This Outcast review contains spoilers.
Outcast Episode 5
As Kyle Barnes travels farther down a road fraught with horrors hiding around every bend, Outcast continues to examine the demon whisperer’s self-imposed emotional exile. However, “The Road Before Us” reminds viewers that Kyle and Reverend Anderson aren’t the only ones haunted by the evil that lies concealed in Rome, WV. That said, the season’s fifth episode takes us on an understated journey that relentlessly builds momentum until we find ourselves in the middle of the chaos that Kyle calls home.
Up to now, we’ve witnessed Kyle’s emotional distress as he battles not only the demons around him but also the realization that for better or worse, he’s somehow at the center of this maelstrom, seemingly the only person able to see what’s really going on. After looming in the background, his wife Allison and daughter Amber move to the forefront in Kyle’s daily routine accentuating his single minded devotion to keeping his family safe, while Anderson is left to look after the rest of the town.
Watching Allison being crushed beneath the emotional weight of an event of which she has no memory confuses an already complicated situation she has with her husband and child. Given everything he’s seen, it’s understandable that Kyle is willing to disregard the restraining order because he views his calling as that of a higher power. Interestingly, though, he rebukes Reverend Anderson’s belief that God will step in and help. “No one’s listening. If your God is out there, he’s laughing at you.”
It’s Kyle’s obsession to protect Allison and Amber while not knowing whether or not the demon still has a hold on her that leads him to take chances he might not ordinarily take. But it’s Allison’s desire to receive an explanation for the ten minutes that ruined her family’s life that brings this episode to life. The provocative ambiguity that she seemingly has no knowledge of why Kyle attacked her presents a puzzle for which he has no immediate answer.
We haven’t seen much of Allison so far, but Kate Lyn Sheil’s portrayal of this distraught, broken woman, left alone to raise a daughter that blames her mother for her parents split, articulates just how insidious this wickedness has become. Even so, Allison’s protective shell starts to come down, and her willingness to face Kyle speaks to how the burden of this experience continues to hold her back as she tries to rebuild her life. Though the particulars haven’t been made clear, we know generally what happened to lead Kyle to physically abuse her. What’s positively heart wrenching though is learning that she has no memory of this past event. How did Kyle explain his actions to the police? Clearly, some of the townspeople are aware of what’s been going on in Rome, so how is it that word has not filtered down to her? Or has no one outside this small circle made the connection between Kyle and the demon?
Allison does, however, recognize that something might be “in the way blocking the truth.” Regardless, seeing her daughter Amber call her a bitch for merely exhibiting good parenting skills makes us question where her life is headed. On the other hand, it seems odd that she doesn’t question Amber as the little girl recreates that night through doll play even to the extent of mentioning the “black poison.” Director Craig Zobel’s extreme close-ups of Allison reveal the depths to which she’s fallen as a result of her memory loss.
Kyle returns home to find Allison waiting for him on his porch. His wife’s sexually aggressive behavior as they talk initially puzzles him, but Kyle seizes the opportunity to determine that Allison is fine and apparently demon free. Still, she senses something is amiss and pleads with him to tell her what really happened that night. It seems the perfect opportunity for Kyle to reunite with his family; he simply needs to tell the truth. “I need to hear from you what happened,” she tells him, and his refusal essentially kills any chance he has of returning to the home he was forced to leave. What makes this scene even more distressing is the sense that Allison instinctively knows that Kyle’s intentions were pure.
While it’s admirable that Kyle feels responsible to keep his family safe, his naivete regarding the wisdom of withholding the truth from his wife evokes a compassion not ordinarily afforded someone in a similar situation. Doe he fear the truth will drive an even bigger wedge between them? At least now he doesn’t have to drag Megan in the middle of the domestic dispute.
Even though the bulk of the episode centers around Kyle and his wife, that’s not to say we don’t receive some pretty significant plot details along the way. Anderson’s stoic behavior continues even after being forced to acknowledge that the pet shop owner, still possessed by a “trickster, hiding in them dormant,” merely represents his greatest fear. Of course, the realization that only Kyle making physical contact with the person can reveal the truth about the possession must be painful.
Chief Giles continues his not so subtle investigation of his friend the fire chief, but whether or not he links him to the evil continues to give both men pause. However, that’s exactly what Giles wants, to put doubt into the man’s head, daring his friend to make a move. When all’s said and done, this may prove to be nothing more than a red herring. And as compelling as this storyline has become, it’s nothing compared to the enigmatic man in black, Sidney.
Sidney appears briefly in two scenes, however, his muted presence belies the fact that this man may in fact be the devil himself. Perhaps we ascribe too much power to him, otherwise, his furtive look around Kyle’s house would seem unnecessary. He carefully examines each room, including the kitchen pantry, finally lying on the bed. Nonetheless, it’s his confrontation with Mildred that divulges more information than we expect at this point in the narrative. Even Mildred is caught off guard and asks him what she should call him alluding to the fact that he possesses a certain power and control. This scene also reveals for the first time, an event called The Merge, and it’s Mildred’s fear that she won’t survive to experience its arrival.
And finally, though Allison occupies the bulk of Kyle’s attention, he does assist the reverend in tracking down a missing girl Anderson suspects might still harbor the evil. We’ve had hints dropping left and right in the episode, and when Kyle determines that Sherry is not demon free, he does his thing. “You’re the key; we need your light,” she tells him just before spewing forth the black goo, an act that renders her comatose. Who are “we,” and what do “they” actually need from Kyle? Why does it take Kyle actually hitting the victim to rid the person of the demon? Clearly, at this point, given the situation with Allison, it’s the last thing he wants to do. It’s almost as if it takes a vile act to extract the evil.
In a ten episode season there’s really no opportunity for a true mid-season finale, a technique that has become de rigueur, but that doesn’t mean “The Road Before Us” is any less forceful as we gather momentum on the way to the finish line. What comes across here is just how fragile this world really is, and now with Sidney’s arrival, the question of whether or not Kyle Barnes is up to the task looms paramount. As long as he and Rev keep a watchful eye out for potholes, Rome won’t burn.