So far, the first season of “Outcast” on Starz has shown itself to be surprisingly excellent, really in ways that we did not even expect for it to be going into its run. We anticipated that this would be a scary, schlock-filled version of a Robert Kirkman comic, designed primarily to do what most exorcism movies are: Give you reasons to jump in the air, but not anything to think about.
Yet, this show does so much more than that on its way to being one of the most underrated series of the summer. After all, the thematic current underneath the surface here is that the characters most in need of an exorcism are probably not even the ones who are possessed. Anderson is still struggling following his branding at the hands of Sidney, and this episode was a real vessel for him to channel his frustration and the unspeakable ghosts from his past. He can get others to see him, but to believe him is an entirely different story.
Also, major kudos to Brent Spiner, who reacts to the notions of him being evil like someone you genuinely want to believe. There’s a certainly Benjamin Linus quality to his portrayal, and it is especially effective to a character who we really did not see enough of in the early going.
Elsewhere in the episode, Kyle’s haunted past with Allison came to a peak her leaving both him and her daughter behind, living in fear of what she has done and what she could still do. It doesn’t alleviate anyone of their shame; instead, it is another reminder for Kyle of his own, what he is fighting for, and for Allison it could only compound the weight on her heart. Yet, she feels she must do something, but wonders just precisely what this something is. Often, we act for the sake of acting and hope that it is enough.
Maybe you could argue that in this episode, Mark and Megan made the most progress just by virtue of admissions to each other. We don’t necessarily think that their issues will be easily cured in the long-term, but maybe this is one step in the right direction. Their problems are different in the other characters, but kudos for them for at least realizing there could be a better way … we’re just not sure they have reached that completely just yet.
If you love “Outcast” for its characters and its themes, odds are you thoroughly enjoyed this episode. Maybe there are scarier exorcism dramas out there, but we don’t really watch for schlock these days. We much prefer the substance. Grade: A-.
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