Outcast S01E08 “What Lurks Within”
Essential Plot Points:
- We open in a fairground where a pair of kids are cashing in their prize tickets. The vendor, it turns out, is Sydney. Or will be Sydney.
- Later we see him having lunch in a room full of culture and art. He grabs a popsicle for dessert, then pauses, grabs another and takes it through to a padded room.
- One of the children from the fairground, beaten and bound, is chained up in there.
- In the present, Sydney is arrested by the Chief for assault on Anderson. Kyle watches the arrest from his house.
- At the church, Anderson methodically goes through the motions of preparing for mass. No one comes.
- At Mark and Megan’s house, they argue and Mark leaves.
- At Kyle’s house, Amber is playing outside when Anderson pulls up. Anderson wants to confront Sydney and is still convinced he’s the devil. When Anderson finds out Giles has arrested Sydney the Reverend speeds off in a rage.
- At Patricia’s house, Stereotypical Asshole Teenager is watching YouTube videos of Anderson’s meltdown. He confesses that he painted the sign on the memorial and is visibly uncomfortable when Patricia tells him he loves her and she just wants him to be happy.
- Anderson tries to talk Sydney out of prison, pointing out to Giles that arresting him makes him a martyr. Giles has had enough; he’s convinced he’s not been doing enough and if Sydney has wrists, Giles has cuffs for them. He also mentions that this used to happen once or twice a year and now it’s happening way too often…
- Kyle takes Amber to see his mom and tells her what happened to her also once happened to him.
- He tells Amber to put the flowers they’ve brought in the vase but it turns out someone else already brought some. Someone with a hat…
- Asshole Teenager, who has upgraded to a moped, breaks into Sydney’s house…
- Kyle arrives at Meg’s house with Amber. She’s delighted to see her niece and dubious when Kyle tells her some of what’s been going on. He drops Amber off with her for the day.
- In town, Kat, the Fire Chief’s wife whom Kyle realised was possessed in the previous episode, discovers that she has a flat tire. Anderson pulls up next to her to “help”. She’s unsure but he sweet talks her into the car.
- Kyle shows up at the police station to talk to Sydney. Giles lets him through.
- Kyle cuts straight to it, asking how Sydney knows his mother. Sydney baits him, Kyle bounces him off a wall and tells him he’ll exorcise him. Sydney replies that if he does, he’ll leave behind a monster.
- We see Sydney, in the past, getting ready to kill or torture his victim
- At Sydney’s house in the present, Asshole Teenager is nosing around. He steals Sydney’s hat.
- Sydney explains that there’s no plan to who gets possessed. It just happens. He also explains that the creatures are drawn to Kyle hence the amount of people dear to him who are possessed.
- We flash back again to the moment Sydney “landed”. He stops his host killing his latest victim.
- It gets worse. Sydney claims that Kyle maimed his mom by exorcising her. Had she been left alone, she and her “passenger” would both still be around today.
- Anderson, who at this point is both creepy and an idiot, takes the lady to Kyle’s house. She makes a run for it, they fight and he drags her inside. Asshole Teenager sees everything.
- Anderson interrogates her, asking how many of them there are. She says nothing. He claims that Sydney is there preparing the end times. She stops pretending and lets the demon speak: if this is the end times, she says with sarcasm, then the Reverend should be pleased – the good news is Jesus is coming.
- Giles arrives at the station to find Asshole Teenager waiting for him. He claims he saw the Reverend carve the pentagram on himself and Sydney is innocent. Giles shuts him down until he tells Giles that Anderson is at Kyle’s place.
- Chief Lenny (and yes this is probably the first time his name has been mentioned on screen) finds Giles and demands he help find his wife, the lady Anderson kidnapped. Intriguingly, he refuses Giles’ help, saying he and his wife fine as they are.
- He explains she changed months ago. Murder! Caravan was used as a “recovery room” for new arrivals. Of which Lisa Payton was one of the first.
- Lenny explains that he doesn’t want his wife back because she’s still in there and because the woman she is now approaches everything as though it’s brand new and exciting. He flat out states that the combined form of them is the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.
- At Kyle’s house Anderson wants to push the exorcism through but Kyle won’t have it.
- Kyle leads her to the door and Anderson jams Kyle’s hand onto Kat’s head. Kyle breaks them free and Anderson loses it, screaming that if he can bring her back his church will be packed every week.
- He leads her outside and Anderson attacks Kyle. The two men fight just as Giles and Lenny roll up. They separate the men and Anderson storms off.
- Mark arrives home and Megan asks if he killed Donnie and took their money back. He says no, and explains that he sold his truck to get them money. He tells her that tomorrow he’s buying her ring back and that everything that happened was his fault. Meg breaks down and hugs him and they’re back on the same page.
- Giles lets Sydney go free.
- Anderson arrives at the church to find the Board of Deacons waiting for him. He tries to argue with them but they’re adamant that Anderson is done: they fire him.
- Kyle arrives to pick up Amber. He levels with his sister about everything. He explains that he found Allison attacking Amber and that’s why he hit her. He explains that he thinks she’s starting to remember and he’s terrified that she won’t be able to live with herself once she does remember. He bursts into tears and she hugs him.
- Anderson arrives at Patricia’s house, because he didn’t know where else to go. She takes him in.
- Sydney takes a taxi home and finds Asshole Teenager’s moped outside. He’s waiting inside Sydney’s house and tells him the truth; that he’s the one that got Sydney out.
- Sydney feels his host’s memories stir and tells his guest to go home. He refuses to with Anderson in the house and Sydney realises the pair of them can come to some form of arrangement.
- At Mark and Megan’s, Kyle and Amber join them for a family dinner of fried chicken. They say grace over a montage of Anderson and Patricia kissing, Lenny and Kat changing the wheel on Kat’s car and Sydney and Aaron in their uneasy new living arrangements.
- The episode closes with Sydney in the past, breaking down the door to his victim and letting the boy free.
The good elements of this episode are fantastic. With two episodes to go, Outcast has finally started wheeling out the big revelations. Brilliantly, it’s doing so in the most rural, country way it possibly can. There’s no, “So here’s what we know,” scene, just Kyle, Anderson, Patricia, Meg, Giles and Ogden (His name is Chief Lenny Ogden! How hard was that?!) slowly laying it all out on the table.
The result is very complicated in a very unusual way. Essentially, if you take everything at face value here then the possessions are a lottery; faith, health, age, none of it matters. You get what you get so don’t get upset.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that, again if Sydney is telling the truth, the murderous tendencies die down after a few days. Some of the people we’ve seen maybe put the lie to that but it’s an enticing prospect: do they need to exorcise these people? Or put them in the recovery position? Under guard?
Tony Basgallop’s script uses that and a scene between Chiefs Ogden and Giles as the core of the episode. The latter is just flat out stunning, as Ogden tells his friend that not only does he know that his wife is possessed he doesn’t want her exorcised. The open, enthusiastic joy with which the new arrivals throw themselves at the world can get murderous but when it doesn’t then who are they hurting? Especially if the host is still in there.
But that, again, brings us back to Sydney and the boy he kidnapped and almost killed. But then didn’t… after he was “possessed”. The demon saved the boy.
It’s an incredible moral dilemma, a view of possession that’s closer to first contact than it is to traditional horror and if the show actually follows through on this then it’ll be unlike anything else the genre has ever seen.
The problem is, it isn’t the only thing that happens this episode.
Anderson’s long dark night of the soul trudges on into yet another episode. We know it’s his arc this season but as we detail below, it’s one that feels suspiciously like it’s treading water at this point. Who knows, maybe being fired by the church will shake him out of his funk. It’s certainly past due, and the plot works especially badly in an episode like this where so much gets resolved.
That aside, this is an impressive episode that feels like a definite, if partial gear change. Two more episodes to go in the season and lots that could go right or wrong but now it’s at least, finally, definitely, going somewhere.
- “No one gets to choose. The saints are just as susceptible as the sinners.” That is somehow even less comforting.
- “I got us into this shitstorm, not you. Tomorrow morning I’m gonna go get your ring back. Well, he can take my truck, he can even take my badge, but he ain’t taking my ring.” Yay! Mark and Meg’s inherent core of goodness is one of the real rays of light in the show.
- Debra Christofferson is so great as Kat this episode. The way her posture changes when she levels with Anderson is chilling.
- The idea that this is entirely random and anyone is open to possession is brilliant and chilling. We also suspect Sydney isn’t exactly telling the truth because why would he?
- Giles’s cheerful admission he will “find” people who saw Sydney assault Reverend Anderson is the sort of local, altruistic police corruption you just don’t see anymore.
- Kyle coming clean with Megan is one of the show’s best moments so far. Heartfelt and raw and all the harder because the emotionally closed off PTSD riddled good ol’ boy has clearly been desperate to do this for weeks.
- Lenny’s conversation about how his wife is the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with now she’s merged with the demon (if demon it is) is the single best moment this show has had so far. Not just for the absolute honesty and trust both men in the scene show one another but in how untidy it makes the entire situation. This isn’t good guys and bad guys. Or it isn’t just good guys and bad guys.
- Likewise, the revelation that Murder!Caravan was basically a recovery room is brilliant. We may have very serious issues with this show’s glacial pacing and development at times but when it does move it MOVES.
- Mark and Megan’s fight is everything Anderson and Kyle’s arguments aren’t; messy, convincing and human.
- Here is every single scene Anderson has had across eight episodes:
• I’m an exorcist and I’m great at it!
• I’m a man of enormous faith!
• I was an awful dad but don’t want to talk about it…
• What do you mean my exorcisms didn’t take?! I refuse to believe that!
• Oh, my exorcisms didn’t take…
• BUT MAYBE THIS TIME! WITH MY MAGICAL EXORCIST FRIEND!
• I hate my magical exorcist friend!
- Every single episode, the show has covered the same ground with Anderson and it’s dull and repetitive and damages the overall arc. Every week it feels like he has a moment of revelation where he realises he’s being an arrogant asshole and every SINGLE week he learns nothing that carries over to the next episode.
- We’re done.
- Maybe being fired has changed things for him at last but based on everything he’s discovered and been subjected to across the last eight episodes we’re not placing any bets. Please do something, anything, new with him in the final two episodes of the year. Yes, we get it, he’s a man of tremendous faith who cannot see beyond that. We got it four weeks ago. Move the Hell on.
- Aaron isn’t actually possessed he’s just an uncommonly evil teenager. Which we have absolutely no context for so he plays like a version of Gotham’s Joker with every single fun element removed. The thought of him getting even more screen time as Sydney’s familiar does not exactly fill us with joy.
And The Random:
- Outcast is a bit different from the kinds of show Tony Basgallop is famous for in the UK. He was the creator and writer on campy, glitzy (and enormous fun) drama Hotel Babylon (2006-2009), and also wrote for Teachers, EastEnders and Children’s Ward. However, his brilliant, creepy BBC mini series What Remains (2013) proved he could do psychological drama and he also contributed an episode to season two of Being Human. His first US gig was two scripts for 24: Live Another Day.