Sunday, January 19, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Outsider' - Terry's Defense Team Hires a Private Investigator to Pursue New Leads in 'Dark Uncle'

HBO's The Outsider - Episode 1.03 "Dark Uncle"

Despite being on mandatory leave, Ralph continues to scrutinize the confounding circumstances surrounding the night of the murder. Frustrated by their lack of progress, Ralph and Yunis meet with Alec and Howie, who suggest bringing in unorthodox P.I. Holly Gibney. Jack has a hair-raising experience at a remote barn where key evidence and a mysterious substance have been found. Glory deals with fallout at her daughters' school and with Jessa's increasingly concerning nightmares.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's The Outsider.

"Dark Uncle" was written by Richard Price and directed by Andrew Bernstein

With Terry Maitland dead, it would be easy to close the book on this investigation. Every member of the Peterson family is dead as well. That makes it easy for the public to buy into the idea that Terry committed this central crime. With him gone, they can move on with their lives and embrace a sense of normalcy once more. They are fully willing to believe that the threat no longer exists in their community. Of course, things never lined up fully for Ralph. As such, he is still investigating even though he is on mandatory leave. Sure, he seems like a much better detective than Jack even in this diminished role. There has to be a reason why Yunis continues to keep him in the loop with everything going on. Sure, it's absolutely random that this barn has been discovered with the clothes the murder suspect was willing which have also been covered in a mysterious substance. That continues to increase the uncertainty of the proceedings. It presents with the understanding that there are things afoot in this world that aren't easy to explain. That doesn't work for Ralph though because he lives his life needing to have a clear answer to any mystery that comes his way. He can't quit this investigation now. He is still attending his therapy sessions. But he remains reluctant to truly open up and deal with anything that has happened to him. The show would much rather be a straightforward investigation as well. And yet, it is growing a little too obvious that Jessa truly is seeing a monster in the middle of the night. It's not just a dream as her mother insists. It's a monster that wants Ralph to be scared. It's a way to deter him from investigating further. Of course, there is now a unified team trying to get to the bottom of this case. Ralph wants to understand what actually happened while Howie and Alec are just trying to clear Terry's good name. His daughters may have to transfer schools because of the bullying they are enduring from both the students and their parents. Glory sees it as the world continuing to attack this family. She has very little tolerance for whatever Ralph wants to ask of her. She barely entertains the notion that her daughter has some important message that she needs to deliver to him. Meanwhile, Jeannie's advice isn't all that revolutionary. It's just a simple suggestion that can hopefully help Jessa better adjust to her new reality. Of course, those tactics may not be all that effective because the show wants the audience to buy into the suggestion that these encounters with a mystery man are real and not just a dream. Physical pain is coming to those who continue to investigate or even just poke their heads around this atmosphere of chaos. Jack is crippled with indescribable pain here. That is such a vague and nonsensical storyline though. The barn is no longer relevant by the time he arrives there. Ralph is already being briefed by Yunis about all the valid findings. Jack is slower to react than the majority of the characters. That's saying something because the narrative has been overwhelmingly slow in order to make sure that the audience catches every detail even when it is trying to hide things from us. It's a very unusual balance. For the majority of this hour, the viewer has no understanding who the guy in prison is. By the end of the episode, he is dead. That may be important. Or it may just showcase how innocent people die all the time and it's just a fact of life. It was true for Terry Maitland and the Peterson family. It may be true for this inmate as well. It mostly just provides new private investigator Holly Gibney with an enticing lead to pursue. But that seems incredibly tangential to what she was hired to do. Yes, there was a crime at the place where Terry's father is living. He is suffering greatly from his Alzheimer's. That's about it though. It's such a strange storytelling pace. It's frustrating and continues to hold these actors back from embracing rewarding material. Cynthia Erivo joins the ensemble here as a collection of personal quirks instead of a meaningful new investigator. Her presence brings a splash of color and personality to the proceedings though. However, it may still be limiting because of everything else happening that is seemingly important if lackluster in execution.