Consistently terrible but increasingly amusing, “Two Heads Are Better Than None” proves that The Outpost’s premiere wasn’t a fluke – it really is this bad.
This review contains spoilers for The Outpost Episode 2: Two Heads Are Better Than None.
There’s a prophecy! I mean, of course there is. You can’t have a low-budget fantasy show without one, and you certainly can’t be the last surviving member of an ancient magical race without being inextricably bound to the fate of the entire world. These are the rules of genre fiction, and The Outpost is a Frankenstein’s monster of played-out tropes and clichés. According to the second episode of The CW’s new show, two heads are better than none, which I suppose is true, even if neither head can act.
After murdering a Prime Order officer at the end of last week’s episode, Talon is being nursed back to health by her mysterious rescuer, who turns out to be a lowly blacksmith. But not just any blacksmith, you understand – this one has forbidden knowledge of world-saving sacred writs and for some reason possesses a page of magical incantations belonging to the blackbloods, which he gives to Talon. This is none of my business, of course, but he perhaps should have explained how it worked in a little more depth, because as soon as she spoke the words aloud she summoned a hysterically cheap-looking demon which trashed her room at the pub and escaped out of the window.
Later in “Two Heads Are Better Than None”, the blacksmith explains that the blackbloods are the only link between the world of the Outpost and that of the demons, although that’s all the knowledge he seems to have on the subject. Seems to me it would have been easier to not give Talon the monster-summoning magic scroll, at least until someone properly understood it, but I suppose that kind of forward thinking has no place in a show seemingly written on the back of napkins.
As if a rampaging demon wasn’t enough to worry about, Marshall Withers (Andrew Howard), a kind of LARPing Mitchell brother, is investigating last week’s alleyway murder with his mute, pipe-smoking lackey, and manages to put together the complex trail of clues which connect the black blood at the scene with the only woman in the entire world who has black blood. He’s a sleuth, that one. He’s also particularly concerned with the message the victim scrawled on the floor in his own blood: a warning to someone named Dred that “one remains”. Luckily the only witness to the crime was illiterate, and had a solid alibi in that he was off writing the next episode.
If “Two Heads Are Better Than None” tells us much of anything about Talon, it’s that she’s not particularly good at keeping a low profile. After hooking up with that creepy alchemist brewer, Janzo (Anand Desai-Barochia), she leaks her tell-tale blood all over the place – and that’s before she summons the giant demon. I can’t tell if the relationship between those two is a budding romance, but it did lead to this phenomenal dialogue exchange: “Killing leads to more killing,” says Janzo. “That’d be a good wager,” replies Talon. Genius.
Caught by Withers after pretty much doing his job for him, Talon is tried and sentenced to death by beheading, all within about five minutes and without leaving the room, which suggests that the Outpost has a remarkably efficient justice system. They even keep the guillotine in the office! Complicating matters, though, are Garret and Gwyn, who have taken a shine to Talon and decide they won’t allow Withers to play investigator, captor, judge, jury and executioner on the matter. Spoilsports. Love triangles – who needs ‘em?
It all works out. “Two Heads Are Better Than None” ends with Talon doing a solid for her saviour, rescuing Garret from one of his knight chums who had contracted the local plague that makes people cosplay as the Xenomorph from Alien. I should mention that the Outpost’s City Watch had been on a desperate recruitment drive, besieged on all sides as they are by plaguelings and greyskins, and ruled from within by a totalitarian religious order. It doesn’t seem like a fun place to live, does it? I’m rooting for that demon.