REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (EPISODES 1-2) | WHERE TO WATCH: SKY GO, NOWTV
Translated from the pages of a more recent Stephen King novel comes the distorted tale of The Outsider. Shattered in disbelief after the apparent murder of local youth Frankie Peterson, Flint City tries to put its hope in detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) when he accuses teacher and all-around good guy Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman). With the police convinced that they have a slam dunk case on their hands, events, unfortunately, begin to transpire into a 'Whose side are you on?'-style situation when conflicting evidence comes to light.
The Gift and Ozark have quickly shown the darker side of Jason Bateman's acting finesse, and with The Outsider, he has not only comfortably taken on the nightmarish but calm role of - to his character's mind - falsely accused Terry Maitland with both hands, he has also managed to secure himself a directorial seat in a Stephen King narrative. For those of you that still consider him as just a comedic figure, then let this show be undeniable proof of his acting and directing scope. Opposite Jason, and also notably taking over the big screen with commanding performances in the likes of Rogue One, Captain Marvel, and Ready Player One in just the last couple of years, Ben Mendelsohn is, rightfully so, one of the most sought after names in acting right now. He effortlessly holds the essence of a broken, insomnia-plagued detective who feels worse and worse after the appearance of any cookie crumb discovery that could potentially provide just an ounce of doubt to what was once a simple initial decision. The two actors grasp a credible connection, and we can't help but be thankful of the casting team here, as the pair help elevate the material immensely.
The show prevails in depicting what it would be like if a wave of devastating emotion and loss took over a close-knit community. Peeling back to reveal the undercurrent of Flint City, we get to see how it's had disastrous, life-alternating implications on some of the key families involved with the awful incident at the plot's centre, and we also see the general public coming together - like a frenzied witch hunt – hungry for justice when Terry Maitland is anywhere near them. While all of this madness is unravelling, and to frightfully taunt more confusion from its viewer, The Outsider puts a somewhat paranormal shadow in the background. Going unnoticed to Flint City residents, this added layer brings a curious, spine-tingling dread as it drifts in-between the cracks of pivotal moments.
Hauntingly real and respectfully adhering to its book form from the outset, this is not only a win for Stephen King's 'Constant Readers', but it's also an absolute must-see for those that crave seriously intense thrillers. One of the smartest aspects about The Outsider is that whichever character you decide to bat for in this contradictory case, there are difficult to deny bullet points to support your choice. The on-going frustration of not knowing who's really right or wrong earns your attention, and as the series lives on the fringes of an unforeseen, supernatural development, it makes you fully tune in to every single confrontation or clue-giving conversation.