“Que Viene el Coco” promotes a new, more compelling lead in the form of Holly Gibney, as the nature of the show’s evil begins to take a clearer shape.
This recap of The Outsider Season 1, Episode 4, “Que Viene el Coco”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
In its first four episodes, HBO’s The Outsider has been about change. We saw the remarkably rapid change of circumstance suffered by good-guy baseball coach Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman), so sudden and life-altering that it barely registered until he was gone, leaving a grieving family and a rapidly deteriorating detective in his wake. It was a show about a man who was falsely accused, or then again perhaps not, but it became, quite gradually, a story about something else. Terry’s arrest and shooting were stones lobbed in a murky pond, and their ripples continue to be felt by others. In The Outsider Episode 4, “Que Viene el Coco”, the show itself is changing. It is repositioning its most important figures and expanding its scope, from fact-based investigation to more explicitly supernatural ideas of a roaming creature that creates tragedy and consumes the resulting grief for sustenance.
At the forefront of all this is, suddenly, Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo), a transfixing and largely emotionless presence attempting to follow those ripples of evil back to their source. By combing through the intersections of the lives of both Heath Hofstadter (Martin Bats Bradford) and Terry, she begins to uncover patterns of terrible trauma; awful happenings that befall not just those accused, wrongly or otherwise, but their loved ones; cars crumpled around streetlamps, overdoses, a never-ending banquet of misery for this enigmatic many-named creature to feed on.
The idea, I suppose fittingly considering the current global health emergency, is of a contagion; evil as the cooties. It was passed between Heath and Terry, and Ralph (Ben Mendelsohn) and GBI Agent Yunis Sablo (Yul Vazquez) figure it might have been passed from Terry to Claude Bolton (Paddy Considine), the bouncer he scratched at the gentlemen’s club. How many deadly diseased doppelgangers are knocking around is anyone’s guess at this point.
One of them might be Jack Hoskins (Marc Menchaca), whose neck is looking worse for wear, and whose behavior is becoming inexplicable enough that being hungover, as he claims to Collins (Hettienne Park), doesn’t quite cut it. Why is he dragging a deer carcass around? Why is he stocking up on supplies? You have to assume the worst.
The underlying theme of The Outsider Episode 4, “Que Viene el Coco”, is made explicit to Holly and the audience by Andy Katcavage (Derek Cecil), who details the abundance of physical evidence in all cases but also the infectious effect of the atrocities, how they continue to claim victims long after the inciting incident. That idea of a virus is a compelling one, and provides Holly with the idea of tracing it back to some hypothetical patient zero; the malignancy causing the spread of infection. Her investigation leads her to a name: Maria Caneles (Diany Rodriguez), a woman accused of killing a 7-year-old, whose family suffered mightily as a result, but who, unlike Terry and Heath, remains alive, albeit imprisoned on Rikers Island.
To close The Outsider Season 1, Episode 4, we get a final testimony from the kid who left the van in Dayton – he confesses to Ralph, Alec (Jeremy Bobb) and Howie (Bill Camp) that he saw who took the van. It was the hooded, disfigured dude we’ve seen lingering in the background of various miseries, including Terry’s shooting and Franky Peterson’s father’s suicide attempt. That figure is, almost certainly, the mythological ghoul explained at length to Holly. The question is what it has planned next.
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