The Outsider: Fish in a Barrel; Roanoke (Episodes 1 & 2)   Show Only 
January 12, 2020 8:10 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

 
I'm curious to see how this unfolds so I'll be tuning in to the next. But dang if that courthouse circus didn't make me have to basically sledgehammer my suspension of disbelief button. Even podunk courthouses have back doors for inmates, if they aren't already adjoining the jail. Anyway. Lots of meaty stuff here beyond usual plot armor quibbles.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:59 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Yeah, to paraphrase an old episode of The Simpsons, I think you have to suspend disbelief by saying that whenever it happens "the EVIL did it" when it comes to courthouse security. (The show almost hung a lampshade on this when they talked about how maybe they shouldn't have had the late-in-pregnancy-detective-who-is-also-the-only-other-detective ALSO walking up the sidewalk at the same time.)

I accidentally watched this even though it isn't necessarily my jam, I'll stick with it for a while. Ben Mendelsohn is very very good so far.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:29 PM on January 13


I know the subject matter is gruesome, but to be honest (as a book reader) I was surprised by the dark tone of everything. On the other hand - I don't think I've ever seen a Kind adaptation that so thoroughly stuck to the book plot, and I'm tentatively impressed.

(Except for the bits where I'm like - has no one in this show ever seen a soap opera or a telenovella? Maybe he has an evil twin!!! #notaspoiler)
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 3:05 PM on January 13


I didn't understand how the high-profile case could attract a crowd that included a doctor who didn't know who the person on the sidewalk was. Maybe the doctor was doing some doctoring by asking the victim if they knew their own name, but that's not how the scene read to me.
posted by emelenjr at 3:07 PM on January 13


Whoever wants to start the 'Books Included' thread, please go ahead. I haven't read it, so, I'll only be posting 'Show Only' threads.

I'm curious to see where this is going. While I can see some of the traditional King tropes (gruesomely murdered children, horror lurking behind the facade of small town normalcy), I didn't find myself feeling particularly scared/horrified/upset by anything. I didn't really feel the "dread and impending doom feel" that Bateman was going for per the Hollywood Reporter interview. Not on gut level.

Who was the shooter at the courthouse? Was it the older brother of Frankie, the murdered kid?
posted by oh yeah! at 4:09 PM on January 13


Yes, the older brother. Who was no doubt influenced by hoodie mask guy we saw in the crowd and outside the suicide attempt.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:14 PM on January 13


(Except for the bits where I'm like - has no one in this show ever seen a soap opera or a telenovella? Maybe he has an evil twin!!! #notaspoiler)

[[SPECULATION NOW, NOT SPOILERS, I HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK]]

Yeah, I watched episode 1 last night and said to my SO, "all of the physical evidence can be explained by Terry having an identical twin no one knows about." Coincidentally enough (OR WAS IT???) we had just listened to an NPR segment about how comedian twins Jason and Randy Sklar are so identical that there is no way to tell them apart, down to fingerprints or DNA. Of course, that leaves the motive still unknown: Why would a secret identical twin frame Terry for a gruesome murder? (Though if you've watched the Simpsons you know it's because the twin was forced to live in the attic and eat fish heads.)

By the end of episode 2, all the physical evidence can still be explained by an unknown identical twin. Obviously we know that's not the whole story because we know we're watching a Stephen King show, and that when young children have scary dreams it's because they are tuned into what's actually going on. We've also seen hoodie guy with his melty face, and seen the fully melted remains of Terry-with-the-big-belt-buckle, and are primed to read Terry's accidentally cut wrist as someone harvesting his DNA with which to create self-destructing clones to do horrible things. But for the characters in-universe, an identical twin still checks all the boxes without invoking the Bermuda Triangle.

Anyway, I am digging this show, the creepy vibe, the minimal soundtrack, the deliberate direction. (I loved the three push-ins to hoodie guy, even if they may be pushing it.) I'm enjoying the mystery despite my yammering above. King is great at building mystery, though not always at resolving it (I'm looking at you, Under the Dome, and I'm looking at you with love and admiration, The Mist (in both cases I mean the books and not the movies/TV series)).

I haven't watched every HBO show that has come out recently but the ones I have watched have been killing it. Will all this goodness vanish into HBO MAX when that comes out?
posted by ejs at 8:23 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


I thought twins don't have identical fingerprints.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:28 AM on January 14


...yeah, googling indictes they can be very similar but never actualy identical. And given that all the fingers are different, if there are many prints it wouldn't be in doubt.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:38 AM on January 14


This is very good. I actually missed that Terry had died following the courthouse shooting until very late in the episode. I am I alone in that?
posted by hwestiii at 1:46 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I wasn’t sure either. But I don’t know if they were trying to be ambiguous to make it suspenseful or if they thought they didn’t need to make it part of the opening exposition because he was doomed the moment the Whatever doppelgänger-ed him to kill Frankie.
posted by oh yeah! at 2:02 PM on January 14


As far as HBO killing it goes, I mostly agree.

In the last year I've been super impressed by all but one show I started. I didn't even make it through a full episode of The Righteous Gemstones, which kind of upset me. I generally like all the male leads, but perhaps 60 minutes is just too much Danny McBride, and the subject matter is (no reference to The Outsider) fish in a barrel, maybe too easy to get cheap laughs, or too hard do to in a nuanced fashion, if such is possible with Adam Devine and Danny McBride in the cast.

That aside (and maybe the GoT finale), I was riveted by all of "Sharp Objects", Season 1 of "Big Little Lies", both seasons of "Succession", "Euphoria", and "Watchmen", and both seasons of "Barry". Quite a hitting streak.
posted by hwestiii at 2:20 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I agree with your list (except that I haven't seen Euphoria), and would add Westworld (great for me, I know a lot of people don't like it) and especially Chernobyl, which I would nominate as the best TV series of 2019.
posted by ejs at 4:55 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]


I didn't even make it through a full episode of The Righteous Gemstones

Stick with it, it gets a lot better.
posted by Optamystic at 3:27 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


I'm watching the first episode now. I agree with you ejs that King often has trouble resolving things. I think he tends to write himself into corners that he can not entirely write himself out of.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:38 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]


OK almost done with ep 2.

The whole "clearing Terry's name is your only hope" pisses me off. I know it's a popular trope, but I wish instead of just shutting the door Glory had given him a dose of reality about that. Because selling that her only hope of salvation is also conveniently the thing that will salve his ego (and doubt) annoys me to no end.

I find the main character kind of unsympathetic. He wants justice for his child (which he can't get because yeah cancer) but he's overtly responsible for at least one person's death and at least played some part in the deaths of 2 others. Like to me, justice is he clears Terry (because it's the right thing to do) and then continues to live with the guilt that an entire family is gone partially because of his own emotional mishigas. (And he probably should have been in therapy before this.)

I know people will probably not be happy with this comment, but yeah the 'good cop filled with guilt" thing isn't really working for me here.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:19 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


So is Randall Flagg a greaser or a soc? Stay gold.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:44 PM on January 17


Richard Price + Stephen King = right up my alley.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 9:38 PM on January 18


WELL. Okay. The problem is that I didn't realize this was a Stephen King adaption -- the description just made it sound like HBO's latest attempt to recreate season 1 of True Detective -- so I wasn't expecting things to get spooky. There are few things more terrifying to me than the "child talks to scary person the adult can't see" trope. And worst of all...I started watching this after I watched 45 minutes of Us and decided it was too scary for me. What a cursed night!

I am also pretty horrified on behalf of Terry and his family, damn, but that's not the kind of horror that I think about when I have insomnia.
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:47 AM on January 19


I actually missed that Terry had died following the courthouse shooting until very late in the episode. I am I alone in that?
Once the doctor got to him, I figured he was going to be okay, but then a cop at the hospital told Glory “I’m sorry for your loss...” and I was like “Wait, so Jason Bateman died? Wow!“

I just burned through the first three episodes and am really liking the mini-series. I am always impressed by the great Ben Mendelsohn.
posted by blueberry at 10:20 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


This show often looks like it wants to be in 3-D.

It's often pouring on the ominousness too thick but I don't really mind.
posted by fleacircus at 5:57 PM on February 17


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