This Outcast review contains spoilers.
Outcast Season 1 Episode 2
The emotional journey of tortured soul Kyle Barnes continues in the second episode of Outcast as he takes a bold step towards cleansing his soul by attempting to rescue that of his mother. Centered around the events of his childhood and his present desire to gain some sort of redemption for a perceived sin against his mother, the plot of “(I Remember) When She Loved Me” follows Kyle as he sets out to recreate the past hoping to cast out remnants of the demon he believes still resides inside his mother Sarah.
Fortunately, Kyle doesn’t walk alone against this malevolence as his relationship with Reverend Anderson grows, and it’s this pairing that drives the story in its early stages. That evil manifests itself in the form of a demon inhabiting the body of one of its residents doesn’t seem to phase the townspeople whose church attendance has dropped off leading the reverend to admonish the congregation to prepare to battle the approaching evil. Apparently, he’s been down this road before. Joshua, eyes sunken and bruised, sits in a nearby pew, a reminder of what some want to ignore. The problem plaguing Kyle though centers on the fact that he can’t understand why his mother’s condition persists. In different ways each man sees his world crashing in, and it’s only together that they stand of chance of surviving the coming onslaught.
The episode opens with what may be the moment the demon enters Kyle’s mother. What begins as a sunny, carefree day, mother hanging laundry and son playing ball, ends with Sarah smearing herself with mud before shoving chunks of earth into her mouth. But he can’t let go of the fact that Joshua seems to have recovered, so Kyle visits his catatonic mother at a nursing home where we’re presented alternating flashbacks of a happy childhood punctuated by the horror of the possession. Distraught at the condition of his mother’s room, he spirits her away in the night planning to care for her at home. The futility of this heartbreaking gesture becomes immediately apparent when he attempts to feed his mother, and while his intentions are pure, he’s doomed to fail.
However, Kyle has a plan. Before going further though, we can’t overlook Patricia (Melinda McGraw), one of Reverend Anderson’s “righteous army,” who obviously harbors carnal feelings for the man of God. There’s nothing subtle about the foreshadowing here when he remarks “You really are the temptress. How can I resist,” as she shows him the blackberry pie she baked for dessert. Patricia certainly seems motivated to hook up with the good reverend, but it may simply be an attempt to lure him away from his true calling. Regardless, there’s a lot to like about her character and a lot to question. At this point Patricia’s unable to prevent Reverend Anderson from abruptly leaving after requesting a rain check, but it’s only a matter of time until his faith will be tested.
Kyle doesn’t understand why Joshua’s seemingly cleansed and his mother is not. “If I drove it out of her, then why is she lying in there.” Logically, he wonders if part of the demon still resides inside of her waiting to be driven out. Seeming unusually comfortable conducting his second exorcism in the past few days, Anderson begins the procedure on Kyle’s mother, and when it doesn’t appear to work, Kyle desperately reenacts what he did as a child. Opening curtains to let in light doesn’t help, but then a lightbulb goes off. He reasons his blood will cast out the demon, smashes his injured hand against the wall reopening the wound, and drips blood into his mother’s mouth also to no effect. “You want to reclaim your family; You got to let your mother go,” Anderson tells Kyle placing before the young man his biggest obstacle to date.
We’re finally given something to feel good about when we learn the party Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) and her daughter are going to is for Kyle’s daughter, and the gift wrapping now makes sense. It also leads us to revisit Anderson’s admonition to Kyle regarding his family, but given what we’ve seen to this point, it seems improbable that Kyle will abandon his mother even knowing that might be the only way to reconnect with his wife and child. Kyle returns home to find a scrap of the wrapping paper on his doorstep with the note “Amber loved her present” written on the inside marking the first time we see Kyle smile which makes this scene even more poignant since we sense this moment will be fleeting.
The camera then cuts to his daughter asleep on the couch clutching the Homer Price book when his ex wife looks on and seems to recognize the book’s origins. What does the book mean to Kyle, and will Allison contact the authorities since the gift violates the restraining order? All of this comes on the heels of Kyle’s wife welcoming Megan who seems surprised she was even invited. She tells her that for awhile she let Amber set three places at dinner. This concession helped with the screaming and outbursts and locking herself in the closet. What did Kyle do to his wife and daughter?
But the episode attains an additional level of tension when we’re introduced to the Man in Black. Is this the same man we witness watching Kyle earlier? He tells the catatonic Sarah that it’s too bad he’ll never know how much she fought back, but it doesn’t matter since “we have him anyway.” He leaves and we’re treated to a closeup of a single tear running down her face and then a flashback of her spewing blood that reforms into the demon that then grabs young Kyle and drags him across the floor and into the air forming a noose around his neck. His mother lies by helplessly. Does witnessing this cause her catatonia? Since it releases him, we have wonder whether or not he fought off the beast.
“(I Remember) When She Loved Me” picks up where the pilot leaves off, and while it’s a concern that the writers don’t try to explore too many storylines and bog us down with exposition, at this point there remains a harmony among the elements. Director Howard Deutch continues the effective technique of lulling us into a comfort zone with scenes of Kyle and his mother, and then assaulting us with high definition, high fidelity audio of their tragic past.
And what continues to fascinate revolves around the fact that we don’t yet have a solid read on any of the characters including and especially Kyle. No one can accuse Outcast of playing it safe or backing off the accelerator, and if the first two episodes are any indication, we’re in for a hell of a ride.