HBO’s The Outsider
Episode 5: “Tear-Drinker”
Directed by Andrew Bernstein
Written by Richard Price
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Que Viene el Coco” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The One About the Yiddish Vampire” – click here
We hear the sound of helicopters, cops swarming. Someone’s told to drop a gun, then the police shoot him down. Afterwards, they get a look at the body, and the corpse has a strange, blistered wound on the back of the neck— exactly like the one on Jack Hoskins. We skip back to three days prior and a house is boarded up with CHILD KILLER and other things written on it. Inside, the man we just saw get killed— there’s that cartoon cat clock again! is this Heath’s house?— is doing strange things.
Father Gore’s curious as to what these wounded people are doing.
Like Jack, dragging that buck carcass into the woods, then all those items he brought. He’s bringing another carcass this time, where he finds a broken lamp. This pisses him off. “I don‘t ever wanna make you mad again,” he tells the thing, breaking down into anger over this weird liminal space he’s in, under the control of whatever it is out there. And then, he’s gripped by an invisible pain.
What about the hooded person in the waiting room at Jeannie’s office? Creepy. Until it’s only a guy sleeping. But was that actually the same person who’d been sitting facing the door earlier? They were sitting in a totally different chair. Sure, the guy could’ve moved. That first shot looked incredibly unsettling, though.
Meanwhile, her husband Ralph is with Yunis, talking to Howard and Alec about what Holly is up to on her trip. Dt. Anderson is trying to “have faith in her” like the lawyer originally suggested. A lot of dramatic irony building up in how we know Ms. Gibney’s definitely onto something, as is Ralph, whereas the rest of them have no idea how strange things are actually getting. On top of it all, Jack’s so close, being a cop and all.
At home, Jeannie’s not feeling great so she goes for a nap. She didn’t happen to get a scratch at the office, did she? Ralph sits next to the bed watching over her as she sleeps. He remembers a time a while after their son died. In the memory, Ralph tries to get her up, after having a few drinks by 2 pm in the afternoon, and Jeannie reacts aggressively to his equally aggressive actions, then they fall apart into an argument. Such a tragic story.
Holly’s now sure she’s on the trail of a Grief Eater. She talks over things with a bartender, Skye, who suggests a cemetery might be a good place to go for one of these things— somewhere their victim is in the ground and the families come to mourn, a double dose of grief. Holly makes friends pretty well, arranging for Skye to drive her around the city the next day.
When is the sagging faced figure going to take over Claude?
Probably soon. The guy doesn’t seem to be doing so well. Although, at the moment, the hooded thing’s in the Anderson home visiting Jeannie, like it visited Jessa Maitland. “Tell him to stop,” it says: “Or he‘ll die.” A clear warning for her detective husband. Then it threatens them both with death. In the morning, Ralph finds a mess of glass and discovers Jeannie in bed with a bloody foot. She has no recollection of it, as if she were dreaming. Except she wasn’t dreaming at all. She tries to convince Ralph it was real. He blames it on a “very bad dream” made of mixed emotions.
Holly’s gone to the house where we saw the other man, who’d later be gunned down. This is actually Heath’s old home. The private investigator takes a look around for anything out of the ordinary, mostly seeing nothing. She later goes to the cemetery and attempts to start figuring out more about the Grief Eater’s methods. Maybe she’ll get an idea of how it determines its next victim. She visits the cemetery where the Williams sisters, Heath’s supposed victims, were buried, as well as the one where Heath is buried. She snaps photos of derelict structures near each of them to send to Ralph. She asks him to go to the cemetery where Terry’s buried to take similar photos. The detective starts to question what she’s up to, and this only gets him hung up on.
Once the call’s over Holly sees somebody at Heath’s grave. The man says “He fucked him over good” and “He fucked me over, too.” He walks away, saying nothing else. All Holly can do is snap another photo. This is the same man we previously saw at Heath’s home, the guy who’ll get shot by the police in a couple days.
At the graveyard, Ralph meets Jeannie there with Glory. He takes photos of everything close to the place, including the barn where they found Terry’s clothes covered in that goop. Coincidence? Surely not. You can tell Ralph is definitely beginning to see the utter strangeness behind everything happening.
At Tamika’s big baby bash, Dt. Anderson gets chatting with Hoskins. Things get tense once Jack gets his back up after Ralph questions him on the barn. The guy walks out, refusing to hold the baby and pretending like he has the flu, so Tamika goes after him. She asks why he’s acting weird lately. He won’t say much at all, asking her to back off.
That night, Tamika hears someone in her house. She takes her gun and goes to the baby’s room, where the hooded figure stands over her child. The thing takes the baby, then it’s gone. Tamika wakes up like the whole thing was just a nightmare. She goes to find her child isn’t there, sending her into panic mode immediately. She goes outside and her husband is there cradling the baby.
“All that grief down there—
what a feast.”
Jack apologises to Ralph for being a jerk, asking to help out more with the workload at the office. Is he doing this out of a genuine want to help? Or, is he being commanded to do this by the dark figure? Hard to tell. Well, there are other manipulations happening, anyway. Like the guy we saw in the opening, Tracey, who gets shot by the cops. He grabs a gun from his car and holds it to the back of a man’s head.
It isn’t long until the police are there, and Tracey’s killed when he moves to fire on them.
When Ralph falls asleep in his son’s room he has a dream of Derek, urging him: “You need to let me go.” It’s a painful, albeit necessary thing to hear. What’s obvious is how deeply both Jeannie and Ralph were wounded by the loss of their son. It’s an inexplicable thing, no matter how a young person dies. And part of the mystery in Maitland’s case, connecting to these other mysteries, is something that Ralph can’t seem to abide after so much unexplained misery.
Maybe not the strongest episode of The Outsider yet. Still good, and grim.
Much more mystery to unravel from here, too.
“The One About the Yiddish Vampire” is next.