“Dark Uncle” quickens the story with new characters and new information in the latest episode of The Outsider.
This recap of The Outsider Season 1, Episode 3, “Dark Uncle”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
As HBO’s newest hit show “The Outsider” opened its third episode, it threw aside pleasantries and jumped into the mystery of this story. At the end of episode two, a barn with Terry Maitland’s (Jason Bateman) bloodied clothes came into view. The Outsider Episode 3 begins at that same barn, as the full police force investigates the new place of interest. Though the show looks to be moving much quicker than the book it’s adapted from, The Outsider keeps the audience in the dark with this episode.
Officer Jack Hoskins (Marc Menchaca) returns to the strip club as he becomes the cop assigned to the barn, ending up at the eerie spot later in the night. Featuring one of the first big jump scares of the thrilling series, Hoskins believes he sees someone in the barn, only for an invisible (to the eye at least) presence to hit his neck over and over, leaving him with a nasty rash. As “Dark Uncle” and the days roll on, Hoskins struggles with this burn-like neck impairment, and he’s doing everything in his power, mostly drinking himself senseless, in order to rid himself of the pain.
The actual criminal investigation gets a few updates and a couple of new players in The Outsider Episode 3. Detective Yunis Sablo (Yul Vasquez) updates Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) that they found fingerprints on the belt buckle in the barn and in the van from Maitland, but they’d be consistent if he was 80 or 90 years old. Weird, right? Things get a bit weirder when Maitland’s daughter, who continues pushing that a man has been visiting her at night, gives more information to Anderson. The man, who originally looked like a form of her father and now looks somewhat amorphous, told her to tell Anderson to stop this investigation. Eerie.
The newest member of the team trying to solve this case comes in the form of Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo), a unique woman with a photographic memory and a painful childhood. The showrunners go to excessive lengths to show us that Gibney is a bit odd, making sure she sits in the same bar seat and speaking with a measured tone about her quirky personality. Erivo lives up the task and deserves more time on screen, which we’re sure to receive in the following episodes. Though Gibney’s personality and past are of less interest in the novels, her habits and oddness are put on full display in “Dark Uncle.”
Her idea that this killer might be a doppelganger allows Anderson to say some final last words, “I have no interest in the unexplainable,” giving us a clue that the end of this show might be just that: unexplainable. As a recap, here is a list of the people working on this case: Gibney, Anderson, Alec Pelley (associate of attorney Howie Gold), Howie Gold, Yunis Sablo, Jack Hoskins. By the end of the episode, though, our team is hardly any closer to figuring out this mystery.
The final 20 minutes of The Outsider Season 1, Episode 3 focus on Gibney during her investigation in Dayton, Ohio, where the Maitland family visited so Terry could see his father and the place that this bloody van transferred from. As Gibney gathers facts, we meet a man in prison, who is reading, fashioning some sort of shiv, and receiving not-so-flattering fan mail. A terrifyingly huge inmate moves in a few doors down from him and a confrontation becomes the only possible outcome.
Gibney finds out the biggest news of the episode: this has happened before. An upstanding member of the community, the hospital-worker-turned-prisoner man, killed two young girls in a brutal and sexual fashion. He worked at the medical center housing Terry Maitland’s father, and the dots are finally starting to connect. After learning this, we cut back to the prisoner laying awake at night, getting a visit from his neighbor, and deciding to suicidally slit his throat, taking his life into his own hands. It is an absolutely brutal ending to an already bruising television series only three episodes into its season.
As the series moves closer to the supernatural, it begs questions about what we refuse to believe and what we hope just isn’t true. Anderson’s reluctance in the unexplainable mirrors our own apprehension, but sooner or later, you have to accept that seeing doesn’t always equal believing. One thing to believe though: The Outsider keeps getting more impressive, more horrifying, and better in allowing its cast to flourish in difficult circumstances.
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Michael is a regular critic for Ready Steady Cut and also writes for Cinema Sentries, The Film Experience and Film Inquiry.