The Outsider: Que Viene el Coco   Show Only 
January 26, 2020 8:24 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

While retracing the Maitlands' recent family vacation, Holly pursues a possible connection to an eerily similar case and gains valuable insight from local former detective Andy Katcavage. Meanwhile, Glory faces increased scrutiny in her daily life, and Jack's behavior grows progressively more erratic.
posted by oh yeah! (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I really love how the cases are so open-and-shut that no one ever thought to look at how it actually fit together. And the nature of the beast means that anyone close to the case is usually dead in short order. Holly is well suited to this because she, in classic Holmes-ian method, does not eliminate things simply because they're unusual or indeed extraordinary.

That's a rare characteristic, I think. When I have a problem, my first attempt is to prove why it's impossible to solve. Most people go the other way, but you will save a lot of time when you realize a problem can't be functionally solved with what you have available. In this case, the problem is that no one can be in two places at once. While time travel or an alternate dimension are just as on the table as a freaking GRIEF EATER, and I have no doubt Holly considered that, it quickly becomes apparent that something is doing this deliberately.

Did I mention that I really like and feel a strong affinity for the character of Holly Gibney? This show is good!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:41 AM on January 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

I was a little confused as to the timeline of who the Grief Eater was scratching/when it was transforming. If we start with Maria, the woman Gibney saw in prison - when we were seeing the flashes of her having breakfast + sex with Heath while she was telling Gibney she never did go on the date with him, I guess that mean the flashbacks we saw were the Grief Eater's? So it scratches Heath, which gives it the ability to transform into Heath, and then it kills the two girls and makes it's conspicuous appearance at work while real Heath is still off on vacation. I wasn't sure who it crossed paths with in the hallway slip; I thought it was just a janitor, but, did the Grief-Eater-as-Heath cross paths with Terry that day too? But I guess that was at the hotel or parking lot, wherever Terry's daughter told Ralph that Terry got a cut, and the hallway slip was just its way of making itself conspicuous to get Heath framed for the murder same as flipping off the strip club alley security cameras as Terry.

So I guess I'm just confused by who Grief-Eater-as-Terry selected next. Is strip-club-guy just a red herring, or is it out there dopplegängering him now? Terry, Heath, and Maria were all oblivious to what their doppelgängers were out there doing, so, I guess it's mostly the mystery of what's going on with Jack since whatever happened to him out in that barn.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:17 PM on January 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Hmmm... I guess it's pointing more at a doppelgänger, but in Terry Maitland's case, I was beginning to think he did have time to visit the murder scene, van and strip club after his crew at the conference went to bed early, then get back by morning.

No one saw the murder take place, so hoodie-old-guy could have done that part, then compelled Maitland to frame himself. The way the daughter was reacting to the man around & in the house & the way the victim's father committed suicide suggested grabbing hold of people's darkest fears & desires. Still supernatural, but a little less far out than doppels.

There was a witness to Maitland in the parking lot near the murder, too early for it to actually be him, but could that be accidental suggestion by the questioning adults on top of her not getting a great look at him?
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 8:40 PM on January 27, 2020

It crossed path with Terry Maitland in the hallway of the hospital when it was the orderly. Terry was visiting his father. That was Jason Bateman who helped him up. Watch it again and you'll see it clearly and hear his voice. So the trail goes Woman --> Impersonates her and sleeps with the guy --> Scratches Terry outside of his father's nursing home room --> Strip Club Owner.

ASCII Costanza head, sometimes a grief eater is really a grief eater... I find it admirable that you're trying to contort yourself into knots over a Stephen King based story.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:59 PM on January 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

It crossed path with Terry Maitland in the hallway of the hospital when it was the orderly

You can even see Terry inspecting his arm like he just got scratched.

Other than a mistrust of police, which I didn't really pick up on in earlier episodes, why would the strip-club dude lie about being cut? Also has the grief eater been lucky that he keeps changing into people on vacation? Because going for strip-club dude doesnt follow the pattern of out-of-towners.

The lady knows much more than either Terry or Heath did. Was she the original and saw more of the monster than the others?

I am very intrigued by the series and I was super pleased to be following Holly this episode instead of the detective dude. But I did not like the security guard/date - either the writing or his character is bad because literally all he did was ask her questions, it wasn't a conversation, it felt like an interrogation.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:06 AM on January 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

So the trail goes Woman --> Impersonates her and sleeps with the guy --> Scratches Terry outside of his father's nursing home room --> Strip Club Owner.

What about Neck Rash Guy, though? Who infected him & where does he come in this chain? Here in the UK, at least, we're being forced to wait a week before each episode and I find myself repeatedly losing track as a result.

Also, it's worth noting that Strip Club Guy is played by Paddy Considine, who's enough of a name actor to suggest he'll have a far bigger part to play in the series than we've seen so far.
posted by Paul Slade at 4:21 AM on January 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

What about Neck Rash Guy, though? Who infected him & where does he come in this chain? Here in the UK, at least, we're being forced to wait a week before each episode and I find myself repeatedly losing track as a result.

Er, no, that's not correct, we only have to wait one day, not a week. Last night's episode on Sky Atlantic in the UK was Episode 4, a day after it was shown in the USA.

Claude Bolton, the bouncer at the strip club, was scratched by Terry-doppelganger in the strip club. So far only Ralph has put together a link between the scratches and ... something he doesn't yet understand. And only Holly knows that Heath-doppelganger scratched Terry at the nursing home. And nobody knows that Heath was scratched by Maria-doppelganger.

I don't know if it was Claude, the strip club bouncer, or Evil Hoodie Guy who stroked Jack's neck in the barn. I suspect the Hoodie Guy. But it's not looking good for Jack...
posted by essexjan at 7:21 AM on January 28, 2020

Yeah, I'm having trouble figuring how both Strip Club Guy and Detective Dickhole fit into the grief eater modus operandi. But our knowledge of its MO is incomplete. Maybe it's always influenced secondary people — manipulating events for maximum grief might require helpers. And while the only people we've known were scratched were subsequently the primary target, maybe the grief eater impersonates other people in addition for lesser tasks. So perhaps neither of these two are targeted for framing a new primary and the grief eater is using them in a continuation of its Terry Maitland campaign. No one else in the Maitland family has died, after all, unlike what we know about the two previous targets: nurse's mother and brother, hotel worker's father and uncle. And the show is spending a lot of time with Terry's widow.

The "what doesn't fit in this picture?" thing here, though, is Terry's dad. He said he told his wife "[he] was cold and she set the bed on fire". He seemingly talked about the grief eater, had known what it was, and maliciously cackled at how everyone had been fooled. What in the world is going on with all of that?

I'm wondering if the grief eater usually or necessarily has truly willing accomplices and/or plagues families over generations.

All these are institutionalists, excepting Holly, the people involved in solving these mysteries — and yet their institutions are wholly impotent to address the supernatural. They're going to be very frustrated.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:24 AM on January 28, 2020

Er, no, that's not correct, we only have to wait one day, not a week.

What I meant was, we have to wait a week before one episode and the next. No opportunity to binge watch, in other words. Sorry that wasn't clear.
posted by Paul Slade at 8:04 AM on January 28, 2020

Am I supposed to know what a grief eater is?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:19 AM on January 28, 2020

OnTheLastCastle used (coined?) the term in the first comment in the thread. The woman Holly speaks to in her apartment didn't use those words, but described the activity clearly and very evocatively: it's a monster (El Coco?) that feeds on grief and therefore creates tragedies such as we've seen that generate maximum grief.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

> Paul Slade: Here in the UK, at least, we're being forced to wait a week before each episode [...] No opportunity to binge watch, in other words.

It's the same in the US, for what it's worth. It airs/streams/whatever on HBO (in their marquee Sundays at 9 timeslot) with new episodes weekly, though the first two were released together.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:54 AM on January 28, 2020

It doesn't fit. I was annoyed when I saw it and expected them to repurpose the image. But they kept the name, which is maybe worse.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:16 PM on January 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

It's so weirdly out of place that I'm half expecting this to take a turn into the Greek pantheon now.
posted by thecaddy at 3:30 PM on January 29, 2020

Saturn regularly devored his own children. I don't see a problem with including him in a search about mythological creatures that ate children.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:55 PM on January 29, 2020

I can't remember if it was in this episode or the previous one that the Finnish etiäinen was mentioned, but it's always startling to come across a reference to your own culture like that. Anyway, for those who are curious, etiäinen used to be a rather normal thing in rural Finland ages ago, a doppelgänger in the sense that it might sound our even look like the person in question. But it wasn't really considered an outside entity, more like, I don't know, a projection maybe, or kind of like the ghost of a living person? And certainly not malevolent in any context I've seen.

It would most commonly appear a few minutes or maybe half an hour before the person arrives. For instance, you'd catch a glimpse through the window of someone you know, coming through the gate and crossing the barnyard, and then wonder why they're not entering the house. And then ten minutes later that person comes through the gate and crosses the barnyard exactly like that, except now they actually also come in... and you realize what you saw earlier was just a preview.

Oftentimes it would be only auditory, like hearing the door go and someone sighing and stomping their feet to shake the snow off. I've read accounts of old timey people being so used to these signs that they'd put the coffee on, knowing that the person would arrive shortly. Useful in the sparsely populated countryside before there were any phones or even door bells.

I'm a little hesitant to mention this but I've seen an etiäinen once, and for the record I'm a very skeptical person who does not believe in paranormal anything, at all. But I saw what I saw and I've made my peace with not really knowing wtf that was all about. Just a freak coincidence of a tired brain imagining things and reality following suit a minute later, most likely. And at least no scratches, oozing neck boils or murders were involved...
posted by sively at 8:36 AM on February 15, 2020 [8 favorites]

I'm having trouble figuring how both Strip Club Guy and Detective Dickhole fit into the grief eater modus operandi.

I'm confused too and here's my current theory:

The Grief Eater is noncorporeal. It controls a doppelganger; the doppelganger can get a new form by scratching someone, then it molts later on. So first the doppelganger is a copy of the NY bartender, then becomes the Ohio nurse, then it becomes Jason Bateman, and finally it scratches Paddy Considine.

Except there's something different about Paddy Considine. Maybe he's a saint -- they keep demonstrating to us how utterly chill he is, like he's immune to rage. Or maybe he's sick or has some other kind of DRM. In any case, the doppelgänger fails to become him and dies.

So the Grief Eater is like, well fuck, I need to make a new doppelgänger. So he infects Detective Dickhole. The Grief Eater is incorporeal but if he tries real hard like Patrick Swayze in Ghost, he can affect RL. Plus DD is susceptible to rage. He goes and does a doppelganger summoning ritual, with a deer sacrifice and some WalMart offerings. Or maybe it's to do something else because he has special feelings for Ben Mendelsohn's extra delicious sad dad grief.

Yes it's silly to even post this since I'm three episodes behind, but oh well.
posted by fleacircus at 9:54 PM on February 17, 2020

« Older Supergirl: Back From the Futur...   |  Movie: A Private War... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments