The Outsider: 1.06 The One About the Yiddish Vampire
After the slight disappointment with last episode’s tendency to feel like it was treading water, this time out the show returns to form with the story being propelled forward. It helps that our main protagonists, Ralph and Holly, are reunited and have gathered a group of associates around them to help tackle the titular foe.
Of course, in order to do this, they’re all going to have to agree on what exactly it is they are facing. The biggest hurdle being that Ralph himself doesn’t believe that something of a supernatural origin could be responsible for all the killing and mayhem that they have witnessed. Holly, on the other hand, is absolutely convinced they are dealing with El Cuco aka the Child Eater, a bogeyman from childhood legends.
There is quite a bit of exposition to get through in The One About the Yiddish Vampire but it’s delivered in an interesting fashion. It comes at a timely point in the story really helps to tie together a lot of the plot threads. By having Holly return from Dayton and effectively chair a meeting where she outlines everything she has discovered during her investigation, it definitely helps to clarify exactly what is going on.
In following back the trail that started with the murder of Frankie Peterson, Holly is absolutely sure that an entity is scratching its victims, taking on their identities and then committing horrendous crimes whilst in their form. Her investigation has also revealed that the fallout from these murders spreads far and wide, contaminating the families affected. She has also come to the conclusion that the entity is vulnerable in mid-transformation and uses another infected host to do its bidding. The nasty looking pustules on Jack Hoskin’s neck, combined with his erratic behaviour leave no doubt as to who is currently in the Outsider’s thrall. Holly sensibly concludes that they need to stop looking at what has occurred before and instead try to ascertain who is likely to be the next target. At least our intrepid have a pretty good idea who that will be. Ralph is already aware that strip club owner Claude Bolton was scratched by Terry Maitland. This is good news for viewers as it seems we’ll get to see a lot more of the always excellent Paddy Considine.
One minor quibble I have is how quickly Holly accepts the premise that a supernatural entity is responsible for everything. It’s explained in the book because Holly has already had dealings with the unexplained due to her involvement in the Mr Mercedes case. Unfortunately this can’t be referenced in the show due to the Mr Mercedes TV series having been produced by a different network. It sort of works if you accept that Holly’s neuro-diversity means she has a more open mind. When faced with overwhelming evidence she readily accepts her hypothesis as it’s the only solution that fits. It’s a shame that more of her backstory can’t be used. I suspect we’ll get more of this sort of thing as Stephen King does tend to link a lot of his novels together and there are now several different networks producing the adaptations.
Mare Winningham, as Jeannie Anderson, continues to show herself as one of The Outsider’s greatest assets. Her performance as a recently bereaved mother who is now questioning the reality around her is impressive. She is the rock in the Anderson household and is trying to steer her still disbelieving husband towards the truth. Luckily she now has Holly Gibney as an ally and together the pair of them have pieced together the transformation process of the antagonist. Holly is also far more receptive to Jeannie’s claims that she was visited during the night. Ralph isn’t too sure about this even though he had the vision of his deceased son. Initially unwilling to accept this as anything more than a dream, his position starts to change after another session with his work appointed psychiatrist. Ben Mendelsohn also continues to impress with a nuanced portrayal of a man struggling to cope with loss, guilt and events unfolding around him that he can’t quite explain.
By the end of the episode the stakes have been raised and the tension has really been ratcheted up. An ill-conceived idea to invite Glory Maitland to Holly’s debrief sees her storm out, incredulous and livid that they’ve been concentrating all their efforts to clear her husband by investigating a “bogeyman”. Worse still, Jack has been instructed by his master to stop Holly Gibney at all costs.
The episode ends as he and Holly go off to investigate the barn where he had his run in with the entity. He has murder on his mind and, after seeing the disgusting infection on the back of his neck, Holly now knows she is trapped in a car with The Outsider’s servant. This cliffhanger ending builds the anticipation for the next episode perfectly.