HBO’s The Outsider
Episode 9: “Tigers and Bears”
Directed by Charlotte Brändström
Written by Dennis Lehane
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Foxhead” – click here
* For a recap & review of the finale, “Must/Can’t” – click here
In a barn, a young boy searches with his flashlight. He and his brother are playing together. They go running through the woods afterwards. A little later their father’s calling out to them but can’t find them anywhere. Could this be el Cuco’s next victims— John and George Weaver? Are they slated to be murdered?
And by the looks of it, is this happening in the past?
Meanwhile, Dt. Ralph Anderson’s trying to explain everything to the local cops. Or, well, he’s trying to shield the real potential truth from these guys. Nobody wants to tell the police they’re after an evil entity. So they pretend Claude Bolton’s simply an important witness in the Maitland case. Once the police are gone, Holly Gibney explains they’ve got to keep Claude “out of the loop” in case el Cuco can hear/see everything Claude hears/sees. While Howie Solomon isn’t ready to believe in a monster, it seems Ralph’s turned a page and is at least somewhat willing to believe. For now, they’ve got to get Claude out of the house a while so they can begin to formulate the next step of their plan.
Young John and George are still off exploring the woods, going places of which their father would not particularly approve. They climb down into a cave, where there could be bears. There could be something even worse down there, too. Who knows. Their dad Emmitt’s still out looking to find them, asking anybody he sees if the boys were around. He heads for another part of the caves and goes inside with a flashlight of his own.
Back home, Kenneth Hayes hears about another torn up, naked, dead child.
It won’t stop. Not yet.
On the road, Howie takes Claude for a drive to get chicken, trying to keep him occupied while the others work. The poor former bouncer is having mental and physical troubles while fighting off the psychic force of el Cuco burrowing into his head. He has to stop to vomit on the way, constantly worrying about trying to fight off the entity, the same as having a nasty flu. Except this flu doesn’t just kill you, it kills others, as well.
At the local station, Ralph and Yunis Sablo talk to the boy fake Claude nearly snatched. The kid explains what happened while he spoke to Claude about the caves. Ralph wants to know an important question: “Did he touch you?” The detective isn’t wondering about molestation, he’s curious whether fake Claude had scratched the child. The boy says no. (Is there any chance el Cuco would take on the shape of a child? Could make abducting and killing more kids easier.) Meanwhile, Andy Katcavage and Ms. Gibney are looking around town for any clues, from the festival site to the cemeteries. At the Cavestock location, Holly finds traces of el Cuco’s goop.
Emmitt soon hears his boys in the cave, following their voices further in towards the bear cave. George and John can’t find their way out, lost amongst the twisting tunnels of the caves. Their dad can’t reach them, though. He’s cut off by a narrow part of the cave, forced to turn back and go for help to get his sons out.
These scenes are, indeed, in the past.
The bear cave’s been closed up “since 1947” when the Weaver boys got lost, prompting several search parties. Everybody in town pitched in attempting to clear a path through to the kids. Eventually, the boys’ voices were clearer. Emmitt and some other men went back into the dark tunnels, but the boys seemed to get further away rather than closer, and suddenly there was a cave in, fatally trapping the men. They never got out, remaining there to this very day, including some of Claude and Seale’s own family.
Might be a good place for el Cuco to hide.
Even armed with new info the group continues to struggle individually. Howie sits around with Seale smoking weed and eating chicken, when he hears Seale getting truthful with his brother. This sets Claude off, worried that el Cuco’s heard what Seale said, and now there could be serious trouble. Down in the darkness of the caves, fake Claude’s looking ready to climb out into the world and go hunting. Uh oh. So off Seale, Howie, and Claude go armed with a gun and a baseball bat. Doesn’t bode well that Jack Hoskins is out there with el Cuco, armed to the fucking teeth.
Everyone arrives at the entrance to the caves, totally unaware that Jack is nearby in the trees with a sniper rifle. And after Hoskins aims, he fires, first taking the top of Alec Pelley’s head off, then firing more at his other targets. Who’s going to survive?
“Let’s get this thing over with”
Another excellent episode leading up to the finale.
How will it all shake out for Ralph, Holly, and the gang?
“Must/Can’t” is next time.