The Outsider S1E9, “Tigers and Bears,” has set up what will likely be an epic showdown between Ralph’s crew and El Cuco. With the cliffhanger at the end of the episode, I can’t wait to see how things unfold—and who all will ultimately survive—but the episode also left me with a lot of questions.
S1E9 opens with another set of new characters. George and John Weaver are playing hide-and-seek in their family barn before setting out to search for bears in a cave. The scenes with the boys—and eventually their father, who is trying to track them down—are peppered throughout the episode effectively.
At first, I thought perhaps the Weaver boys would be El Cuco’s next victims after it was thwarted at Cavestock in last week’s episode. Then some subtle details clued me in to the the fact that we were likely viewing something from the past. First, the boys’ clothes did not look from modern day. A sign advertised cave tours for only 25 cents. And then the final clue was the telephone Emmitt Weaver uses to call for help when he discovers his boys are trapped in the cave.
I loved these cave scenes with the Weavers. The Outsider nailed the colors, lighting, and atmosphere here. I kept expecting something to jump out, and each scene expertly progressed the tension—of course with the well-executed music that has been used so effectively throughout the series.
After the reveal that the cave scenes were a flashback, Seale, in present day, tells Holly about a 1947 tragedy in which the Weaver boys were trapped in Bear Cave. And how the rescue party that followed them in were all killed slowly by a rockslide. Seale reveals that his grandfather and his three brothers were all part of the search party, making the cave the largest family plot in the state.
Knowing that El Cuco is drawn to pain and suffering, Holly and the others quickly piece together that this now-sealed cave is likely the current hiding place for the monster. All this while, the group throughout the episode has been keeping Claude from hearing their plans. They figure that anything Claude can see/hear/know, El Cuco would know as well. For some reason—perhaps influenced by being stoned?—Seale decides to blab about the group’s plans to Claude, which tips off El Cuco that they are coming for him in the cave.
I’m not a huge fan of the use of Seale in the TV version of The Outsider. (He replaces a great character from the novel, Claude’s mother, Lovie.) And this move by Seale to basically cancel out all of the work put in by Howie—including a two-hour drive for fried chicken—made me dislike him even more.
This all brings us to the thrilling conclusion of the episode, where Jack Hoskins was perched on a mountain, waiting with a sniper rifle. He shoots Alec Pelley right through the head, as the screen then goes to black and shots continue.
I’m very curious as to who will escape Jack’s gunfire unharmed. (I have a very bad feeling about Andy’s chances.) He had a clear shot at pretty much the entire crew. How many will he drop before they can get to cover? Something tells me the rattlesnake looming near Jack’s perch will play some sort of role in the events that follow.
Many possibilities for the season finale. The storyline has taken a very different path to get here, but the show has now ended up in a similar end game as the book. I won’t be surprised if we get a much different ending, however. I expect the ultimate showdown with El Cuco in the cave to be mind-blowing, especially if it conveys the same source of dread as the cave scenes involving the Weavers. I’ll be checking in as soon as the finale airs next week, eager for answers.
Now, for some of those questions I had about this episode.
A lot of what we saw last week—was that all just a sack full of red herrings? The Outsider has not been a stranger to this device (it could be argued it was used separately in this episode, with the Weaver boys scenes), so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. A good portion of last week’s episode focused on the Davidson family traveling to Tennessee for Cavestock. At the festival, young Sam was approached by El Cuco/Claude, who was eventually tackled to the ground by Sam’s grandfather. I thought for sure that Mike Davidson was going to reveal that he was scratched. But when Ralph questions him in S1E9, Mike says “If I did (get scratched), I didn’t feel it.”
Sam said he wasn’t scratched either, which makes sense. El Cuco wouldn’t be transforming into the body of a young boy. So is the show playing tricks here? Did Mike get scratched and simply not feel it? Or was he really not scratched, causing people like me to incessantly wonder how Mike could plausibly roll around on the ground with this monster and come away completely unscathed. Was the purpose of the Davidson storyline just to loosely introduce us to Bear Cave? If that’s all it was, then I’m not sure if I’m feeling as positive about S1E8 as an episode overall.
A New Case?
In another side story of The Outsider S1E9, DA Hayes is notified that a hiker in a nearby county has come across the body of a young boy. It’s another murder, and the boy’s face was pretty much ripped off. Hayes doesn’t offer to meet up with the police but asks to be kept in the loop.
Later we see Hayes reviewing crime scene photos, likely of this new case. Or are these photos from the Peterson case, and Hayes can’t bring himself to reviewing another, similar murder? I’m really not sure what’s going on here. This couldn’t be related to El Cuco, who is in Tennessee at the moment. Is it a copycat killer? Is there another monster out there?
We haven’t seen much of Hayes since the first couple episodes, so I was surprised to see him pop back up. Glory mentions to Jeannie later in the episode that she ran into Hayes and he wanted to tell her something. But she didn’t engage with him, so still no answer as to what this is about. I suppose we’ll find out before the season ends, but I’m puzzled with this one.
Will There Be a Second Season?
I’ll have a better idea after the finale, but I wonder about the possibility of a second season of The Outsider. Executive Producer Richard Price has said there will be a Season 2 if HBO wants it. The book ended in a way that provided closure but also left open a small possibility of more.
The characters debated multiple times in S1E9 whether El Cuco can actually be killed. Holly seems to be in favor of “containing” it. I think El Cuco’s fate in the finale will give a better idea about a possible second season. Or maybe this new case with DA Hayes is an alternate way to continue the story.
Personally, I’m not sure a second season would be needed. My only requirement for another season would be the inclusion of Holly (Cynthia Erivo). So if she doesn’t survive the finale, I think The Outsider will be best left to one season. Perhaps that final scene of Episode 7 will be addressed in a Season 2?
What do you think will happen in the season finale? Are you hoping for a wrapped-up story? Or are you hungry for more? Check back with us next week, when Andrew Grevas will bring his analysis of the final episode.