This review contains spoilers.
1.6 From The Shadows It Watches
Every hero faces obstacles along the path to greatness, and though they approach their trials from different angles, both Kyle Barnes and Reverend Anderson make important progress after last week’s setbacks. From The Shadows It Watches continues to deftly explore the journeys both men take as they begin to put their lives back together in this week’s setup episode of Outcast.
Patrick Fugit and Philip Glenister may not ever be rewarded for it with Emmy nominations, but that doesn’t mean their character portrayals don’t deserve recognition as both continue to convince viewers just how heavily their characters’ personal battles weigh them down.
Struggling to come to terms with the realization that his ministrations left a young girl comatose after freeing her of evil, Kyle returns to as normal a life as someone who’s seen what he’s seen can hope to achieve. Having been given a chance by a road crew foreman, he actually seems relaxed to be just one of the guys and has managed to save some money that he sends to Allison. It’s always a treat to see Kyle and Megan together, and the picnic lunch she’s put together reinforces the love the two have for each other. To hear them express this affection makes what comes next even more painful. Megan returns the money he sent to his wife telling him she’s not ready and later learns that her husband defied her wishes and dealt with Donnie.
Kyle Barnes, however, is not fated to live a normal life, and when he finds one of Anderson’s figures on his doorstep, we know that doesn’t bode well. Why Mildred attacks Kyle still doesn’t make sense, and though Sidney chastises her for her actions, her response seems to puzzle even the man in black. “See, he’s fine,” she tells him implying that she was somehow testing him, though it seems fairly evident that she has misjudged her own importance in the chain of command.
His ordeal just beginning, when Kyle “sees” his tar bucket begin to bubble over morphing into Mildred’s face, he knows what he has to do and walks off the job site. Are these outside forces or only a common or garden hallucination? We’re still not completely convinced he’s accepted the saviour’s role when he finally goes to see Anderson intent on once again helping his friend continue his crusade to cleanse the town of its resident evil. That he’s met with such resistance is initially surprising, but also understandable.
Like an American football coach scouting his next opponent, Rev watches tape of his previous exorcisms unsure whether he’s searching for indications of success or failure. Did each of the individuals simply pretend to be cleansed? He’s tortured by the fact that there’s simply no way to know whether or not he’s done any good over the past twenty years which makes Sidney’s plot so insidious. We’ve questioned how much the townspeople actually know about Anderson’s true calling, and tonight we get an answer. There seem to be at least twenty or so tapes in his collection, and Chief Giles acknowledges surprise at Rev’s admitted failures even going so far as to remind him that he’s covered for him all these years because the town thought he was “doing God’s work.”
In one of the episode’s surprise moves, Patricia comes to see Rev at the church and wants to know if he’s having second thoughts about taking their relationship to the next level, but he’s consumed by his perceived failures and barely hears a word she says. Presenting him a relationship ultimatum prompts him to meet her more than halfway. “It’s no secret what I do. Nobody really wants to see what’s behind the curtain.” He hands her bottle of holy water and takes her with him to meet his demons and those of his latest case.
When we first meet Patricia, it appears she’s only interested in a physical relationship with Anderson, but tonight he allows her inside his world which produces an unexpected reaction. Why she goes to see Kyle on Anderson’s behalf is unclear though we know the Reverend doesn’t suggest it, but it’s obvious she’s terrified to ask for Kyle’s help. A new person emerges as the urgency to help Rev pushes her to confront Kyle on the same day her son reveals that he can’t wait to be free of her.
In a brief span, Patricia’s eyes have been opened on multiple levels, and a lesser woman would have stopped at that point. “I’m not afraid of you. Not after what I saw today. He needs your help. He thinks he’s being tested,” she explains to Kyle. “We’ve heard what you can do.” Though she means well, she has no way of knowing the potential emotional damage Kyle might endure were he to allow himself to be dragged back into the this world.
However, situations like this are rarely simple, and Kyle’s return to action does not come without its consequences. Though he doesn’t witness Anderson’s admission to God that he craves the attention, praise, and feelings of power that his exorcisms give him, Kyle doesn’t seem surprised that Rev rebuffs his attempt to return to the team. Watching Anderson cope with the belief that God is punishing him for his hubris gives the viewer an inside look at a man plunging towards the depths of despair, but at the same time, the awareness that his friend plans to return gives us hope for his spiritual well being.
Ready to resume their work, Kyle goes to see the reverend and thinks he has Mildred in the throes of possession, but it turns out to be a huge man who crashes through the door and proceeds to throw both of them around the room. Still intent on doing it himself, Anderson barks an order. “Don’t touch him, Kyle, he’s mine.” Undeterred because he’s made up his mind that if he’s returning, it’s to do it right, Kyle does his thing and the black evil spews forth, dissipates into the air, and leaves the man on his knees crying, but conscious and aware. That Rev doesn’t want Kyle’s help because he needs to succeed on his own is something with which he’s simply going to have to accept.
Kyle tells Anderson he can’t run any more if he ever wants to see his family again, but that if we’re going to free the innocents of their demons, we’re going to do it my way or not at all. In an episode full of revelations, perhaps the most profound disclosure comes from the man Kyle just cleansed. He tells them he never felt torment, but warmth, and the problem now facing the two demon hunters is the man’s admission that whatever was inside of him not only didn’t make him afraid, but provided comfort. Anderson speculates that it was the devil seducing him, but shouldn’t the man be mad that Kyle drove out of him what made him feel good?
His plan concealed, Kyle goes to see Mildred and tells her “You and I got to talk,” not noticing her comatose state. He calls 911 and as the paramedics take her away, Giles tells Kyle he knows about his gift. “I don’t know where they come from or what they want but I know she’s not the only one out here,” he tells the chief.
Meanwhile, as a distraught Anderson throws a glass against the wall, Sidney mysteriously appears in the room and informs Rev that “It’s easy for me to go wherever I please.” He informs him that what he and Kyle have been doing has to stop and goes on to cut a pentagram into Anderson’s chest. “Remember this warning.” However, Patricia’s son is looking in the window and witnesses this encounter which we assume is meant to mark Anderson, potentially discrediting him should anyone see the design. Even though it seems apparent at this juncture, the revelation of Sidney’s true identity needs to be stated sooner rather than later.
Make no mistake From The Shadows It Watches focuses on the changes that Kyle, Anderson, and to a lesser extent, Patricia make in their lives, each recognizing that there will be no turning back, but we do receive hints that we’re not finished with Donnie and the abandoned camper just yet. We still don’t know whether or not either has a connection to the town’s possessions, but it’s just as clear that both will undoubtedly push their principles to places they really don’t wish to go. Megan goes to see Donnie in the hospital and seems surprised to hear that it was Mark who beat him, but even more puzzling though is what comes next. Apparently, he’s willing to lie about what happened, and implies that Megan will have to do something to get that admission. Though she doesn’t tell her husband she knows the truth about what he did to Donnie, we recognize her marriage is in jeopardy since this situation is now going to force her to do something she doesn’t want to do to save her family.
A synthesis of the unforeseen and the inevitable, Outcast heads into its backstretch as the questions continue to pile up around Kyle Barnes and Reverend Anderson. That there is less action and more nuanced character development only serves to heighten the tensions that have built to this point. Obviously, sooner or later, the viewer must receive some answers, and tonight we’re given just enough to keep us engaged. However, with only four episodes remaining in the season, the writers need to open the throttle and step on the accelerator. They don’t need to push the pedal to the metal, but too many dangling plot threads can only spell trouble.