The name Stephen King is synonymous with horror, and for good reason. He is a master of suspense, world creation, and intricate plots. I am a huge fan of King’s novels, as well as some of his movie adaptations, so it should come as no surprise that I have also embraced one of his latest transitions to the screen, HBO’s series The Outsider. Even for viewers wary of horror, the series promises an invigorating ride.
The plot centers on the brutal murder of a child that initially seems like an open and shut case. The fingerprints and DNA of local teacher and baseball coach Terry Maitland (played by Jason Bateman) are found everywhere at the crime scene. Numerous witnesses and even video footage place him at or near the scene as well and point to him being the culprit. After his very public arrest, an impossible paradox comes to light: there is also footage of him 60 miles away at the time of the murder, and fingerprints to support that version of events as well. The question for detective Ralph Anderson (played by Ben Mendelson) then becomes much deeper and confounding: how is it possible Terry committed this crime if he’s on film elsewhere at the time of the murder? How could someone be in two places at once? And if Terry is innocent, is the real killer still out there waiting to strike again?
As I mentioned in my introduction, suspense is key with Stephen King. There is a supernatural element at play which I won’t reveal, but it should suffice to say that everything is not what it seems. What King does best is not inundating us with gore and constant violence. On the contrary, he instills in us a constant sense of foreboding and dread punctuated by brief spurts of action. The anticipation of what might happen is in many ways worse than what actually happens. The plot does slow to a snail’s pace as we see characters grapple with their inner demons, but if you stick with it, the payoff is substantial. Besides top notch performances by Bateman and Mendelson, Cynthia Erivo shines as private investigator Holly Gibney, a woman with an almost superhuman ability to notice details and recall past facts and figures. She plays the eccentric and socially awkward investigator quite believably, and I would not be surprised to see awards in her future.
If you enjoy a good mystery and trying to piece things together, consider The Outsider. Not everyone has access to HBO, but bumming a password off of a family member with a cable subscription is worth the effort for this combination of horror and drama. Like the characters in the show, you will find yourself journeying back to a place of possibility in your mind where boogeymen and myths still seem plausible. Perhaps no quote is more relevant to describe the show’s premise than the classic words of Sherlock Holmes: when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
—Antonio Rodriguez, Blogger.
Joliet native Antonio Rodriguez is a jack of all trades, having worked in several careers since obtaining his bachelor’s degree ten years ago. An obsession with Mad Men and a love of advertising has led him to focus on studying Marketing at Lewis University, which he balances with walking his two rescue dogs. If either the zombies or machines rise up, he’s the man to find.