Episode 7 of The Outsider might not have been the most action-packed episode and certainly didn’t move the plot forward as much as previous installments, but I won’t call it a “filler episode” the way others have. This was an hour of television that masterfully displayed both tension and fear in addition to getting the narrative where it needed to be. No, this series doesn’t move at the break-neck speed that other high-quality series do, but it doesn’t need to. Part of the beauty of The Outsider is that it moves at its own speed and tells its own story its own way. Episode 7 was another haunting chapter in a series I’m really enjoying.
The world is large. We all know this on an intellectual level, but for many of us, we make the world much smaller than it really is by defining it by what’s in front of our eyes. A “have to see it, to believe it” mentality, if you will. Yet we’re all aware of the wonders of the world, like the oceans and how little we truly know about them. We know space is one big question mark and we don’t question that. The world’s unsolved mysteries don’t just reside in the sea or in the sky however. There are things that happen all around us that we just don’t understand. How we react to the unexplainable says a lot about us as people.
So much of this series has been about Ralph’s inability to accept what he can’t intellectualize. This week, those around him finally called him out not only for this inability he has, but also how it’s harmful to the case and those around him. Part of the beauty of Ben Mendelsohn’s performance here is how he reacts. There were a few instances of Ralph getting taken to task and each time, his physical reaction told the story far better than any dialogue could have.
Ralph’s body language said that he understood what was being said to him, and he knows he should try to see outside the box, but he just can’t. There’s something tragic about how broken this man is on the inside. He holds himself together on a day-to-day basis by keeping his nose to the ground and doing exactly what he knows how to do, which is be a cop. A case like this that forces him out of his comfort zone pushes him to his limits. It’s not that he doesn’t understand what those around him are telling him, it’s that he doesn’t know how to do anything about it.
Most of this episode centered around Holly’s disappearance and both her quest to escape from Jack as well as Ralph and Alec trying to find her. The car ride scenes with Holly and Jack were a borderline masterclass on suspense. Jack is riding this line between human fighting to have some sense of control and a body completely taken over by something pure evil. Watching him talk to Holly and explain to her how he never believed in anything his whole life but he does now was chilling, and was also a great parallel for what Ralph is going through.
It doesn’t have to be just the good things in this world to make people believe in something more. The bad can have the same impact. Holly was under the impression that Jack was taking her to the barn we had previously seen him in, but as we would later learn, they were headed hours in the opposite direction. There was no mistake about it, Jack was taking Holly somewhere far away to kill her, a fact she was not confused about.
Holly’s escape from Jack and subsequent return to town set the second half of the episode in motion. This is where Holly and Jeannie learned that Ralph had indeed lied, or at least withheld the truth from them both that Terry Maitland had indeed scratched Claude, the ex con who up until this episode was running the strip club in town.
Now that Holly is aware of this fact, she’ll inevitably be chasing Claude as all of her findings would indicate that Claude will be the next to have a double who will in fact kill a child. The race is on as we head into the final three hours of this series. Will Holly be able to prevent the murder of another child, and will Ralph finally come around enough to help her?
One of the most haunting images to date in this series (which is saying a lot) came from the closing moments of this episode. Upon first glance, it seemed that Holly had a nightmare, where Jack prevented her from getting away and shot her in the car, killing her. Holly awoke and let out one of the most blood curdling screams I’ve seen or heard anywhere. Was it a dream though? Holly doesn’t strike me as the type to react that strongly to a dream. It felt like something more, something deserving of that strong of a reaction.
Could it have been a vision of what’s to come? Sure, the scene was from her escape but we know that Jack’s mission is to stop her. There’s no reason to assume that he’s going to stop just because she got away this once. Was Holly filled with the knowledge of what could be her fate? Given her many abilities, this does not feel far-fetched to me. Jack is alone but on his way back to town. Another showdown with Holly is inevitable. Did we witness her fate here? What a terrible way to go, if in fact, that is the case.
With just three episodes left, one can’t help but wonder what the end game looks like. How can you stop something like what they’re up against? Who might not live to see it through? (Poor sweet Andy comes to mind here.) We know this entity has its sights set on Ralph, but can Ralph overcome his fears to become less desirable to this evil? He did seem like he was on the right track this week, in particular by going to see his therapist. Can Ralph get out of his own in time to be a helpful part of this case or will he die trying? Three more episodes to find out.