Though not much happens, “The One About the Yiddish Vampire” leaves you with chills and true horror, a cliffhanging hour of television.
This recap of The Outsider Season 1, Episode 6, “The One About the Yiddish Vampire”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
HBO’s The Outsider has become committed to the mystery of its villain, its monster. The Outsider Episode 6, “The One About the Yiddish Vampire”, finally unveils that monster. Well, sort of. Though the monster hasn’t necessarily been hiding, creator Richard Price’s show has kept it largely under wraps, simply calling it El Cuco, the Grief-Eater, or other folk-lore names. The Outsider Episode 6 gives us a face to attribute all this pain to, a small step that looks to be heading towards a larger confrontation.
It’s confirmed that Ralph’s wife Jeannie (Mare Winningham) and a young boy named Merlin saw the same faceless man, misshapen in all of his hooded glory. Despite Ralph Anderson’s (Ben Mendelsohn) reluctance to believe her, she chats with Terry Maitland’s kids about their nightmares, drawing who they saw in their rooms. After pinning up these drawings with those of hers and Merlin’s, we see a clearer picture of this outsider. And he looks… droopy?
Holly (Cynthia Erivo) continues to grow closer to the truth, with Erivo giving an absolutely fantastic performance. Her steadiness along with Mendelsohn as the wavering emotional lead keeps the quality high. After a nightmare and a near bus crash, Holly returns to give a speech to the others, laying out her findings. She once again calls the monster El Cuco and attempts to explain the unexplainable, causing an outburst from Terry’s wife, and a wash of disbelief over the crowd, except for her believers Alec Pelley (Jeremy Bobb) and Jeannie Anderson.
Returning home to stay at Ralph’s house, Holly hears of the outsider visiting Jeannie in their home and uses a trick with a phone light, a marker, and some scotch tape to find its residue. It’s the same residue found in the barn earlier in the series. Ralph somehow still doesn’t believe, but sooner rather than later, it’s looking like the monster will be at his front door.
Resident drunk policeman Jack Hoskins (Marc Menchaca) spirals further into madness, as the outsider’s control over him strengthens. The burns on his neck subside momentarily but come back with a vengeance, bringing along a visitor in the form of Jack’s dead mother haunting and physically assaulting the cop. We even see strip club manager Claude Bolton (Paddy Considine) as a possible next target for the monster, getting cut up in a bar fight and drawing the necessary blood that the shape-shifting entity needs to take control. Though much of this is still up to hypothesis, it looks like Holly is on the right track, and therefore, assumptions will continue to fly.
The Outsider finishes “The One About the Yiddish Vampire” with a furious cliffhanger, as Jack calls Holly and tells her to meet him somewhere for some new information. More concerned about solving the crime than her own safety, she agrees, picking him up early the next day. In the car, Holly notices the boils on Jack’s neck and comes to the realization of the monster’s control of him. After forcing her to drive towards the barn, Jack has Holly cornered, but the most resourceful detective (and character) on the show likely won’t go down without a fight.
As the show embarks on different roads than its source material with slight deviations, it keeps Stephen King’s true horror. You’re scared while watching this show. You’re scared for the characters, and if it’s late and dark enough, you almost become scared for yourself. The show plays upon your childhood memories, stories you’ve heard over time, the ones that made you uneasily close your eyes while growing up. The Outsider is at its best when it does this, when it ropes you into its madness. From the looks of it, the madness shows no signs of slowing down.
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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.