A Stranger In The House
After a really promising start, The Outsider seems to slammed on the brakes and slowed to a crawl. With a really slow pace and a drawn-out investigation with minimal reveals, the latest King adaptation feels like it’s building toward something special later on down the line but right now, the trickle of plot reveals make this a real test of patience after a couple of fantastic episodes to open the show with.
Episode 5 of The Outsider begins with the sound of gunfire and a black screen, slowly fading up to reveal another dead body, this time of a man shot down in the street but with the same, strange burn marks Jack has on the back on his neck. We then cut back 3 days earlier. Jack is in the woods hunting the deer, only this time there’s more to his scene than before. He brings it before a horde of junk and screams to the heavens that his offering isn’t good enough. As he antagonizes whatever it is he’s talking to, he’s inexplicably knocked down to the floor.
Meanwhile, we catch up with Jeannie at work who calls in different patients to see her, eyeing a strange, hooded man suspiciously who remains silent. Eventually she calls over and asks the man to drop his hood. As she taps him on the shoulder, he lolls his head back and it turns out the man is asleep. When she returns home, she goes to bed after asking Ralph to get them take-out and falls into a deep, troubled sleep.
When she awakens, Jeannie is visited by the hooded figure who inaudibly croaks at her, leading her to ask just what it wants. In the morning, Ralph finds her in bed, sleeping after having stepped on glass, blood-stained footprints leading to way to the bed. When Ralph wakes her up, she can’t remember what happened but tells him she thinks he should drop the investigation. She senses something bad is going to happen and as they sit together, Jeannie tells him someone broke in but Ralph refuses to believe it.
Holly arrives at Hofstadter’s house to find it boarded up with “Child Killer” written on the front. After snooping around and snapping photos, she also visits the Williams’ grave and acknowledges El Coco, muttering that “This is what it does” before walking away sadly. As she continues looking, she finds a man bent over a grave. He tells her that “he ruined the family” but doesn’t disclose who “he” is, although it’s implied that it’s El Coco.
Meanwhile, Ralph drives Jeannie to the store and there, he reveals that Holly has asked him to go to Terry’s gravestone to take pictures. She suggests inviting Glory along, otherwise she’ll be more upset. She also hands over a sketch of the stranger she drew, which looks eerily similar to the same one Merlin drew last episode. When they arrive at the grave site, they realize it’s situated very close to the barn where they found Terry’s clothes.
Later that day, Ralph questions Jack around what he may have found at the barn but he immediately takes offence to the question and leaves, especially after becoming spooked when Tima asks him to hold the baby. Tima chases after him but Jack tells her to leave him alone for her own protection.
Examining the photos Ralph has taken, Holly tells him she’s convinced Terry didn’t kill anyone. She also goes on to say she’s not surprised the clothes were found so close to the grave site but this ominous statement is left open for now. As she pieces things together, Holly invites Andy over as someone to share her thoughts with, talking about how Hofstadter’s bed-maker may be involved in the murder.
After a horrible nightmare involving the stranger, Tima wakes up while Jack speaks to Ralph and pleads with him to help in the investigation. This brings us back up to date as we see the burn victim is actually the same man from the opening scene of the episode; the same kid from the graveyard. That evening, Ralph has a nightmare involving his son, who tells him he needs to let him go where the episode ends.
With a little more of the investigation uncovered and more of the stranger arriving during the episode, The Outsider continues to deliver its mystery in a slow-paced manner but this time with a little more progression surrounding the supernatural elements. The El Coco legend continues to loom over the series and this is ultimately the one driving force that keeps things intriguing and mysterious.
Given what an explosive opening this series had when it dropped last month, The Outsider has turned into a real slow burn which won’t be for everyone. Given I haven’t read the book, I can’t comment on how accurate this is to the source material but it certainly feels very much like standard Stephen King. The themes surrounding grief and moving on are rife throughout the show though and digging a little deeper, the characters here are multi-faceted. Seeing Holly a little bit more vulnerable around Andy or seeing Jeannie still grieving for her son and a potential target for the grief-eater are interesting ideas.
The cyclical nature of this creature and how it feeds is reflected with the structure of this episode too, arguably presenting the idea that every beginning has an end. For now though, The Outsider continues to build up its mystery and quite what’s in store for us for the rest of the series remains to be seen.