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The Outsider - The One About the Yiddish Vampire - Review

16 Feb 2020

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Telling a grieving widow that their husband may have been killed by a shapeshifter that shouldn’t exist is not always the easiest of tasks, but it’s one that Holly Gibney has to do in The Outsider, break the truth no matter what. The backlash from Glory is understandable, a truly terrific performance by Julianne Nicholson reminds us that, whilst the audience may be accepting of the supernatural, the shows characters are going to take their time.

It’s just a shame that The Outsider seems to be taking its time to get where it wants to go, even if this is deliberate, and whilst it works for the most part, the slow pace makes for the series to have a bit of a rough spot at times and the pace isn’t always as ironed out as I was hoping it would be. That said, it doesn’t stop leading to a tense and suspenseful atmosphere that hints at a bigger reveal – there’s no way the shapeshifter doesn’t have something else up its sleeve and I’d be surprised if The Outsider didn’t have a few more revelations to throw at us along the way.

Holly and Ralph are getting closer and closer to uncover the truth and it’s making El Coco itself nervous, so it ramps up its threats against them, Jack gets to spend more time with Holly this episode keeping an eye on her and trying to find out what she knows but she is initially not forthcoming to Jack, which is a good thing. Hunted by visions, Jack continues to spiral out of control much like Henry in It, and that brutal scene at the end of the episode directed by Karyn Kusama shows just how scary El Coco is. The scene where Jack’s mother showed up to inflict further damage into the man was a cruel move, and again, whilst Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo are rightly getting all the accolades as the leading stars, The Outsider shows that it’s more than just its leading cast – Jessie Nickson-Lopez does a brilliant job with the script to give Marc Menchaca’s character plenty of material to chew off.

Holly has to convince the group that they’re approaching the case the wrong way: El Coco will attack again. So therefore they shouldn’t be playing catchup but look to get out ahead in front of the case and stop the monster while they can, before they lose it completely. The group seems split into two camps about ready or not to believe Holly – understandably Glory is pissed, and rightly so. How are they supposed to get her hopes up of clearing Terry’s name when the answer is a supernatural entity that isn’t even human? Even if this were proven before the courts, it would be a game-changing experience worldwide with dramatic repercussions. I don’t think The Outsider is going to go that big.

Jack is the only neutral in this situation under the influence of El Coco, he’s watching on trying to find out what they know. But Holly does have her supporters: Jeannie and Alec, whilst Ralph is still trying to push forward the fact that evidence is the way forward, still chasing loose ends. The Outsider has done a good job at setting Ralph Anderson up as the Scully of this world, a by the book detective who wants evidence and isn’t willing to take hunches. It’s easy to see why he’d be at odds with someone like Holly, and her theory clashes with all his beliefs, his whole worldview is literally upended, and it’s not just Ralph that’s being addressed. That’s why the Ben Mendelsohn delivers the line; “I’ll keep looking for dumb cop shit like evidence” so well, and it’s such a memorable scene in the episode, coming after the big reveal from Holly that shows Ralph is doing what he does best.

Kusama is no stranger to crafting tension, handling Nicole Kidman’s excellent hardboiled noir crime thriller Destroyer really well, and she brings that energy to The Outsider here, the tension is pushed to the limit, paranoia is everywhere, and we’re talking John Carpenter’s The Thing level here. And it looks like Claude Bolton is our next victim, with Yunis keeping him in check, but as ever on The Outsider it's not going to be the easiest of routes to stop El Coco, especially when most of the people investigating still aren't ready to take that leap to the next level about the creature's existence yet.

The Outsider episode 7, "In the Place, In The Pines" airs tonight on HBO.