DISCLAIMER: There are *minor* spoilers in this review. If you don’t want to know any of the general plot plus some details in between, I suggest you watch and then come back!
THE PREMIERE: “FISH IN A BARREL”
“Did you murder my son?!"
HBO's new series THE OUTSIDER perfectly captures having a permanent fit of butterflies in your stomach the entire runtime. An odd description? Yes, but let me explain. The story follows Ralph, a local sheriff played by Ben Mendelsohn, who is called to investigate a vicious murder of a young child in their town. With witnesses and evidence all around, clues lead him straight to the local English teacher Terry Maitland, portrayed by Jason Bateman. The officers arrest Maitland publicly and try to pry out his motives for performing the heinous crime, while also deflecting a perfect alibi that happens to mysteriously place Terry in two places at once.
If you've ever seen the British show Broadchurch, The Outsider is equally as engaging and emotionally crippling to watch through as the first episode of that show. Bateman directs this pilot, and he does an unexpectedly phenomenal job, crafting a haunting world where you can't quite tell what the truth is and believing that everyone is in the wrong. The world is grim and real but with a sharp supernatural twist that we barely see in this first episode but it'll surely be expanded on in future episodes.
The dialogue is sharply written and hypnotic to listen to, as every word creates yet another pit in the bottom of your stomach; wondering if the innocent party will make it out alive. If the show continues down the road it has seemingly paved for itself, it could he an incredibly tense experience all throughout the first season. It's just the matter of where it concludes that brings the question of whether or not this first episode was worth the emotional torture of the wonderful writing.
THE VERDICT: FULL POPCORN