Investigators are confounded over an unspeakable crime that’s been committed.
The Outsider is a terrifying mystery
The Stephen King renaissance continues with HBO’s new miniseries, The Outsider based on King’s novel of the same name. The story is set in Cherokee City Georgia and revolves around the brutal murder of an 11-year-old boy. The boy is found horribly murdered in the first episode by detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn), and all evidence points to the boys little league coach Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman). The police have DNA evidence and eyewitness linking Maitland to the murder, only one problem he has an ironclad alibi. He was 75 miles away at a conference with video footage and eyewitness putting him there. So how could he be in two places at once?
The mystery that sets off this miniseries is fascinating and captivated me 5 minutes into watching the first episode. The opening murder scene is so horrifying that it tells the audience that the detectives are hunting a true monster. The crime is so awful and feels like something that could happen in our world, this leaves the audience with an uncomfortable feeling of dread and anxiety. The first episode captures just how horrible something like this is, and the effect it can have on the town itself. Detective Anderson is particularly shaken by the crime that when he is certain he has his suspect he breaks protocol. He has two officers arrest Maitland during a little league game in front of the whole town, and announce to everyone just what he is being arrested for. This, of course, destroys the lives of the entire Maitland family in a manner of seconds. It’s awful but it’s understandable, Anderson is so certain of Maitland’s guilt that he wanted to hurt him as much as he could. This show does an excellent job of exploring how people react when dealing with a horrible situation like this. It shows the grief of the boy’s family at the loss of their child just as well as Maitland’s family when he is accused of committing the murder. The constant feeling of dread and grief fueled by the desire to uncover the truth feels very reminiscent of shows like True Detective and Twin Peaks.
The Outsider is filled with great performances all around but the first two episodes standouts are Bateman and Mendelsohn. Bateman gives a stellar dual performance as Maitland and his double. As Maitland he feels so vulnerable and likable, you get the sense he’s a good father and husband and respected in the community until it all comes tumbling down. As the double who witnesses saw the night of the murder, he’s unrecognizable. His eyes are hollow and empty and he moves with purpose but without feeling. Any scene with the double was scary to watch, he walks into a bar covered in blood and calmly asks for a cab to be called. No feeling, no emotion and no remorse just call me a cab. With Mendelsohn as Anderson, we see a good man who is driven by justice and duty. He has been a cop for over 20 years and takes his job very seriously. I get the sense that he sees protecting his community as his purpose in life. He is haunted by the crime and wants justice to be done, but only if it is done right and done by the book. Anderson is a man who trusts his instincts and his gut, which is what makes this case so hard for him, it doesn’t make any sense, a truly stellar performance.
Two episodes in and I’m hooked The Outsider. It is a fast-paced and scary mystery from the mind of the master of horror. Like any good adaptation, it stays true to the material but also takes things in different ways without sacrificing the story. This series also benefits from having a high-quality HBO budget and will benefit from week to week episodes as opposed to binging. Having a week to analyze each episode is the way to view this series for the viewer. The Outsider airs Sundays on HBO, check it out you won’t wanna miss this.