In The Outsider S1E5, “Tear-Drinker,” the web of murders surrounding Ralph Anderson and Holly Gibney becomes even more entangled. In last week’s episode, Holly connected a third murder to the mix, when she tracked down Maria Caneles in New York City. This week, she returns to Dayton, Ohio to fill in some of the missing pieces.
Throughout the episode, we are introduced to a friend of Heath Hofstadter, the nurse who scratched Terry Maitland. And as it’s revealed that the man has a bad case of burn blisters on the back of his neck, we now have another similarity to the story in Cherokee City. Jack has the same blisters on his neck, suffered after he was touched by the spirit in the barn.
So this man in Dayton and Jack, what exactly is their role in all of this? Is it possible they are the ones who actually committed the murders? Or are they simply accomplices who planted incriminating evidence for this mysterious monster, the El Coco mentioned in Episode 4? Based on the evidence we’ve seen for these cases, I don’t think they personally committed the murders. But what is their main purpose?
Jack seems desperate to appease the invisible presence, including sacrificing all kinds of lamps and lights for some reason (what is going on with that, exactly?). We don’t know what Heath’s friend did, exactly. Whatever it is, he feels remorseful. We see him sweeping up and making the bed (sans mattress) in Heath’s now-abandoned house. When Holly meets him at Heath’s gravesite, the man tells her, “He f*cked him over good. He f*cked me over too.” Having served his purpose, the man commits suicide by instigating a police shootout.
With these events in mind, things aren’t looking good for Jack. He’s similarly exhibiting remorse for his actions, as he attempts to make amends with Ralph after Tamika’s baby shower. He says he’s been having personal problems lately and is looking for an opportunity to help with Ralph’s investigation. I’m not sure if this is genuine or if it’s simply that El Coco wants Jack to get close to Ralph and lull him into a false sense of security, but I’m leaning toward the latter.
Feeding on Grief
Holly identifies another constant within the different murder cases. We’ve already seen that these murders have had residual, deadly effects, as family members close to the murders have gone on to die as well. The Peterson family has been all but wiped out. Same for Heath’s family. The monster feeds on grief, a “tear-drinker.”
Holly uncovers areas near the cemeteries where the victims of these cases are buried that would make ideal hideouts for El Coco. An abandoned factory. Broken-down houses. And, as Ralph, Jeannie, Glory, and Sablo discover, the barn in which Terry Maitland’s clothes were found is conveniently located within sight of Terry Maitland’s grave. I really enjoyed these scenes with Holly in the cemeteries, as they gave me True Detective Season 1 vibes.
Holly and Andy
I liked how Andy and Holly’s relationship blossomed in Episode 4. But after this week’s episode, it appears Andy probably can’t be trusted. After they spend the night together in Holly’s hotel room, Holly sneaks out early in the morning, on her way to Cherokee City.
Holly leaves Andy a sweet note, “I’ll always remember you, so don’t forget me.” Andy returns the favor by snooping around her things and uncovering some of her case notes. The notes outline how the different murder cases link together. The murder involving Maria Caneles occurred on Feb 11—23 days before the murder involving Heath on March 6. Terry Maitland’s murder happened on March 30—24 days later. Holly notes that 20 days have passed between Terry’s crime and the day she wrote up this outline. Seems like we’re about due for another killing fairly soon then, doesn’t it?
Andy appears very interested in these notes, as he checks them against online stories. Who is Andy working for? Have we seen the back of his neck?
Green Hoodie Man Appearances
We haven’t seen much from the man wearing the green hoodie since the first couple of episodes, but he popped up multiple times this week. Jeannie, while working at New Leaf Recovery Center, became very unnerved by someone wearing a green sweatshirt in the waiting room.
Later, at home during the middle of the night, Jeannie is visited by the monster wearing a green hoodie. It delivers a message to her: Ralph needs to stop his investigation into Frankie Peterson’s murder. This is a similar message to what we heard from Jessa Maitland, and Jeannie is now convinced of its seriousness.
However, Ralph remains dubious. Jessa had a bad dream, and so did Jeannie. The Peterson murder has brought back painful feelings similar to the death of their own son, Derek. At least that’s what Ralph is thinking. He has not bought in to the unexplainable conclusions that Holly believes in. However, as Sablo tells Ralph, “Dreams are messages, bro.”
Based on what we see in the conclusion of Episode 5, perhaps we will see a shift in Ralph’s belief in the Green Hoodie Man and his message. The episode ends with Ralph lying on the bed in Derek’s room. Whether it is a dream or Ralph’s imagination—or an actual ghost—Derek appears behind Ralph and tells him, “Dad. Look at me. You need to let me go.” If Ralph is able to move past his son’s death, how will that affect his investigation of the Terry Maitland case? Will he be able to stop blaming himself for his mistakes? Will he give in to his skepticism and let go of getting to the bottom of the case? Will he listen to the messages from Jeannie and Jessa?
I don’t think Ralph will ever forget the tragedy of his son’s death, but if he can separate Derek’s death from the murder of Frankie Peterson, perhaps that will help him see more clearly and figure out what really happened.
Let’s check back in on how The Outsider is differing from the book thus far.
- Holly Gibney’s background is one of the show’s biggest departures from the book. In the book, Holly’s character actually comes from Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes trilogy. In those books, Holly works with retired detective Bill Hodges to solve a number of crimes. Through this work, Holly is exposed to the unexplainable, which helps make her perfect for the mysterious facts of the Terry Maitland case in The Outsider. I wasn’t surprised to see this change in the show, as there is already a Mr. Mercedes TV show and I figured licensing issues would prevent HBO from using the details of that story. However, based on how many names have been changed in The Outsider, I’m a little surprised they used Holly’s full name from the book. Despite these changes, Holly’s character in the book and show are the same at the core: she is a quirky private investigator who is damn good at her job.
- Holly’s trip to New York to visit Maria Caneles does not occur in the book, but I think it really adds to the story. It makes sense to try and trace things back to before the nurse in Dayton. I’m wondering if there will be any connection between Maria being in New York and the fact that the white van used in the Frankie Peterson case was from New York. It seems very possible.
- The Andy Katcavage character does not appear in the book, so I’m interested to see how his story plays out. I haven’t quite figured out what his angle is yet.
- I’m not sure if there is some sort of history between Jack and Tamika. She seems very concerned about him acting distant toward her and her new baby. This relationship wasn’t explored in the book, so I’m not sure if there’s anything behind this.
Now that we’re halfway through Season 1 of The Outsider, how are we feeling? A lot was packed in to the first couple of episodes, and I worried it may lag in the middle episodes. But I think the action is still moving along nicely, and I’m enjoying the aspects of the show that were not in the book. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.