This Outcast review contains spoilers.
Outcast Episode 8
English poet John Donne may have written that “No man is an island,” but Reverend John Anderson clearly did not get the memo. The parallels between Donne’s poem about the search for meaning in life strike at the heart of “What Lurks Within,” and while we receive some answers in this week’s episode of Outcast, many previously accepted assumptions may not be as solid as once thought.
The judicious use of flashbacks continues to be a strength of the show, and we’re momentarily thrown off kilter when we see a younger Sidney first working as a kindly carnival worker and then as a child molester/serial killer who keeps a young boy restrained in his basement’s padded room. Throughout much of the series we’ve been confused about the details and meaning of past events as they relate to the town’s evil, but tonight what clarity we receive ironically only serves to muddy the waters further. Is Sidney actually the devil, or is he something else that’s found its way to Earth with another purpose? The final flashback proves the most problematic since it seems to imply that whatever possesses this monster has overridden his dark desires prompting him to release the boy. Is Sidney 2.0 merely a better version of the psychopath we meet in the cold open?
Just when we believe the rift between Kyle Barnes and Anderson has closed, the reverend alienates himself further throwing caution aside as he finally goes too far prompting the church leaders to relieve him of his ministerial duties. But has Sidney duped Kyle with his explanation of his mother’s transformation and the fact that had Kyle simply allowed his mother to adapt to her internal changes, she would have learned to coexist with whatever entered her. “Those first few days could be rough.” However, like the devil of lore, is this serpent-tongued tale merely an attempt to throw Kyle off his path of familial reconnection?
It’s difficult pin down one overarching question that begs to be answered, but certainly Kyle’s “why me?” plaintive cry receives some resolution that he’s “like a match” and makes the change easier to deal with. But how does it make it easier? If anything, it seems Kyle’s been getting in the way, though what he’s been interfering with may not be as clear cut as once thought. While Anderson continues resolute in his mission, events in Kyle’s life send him in a different direction. Will the fact that he’s now responsible for Amber’s care change the way he views the mission he and Anderson have been undertaking? And does Sidney’s jailhouse admission truly resonate with Kyle enough to make the young man give up his search for answers?
When Rev finds Kat Ogden, the fire chief’s wife, facing a flat tire on her car, he offers her a ride which she’s reluctant to accept, but we know where this is headed. He thinks she’s possessed, and she plans to resist his attempts to exorcise whatever demons he thinks reside inside her. Nevertheless, what emerges from this encounter raises the most singular question to date. Is it possible that this something other than demonic possession? Is it possible that Sidney is not the devil? And if not this, then what?
Having been taken by Anderson to Kyle’s house, Kat furnishes a number of answers that again throw us off our familiar path, but none more mind blowing than the inference that what is being sewn in Rome are the seeds of the coming apocalypse, the End of Days. So then who or what are these half dozen or so possessed individuals in the town? Are they in fact angels sent to help usher in Revelations’ events, or is all of this merely obfuscation on the part of the devils among us?
How do you argue with a man who knows what his wife has become, yet relishes the metamorphoses since it gives him what he’s always desired? Has Ogden figuratively sold his soul to the devil in return for instant gratification? He finally explains the camper’s purpose as a place of refuge during the grueling aspects of the possessed individuals’ metamorphoses, but it’s difficult to ignore the desire to refer to his little group as the devil’s enclave.
Now that we’re eight episodes into Robert Kirkman’s Outcast, the realization that this may be one of the finest psychological thrillers ever to hit the small screen makes going back to rewatch earlier episodes in a search for clues even more critical. And while some may argue that the fact that we still don’t know whether or not what infects the town is evil undermines the entire storytelling process, I would argue that a high performance engine has been steadily driving the story. Look for the turbocharger to engage during the final two weeks.