This article we’ll be breaking down the first two episodes of The Outsider.
The new Stephen King show has just dropped on HBO and there’s a lot to unpack from it.
Throughout this, we’ll be breaking down the ins and outs of the episode, things you may have missed as well as what could be happening in the future.
There will be heavy spoilers here so if you don’t want anything potentially ruined then I highly recommend that you turn off now.
With that out the way let’s get into our breakdown of The Outsider.
The Outsider Episode 1 Recap
Similar to the book the Outsider opens with a dog walker discovering the scene of a grotesque murder. Initially, they pass a white van that will eventually become a big key in the overall storyline but for the moment this is discovery is revealed to be the mutilated body of a young boy named Frankie Peterson.
This is the son of a prominent reverend in the area and the boy’s life has been horribly ended. This is where we are introduced to our protagonist, Ralph Anderson, a Flint City PD detective who has been assigned with the case. Anderson goes on a journey throughout the work in which he begins to uncover the truth of what is really going on and there are clues early on that there is more to the crime than meets the eye.
The forensics discover teeth impressions on his body, however, the coroner states that it’s not an animal attack.
This hints at the supernatural element that is going on in the show and the original work actually center around there being a sort of vampire in the town. If you’ve seen King’s recent adaptation Doctor Sleep then it’s a similar sort of aesthetic with some callbacks to Mexican folklore. I’ll get into this later but quickly the police round up suspects and witnesses in order to get an idea of what happened.
Every bit of evidence points towards a local teacher and baseball coach named Terry Maitland who is played by Jason Bateman.
An interesting bit of trivia for you, Bateman also directed the season premiere and he does a terrific job with the material.
The Outsider First Impressions
From the off, The Outsider feels like a grim and gritty crime drama that isn’t holding back. Its introduction is almost poetic in its choice of music, the performances are grim, lowkey and understated and overall there is a real feeling of the dark side of the show.
This is mirrored in the source material in which King really played up the duality of serial killers.
Not to give too much away too early but King wanted to portray the dichotomy of mass murderers all whilst tieing them in with a supernatural element.
There’s lip service paid to the fact that serial killers in some ways are similar to vampires in the way that they are able to appear like normal people one moment and in another, they turn to beasts that feed on the blood of others.
Themes Of The Outsider
There’s a brilliant section about how this applies to Ted Bundy and how he was a seemingly sophisticated man that would perform dark and twisted acts in the shadows.
John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer that dressed up as a clown to entertain children is also name-dropped in this episode and it’s clear that King really did his research when trying to paint out the psychology of a predator.
On the surface, Maitland is the pillar of the community, but deep down there is the potential he is hiding something else, similar to the figures that King based the work on.
The HBO adaptation does a phenomenal job of mirroring this by showcasing eye witness accounts that put Maitland at the scene with blood dripping from his mouth.
The police publicly arrest him and this angers many people in the town who cry out that the character is innocent. Maitland does this too but every single scrap of evidence, whether it’s CCTV, people who encountered the character state that he was behind the crime.
Similar to the source material, the first section of the book really centers around witness testimony and the ins and outs of the case.
It also contains a lab result that confirms Maitland’s extremely rare blood type AB Positive was found at the scene.
Everyone that encountered Maitland says he claimed to have a nosebleed but due to the positioning of the blood, this seems unlikely.
What King does with the Outsider is that he piles the evidence so high that it almost seems impossible to believe that it could be anyone else. He then pulls the rug out from under you by revealing the side of what’s really going on.
A lot of people had problems with this when reading the source material, however, watching the show and knowing the events of the book already, I did have a better appreciation for the way the events play out. They drop slightly more hints that something is amiss here early on, whereas in the original work I remember it feeling a bit left field.
Maitland seems co-operative but his wife doesn’t take his arrest too well.
She calls an attorney named Howie, and both she and Maitland state that he wasn’t even in the town that day which sort of triggers the doubt in both the audience and eventually Anderson.
‘It’s Almost Like He Wants To Be Caught’
The Maitland that they catch on CCTV is acting suspiciously, almost like he wants to get caught and before the arrest when Anderson recounts his actions he finds it very strange.
Under interrogation, Maitland states that he was at a teaching conference in Cap City and due to the specificity and detail that he puts into the account. Anderson is able to verify this and after putting his fingerprints at the scene, it seems like Maitland is telling the truth.
But how can a person be in two places at once?
Does he have a twin, a doppelganger or a darker side to him that is able to split in two?
Well the eventual reveal is even more shocking.
The Outsider Explained
We see The Outsider throughout the first two episodes and this is who is actually behind the crime.
Ok so the thing behind it all is actually a creature known as El Cuco, a Mexican boogeyman that is able to shapeshift and appear as other people. El Cuco transforms by taking someones DNA and this gives it the ability to mimic their appearance.
El Cuco shares a lot of similarities with Pennywise in that it hunts children and can change it’s appearance to do so. However, where they differ is that whilst Pennywise feeds on fear, El Cuco feeds on Sadness.
Now I don’t know whether they will take this route when explaining the entire crime as I do remember reading reviews where some people thought it was a cop out in the original work.
However, here they do at least lace the show with the idea that something is going on beneath the surface that we are not privvy to with The Outsider lurking in the background of scenes and appearing in the Maitlands child’s room named Jessa.
That doesn’t make it easier for Maitland though who finds himself in jail with a target on his back which ends the first episode.
Episode 2 Breakdown
Episode 2 really dives more into the conflicting evidence of the case and how things aren’t as they seem. Anderson goes directly to the character with his doubts who further muddies up the case stating that he’s never even seen the white van before.
He flat out denies everything but clearly the darker side of Maitland exists and shares an emotional scene with Anderson in which he says he does wish that he touched his deceased child in an emotional way that brought some happiness to his short life.
This differs from the source material as Anderson’s son was away at camp whereas here he is dead. Later Anderson opens up about the death of his son and it is clear the character is still haunted by the grief of what caused the child’s death.
There were theories before the release of the show about whether he was alive or dead and I’m actually glad they went in a different direction.
It’s one of the high points of the first two episodes and is definitely a point that will get you on Maitland’s side before his court appearance.
Howie wanted to draw as much attention to misgivings in the case he calls in a media circus that rials up the town.
So perhaps he IS telling the truth. Unfortunately, Maitland never gets the chance to clear his name and when makes his first court appearance he is gunned down by a shooter that is revealed to be Peterson’s older brother: Ollie.
Ollie is killed during the attack and Maitland dies shortly after.
We see The Outsider lurking at the scene and shortly after we are introduced to Jack who is enraged he is called back to work during a hunting trip. We see the animal that he is after torn apart not long after and this hints that The Outsider is stalking him. I have seen some people say that Jack did this in a rage, but either way it works to let you know that the character has a darker side to him.
Hoskins is a corrupt cop that gives atomic wedgies and we later learn that he has cancer.
In the book, The Outsider asks him to kill Anderson and in exchange, he will cure him which leads to him becoming one of the main antagonists in the work.
He’s clearly going to be a tough character for Anderson and the do a great job of making him extremely unlikable.
Jessa is once more haunted by visions of the outsider and we also are shown the black, ooze like substance that resembles blood and is actually a calling card of the creature. This sometimes shows up when The Outsider is at a location and it appears at the end of the second episode to show that he is very much in the area.
The Outsider watches over the Peterson and is seen lurking outsider….cos he’s the outsider…nevermind of their house when father Fred Peterson attempts suicide over the grief of losing two children.
Anderson also uncovers where the white van came from and he discovers the teenager that originally stole it.
The teen mentions that he noticed several people at the location all with similar smudges on their heads that signify the shapeshifting abilities of The Outsider.
Not only does this tease the bigger mystery but it also clears Maitland who was on vacation with his family when the van was stolen.
Anderson takes this to Glory who is angered that his public arrest leads to her husband’s death. He pleas with her that the only way to clear his name is to find the real killer but she rebuffs this and slams the door in his face.
Howie later sets up a meeting between and they learn how The Outsider tracked them.
It’s revealed that Maitland cut himself on the trip when visiting his dementia ridden father at a hospital. The Outsider which was disguised as a nurse at the time purposely cut Maitland and used this to track the family across the country.
The Outsider Episode 2 Ending Explained
The episode ends with a farmhand discovering clothes in a barn that are covered in the same black substance that was at The Maitlands.
This shows that The Outsider has moved to this location due to the focus on the Maitland’s home. Aware that Anderson is closing the net he has relocated and the second episode closes on the farm hand looking about the location, suspicious that someone is there.
Going forward, I think that The Outsider will be aware that Anderson is slowly closing the net on him and this is when he will reach out to Jack to kill the character.
Though we don’t know how closely the show will follow the book until all of the episodes are out, so far it has been very inline with it so this makes a lot of sense.
I’m really enjoying it so far and both the first two episodes, though a bit slow, definitely have a lot of intrigue to them.
I can’t wait to see where the season goes and this was an awesome double bill to kick start everything off to.
Now obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Outsider and what you think will be happening in the future.
If you’ve read the source material let me know how you think it compares and make sure you check out our full breakdown of everything we know about You Season 3 which will be linked at the end.
We go over the potential release date, cast and plot of the show so it’s definitely worth checking out if you wanna know more.
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