Any good crime drama begins with a murder. That is exactly the way HBO’s The Outsider begins. Based on the same novel by Stephen King, the miniseries stars Ben Mendelsohn as Detective Ralph Anderson. The show premiered on January 12th with the first two episodes; the show started both solemnly and with a lot of creepy twists. Full disclosure, I have not read the King novel and I am staying away while watching the series, so I don’t ruin any mystery for myself. There is certainly a fair share of mystery in the first two episodes and because it’s a King-based show, I imagine it will only intensify as the episodes continue.

Slight Spoilers

The largest message I took away from the first two episodes is that if you are going to charge someone for murder, you better be damn sure that person committed the crime. The death of a child lights a fire under everyone and when there some uncertain evidence against Jason Bateman’s character, Ralph Anderson is the first to demand the police department go full-force in their pursuit of Bateman’s Terry Maitland. But, there are consequences to being so reckless and it’s something Ralph will have to live with.

If you’ve watched the trailer for the show then you should know what the mystery is that everything stems from. Terry Maitland is convicted of murder of a child and there are fingerprints and DNA proof. What’s the problem then? There’s video proof and fingerprints that prove Terry Maitland was in a different state at the time of the murder. What is going on? That is something Ralph is trying to figure out.

Filming Style

The first thing I noticed about The Outsider is the wonderful shots it takes. The series opens with wide-lens aerial shots. The camera focuses on things like hand movements and background figures. When certain characters are speaking, the camera almost looks like it was placed on the ground far away. It makes for some interesting shots and gives you an outsider perspective. I guess it goes along with the title of the show.

There is a lot of snowballing after Terry’s arrest. A lot happens. A lot of unexpected deaths and events. The show gives out these surprises in a seamless way so your reaction is almost delayed, because for a split second it’s like you can’t register that something tragic is happening. While so much happens in two hours, the show also takes it time. We are able to build up character development and learn about every player on the chessboard.

Mendelsohn Leads the Show; Bateman Makes It Possible

Mendelsohn does a great job as Ralph Anderson; a detective who initially is gun-ho, but has enough humility to backtrack and admit when he’s made a mistake. He’s a seasoned cop and has dealt with his own tragedy, but doesn’t seem to have any vices other than becoming hyperfocused on solving this boy’s murder. Bateman not only appears in the series, but he directs several episodes and serves as the executive producer. Bateman seriously needs more credit for being a wildly talented individual. You, as the audience; will question whether you believe he is innocent multiple times.

Rating: 4/5

Of course, this is only the first two episodes. There will be ten in total. Fans of King’s other work, such as Castle Rock; will enjoy the eerieness and crypticness of The Outside. Castle Rock and The Outsider are produced by two different studios, so the feel will be different, but you can still feel King’s influence in both. The Outsider is classic King meets Castle Rock, meets True Detective. It has the making of a really good show and I can’t wait for more.

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