The Outsider recap: Ripples of violence
As the second of two back-to-back episodes begins, Ralph Anderson is being led through prison late at night. He’s here to see Terry Maitland, the two having a chat without any lawyers or other officers present. Anderson is simply baffled by this case. He both believes Terry and he doesn’t. As they sit down, the detective gets to the point. He doesn’t understand how the van with the New York plates ends up here, and with Terry’s fingerprints all over it. It doesn’t make sense. The thing is, Maitland can’t shed any light on this because, as he says, he didn’t kill Freddie. He doesn’t know what’s going on either.
This entire first scene is rather stirring, as two men sit across from each other and stumble through the darkness hoping to find some sort of truth. It’s impossible though. This whole situation defies any coherent explanation. Instead, Terry responds to Anderson’s question about ever touching his kid. He talks about teaching the small kid to bunt, and about how that shaped him into this confident, skilled Little Leaguer. It’s clear that he cared for Ralph’s son when he was alive, and his admission about hoping that he affected his life while he was on earth is lovely, and only further complicates how Ralph feels about this case.
This second episode of the two-part premiere isn’t as exciting as the first installment — it drags a lot more — but there are some inspired moments. For instance, the destruction of the rest of the Peterson family is simply devastating, and Jason Bateman‘s direction gives us some truly wonderful shots that focus in on that grief. When Ollie Peterson and his father have to buy caskets for both Frankie and their recently deceased mother/wife, Bateman pulls in close on their blank faces as the funeral home worker rambles on about a discount he can give them. Those close-ups set up another one later on; when Terry is brought to the courthouse for his initial statement, a gunman goes after him. The gunman hits two cops and Terry before Anderson manages to shoot him dead. Anderson pulls off the killer’s mask and sees the face of Ollie Peterson.
Then, later on, when the patriarch of the family can no longer deal with what’s happened to his wife and kids and decides to hang himself, Bateman shoots the scene with only a ticking clock in the background, as if counting down the man’s final moments. Then the camera moves outside, and everything goes quiet. We watch as a woman starts jogging by the house, only for her, and us, to be interrupted by the loud crash of the glass of the bedroom window as the man’s legs swing through during his attempt — he doesn’t die, but does tremendous damage — to hang himself. It’s haunting stuff from Bateman, made all the more eerie by the hooded figure that continues to linger around during these moments of violence.
As shocking as that death is, the fact that Terry Maitland dies is much more shocking. It looked liked Bateman would be a central character, but he’s gone now, leaving his wife to sort through this whole mess. His last words? “It wasn’t me,” spoken to Anderson, who’s ordered to take two weeks of administrative leave so that he can deal with the fact that he just shot and killed Frankie Peterson’s older brother. Of course, Ralph’s having none of it. He sees a therapist mostly so that he can be cleared to go visit a kid with some information he needs. It turns out the van with the New York plates was stolen by teenager who ended up dropping it in Dayton, Ohio while the Maitlands were there on vacation.
So, Ralph goes to see Terry’s wife, Gloria, and begs her to help him figure out just what the hell is going on here. He wants to clear Terry’s name if he’s innocent and try to give Gloria and her kids their life back. He asks her about the trip and if anything unusual happened. Gloria agreed to the meeting, but she’s not really there. She sees Ralph’s questions as attempts to still pin this on Terry, and she’s had enough. Then her oldest daughter, sitting on the stairs, pipes up, and mentions that they were near a restaurant that Ralph had asked about, and that Terry had gotten a cut from a nurse while visiting his father in a home.
That doesn’t amount to much, and The Outsider is keeping its cards close to its vest right now, but there’s hints here that something strange is going on. The cut; Terry being in two places at once; the hooded figure; and then the final scene, where a farmer discovers Terry’s old clothes, the ones he changed into at the strip club, in his barn, which are leaking some sort of weird goo. Nothing is normal here, and things are bound to get even stranger.