TV Show Review

TV Review: OUTCAST: Season 1, Episode 8: What Lurks Within [Cinemax]

Patrick Fugit Brent Spiner Outcast What Lurks Within

Cinemax’s Outcast What Lurks Within TV Show Review. Outcast, Season 1, Episode 8: ‘What Lurks Within,’ went a little deeper into crowded depths than expected, and came up with a breath of fresh air. Kyle’s (Patrick Fugit) winning streak was followed up on with some insight (into what h had been dealing with, with this whole time), courtesy of Sidney (Brent Spiner); Sidney’s insight came with a reveal to the audience, about What Lurks Within himself, specifically, beyond what had previously seemed obvious; and Rev. Anderson’s (Philip Glenister) tear may have finally come to an end. All fairly welcomed developments.

There were still enough rough bits – in the form of another creepy Amber (Madeleine McGraw) alert moment, coping with blackmail, and petty small town intrigue – to keep the episode from being too encouraging, however.

Case-in-point: resident recidivist redhead, Aaron (C.J. Hoff), definitely had it out for Anderson & his own mom; but this meant subscribing to the Reverend’s belief, for entirely contrarian reasons. The fact that Sidney’s hat didn’t fit his celt-fro held no meaning to him – he was convinced that he knew what he wanted to be, when he grows up. Yeah, we’re stuck with him for a while, it seems, as part of Anderson’s character descent arc; and Anderson still had a way to go, this episode.

The Reverend was still in a-less-than-reasonable place, to begin with – out to prove a point, to the Devil he could touch, after getting a pretty bad touch from said tangible Devil. If Anderson wanted to duel with the Devil on his own terms, he really shouldn’t have publicly called him out, leaving the Police Chief with no choice but to make an arrest, for assault.

So in addition to weirding out his parishioners, Rev. Anderson undermined the special arrangement he had with Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey). It turns out their understanding had less to do with friendship, than pragmatism; and with Anderson’s track record having undergone a revision into the red, it seemed a renegotiation was in order. Anderson may have also burned a bridge to Fire Chief Ogden (Pete Burris), over his wife, Kat (Debra Christofferson); her botched exorcism putting Team Bad Touch (still working on a title) on hiatus, as well. All of this would’ve made for a frustrating downer of an episode, had it not been for some timely context being added to the Why of Kyle. Even if his assault on Anderson was left as little more than a plot device (to hobble the Reverend, and embolden Ginger Spite), the brief incarceration of Sidney turned out to be a much needed shot in the arm for Outcast – if only for what came of his first face-to-face with the titular protagonist.

So here’s a twisted notion: possession as an occasional community service – keeping potentially monstrous people contained, and fully realized ones ‘occupied.’ If the quiet ones are always the ones you got to be wary of, then quiet man, Sidney, used to be a whole lot ‘quieter’ before his becoming ‘occupied.’ I would’ve appreciated a little more about any consequence to Sidney’s new ‘outlook,’ mid-crime; but there may (read: should) be more to his flashback component to come. After all, he turned out to be roughly half of the story’s counter-argument to Anderson’s crusade.

So here’s a kinky notion: possession as the new Spice of Life. The other half was Kat – not so much making a case for herself, as being vouched for, by her husband. He had developed a preference for his wife’s new occupation, and in some ways, ‘What Lurks Within’ became analogous to an argument over where the line gets drawn, between Civil Liberty & Holy Scripture. We’ve been hearing from the Reverend’s side of the line, thus far; so it was well about time we heard from the Occupy Movement.

So here’s a scary notion: the ‘Demons’ make sense. Giving voice to the occupiers (the ‘settled in’ ones, anyway) has taken the show beyond the black-and-white realm of route theology, and set a course for a conflict scarier than anything a true-believer is likely to be braced for – a whole lot of grey area. Sidney’s pitch (about being the lesser of two evils, and Kyle’s crusade causing needless collateral damage) was a decent opening argument; but Kat calling out the Reverend spoke to the sort of basic truth that should give any reasonable person-of-faith pause. Why fight the future, when you believe in the greatest of outcomes? If your faith is so strong, why does it hinge on compelling others to follow suite, rather than setting an example to follow?

What’s so scary about it, is that it could all be malarkey – done up in such a reasonable fashion as to have critical thinking viewers buy into it. Then comes the reveal that the Reverend was right – all those viewers then serving to prove his point, about the seductiveness of Demonic ‘reasoning.’

It’s not just that I’d rather not be made into such an example – I just think it would be a much more interesting show if Sydney & Kat were being earnest.

A little Sympathy for the Devil is just what this show needs to get beyond the slow-boil exorcist angle, and get a broader mythology started. What it needs less of, is the distraction of ne’er-do-wells with ‘free time on their hands,’ like Donnie & Aaron. If Sidney was to be believed, then there is all sorts of potential for these background threads to go/ link up somewhere relevant (still waiting for the other readhead to get some rage going); but they’re still currently distracting (and no, I get no satisfaction from just hating on characters – #NoSoapAtTheOpera).

As it stands, Sidney remains the key to the show. The fact that there is so much more lurking within him lends some credibility to Aaron’s expanding role, while keeping the comeuppance (that Ginger Spite may sorely need) relatively close at hand. At the same time, their having Anderson in common, added to the soft landing at the end(?) of his spiral, could finally get Team Bad Touch on the way to recovery road.

The playing field just got a much needed leveling – time to get the game going, again.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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