Outcast: Season 1 Episode 2 Review – (I Remember) When She Loved Me
We got to see the first four episodes of Outcast early and during this viewing we certainly counted Episode 2 as being the weakest among the four, but that is only because the other three episodes are so strong. This episode takes a slower approach than the show’s pilot and strives more to set up the town’s smaller characters and to focus more heavily on the relationship between Kyle and his Mother.
This episode moves away from the Joshua possession so quickly (we realise now that Joshua is “cleansed” at this point, as Kyle puts it, so there is not further work to be accomplished there), the show indicates to viewers that it probably intends to take a ‘case of the week’ approach with these possessions, by which we mean highlighting a different possessed individual per episode, rather than having arcs that cross multiple episodes.
There are two problems with this: firstly, arced storylines are better, in any TV show, because they provide characters with the opportunity to grow, and secondly, we know that the town of Rome is beset by an increase in possessions, but really how many can there be? If each episode focuses on a different possessed individual, within such a small time frame, then it might give the impression that too many residents of Rome are becoming afflicted too quickly (to the point where it would be a much larger problem for residents than it seems to be currently).
The show is still providing regular flashback content to show what Kyle’s Mother Sarah (played by Julia Crockett, who is doing a wonderful job) did to him when he was a boy, this episode reveals in what state Sarah and Kyle’s relationship exists in the present. In the present, Sarah is in care, in a vegetative state, and Kyle continues to visit her, even despite her actions towards him in his youth (for he knows it wasn’t her who was in control).
Here, Kyle takes the optimistic view of: “What if things could be like they were?” Meaning he suspects that he never truly drove the demon out of his Mother, due to her current state and that he wishes to try again. Their recent success with Joshua is the act that spurs Kyle to begin thinking in this manner. When they attempt this, however, it only fails, leaving Kyle frustrated to the point of injuring himself.
This episode also focuses quite heavily on two particular side characters in Rome. One is Chief Giles, played by the expert Reg E. Cathey (whom we love from such shows as Lights Out) and we are shown just how much his character believes in the truth of demon possession, as well as in how much Reverend Anderson is doing for the town of Rome. The other is Kyle’s ex-parter Allison Baker (Kate Lyn Sheil), who is reluctant to allow Kyle any contact with their daughter Amber at all, yet who welcomes Kyle’s sister Megan with open arms. At Kyle’s insistence, Megan betrays that trust here and manages to sneak a gift from Kyle to Amber.
We looked up the book that Kyle gives Amber as a gift and it is Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, which is a children’s book about a mild-mannered boy who enjoys fixing radios and getting himself into a series of outrageous incidents. We love it when shows drop literature into their episodes, often as a way of telling the viewers that said book both bears relevance to that plot of the show and as a recommendation for viewers to check the book out. LOST did this a lot, to great effect.
Ultimately, this episode is about letting go of the past. As Reverend Anderson puts it to Kyle: “Dwelling on the past, it will eat away at whatever future you have in store. You wanna reclaim your family, you gotta let your mother go.” Which causes Kyle to realise the truth in this. He then breaks down crying, which is a good choice for the character, as we often see him so resolute and free of external emotion.
It’s an episode that gives crucial service to the relationship between Kyle and his Mother, which also more robustly sets up the inhabitants of Rome as well-rounded characters. Yet it is also a lull in the power that episodes like the pilot held and which episode like the two following this hold. If we didn’t know what was coming, we might have been a little underwhelmed by this episode.
Outcast airs every Friday on Cinemax in the USA and every Tuesday on FOX in the UK
Images credit: Cinemax