In Cherokee City, Georgia, the body of a young boy, Frankie Peterson, is found brutally mutilated in the woods. As Det. Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) investigates the crime, all of the evidence points toward beloved little league coach Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman). The case hits particularly hard for Ralph as he and wife Jeannie (Mare Winningham) still haven’t gotten over the grief of losing their own son, who had also been coached by Maitland. Det. Anderson lets his emotions get to him and rushes to have Maitland arrested very publicly, to make an example and a spectacle out of him. However, Terry and his wife Glory (Julianne Nicholson) maintain his innocence. Terry even has a rock-solid alibi with video proof that he was somewhere else at the time of the crime. However, there is also physical evidence that ties him to the crime scene. But how can someone be in two places at once?! So Det. Anderson hires PI Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo) to help him with the case. Gibney is an extremely intelligent but slightly odd woman, with some unusual gifts and quirks. She has a keen sense of observation and empathy. Gibney quickly discovers a pattern, identifying other child abduction/murder cases where there was some sort of conflicting evidence that implied some sort of doppelgänger. She also starts to find connections between all of the cases, and suspects that there may be something supernatural involved. But, will she be able to convince Det. Anderson and the others to get on board with her theory, and if it’s true, how will they stop this unusual killer?!
The Outsider is adapted from Stephen King’s 2018 novel of the same name, and you can definitely feel his presence in the story and characters. The series is expertly crafted and visually stunning, nicely blending a procedural detective story with a supernatural thriller. The series explores several interesting, damaged and conflicted characters, for whom this case brings some ghosts from their past to the forefront. These characters are really well fleshed out over the course of the season. As the series starts off, there is this mystery of what really happened to the Peterson boy, and who killed him. Ralph is haunted by his grief, and so when the evidence points towards Terry Maitland, he is eager to see this man pay for this gruesome crime, even if there is some inexpiable conflicting evidence. The viewer is also baffled as to what is actually the truth—is Maitland guilty or innocent, and how could he be in two places at once?! Meanwhile, the fallout from the murder of Frankie Peterson leads to even more grief and death, and a creepy, hooded figure always seems to be lurking in the background. Terry Maitland’s young daughter also claims that this figure has come to her at night with warnings for Ralph to drop the case. However, the adults just write this off as a bad dream. Who is this dark, disfigured figure, and what connection does he have to the murders?
As the season progresses, the series becomes more of a straightforward procedural detective story, but with a creepy supernatural twist. We meet the odd, but fascinating, Holly Gibney—this character has also appeared in the recent Mr. Mercedes series—and learn more about her past through flashbacks, which help to explain her unusual personality. She gets deeper and deeper into the case, finding new connections and leads that expose something much larger and scarier than they could have imagined. But this leads to even more questions of who can be trusted, and who the killer might be. As the season heads into its final act, the series plays out like a tense thriller, as the hunt is on for the killer. These exciting final few episodes reminded me quite a bit of It Chapter Two as there are many similarities in the characters, the tone, the setting, and how the events play out. The season reaches a satisfying conclusion, but also leaves the door open for more stories with these characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed this series. It is initially a slow burn, but builds in intensity and amps up the action by the end of the season. Episodes often leave the viewer with a WTF?!-like cliffhanger, making them eager to continue to see what happens next. The cinematography is breathtaking, and really sets the tone and mood of the series perfectly, right from the opening sequence. The cast is also amazing, particularly the two main leads Ben Mendelsohn & Cynthia Erivo, who deliver captivating performances for these incredibly complex and interesting characters. Several times throughout the season i found myself on the edge of my seat, heart-pounding, and worried what would happen next. There were some genuinely shocking twists and turns.
As mentioned earlier, this is a very ascetically pleasing series, and Warner Bros’ Blu-ray release captures this in nearly flawless detail—I can’t imagine the show looking any better. The audio track is excellent, and well-utilized to help tell the story. Holly has a sensitivity to sound, and the filmmakers do an excellent job of manipulating the audio to help the viewer feel what she is experiencing. The soundtrack also gets kicked up to 11, accentuating the horror and putting the viewer on edge, whether it’s the bloodcurdling roar of a mysterious creature, or the explosive sound of bullets from a rifle, or just the creepy score. The track also provides clear dialogue, and an overall, generally-immersive viewing experience. The 10 episodes are split across three Blu-ray discs, which are housed in a standard multi-disc HD keepcase with a cardboard slipcase. Inside is an episode guide as well as the redemption code for an HD digital copy of the episodes, redeemable via Vudu. The 50 minutes of bonus material is split across all three discs. This is mostly comprised of short promotional featurettes with the cast and filmmakers (some of the same interview footage is repeated several times), some Inside the Episode featurettes, and a longer 13-minute discussion about El Cuco, which is new to this release.
- All 10 episodes of the first season:
Disc 1: “Fish in a Barrel”, “Roanoke”, “Dark Uncle”, “Que Viene el Coco”
Disc 2: “Tear-Drinker”, “The One About The Yiddish Vampire”, “In the Pines, In the Pines”
Disc 3: “Foxhead”, “Tigers and Bears”, “Must/Can’t”
- 1080p / Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
- Digital HD copy of the episodes redeemable via Vudu.
- Invitation to Set (1:03)
The cast and creators talk about the show’s premise and characters. Includes some brief behind-the-scenes shots of the set, and interviews with author Stephen King, writer/executive producer Richard Price, and stars Ben Mendelsohn (“Ralph Anderson”) & Cynthia Erivo (“Holly Gibney”).
- Jason Bateman on The Outsider (1:22)
Executive Producer/Director (episodes 1 & 2) Jason Bateman (“Terry Maitland”) talks about creating a mood and dread rather than horror, and his excitement to work on a Stephen King project. Includes some brief behind-the-scenes shots.
- Stephen King and The Outsider (2:29)
Stephen King talks about his process for creating this story, while the cast and filmmakers talk about the premise and characters. Includes interviews with writer/executive producer Richard Price, writer (episodes 7 & 9) Dennis Lehane, author Stephen King, and stars Ben Mendelsohn & Cynthia Erivo.
- Adapting The Outsider (2:49)
Author Stephen King and writer/executive producer Richard Price talk about working with one another, combining Price’s expertise with procedurals with King’s original story. They also discuss changing the race of the Holly character, adding in new characters such as brothers and boyfriends, and more.
- El Cuco, The Baba Yaga, The Outsider. (13:10)
In this all-new featurette for this release, the cast and filmmakers discuss the this universal myth and dread of this child-snatching vampire creature that feeds on grief and bad feelings, deciding on how to portray it on screen, and the difficulty of keeping track of its transformation and timeline. Includes interviews with author Stephen King, writer/executive producer Richard Price, director/executive producer Andrew Bernstein, writer (episodes 7 & 9) Dennis Lehane, executive producer/director Jason Bateman, and stars Cynthia Erivo & Ben Mendelsohn.
- Analyzing Holly Gibney (2:50)
The cast and filmmakers discuss the character of Holly Gibney, her eccentricities, how she differs from the book, choosing the look for the character, and more. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with author Stephen King, executive producer/director Jason Bateman, writer/executive producer Richard Price, and stars Cynthia Erivo & Ben Mendelsohn.
- The Outsider: Inside the Episodes
The cast and filmmakers talk about the characters and events of the various episodes. Those interviewed during these segments include author Stephen King, director/executive producer Andrew Bernstein, executive producer/director (episodes 1 & 2) Jason Bateman, writer (episodes 7 & 9) Dennis Lehane, writer/executive producer Richard Price, and stars Ben Mendelsohn & Cynthia Erivo.
- The Outsider: Inside Episodes 1 & 2 (4:39)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the premise of the series, the character of Ralph and his dilemma/personal investment in the case, shooting the courthouse scene, and more.
- The Outsider: Inside Episodes 3 & 4 (6:57)
The cast and filmmakers talk about combining genres and styles of filmmaking, the characters of Holly Gibney and Jack Hoskins, and the boogeyman creature that is common across cultures.
- The Outsider: Inside Episodes 5, 6 & 7 (6:29)
The cast and filmmakers talk about fears, how the different characters struggle with the idea that the boogeyman is real, the relationship between Holly and Jack, and more.
- The Outsider: Inside Episodes 8, 9 & 10 (9:11)
The cast and filmmakers talk about the various incarnations of the creature, the cave flashback, the massive shootout, the characters confronting the creature, shooting in a real cave, and more.
- The Outsider: Inside Episodes 1 & 2 (4:39)
The bonus material is split across all three discs, and is not included in the digital copy.
The Outsider is an excellent series that is sure to please Stephen King fans. Right from the start, the filmmakers do an excellent job of setting a creepy mood with a visually stunning and aurally stimulating presentation. What plays out is a detective procedural thriller with a supernatural twist that takes the viewer on a roller-coaster ride as it brings in fascinating characters and takes interesting twists and turns. Add to that some quality performances by the leads, and you’ve got a really satisfying 10 hours. If they find a way to bring these characters back for a another story, I would definitely watch it! This release comes highly recommended and a must own for King fans.