The Outsider episode 10 recap — “Must/Can’t” forgets the thrills and saves the scares

March 10, 2020
Michael Frank 0
TV, TV Recaps
3

Summary

The finale of HBO’s thriller lacks the bite and interest that made the show great in the beginning of the season.

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3

Summary

The finale of HBO’s thriller lacks the bite and interest that made the show great in the beginning of the season.

This recap of The Outsider Season 1, Episode 10, “Must/Can’t”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.


The entire season of HBO’s The Outsider led up to this moment: Holly and Ralph meeting El Cuco, the Grief Eater, the true outsider. The penultimate episode gave reason for nerves, as resident bad guy and El Cuco controlee Jack Hoskins (Marc Menchaca) started shooting at the group of heroes. At the beginning of The Outsider Episode 10, this gunfight continues, with Hoskins killing investigator Alec Pelley (Jeremy Bobb), Howie Gold (Bill Camp), Andy Katcavage (Derek Cecil), and Seale Bolton (Max Beesley). Just as soon as he killed these people, though, he gets bitten by a snake and shoots himself in the head, leaving little room for catharsis or satisfaction for those affected by his actions.

Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo) and Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) climb into the caves to look for El Cuco, only to find the cloned version of Claude Bolton (Paddy Considine). The crime-solving duo chats with El Cuco, each asking questions that the other doesn’t want to answer. It’s a cat-and-mouse game that ends up having little necessity in this world constructed with pillars of mystery. The series was built on this uncertainty and the unknowns surrounding these characters, yet a complete lack of answers is the only result of this meeting. The real Claude Bolton shows up, shoots El Cuco in the head, and the cave begins to collapse, as the three of them attempt to dodge the falling rocks. They, of course, all survive.

Ralph notices that El Cuco hasn’t completely died, and when he walks over, the monster continually changes its face. The detective then kills the monster for good, with a rock to the head, as Holly watches. After leaving the cave in an anticlimactic ending for this outsider, the group calls the local DA and authorities, giving them a fictional story of the events of the last few weeks, along with clearing Terry Maitland’s (Jason Bateman) name in the process.

The finale of this slow-burn of a drama just flames out, finishing with a lack of the energy it had during its first three episodes. It just sort of… ends. Holly and Ralph hug and decide they would team up together again in the future, and like that, the drama, the thrills, and the horror vanish. The only terror that remains is the uncertainty of what exists in the world, and our own lack of understanding of the possibilities.

A show with an incredible beginning and a lackluster third act, The Outsider still brought huge entertainment in the form of a small-town mystery that couldn’t be solved by logic. The performances remained incredible throughout the series, with Mendelsohn and Erivo giving constant flashes of brilliance. The production could hardly be higher, as with most HBO content, but similar to Stephen King’s book, the story doesn’t stick the landing.

Though the mid-credits scene allows a bit of wiggle room for a season two, The Outsider works best as a limited series and would have worked even better with five or six episodes. “Must/Can’t” acts as an average wrap-up to an above-average series that shined in every area except the one that matters most in the mystery/thriller genre: the ending.


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