TV Review: Outcast speeds up the pace in its second season and cements its status as one of TV’s finest overlooked shows

It has been an extremely busy few weeks for The Iris, with the video game world stuck in the lunacy of E3, Supanova in Sydney and the Sydney Film Festival, we have finally calmed down a little and sunk back into some great couch time with some excellent TV and it gave me some time to finally finish the second season of Outcast!

There aren’t too many other shows on TV that take their time releasing the tension and actually having it deliver a pay off that not only gives the show more character but leaves you gasping for more. This year, however, we have seen it grow with the likes of FX shows Legion and Outcast bringing to the table something that most dramas on TV lack: violence, blood and horror that isn’t used purely as a necessity for shock value, but as a form of storytelling that gives you the sense that these characters you fall in love with are not safe just because their leads and the stories they endure are far from predictable.

Major spoilers ahead for season one!

Season one of Outcast saw Kyle Barnes played by Patrick Fugit, who is an absolute revelation for this show, literally become an outcast from his hometown of Rome after multiple violent events led to his wife Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil) leaving with his child Amber (Madeleine McGraw), believing Kyle to be an abusive father, when in fact, Kyle exorcised a demon from Allison. Kyle began to lead a lonely, isolated life, cutting off everyone that tried to care for him, including his sister Megan (Wren Schmidt) and her police officer husband Mark (David Denman).

Events that transpired over the initial season led to Kyle coming to the realisation he had the power to rid the demons by the touch of his hands, if the hosts weren’t possessed for too long. So, he joined forces with Rome’s Reverend John Anderson (Philip Glenister) and Rome’s Chief of Police Byron Giles (Reg E. Cathey) to try and stop the spread of this mysterious infection. As the town’s possession problem grew to apocalyptic new heights, only a fraction of humans left in the town of Rome were not taken by demons, and the coming of the dark force known as ‘The Merge’ led by the sinister and mysterious character known as Sidney (Brent Spiner) was coming whether we liked it or not.

Sidney (Brent Spiner)

Great losses were involved, including the sad death of Megan’s husband Mark by her very own hands while being under possession of a demon, Amber was returned to Kyle and Allison placed herself into an asylum believing she hurt her daughter intentionally rather than think she was possessed. Reverend Anderson lost his church and his followers, and towards the end of the series there seemed to be no escape from the impending nightmare, at least not in Rome. Kyle is seen taking Amber away from the town and driving away with the hope that things may be better elsewhere and that this storm could be ignored and avoided.

The show ended neatly on a cliffhanger that bared witness to the fact that Kyle is not the only one with powers, as all attention is shifted towards his daughter Amber, his little ‘Firefly’, in a rest stop along the way, while a crowd of possessed humans stare at them, seemingly scared of them both, awaiting their next move along with the audience.

Minor plot spoilers ahead for season two!

Season two doesn’t mess around and it opens right where the first season left off. Kyle and Amber cannot escape Rome, they both realise it’s not just Rome this is happening in and the borders are blocked off by the possessed. Returning to face the fight head on, they also return to everyone else’s problems and the aftermath that was left from the first season.

The show’s slow crawl still exists here and it was a big problem I had with the first season, yes it paid off well in the end, but it could get rather annoying when you just wanted to get some answers. You knew where they were, it just took its damn time getting to them. Sadly, sometimes these slow starts can harm the viewing audience; some may give up watching a series all together before it hits its stride. And that would be a pity, because Outcast really hits its stride at the start of season two.

Megan must come to terms with the fact she has killed Mark. Even if it wasn’t her, she felt every part of it. Allison wakes up to herself and thankfully becomes more of a leading role as a mother and a wife here and it is welcome as Kate Lyn Shell was a huge highlight in the first season. Then, she was underdeveloped and underutilised, so it’s nice to see that the writers are listening and paying attention to talent.

Allison Barnes (Kate Lyn Sheil)

Amber comes to terms with her powers and shows us she can be just as much an adult and a help as her father can be, the bravery she shows isn’t stupid and she never gets in the way or causes us grief like a lot of children in other forms of media. It’s for love and it works brilliantly; Madeleine McGraw is a revelation and I hope we see her in more after this.

After Rev. John Anderson believes he has accidentally taken someone’s life while trying to kill Sidney, he begins to see that there is more to God and the Devil than a simple book and a church to praise it in. The fight needs to be taken head on and he takes some time to find his way back on track, but when he does it is marvelous. My only wish was to find out more of his backstory, but this show loves moving forward and not backwards, maybe one day soon we will.

Last, but not least, Chief Giles endures some excruciating tragedy of his own while helping Kyle and his family and it is some of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever had to witness in a TV show, the fact he comes out the other end is a testament to the kind of character he is and the amazing actors range that Reg E. Cathey can pull off.

Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey)

Kyle, Amber, Megan, Anderson and Giles are the leads here and it’s clear who is going to be standing up to the apocalypse when it finally happens. We still aren’t 100% sure what the hell is going on by the end, but with a few more answers to who Kyle and Amber really are and what they can do, what Sidney is trying to accomplish and how much farther this entire conspiracy reaches, we also bare witness to a few other new nasties joining the cast along the length of season two (which would be an absolute spoiler to give away).

‘The Merge’, ‘The Beacon’, Possessions, Demons, sacrifice and family are all major themes of Outcast and the hell they all have to go through in this second outing proved for outstanding television. It hits hard and faster than season one always tried so hard to.

This show should be just as big, if not bigger than the likes of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead… yes that is a big thing to say, how dare I? Well, watch the show and tell me I’m wrong? Bring on Season Three Cinemax and FX, bring it now!

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Outcast airs on Foxtel in Australia

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