Warning: this review contains spoilers.
As each episode of Outcasts continues to build on the last, I can’t be the only one concluding that this is a show that’s getting progressively better and better. I can’t say that it’s building up confidence, but I’m not sure that it ever really lacked it. But it’s certainly a little more accessible than it was, and this latest episode was really very good indeed.
The centrepiece of it was Elijah, one of the ACs, who collapses just outside the gates of Forthaven. He’s brought into the city, and Tate is keen to keep him secured. But why? Well, we don’t have to wait too long to find out.
For a couple of things happen in the first chunk of the episode. Firstly, Elijah’s strength and ability to snap in a second is clearly demonstrated, as he nearly kills one of Forthaven’s residents shortly after breaking out of his cell. But the reaaly interesting revelation is that President Tate was more involved with the effective torture of the ACs than has been thus far appreciated.
I have to hand it to Liam Cunningham here, too. He’s been exceptional in this series, the highlight of a good company of actors. He’s kept a veneer of reasonableness about the character, while clearly struggling with some gut-wrenching moments from his past. The script doesn’t need to remind us so frequently that he lost his children – although it’s for good reason it does in this episode – because Cunningham wears the tolls of life so well in his performance.
Elijah is a further catalyst for the dissecting factions within Forthaven’s walls, meanwhile, and increasingly, the enemies lie within. If you thought after the first two episodes that it was those on the outside of the fence that were the threat, then episode four surely put such thinking to bed. Thus, we get more and more characters shaded in grey.
Tipper, for instance, is liberal with important information. But then he’s been leaked it by Lily, Stella’s daughter. Those two are no closer to playing happy families, either, and given some of the actions of Stella, that’s hardly surprising. And then there’s Julius, an increasing force in the show, who really comes into his own as the episode progresses.
The ideological contrast between Tate and Julius is inevitably creating sparks, but the show wisely keeps them below the surface. Both characters work because they keep such an air of respectability about them, and it makes the moments where the differences really come through all the more interesting.
The episode, as always, has a few other questions to deal with, before it gets to its bigger revelations. Firstly, there’s the state of Tate. We’ve had hints of the supernatural earlier in the series, when a family photo on his desk started turning. Then, we at the start of this episode, the ghostly handprint. By the end of the episode? He’s sat there with his kids, willing them not to go away.
So what’s happening? Couldn’t tell you, but the answer to the question will have real ramifications for the direction of Outcasts. Is it, for instance, taking on a religious, heavenly approach? Is it going to do a rug pull where everyone is dead really, or something like that? I’d seriously doubt it, but there’s inevitably a question as to whether we’re seeing genuine supernatural occurrences, too. Or is Tate going mad? Perhaps the brain technology that Stella has been waving around, and that Tate has deployed, is coming back to haunt them? Could the virus be taking hold? I’ve no idea, but I’m very keen to find out.
Even as I was considering that, though, the show fired in two massive, game-changing moments.
The first kicked off with the latest accidental killing of one of the ACs, this time with a bullet fired from Jack’s gun. But what’s this? Jack is secretly in cahoots with Julius, who is pulling more strings than we first thought? That’s a tasty twist right there.
But it’s nothing on the other one, as the discovery of a fossilised skeleton potentially shakes the show to its core. Because the new residents of Carpathia are not alone. Is it humans from yonks ago? Is it strange creatures? Again, we’re left to fill in a few blanks right now, but it opens up an abundance of possibilities, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next.
There were some very mild niggles with the episode, but they were just that. So given that the show got so much right tonight, I’d rather concentrate on that.
Just one message, then, for the people who gave up on Outcasts after week one: you don’t know what you’re missing. Because this is a show that’s really found its feet. Roll on next week, and let’s hope it keeps this rich vein of form.
Read our review of episode 3 here.