Robert Kirkman’s latest foray into television comes in the form of the new Cinemax horror series Outcast. Based on Kirkman’s comic series of the same name, the show focuses on loner Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) as he tries to live his life out of sight from the rest of his small town community. The episode gives us glimpses of Kyle’s troubled relationship with his mother when he was younger, while at the same time introducing us to another young boy who has started to show some tremendously serious signs of violence and aggression. These mannerisms are quite similar to the ones that Kyle saw in his mother. The local clergyman, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), sets out to help the young boy, which eventually draws Kyle’s attention. It isn’t long until some of the former details of Kyle and the Reverend’s relationship are revealed, as well as Kyle’s abilities to deal with the darkness around him.
The story starts out a little slow, but about midway through the episode, as certain pieces fall into place, it starts to become more and more interesting. As the relationships between the characters are revealed, we figure out that there is a long and sordid history to this story that I can only hope will be unwound as the series goes on. However, one element that is present right from the start is the fear factor. The first scene of this first episode (much like Kirkman’s other TV series, The Walking Dead) establishes that the creators will pull no punches. They’re not going to go easy on their viewers, and I can respect that. The overall tone of this episode remains creepy from that first moment on, with quick cuts, dark settings, and just a generally unnerving feel.
The actors here manage a solid performance. The story obviously focuses on Fugit as Kyle and, for the most part, he plays the downtrodden loner role pretty well. He makes it clear that he would rather be stuck in his home, even if it’s not the nicest of places, rather than out and interacting with the rest of the world. Glenister’s portrayal of the reverend with flaws also resonates here. We can see through those flaws to the man that just wants to do some good with his life before he dies. Even if that good is fighting demons. However, the real standout of this first episode is child actor Gabriel Bateman. His portrayal of the aforementioned violent and possessed child is downright chilling.
Overall, this was not a perfect pilot episode. It took a little while to get going, which I feel hindered it some, but once it got up and running the strong performances of its lead actors really kept it going.
The Verdict for Outcast, Episode 1:
4 out of 5