The CW’s laughable new fantasy show, The Outpost, debuted with “One is the Loneliest Number”, which played like a checklist of stolen ideas dressed up in bargain-bin attire.
If Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings had a baby, it probably wouldn’t look anything like The Outpost. But if you kicked that baby through a prop warehouse and stole all its money, you might be onto something. The CW’s new discount fantasy series premiered last night with “One is the Loneliest Number”; an interesting episode title, considering that one is the loneliest number, and also the number of interesting ideas on display in The Outpost.
That interesting idea is the smouldering Jessica Green in the lead role of Talon; the last survivor of an ancient mystical race known as “Blackbloods”, which as far as I can tell are just elves with extra pointy ears. Thanks to the magic of a horribly-acted extended flashback, we learn that the Blackbloods were extinguished by a tyrannical Templar-esque order known as the Covenant, but before that we were treated to an in medias res action sequence in which Talon convinced a drunken tattooist to reveal the names of all those he branded with a very specific mark.
Kicking off with a bar brawl is The Outpost putting its best foot forward, but it still needs a pedicure. Maybe we’ve been spoiled by the likes of Into the Badlands, which does martial fantasy absurdly well, but the stagey scraps in “One is the Loneliest Number” looked like parody, especially when folks starting getting offed mid-sentence by stray arrows.
Escaping through the territory of the “greyskins”, a troll-like race in urgent need of a dermatologist, Talon makes her way to the eponymous outpost, which is kind of a budget Helm’s Deep, or I suppose Winterfell if you wanted to be less grandiose. The surrounding territories are plagued by zombies – sorry, “plaguelings” – who are afflicted with the same oral stalk as the Xenomorph from the Alien movies, and the only way you can kill them is to lop that thing off, but it doesn’t come up again in “One is the Loneliest Number” because Talon is saved by a chivalrous knight of the Prime Order, Captain Garrett Spears (Jake Stormoen).
Given a chilly welcome by the local authorities, Talon settles in the outpost as a barmaid at the kind of rowdy tavern you see a lot of in fantasy properties, populated by the usual drunkards and a lusty brewer, and it just so happens one of the villains from Talon’s flashback. By episode’s end he’s scrawling a message in his own blood, but unfortunately it didn’t say “please stop watching.”
The Outpost has everything, if by “everything” you mean “brazenly ripped-off ideas from popular genre properties.” Stop me if any of this sounds familiar: Traumatised chosen one heroine; a love triangle; typical fantasy creatures with silly made-up names; a big wall. You get the sense that The Outpost could have become an instant camp-classic if it didn’t take itself quite so seriously. As it stands I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would watch it, so needless to say I’ll be tuning in every week.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.