Outcast – season 1

Patrick Fugit in 2006
Patrick Fugit in 2006

Warning. This review contains several spoilers about the first season of the TV show “Outcast”!

On August 12 the first season of the show “Outcast” ended.

The TV show is adapted from the comic book series – which I personally haven’t read so I can’t make comparisons – “Outcast” written by Robert Kirkman, the creator of “The Walking Dead”. The first episode was offered on the Internet on May 20, 2016 then broadcast on June 3, 2016 in the USA. The first season consists of 10 episodes.

The story has as protagonist Kyle Barnes, whose life was greatly influenced by the demonic possession that struck his mother when he was a child and years later his wife Allison. Because of those events Kyle is a misfit who preferred to isolate himself as much as possible after the divorce from his wife.

To protect his ex-wife and their daughter Amber from what happened when she was possessed, Kyle chose to take all the blame passing for a bastard who beat his wife and daughter, even if that made him disliked by many residents of Rome, the West Virginia town where he lives.

“Outcast” first season cast consists of:

  • Patrick Fugit (photo ©the1secondfilm.com) as Kyle Barnes
  • Philip Glenister as Reverend Anderson
  • Wrenn Schmidt as Megan Holter
  • David Denman as Mark Holter
  • Julia Crockett as Sarah Barnes
  • Kate Lyn Sheil as Allison Barnes
  • Brent Spiner (photo ©Gage Skidmore) as Sidney
  • Reg E. Cathey as Byron Giles

At the beginning of the TV show, Kyle lives in isolation and his foster sister Megan is practically his only regular human contact. One day, Kyle meets Reverend Anderson, who tried to help him when he was a child. Anderson is also an exorcist and asks Kyle to help him in the case of a possessed child.

The exorcism allows Kyle to find out that not only the cases of his mother and his wife were no isolated possessions but that other cases seem somehow connected to him. The entity that possesses the child seems to know Kyle and the man’s blood has a huge effect on it.

These discoveries change everything for Kyle, who at that point wants to try to understand what’s behind the various cases of possession he’s seen and Reverend Anderson talked about but also what’s behind what can be considered his gift or his curse, depending on the point of view.

Kyle starts participating in the exorcisms performed by Reverend Anderson and meanwhile the first episodes are used to introduce other parallel subplots and the other protagonists of the show. This allows to get to know the various characters and their stories but honestly if you’re not impressionable this initial part of the show can be a bit boring.

Things improve in the second half of the season, when it becomes clear that the mysterious Sidney is a kind of leader of the possessed persons and other revelations are made that start clarifying what’s going on in Rome and Kyle’s role. The pace gets faster but the plots are starting to rely on twists that too often I found clumsy.

Sidney is supposed to become more ambiguous but I found him developed in a more confused way. He tries to convince Kyle that the possessed are actually not villains but have an initial adjustment period that is hard for them but his behavior towards Reverend Anderson seems ruthless, with the sole purpose to discredit him completely. A flashback concerning Sidney shows us that when he was a normal human was a monster and the entity that possessed him remained disgusted by that discovery but curiously he doesn’t seem to have needed an adjustment period.

Kyle seems to have different behaviors for each episode so he starts helping Reverend Anderson then changes his mind and despite his direct experience seems to believe what Sidney tells him about the possessed. It’s not surprising that in the season finale Kyle changes his mind again.

Reverend Anderson seems more consistent in the sense that from the beginning he doesn’t seem particularly bright and over the episodes starts behaving like a total idiot. It quickly becomes clear that the Sidney has targeted him yet he always manages to make the most wrong things instead of reasoning on them with a bit of rationality and avoid falling into basic traps.

The ninth episode – Close to Home” – ends with one of the toughest moments of the show, Megan possession. That’s not a big surprise since she was the only person close to Kyle who still hadn’t been touch but still of great impact because she was one of the characters with whom the audience were led to sympathize the most. In general, it’s an episode in which the characters have to face their demons, literally or figuratively.

From this point of view in the ninth episode there are metaphoric elements but not particularly developed. It’s in part the story of the whole show: in some ways it seems a soup with many ingredients but in small quantities and moreover not very well mixed. The result is that in general it tastes a bit bland but sometimes you feel the taste of a specific ingredient.

Brent Spiner in 2016
Brent Spiner in 2016

In my opinion the intensity of the season finale only partially covers its flaws. Again we’re given some more bits of information about Kyle and the possessed but much we’re left with a cliffhanger. Personally I’m not very satisfied because in the end in the 10 episodes not much really happened.

I really wish there was a tighter narrative with more information and I fear that they want to give them slowly hoping to stretch the show. The high-level cast with actors capable of playing difficult moments might not be enough but I see that for many people that show is alright the way it is. “Outcast” was already renewed quite some time ago for the second season, I hope it improves.

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