The Outsider: Shining a Light on the Things That Lurk in the Dark
Vincent: The Outsider is an American horror crime drama based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. The mini-series from HBO is filled with a stellar cast, with the likes of Ben Mendelson, Jason Bateman, Paddy Considine all counted amongst its numbers. Although the cast is stacked it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention the breakout performance from Cynthia Erivo as Holly Gibney. Erivo never looks out of place alongside her more seasoned castmates. She plays the complicated but brilliant private investigator so well. She makes every scene so believable. Erivo makes Holly a beautifully real person—she is damaged but she preservers nonetheless. Erivo is probably the best thing about the show but she is allowed to shine because of the cast that surrounds her.
This is no more evident than in Ben Mendelson’s performance in the role of Det. Ralph Anderson. Mendelson has proven on many occasions now that he can fill pretty much any role. He is an incredibly diverse actor, who is equally comfortable in big-budget franchises like Disney’s Star Wars as he is in smaller roles like Netflix’s Bloodline. It is clear for all to see that he is an actor that is at the peak of his powers and seamlessly slips into any character’s skin. He plays the tortured detective brilliantly. Mendelson offers up an excellent portrait of a broken man. You feel his heartbreak so completely. He is a man desperate for purpose and a direction to go in. Mendelson is the glue that holds The Outsider together and does an incredible job of acting as that adhesive throughout the show’s entire run.
As I mentioned The Outsider is just brimming with excellent performance but it is also filled with a brilliantly dark and mysterious story. The focus of that story is centered around the murder of a child by a man with no motive for or recollection of the events in question. The accused man is Terry Maitland, who is played by the ever-reliable Jason Bateman. He finds himself smack dab in the middle of the enigma that surrounds the death of the child. It is the unraveling of that enigma that changes the direction and tone of the narrative at the center of The Outsider. I won’t elaborate more for fear of divulging any of this show’s sneaky secrets.
What I will tell you is that The Outsider is the definition of a mystery wrapped up in an enigma. It is a complex show that takes advantage of each and every opportunity to trick you into thinking one thing whilst it sets up something that you never saw coming. It is in a lot of ways a show of two halves but it never loses its intensity throughout all of its twists and turns. What The Outsider does so well is that it uses its shift in tones to expand its narrative instead of restricting it.
The creators peel back each layer so delicately, setting up each new facet of the story meticulously. It is every bit as clever as it is dark. It is a show that makes you think as much as it likes to keep you on edge. Just as you get comfortable in what you think you know, it is then that you are made readily aware that this world is something more than it seems on its surface. The only way to find out what lay beneath is if you just like the characters go digging and see what you unearth.