sagging faced figure, which frightens him. But he looks back and the figure’s gone. Jack tries to push forward, though it’s only moments and he’s being attacked in the darkness— by WHAT, exactly? He gets out of there alive, only he’s got a bunch of red spots and blisters on him. What the hell happened?
Poor Ralph can’t let anything go. It’s hard, especially after being forced to gun down Ollie when the kid opened fire on them. Can’t be easy, no matter if it was in self-defence and the defence of others. Now there’s more info from the barn, too. Yunis talks to Ralph about what they found, specifically the horse belt buckle. There were prints found, from someone maybe “80 or 90 years old” alongside other prints, all from the same person who’s supposedly Terry. Also found at the scene was a strange substance they initially thought was semen, which they haven’t identified as of yet.
Yunis and Ralph contact Alec Pelley and Howie Salomon, filling them in on what they know/what they know they don’t know so far. Dt. Anderson feels shitty for having been wrong on this case, and he’s attempting to work on good faith with the lawyer. He won’t be satisfied until they uncover the “true actor” behind what actually happened. They need someone to do good legwork. This brings up the name of Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo). She’s a unique talent, whom we’ve seen in Mr. Mercedes previously played by Justine Lupe, and may just be the right fit for this odd case. This episode doesn’t waste time introducing us to Holly’s quirks, either. Right now, she agrees to meet with Ralph in order to see if she can be of help.
A great scene here with Ralph and his therapist, in which he compares therapy sessions to police interrogations. He casts himself in the light of the suspect, or the patient, who’s attempting to outwit the therapist, as the detective, who’s seeking to break down their suspect/patient. Really good stuff. Gives us a window into the rough masculine world of which Dt. Anderson is a part and how he/other cops view therapy. This scene is paralleled with Ralph in a bar, breaking up a fight only to drunkenly kick the shit out of the two men instead— his version of therapy.
Ralph and Alec meet Holly at a bar. She looks over all the info they’ve given her, immediately digging in to see exactly what she does and doesn’t need to do her own investigatory work. Her OCD-like tendencies are on display, which actually seems to impress Ralph, given her attention to detail. She wonders if there’s a Terry “doppelganger” out there somewhere. She talks about myth, as well as Freud’s “id” and “superego,” which suddenly does not appeal to Dt. Anderson. He isn’t a fan of the unexplained. Holly uses her own unique mind to explain that there are things which are, indeed, quite inexplicable, all the while delivering a distinctly Kingian speech.
Also, who is it we’re seeing in jail?
He’s being sent notes with CHILD KILLER on them.
He’s preparing for a fight, as well. He’s got a lens of his glasses out, giving it a sharp edge.
“… then if’s the word, mockingbird.”
Things aren’t going well for the Maitlands.
Glory has to deal with her kids essentially being kicked out of school, despite being bullied. Then Jessa wakes up one morning, yelling for her mother to call the “sad looking” detective because the man in her room told her to pass along a message only to him. Glory reluctantly has Ralph and Jeannie come over. The little girl doesn’t believe the man is a dream, not like her sister and mother. Jessa says the man wants Ralph “to stop” or something “very bad” will happen. Glory doesn’t want Ralph talking to her daughter anymore, so Jeannie gives it a shot, getting much more out of the girl than either of them. Jessa tells her about the several times the man came to visit her, including his “blurry” face and the mean things he’d say, and that another time he appeared “inky.”
At the Peach Crease, Jack’s hammered as usual. He gets cleaned off the floor by Claude, but soon as the guy touches him he’s in a world of pain. Those strange blisters on his neck won’t quit hurting. Jack isn’t right, judging by the fact he’s not trying to beat somebody up. What’s infecting him? And what’s it going to make him do? “Whatever you need me to do” is an unsettling repetition from Jack at home, getting more sickly by the minute.
Holly tries to get in to see Terry’s ailing father, only to be refused. A woman at the desk talks about Terry as if he were still alive. Has someone been coming back to visit dad? Creepy. Not only that, Holly’s interested in why the police were trying to talk to him for weeks. She checks in with Ralph, then heads home to dig further. She sees a story about two sisters being murdered and the local hospital worker— the man we’ve seen in prison throughout the episode— in jail for their killing. Could this be the work of the sagging-faced figure, too? Is this hospital worker another innocent victim of the shape-shifting doppelganger?
We see the man in jail, having his door opened in the middle of the night. Another man’s cell is opened— the guy digging into his leg earlier with a plastic cutlery shank. He’s headed straight for the accused murderer, and the two confront each other in a tiny space with jagged blades. The hospital worker chooses not to fight, but rather to cut his own throat open wide.
What a wild, tensely paced ride.
The first couple episodes came out swinging. Currently, The Outsider’s sitting back with a more even pace to let us sweat things out, particularly if you haven’t read the book. No matter what, it’s getting to be a really great series.
“Que Viene el Coco” is next time.