Outcast 1.05: “The Road Before Us” Episode Review

In the wake of last week's revelations about the demonically afflicted in Rome, West Virginia, Kyle (Patrick Fugit) is in something of a tailspin of worry about his estranged wife, Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil). He desperately wants to talk to her, face to face, and assure himself that she's no longer a threat to herself or their daughter Amber.

The only problem? It's technically illegal for him to do that. Given his recent stint in prison and Allison's restraining order, even setting foot on his erstwhile property could land him in jail again. 

The Reverend (Philip Glenister) humors him to an extent, driving him to the curb so they can—somewhat creepily—watch the house for a while. Word to the wise: if you want to convince your wife that you mean her well, maybe don't lurk outside her house at night staring up at the windows?

Anderson is still pretty obstinate about his “successful” track record with the town's previous exorcisms. It's obvious that his deadliest sin, and future downfall, is pride. He keeps trying to shut Kyle down when he suggests the demonic influences have become adept at hiding and disguising themselves and decides to take our boy on a tour of some his past greatest hits.

On a personal note: I most like Anderson and Kyle's dynamic when they're being snarky little shits with each other. Kyle asks Anderson if he called ahead to warn people, and his response (“Hi, this is Reverend Anderson—just calling to make sure you're still 100% demon free.”) made me snort.

While the Reverend and Barnes are driving all over town doing outreach for the possessed, Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) is beginning to look into his sneaky fireman friend, Ogden (Pete Burris), who only looks sneakier by the minute. Methinks these former BFF's are heading down a path that can only end with tears and bloodshed…

At Kyle's urging,  Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) visits Allison to offer her support; the following exchange proves that something's still not right: 

“I feel like everything that used to hold me down is gone and I'm just floating away,” murmurs Allison, looking somewhat shell-shocked. “There are memories—days—that I just can't access. I don't know if I lost something or if something's getting in the way. Blocking the truth.”

Is she just a battered woman, still reeling from an unexpected and brutal day, suffering from the lingering effects of her possession and the subsequent trauma she experienced when Kyle prevented her from killing their daughter? Or is something still hiding behind her eyes…?

This show has already made it abundantly clear that no one is safe; that people who were supposedly exorcised can still be hosting foul creatures and negative energy. But, Allison remains something of a question mark, and it would almost be more interesting if they didn't go the obvious route and have her still be possessed. 

Having a character work through trauma and struggle with mental issues wholly separate from supernatural forces would stand out amidst the rest of the unholy voices, violence, and body contortions. 

There's some interesting commentary to be made on the nature of physical and emotional distress here—outbursts of anger, feelings of helplessness and loss of control, and disassociation and confusion can be natural, human reactions to suffering. Sweeping it all under the carpet of “demons did it!” ignores that truth.

But, I digress: Kyle and Anderson's outreach continues, and it doesn't go at all that well when Kyle proves, with a touch, that pet shop-owner Brian is still a host to an entity. Evil Data, AKA Sidney, AKA Brent Spiner, is creeping about Kyle's house like a creepy Creeper.

And, Mark's DNA-testing of evidence collected from the now-smoking camper in the woods comes back with a hit: a young woman who's been missing for six months. The Chief plays Devil's Advocate and suggests she's only missing from her boyfriend. 

Because, that's a natural conclusion when you find a bloody fingernail embedded in the ceiling.

Against all rational advice, Kyle ends up visiting Allison, which, predictably, doesn't go smoothly. Daughter Amber has an outburst that just makes her mother angrier and more emotional, and Kyle isn't able to officially confirm whether or not his touch hurts Allison the way it does with the other afflicted.

Meanwhile, Evil Data/Sidney pays the monstrous Mildred (Grace Zabriskie) a house call; she quickly recognizes him as someone to respect. Their following conversation is peppered with important clues regarding the nature of these demonic forces and their ultimate plans:

SIDNEY (touching assorted knick-knacks): “All of these possessions—are they yours?”
MILDRED: “Some of them. Some before I…arrived. Most since. You find your passions here. Have you found things to engage you?”
SIDNEY: “I have a job.”
MILDRED: “Of course. I guess you're here about the Barnes boy.”

Then, just before Evil Data/Sidney can leave, the old lady seizes her chance and seemingly kisses him, only to be violently repulsed. 

SIDNEY: “You know that won't work with me.”
MILDRED: “You can't blame a girl for trying. I won't survive until the Merge.”
SIDNEY: “You took your chances, my dear. Like all of us. Sometimes you draw the short straw.”

C-r-e-e-p-y. 

Apparently, the demons have little control over the vessels they can inhabit? And, it seems the whole sucking-out-your-life-force thing that the afflicted keep trying to pull on Kyle is a way for them to literally regain strength or power—or, perhaps, pass their evil essence into another body.

Across town, Anderson and Kyle spend the night trying to track down Sherry, a past-afflicted-turned-runaway who's living on the streets. Naturally, they end up following her into a dilapidated warehouse, and when Kyle's touch burns her, they attempt another exorcism—and get another unexpected dose of exposition:

SHERRY: “You're the key. We need your light.”
KYLE: “What do you mean 'we'?”
SHERRY: “The Nameless. The Numberless. We see you through the Veil. We come to you and you lead us.”

Following an aerial display David Copperfield would be proud of, Sherry spews out the same black gunk we've seen from Kyle's mother and little Joshua. In the aftermath, the teenager is blank-faced and comatose—again, not unlike Sarah Barnes.

Back with Allison, there's a terrifying moment when it looks like Amber may be dead. But, the blood pools/trail leading up to the girl's bedroom turns out to be red paint, and Allison comes close to snapping. But, again: is it because she's still demonic, or because she's in a fragile mental state?

(And, are Amber's angry outbursts just a natural result of the recent turmoil in her life, or could the little girl even be hiding something evil…? Damn it, this show's got me suspecting everybody now.)

At the hospital, after Anderson prays beside Sherry's bed, Kyle and the Reverend clash yet again. The line between them is being drawn: the ineffective believer (Anderson) on one side and the powerful doubter (Kyle) on the other. 

KYLE: “That kid in there is a vegetable because of us.”
ANDERSON: “Her soul is freed because of us.”
KYLE: “You're insane—you're calling that a win?”
ANDERSON: “She is in God's hands now. Same as your mother. And though my soul weeps for them, they will have eternity with Him. That is a win.”
KYLE: “…If your God is out there, He's laughing at you.”

This doesn't bode very well for the future of our team of demon fighters. Anderson is going to have to put aside his pride and admit he's wrong—and also shelve that growing jealousy over Kyle's abilities that is becoming super apparent—if they're going to have any hope of thwarting the impending “Merge” Mildred mentioned. 

The evening, and episode, once again ends on an unusual note: Kyle returns home to find Allison waiting for him on the porch. When she kisses him and touches his face without an adverse reaction, it looks like we (might) have an answer about her current state—though I'm not 100% convinced, since this show loves curveballs. 

What is certain is that she's lost, she's confused, and she desperately wants answers. But, Kyle refuses to tell her the truth. Probably because he either A) doesn't want to horrify her further and risk a complete breakdown, or B) doesn't think she'll believe him.

Either way, Kyle Barnes remains an awfully tragic guy. He wants so badly to have a family, to be happy, to forget all of this dark and evil shit he's been struggling with since childhood. But, he also seems destined to forever throw himself in the line of fire in order to save someone else. 

As a boy, he suffered the abuse from his mother; as a teen, he purposefully placed himself between Megan and Donny, knowing full well that he'd get a beating every time; and, as an adult, he chose prison and estrangement to save his wife from the truth and keep her home with their daughter. Poor, poor guy.

This series really should have been called Martyr.

See also: Outcast 1.04: “A Wrath Unseen” Episode Review

 


Angie Barry wrote her thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films. Meeting George Romero is high on her bucket list, and she has spent hours putting together her zombie apocalypse survival plan. She also writes horror and fantasy in her spare time, and watches far too much Doctor Who. Come find the angie bee at Tumblr.

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