Outcast S01E06 “From The Shadows It Watches” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on FOX, Tuesdays, 10pm
Writer: Joy Blake
Director: Tricia Brock
Essential Plot Points:
- We open on Anderson watching tapes of his old exorcisms like an ex quarterback trying to see what went wrong in his last game. He fast forwards to the end of an exorcism and watches the victim tearfully thank him, lying the whole time.
- Anderson pauses the tape as he hears someone thrash and scream nearby. We follow him to a corridor where we see a door with a chair wedged under the handle.
- He’s interrupted by the lady who he’s been anonymously flirting with for three episodes now. Patricia! She’s called Patricia! Which we maybe should have heard back in episode two but still!
- She tries to get Anderson to talk about that their not-quite-relationship. He tries to brush her off. She calls him on this and he shows her his work. In this case, the figure trapped in the cupboard. He “arms” her and they step into the basement.
- Meanwhile, Kyle is working with a road crew. He’s outside. It’s sunny. He looks happy. This cannot possibly end well.
- At the police station, Mark is talking to Lisa Payton, the lady who lost the fingernail. She claims it doesn’t belong to her. She stonewalls him and he lets her go, while the Chief listens in from his office.
- At the church the exorcism is going badly. Patricia is panicked but Anderson is fanatical, convinced it will work. He draws his own blood, convinced that that was the only thing different with Joshua’s exorcism. Patricia offers to get Kyle and Barnes refuses and all but throws her out.
- Kyle returns home after a hard day of work, grabs a beer and relaxes. He counts his pay and immediately puts it in an envelope to send to Allison.
- On his way back from the mailbox he notices a car nearby and goes to investigate. Patricia gets out and begs for his help. He shuts her down but, in a brilliant leftfield move, she uses To Kill A Mockingbird to get under his skin.
- Later that night Kyle is woken by someone pounding on his door. He opens it, sees the figure Anderson left at Mildred’s house. She then knocks him out with her walking stick.
- He wakes up in her house where she feeds from him and knocks him out.
- At Patricia’s house the next morning, breakfast consists of scrambled egg and her teenaged son saying how much he hates her. It’s an odd, bluntly unpleasant scene that’s either all about the revelation that everyone in town is possessed or is just a cheap shot at the last female character on the show who hasn’t been maimed.
- Kyle wakes up alone, back in his house. He sees Sydney outside and they chat briefly. Sydney goes back inside and Mildred is waiting for him. He tears a strip off her and she explains she’s worried about Anderson. He tells her he can deal with him.
- On the road, Meg is astonished to see her brother working and buys him lunch. She gives him the envelopes of money back and explains Allison doesn’t want his help yet. He assures her that his time with Anderson is done and goes back to work. During the picnic she gets a phone call from a number she doesn’t recognise. When she gets another she answers it and…
- Chief Giles finds Anderson at the church. He tells the Reverend Mildred is missing and Anderson admits that the exorcism didn’t take. The Chief puts it together instantly and points out how much trouble the possessed still being active means for the town. Anderson slams the door in his face.
- At a hospital, Meg visits Donnie who it turns out Mark didn’t murder, just hurt very badly. He tells her what Mark did and gives her two choices: he can tell the police he was jumped by some random guys he didn’t see or he can tell them the truth. Either way, he’s back in Meg’s life.
- On the road, Kyle zones out staring at a bucket of tar and flashes back to Mildred assaulting him. He quits on the spot.
- At the church Anderson prays and finally admits to God that he did what he did because he liked the power and the attention. He prepares for one more bout with the victim in the cellar and is interrupted by Kyle arriving at the church.
- The two men have the argument they desperately needed to have until Kyle tells him that Mildred attacked him. Kyle hears the victim in the cellar just as they burst free…
- …It’s Caleb, the handyman
- Who, because he’s about the size of Anderson and Kyle combined, proceeds to throw them around the church like a pair of chew toys. Kyle drives the sear of black filth from Caleb and it circles him before dissipating into the sky.
- The church is silent aside from a sobbing, freed Caleb.
- Kyle and Anderson talk. Kyle lays it out; they need to fight if he ever wants to see his family again. In church, Anderson is in charge. Out in the world, it’s Kyle’s way or nothing.
- Back in the church, Caleb comes clean about what happened. To Anderson’s horror, he describes the experience of possession as something that shouldn’t be feared. He leaves and Anderson is left alone in the church no better off than when he started.
- Kyle sees Mildred on the porch of her house and confronts her. She’s dead.
- Later, Chief Giles talks to Kyle who comes clean about what happened. He also confirms that the reverend’s exorcisms are meaningless.
- Mark returns home to find Meg sleeping in the same bed as their daughter. She refuses to let him in and he leaves.
- At home, Anderson is visited by Sydney who attacks him and cuts a pentacle into his chest as a warning. Unseen, Patricia’s son watches it happen…
So we’re in the back end of the season now and the show’s central tensions are finally starting to boil over. This is an Anderson episode by and large and it’s a needed one. The Reverend is faced with not one but two dark nights of the soul here and he doesn’t deal with either one especially well. It’s a smart turn by Joy Blake’s script; contextualising Glenister’s fire and brimstone performance as more smoke and mirrors. Anderson is failing and in doing so he’s almost grieving. His faith, his touch, as was yelled at him a few episodes ago, does NOTHING and he’s finally faced with inviolable proof of that.
That’s what this show desperately needs; a sense of urgency and with Anderson at least we finally get it. Glenister is on top form this week and the rage and shame and horror he feels are beautifully portrayed. The show also finally embraces the fact Anderson’s fundamentally pretty unlikeable and makes a virtue of that. It’s the smartest moment in Joy Blake’s script and arguably one of the best moments in the show so far.
There’s some great Kyle stuff too and Fugit does a nice job of showing us the modicum of peace Rome’s most controversial son has found for himself. Top marks too to veteran TV director Patricia Brock for some beautifully framed sequences, especially the opening.
It’s a shame then that the demands of the series as a whole drag the episode down. The scene with Patricia and her son feels mean-spirited and unnecessary especially given how little we know about her. Worse still, the show’s version of the Meg and Donnie plot seems intent on putting Meg in a horrific situation that’s far more forced and borderline offensive than the original comic. The one hope we have is that the consequences will play out differently. Because, right now, Outcast is one fridge away from throwing away its best female lead.
That being said there’s definite progress here and after last week that’s just what the show needed. A strong episode and a definite sign of improvement in some ways. Hopefully as we head into the home stretch next week the show will continue to build on that.
- Patricia! Her name is PATRICIA! How great is that?! And why the Hell did it take her third appearance for her to be named?
- “So you’re gonna hide in there? Pretend it isn’t happening?”
“Better’n making it worse.” This show excels at short punchy exchanges.
- “DNA doesn’t lie.”
“There’s a lot of men on death row might disagree with you.”
- The cold open is great. As is the reveal of who’s in the basement.
- Kyle and Anderson finally getting over their man pain is long LONG overdue. Good to see it finally happen.
- Caleb’s explanation of what possession feels like is terrifying. Could these be angels not demons? And if so, what are they running from?
- The 1980s called and they want the “Cover yourself, harlot!” moment in the exorcism montage back…
- Hang, on… what?
- Turns out they don’t want it back because it’s lazy writing.
- The scene with Patricia’s son tearing her down at the breakfast table would work if he was possessed. The ending implies he isn’t. If that’s the case then the show devoted two minutes of run time solely to pointing out the reasons why its latest female lead is weak. In the same episode as the show’s best female character may have been blackmailed into dating her rapist.
- The fight between Anderson and the Man in Black isn’t a fight. MiB shoves him, Anderson screams, that’s it. After the nicely handled, gnarly fistfights of the first few exorcism sequences, not to mention the Caleb sequence earlier, that’s a hell of a letdown.
- To Kill A Mockingbird, the book Patricia references, is justifiably viewed as a classic of modern literature. Written by Harper Lee, it’s the story of a cataclysmic summer in the lives of Atticus Finch, a lawyer, and his daughter Scout. It’s thematically very much something Outcast draws from and it’s also a damn good book so if you’ve never read it now’s the time. Avoid the sequel though.
Review by Alasdair Stuart