[SPOILER ALERT: This is a review article, which features some major spoilers from both episode 1x2 of Outcast as well as some details from the comic, of which it's based. You have been warned. You have been SPOILER WARNED]
Last night, Cinemax aired the second episode of it's new horror series, Outcast, from the Image comic book by Robert Kirkman (creator of The Walking Dead) and Paul Azaceta. And, much like the previous pilot episode, it was nothing short of amazing. But...unlike it's predecessor...it excelled for a few different reasons that are in need of some exploration.
Last week's pilot episode was practically a scene-for-scene perfect adaptation of the comic book series' first issue that really stressed the fact that this is a horror series. It was terrifying and intense and it really pulled you into the world of demons and exorcism that are the essential focal point of this supernatural drama.
Episode 2, titled "(I Remember) When She Loved Me," really pulled you into the heartbreaking drama of Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) and explored the background of his childhood and his mother's possession. Much like the story structure for The Walking Dead, this was a character and world building "story" episode that follows a catch-your-attention suspense episode. Unlike The Walking Dead story building episodes, however, Outcast wasn't boring (sorry, Mr. Kirkman).
So what really made this episode so great?
Well, for starters, it actually goes against one of the selling points from my previous article talking about why Outcast (after just the first episode) was television's best new show. In that article, I discussed that one of the major elements that made it so great was the respect it had to it's source material and how the pilot episode was practically lifted from the page.
This week, however, was almost an entirely original story that was not completely taken from its source material. And you know what? I'm not mad. Not. One. Bit. I have been extremely critical of the first couple episodes of Preacher for not following it's source material at all. It really takes me out of the show when I'm expecting to see, at least a little, of the story that I loved reading in comics.
Outcast, however, simply took a full episode to flesh out it's story and it's characters. It still held true to the general story of the series and it even featured a couple of scenes lifted straight from the second issue. I mean, let's be honest...there have only been 18 issues published of the comic. There's going to need to be some filler.
What was the episode about?
The episode featured a lot of flashbacks to young Kyle Barnes and the possession of his mother. It begins with a look at how happy him and his mother were, which lends a lot of weight to the tragedy of how things very quickly spiral out of control. Because one day, they are playing in the yard and like a light switch being flipped, she is possessed. The rapid degeneration to primal behavior is nothing short of breathtaking. Evil takes hold that quick.
Meanwhile, back in the present, Kyle goes to visit his mother (whom is catatonic at a healthcare facility) and is none too happy about the conditions under which she is kept. So he takes her home against the knowledge of her caretakers. This was not in the comic. However, it helps to serve the story and fleshes out the characters a lot better for television audiences.
Convinced that she is catatonic because she's possibly still possessed, Kyle convinces Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) to perform an exorcism. All Kyle gets, however, is more heartbreak as he realizes there's no demon in her anymore. She's just damaged.
He also digs through his childhood stuff and finds a book that he enjoyed reading as a child and wraps it for his daughter's birthday. He then gives the present to his foster sister, Megan (Wrenn Schmidt), whom is attending the party. This is also original but lends a lot of dramatic weight to the struggle of a father who wants to see his kid (the reasons why they are apart have not yet been thoroughly explored in the show...but trust me...it's tragic as hell).
There's also a B-story that involves Megan's husband, Mark Holter (David Denman) and police Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) investigating ritualistic racoon mutilation in the woods while having a heart to heart about letting things go when it comes to Kyle Barnes and Reverend Anderson because, as Giles puts it, Reverend Anderson protects people from things that guns and badges never can.
This little bit is also not from the comic. But supporting characters need screen time, too, and these are shaping up to be damn good characters. I just wish the TV version of Mark had the sweet Freddie Mercury mustache that his comic book counterpart has (at the time I write this I can't find a good picture of it, but trust me. It's pretty great.)
So what about the horror?
While this was more of a drama driven episode for the characters, it still wasn't lacking in horror. [Director] Howard Deutch did a terrific job of meticulously splicing quick flashes of...well...flashbacks that drove the tension and made you jump with their unexpectedness. Especially the shots of Kyle's possessed mother forcing herself out of the locked pantry. You do not want something like that coming at you.
The best part, though?
Brent Spiner as Sidney!
Sidney is the resident "big bad" of the series (Or at least we haven't seen evidence of anyone bigger yet). And Brent Spiner is playing him. This is perfect. Many fans will recognize the actor as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation and he'll soon be seen reprising (somehow) his role as Dr. Okun in Independence Day: Resurgence. In the comics, Sidney is a terrifying character with his calm demeanor yet incredibly sinister appearance and motives. Robert Kirkman, much like Kevin Feige and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, have a talent for casting the perfect people for their roles. Even if you can't picture it at the time of their announcement. They always end up giving terrific performances and, in some cases, their best performances.
So I'm pretty excited to see what Mr. Spiner brings to this role and how terrifying it can truly be.
That, then, brings us to one of the best scenes in the episode. When Sidney goes to visit Kyle's mom after she is returned to the nursing home. It's a scene lifted straight from the end of issue 2 and it was just as powerful on TV as it was in print. Brent Spiner is the villain we deserve and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Did you like Outcast episode 2?
Comment below and let's get talking about this series. Or follow me on Twitter (@ThisIsJamesT) for all things rant and ravey.