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The Outsider - Que Viene el Coco + Tear-Drinker - Double Review



Episode 4 “Que Viene el Coco” - Review:

The Outsider sees Holly make one of the biggest leaps to uncovering the true killer yet as it causes her to question everything she knows in a powerful episode that makes so many advancements in terms of plot it’s hard to imagine this show having six episodes left to go, it feels more like it’s following the structure of a BBC show with six or eight episodes in total rather than ten. Que Viene el Coco puts all the pieces in place for something big to presumably be revealed later on down the line.

Ralph isn’t in this episode as much as Holly is, so we’ll get his story out of the way first. He’s still perusing old leads – Claude Bolton could have been scratched by Terry in the footage that Ralph takes another look at, and in addition to revisit that he also revisits the boy who stole the van. The boy is more forthcoming than Manager Claude – he gives Ralph a drawing of a man with a hoodie. The man’s face is weird, though, and it’s undoubtedly similar to the hooded man that was at Terry Maitland’s trial witnessing the carnage that unfolded.

The episode sees Holly perusing a similar case in New York as it turns out the Maitland Family tragedy is not the only link to the case. Cynthia Erivo makes a case for the show to justify moving Holly into the main character spot with a determined performance, and it’s interesting to see the shared similarities between her character and that in Mr. Mercedes, and look at how they differ. She was more accepting of the supernatural in the books there, but Que Viene el Coco makes Holly more reluctant to understand what really could behind the case. The tension is quietly building all throughout this episode, with Richard Pryce doing a fantastic job at building paranoia between the characters. If someone can impersonate anyone, is anyone truly safe? I wonder if we’ll have a climax as tense as John Carpenter’s The Thing, as this show certainly has the potential to reach those heights.

Holly getting mistakenly tasered on her investigation and her naivety clashes with her determinedness to find out the truth. She’s instant that you can’t catch murder, it’s not a virus, but something doesn’t quite add up – how are these characters who live perfectly ordinary lives before that turning into cold-blooded killers within seconds? It turns out the answer could be a child-eating monster like El Coco, which could be the link between the murder of two young girls in Ohio where the anomalies in the case match up with that of the Maitland family. Heath was also on vacation apparently, like Terry, and came into contact with him while he was visiting his father at the nursing home and the two made contact. Just a simple scratch was all it took. Maybe this show shares more in common with Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion than we first thought? Either way, Holly is getting no help from Terry’s father – whose mind is on something else as a result of his dementia, before warning Holly that it wasn’t “him”. Could he be referring to Heath, there? It seems so.

The awkwardness between Holly and ex-cop Andy, who’s now working as a security guard, couldn’t be clearer. Holly agrees to go out with him to get information, but her minds’ always on the case, constantly. The relationship between Andy and Holly at first seems like a one-sided crush on Andy’s part, but after the ‘date’, Holly kisses him before leaving for the night.

There’s a third killer in episode four that has a remarkable difference from the first two, Maria Coneles, who turns out to be alive and responsible for the murder of a seven-year-old boy. She believes she was put in prison because God wanted her to be there regardless of the fact that she was witnessed in two places at the same time, only arrested because of a matching DNA prints, and she too met Heath and flashbacks show the pair having sex, which is more than what she is willing to tell Holly. Maria scratching his back was enough to infect her it seems, and once again, the similarities between the two cases start to come to light more and more, shredding families around those connected as things continue to spiral out of control.

Maria has a potential theory about the real killer but that would only see her locked up in a mental institution. It turns out that theory – told to Holly by a woman who she meets while seeing Maria – points El Coco as the monster of folklore that terrifies children who stick out of line. It’s not a new thing and has gone by many different names in the past, revelling in the wake of a family’s grief as it does the murder that it partakes in. The Outsider leans fully into the supernatural with this episode that wisely keeps Ralph and company out of the picture, even if it doesn’t remove him entirely.

But we do learn more about what has happened with Jack Hoskins. Stephen King-related material is no stranger to having a human enemy to go along with the supernatural one, you only need look at It and Henry Bowers to spot the connection there but it appears that Ralph is needed by El Coco to do his bidding so he keeps him alive, for now. Jack kills a deer presumably under The Outsider’s orders, but there is undoubtedly more sinister plans that he has in store for Jack than that and having a cop on your side can only be an advantage.

Episode 5 “Tear-Drinker” – Review:

Episode five switched the attention largely back to Ralph as we reached the halfway mark in a show which showed no signs of slowing down momentum. It seems much of this episode is getting Ralph on board the idea that The Outsider might be supernatural, but he’s not quite ready to make that leap just yet. The scene with his wife and the intruder was a pretty tense moment in terms of tense moments go, but for now, The Outsider is willing to give Ralph a chance to back down and stay away – he offers him another warning that perusing the Maitland case will only get him killed.

Nobody tells Ralph to back down though, I mean, The Outsider should know this, he’s still investigating even after he was relieved of his badge and gun. Whilst Holly is understandably more believing of the supernatural than Ralph – Ralph grasps at straws for something more real and concrete than what is essentially the Bogeyman. It’s once again, a commanding display of talented performances by both Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo, as both actors more than answer the question: what would True Detective look like if they were the lead cast? It feels like The Outsider would be a lot more talked about worldwide if you changed the name to True Detective Season 4: it’s establishing itself as an early contender for the best series of 2020 and setting the boundaries very high.

There is plenty of material going on in The Outsider and what could have been a standard procedural is anything but, it feels like it’s tailor-made for a binge rather than a weekly release, no doubt catered with the new subscribers to HBO MAX in mind. Ralph’s clutching at straws and presenting The Outsider as a dreamlike figure leads to a car conversation that isn’t anymore forthcoming, where Yunis tells Ralph: “Dreams are messages”, and it’s clear that they’ve played a role in this series that remains ever present, with dreams affecting Jessa to get her to pass the messages onto Ralph in a scary way.

The Outsider is heartless and cruel, the Maitland and Peterson family were just means to an end and it knows how to make the most out of the world that it calls its own. It can get away wearing a hoodie in pretty much any scenario, be it a drug counselling office or a morning in Georgia during winter. It’s smart enough to trick people who know the victims well, even if it can’t trick those closest to them. Whilst Ralph is still dismissive of the threat, Jeannie is not, and Tear Drinker feels very much presented as a “calm before the storm” episode as a result, with the paranoia setting in even further. Here scenes in the waiting room were nerve-wracking, and the fact that she could be a victim too is enough to keep her on edge especially with the multiple visits. Holly too, could be in danger if she keeps perusing the case, being warned by the man at the cemetery, and Jack is keeping a watchful eye on Ralph in case he makes one discovery too many.

One thing’s for sure, it’s only a matter of time before things turn south, as The Outsider continues to ramp up the tension week after week. Death will be the outcome for anyone who cannot stop the monster, and even stopping the investigation might not guarantee Ralph and Jeannie’s safety, as they could still be easy targets.

The Outsider episode 6, "The One About the Yiddish Vampire" airs tonight on HBO.

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