Outcast: Close to Home review

Kyle’s search for Allison ends, but Sidney and his followers are just getting started.

This Outcast review contains spoilers.

Outcast Episode 9

A new day is coming, and what was once deemed normal seems lost forever. Season one of Outcast has focused on internal and external conflicts, and as the town seeks a return to normalcy, the knowledge that something dreadful looms omnipresent overhead of the few that refuse to buy into Sidney’s promise of a better future forms the basis of tonight’s tale. The episode’s horrific, shocking conclusion sets up the first significant showdown between good and evil as Sidney backs Kyle into a corner from which there is only one way out.

The show’s titles generally provide a nuanced view of the episodes’ thematic ideas, and none more so than “Close to Home” which strikes unapologetically at the heart of Kyle Barnes’ emotional struggles. Convinced that he can reclaim the idyllic life he once had with Allison, he collects some of Amber’s clothes and stuffed animals, an action that he unfortunately later learns doesn’t have the significance he’d hoped for.

In one of the episode’s most powerful scenes, Kyle visits his wife in the psychiatric hospital she’s checked herself into, and as he pleads with her to come home, her heart wrenching response leaves the viewer as emotionally drained as Kyle and Allison. That this pivotal scene takes place at night in an unlit room should not be overlooked as he explains to her that he’s no longer in the dark regarding his role in this mysterious drama. He understands that it, whatever “it” is, comes after people he loves because it somehow needs him, and having lost his mother and his wife, we can only wonder what’s left in store for him. Has Allison travelled down a dark path from which there is no return, or does she sense that she may not be completely free of the evil that resided in her? Regardless, there will be no family reunion for Kyle Barnes.

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Week after week Reverend Anderson remains steadfast in his fight against the devil, but as he seems wont to do, the good reverend goes beyond the land of good sense and ends up in Crazytown. That the majority of the town view him as a raving lunatic is one thing, but Sidney’s soldiers understand the danger Anderson poses, and he throws himself unabashedly into the fray. On many levels it probably isn’t a good thing to slug Sidney in full view of the church council, but getting physical with Patricia’s son hours after she asks him to move in with her makes it seem that he’s either so out of control he doesn’t know what he’s doing, or he’s deliberately trying to lose this fight. And make no mistake, this fight is just beginning.

Examining the opposing forces’ strengths and the initial battleground, the odds appear acutely stacked against Kyle, Anderson, and Chief Giles. There’s a lot to love about Giles, but the intense loyalty he displays for those he considers friends should not be overlooked. But it’s his insistence that Ogden and Kat leave town that plants a seed of hope. On the one hand, Sidney’s intervention to keep the couple in Rome seemingly circumvents Giles’ intention to level the playing field, but Ogden may be wavering and even spontaneous sex in their new “home” may not be enough for him to continue turning a blind eye to the reality of the situation.

It’s been awhile since Outcast took our worldview and upended it with so little warning. Okay, to be fair, there are some warning signs, but they’re easily dismissed with other more mundane explanations. Megan certainly has every reason to act out of character since she and Mark face the loss of his job, Donnie’s lawsuit, and the very real possibility that he could serve time in prison. But nothing prepares us for what begins as a benign shower scene of a woman who should be feeling much better now that she’s told her husband that, despite the whirlwind flying around them, she’s pregnant with their second child.

However, an intruder enters the bathroom and ultimately her, and when Mark checks in to find out why she screamed, a pall hovers over the scene. After staring at herself in the mirror as if to verify what she fears to be true, with unexpected strength, she throws Mark against the mirror leaving him stunned on the floor. But it doesn’t take long to realize that he’s in trouble as he begs for her help while a pool of blood forms under his head.

It’s then we notice the jagged piece of glass embedded into the side of his neck. Nothing prepares you for this kind of scene, nonetheless, Mark’s death now appears secondary to the revelation that Megan is now one of Sidney’s followers, and the inevitable encounter looming just over the horizon becomes that much more complicated.

The acting in Outcast has continually been one of the show’s strengths, and it’s been easy to acknowledge Patrick Fugit’s portrayal of the tortured Kyle Barnes, but tonight Wrenn Schmidt and David Denman give viewers a passionate glimpse of a relationship in trouble. But unlike Allison who doesn’t possess the emotional strength to return to her life as a mother and wife, Schmidt and Denman show us what a marriage should be.

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Penultimate episodes frequently furnish viewers a setup to the season ending cliffhanger to follow, but there’s nothing typical about Robert Kirkman’s Outcast. In fact, it’s the unpredictable nature of the writing that compels viewers to return each week, and now that the balance of power has shifted, finding out Megan’s fate moving forward stands at the forefront. How will Kyle handle her situation knowing full well that his actions could have devastating consequences? Aware that whatever or whoever controls Sidney wants to harm those close to Kyle, will the children remain untouchable? Are Amber and her cousin next?

It seems clear that next week’s season finale will end as the battle begins, with Rome’s fate resting precariously in the hands of Kyle Barnes, Reverend Anderson, and Chief Giles. Are they up to the task? Will all three survive? I guess we’ll find out, though if  you consider “Close to Home’s” conclusion a cliffhanger, next week will likely make our heads spin.