Outcast: Season 1 Episode 4 Review – A Wrath Unseen
After last week’s brilliant and impressive Blake Morrow episode, Outcast swung back into a lower gear this week and provided, for its fourth episode, something far less impressive. Below you will find our spoiler-heavy review of last night’s episode.
The above being said, the episode does open up on Sidney – the elusive and suavely dressed character (played by Brent Spiner) that we have seen only briefly, prior to this episode. Sidney introduces himself to Reverend Anderson and Kyle at a funeral, claiming to be an old friend of the deceased, but clearly holding the ulterior motive of coming face to face with the Reverend and Kyle.
No doubt the episode’s title – ‘A Wrath Unseen’ – might refer to this very lack of observation from our main characters. We haven’t been told quite who or what Sidney is yet, but it’s apparent that he’s likely some kind of supernatural entity, either on the side of Heaven or Hell (probably the latter).
Sidney isn’t the only new face in Rome. Donnie Hamel (Scott Porter) – someone sinister from Megan’s past – drops in on Megan and her husband Mark while at dinner. Seemingly friendly as pie, Megan reveals to her husband that Donnie is in fact quite the opposite, but she doesn’t tell him exactly why. This leads Mark (being a police officer) to conduct his own investigation into Donnie.
Kyle, on the other hand, knows exactly who Donnie is and goes as far as to pick a fight with Donnie, just because the man chose to come back to Rome. Kyle has a beer with Mark (which we loved, because prior to this Mark was reticent to even be in the same room as Kyle) and we learn that Donnie was a foster kid that her parents took in, who abused her in her youth.
Kyle reveals that he used to try getting in the way, to take a beating, due to “being an old pro at that” (referring to the beatings from his possessed Mother). Despite Megan wanting Kyle and Mark to “let Donnie be”, we sympathise with their decision to ignore this wish, given the nature of Donnie’s crimes, and we loved watching Mark beat Donnie up later on (albeit – foolishly – on camera).
The shows twists the showdown outcome a little, however, and has Megan face off against herself too. She informs him that he has to leave town, stating: “in the same house was too close; in the same town is too close.” Donnie used the “I was a f*cked up kid,” argument and states that he has changed. Megan states that she doesn’t believe that he could “just change” and also throws “do you think this haunts me?… You’re nothing to me – a bump in the road” at him. We loved Megan’s strength in choosing to confront Donnie, in standing her ground amidst his excuses and in showing just how little of an impact his crimes had on her.
The “possession of the week” (what we dub the episodic nature of this show) within this episode is an elderly woman. Someone who “used to be so sweet”, but who has grown foul tempered and unlike herself. Cue, the usual signs of someone who is possessed, but the show cleverly skirts the line of whether she is truly possessed or whether she could have in fact have just changed. This echoes the prior idea of whether Donnie could have “just changed” and if you recall – Megan didn’t buy into this idea. This is certainly a theme for the episode and one which is explored both within Donnie and the old woman.
With Joshua, the show showed us someone very young go through possession and this seems to be the writers showing us the opposite end of the scale, which does make you wonder if those who are young or old might be more susceptible to possession that those in their adult years.
This week’s episode was (like episode 2) another retrospective window into our characters’ lives, only this week it was Megan’s troubled history, rather than Kyle’s. It’s a subject matter that allowed the character of Mark to be fleshed out a little too, which we don’t mind at all. But it’s a subject that we’ve seen played out before, and recently too, in shows like Bates Motel.
Outcast needs more of characters like Sidney and less of the episodic structure; these two changes might culminate in a true arc, which is what is sorely needed. We want to see a serialised, taught arc that we can excitedly follow, as it plays out towards a decent conclusion at the end of Season 1.
Image credits: Cinemax, FOX TV