An Outsider Knows An Outsider
After 9 episodes of simmering tension, the finale of The Outsider sees the final climactic showdown with El Coco commence. Essentially the episode itself splits into two halves, the first seeing a tense stand-off in the parking lot before Ralph and Holly confront El Coco itself. The second half sees the rest of the story threads wrapped up in a neat little bow but in true Stephen King fashion, the ending does feel a little underwhelming despite the ambiguous mid-credit scene.
The season finale of The Outsider returns to the moments following Jack shooting the group, pinning them down behind the cars as Howard and the others arrive on the scene. A rattlesnake sneaking up on Jack distracts him momentarily but when he returns, he shoots Claude’s brother square in the chest. Yunis is shot in the shoulder too while Howard and Claude evade gunfire to drag him to safety.
Andy meanwhile manages to make it to his car but Jack shoots at him, eventually setting his attention on the petrol drum. As petrol spews from the car, Jack ignites the liquid with a pinpoint shot to the ground, just as Howard hurries over to save him. An explosion rocks the area and it sends Howard flying back, flames blanketing his body.
It’s all too much for Holly, who’s shocked at the scenes before her and looks square at Jack in the distance, shouting “Damn you to hell”. He puts the rifle down just as the rattlesnake arches itself up and strikes. As Jack’s screams pierce the air, El Coco growls in the cave. Jack staggers out from the trees and shoots himself in the face, just as Holly and Ralph lead the way down the stairs into the caves below.
Ralph and Holly creep through the labyrinth, eventually stumbling upon numerous names scratched on stone before an ominous voice in the distance gives them instructions on how to progress forward. That voice, as it turns out, brings them face to face with El Coco itself, still taking the form of Claude.
Holly asks it numerous questions about how it feeds and hunts, with it chillingly telling them that children taste the sweetest. As the trio stand face to face, the real Claude steps out from the shadows and finds himself infront of El Coco, shotgun cocked at the ready. As he fires the gun, the caves starts to crumble and collapse, prompting Holly and Ralph to try and find cover. Thankfully the entire system doesn’t come down but the damage from falling rocks is enough for Claude’s foot to be caught. El Coco however, is impaled through the chest.
As Holly takes Claude outside the caves, Ralph sees ghosts from his past, prompting him to head back and confront El Coco who lies motionless on the ground. Knowing it’s not really dead, Ralph takes the knife and stabs it through the hand. Realizing that it needs to disappear from existence, Ralph grabs a large rock and watches as El Coco’s face starts to shift and change, morphing into several different forms. Ralph drops the rock on its face and leaves the cave, having seemingly killed this supernatural entity for good.
Realizing the group need to get their story straight, Ralph and the others collude together to pin the previous murders on Jack, specifically making sure they don’t mention El Coco. Jeannie visits Glory and says the same thing, telling her they mustn’t mention El Coco before burning the evidence she has, watching as the chair ignites and burns.
On the back of this new wave of evidence, Terry is cleared of the murder charges while Holly says goodbye to Ralph. Finally accepting what’s happened, the episode ends with our characters having moved on and ready for the next chapter of their lives. Ralph and Jeannie sit and talk together in the graveyard as they say their goodbyes to their son and promise to be with him in the future, finally heeding the words of El Coco and moving on.
During a mid-credit scene, there are teasing glimpses that El Coco may be alive and kicking but the open interpretation of this is enough to speculate there could be a possible second season on the horizon. Personally, the ambiguity of this scene works much more effectively, with the line “An outsider knows an outsider” holding far more gravitas because of this.
The Outsider will undoubtedly disappoint a fair few people with its finale, especially given how quickly it wraps things up with El Coco and the long ending for each of our characters during the third act. This HBO adaptation has been a bit of a rocky road up until this point, with a methodically slow pace and some episodes that have dragged the story out unnecessarily.
As mentioned in the earlier recaps, The Outsider is a series that would have served much better as a 6 episode mini-series, with tighter pacing and a much more driven storyline. If you’re not sold on the slow build, the patient wait for this finale may seem to be anticlimactic but the series itself has done well to keep things interesting until this point. It isn’t the best finale but there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable ride nonetheless and the ambiguous ending does make this a solid King adaptation, even if it has taken its sweet time to reach this point.