Outcast “What Lurks Within” Review (Season 1 Episode 8)

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The latest episode of “Outcast” posited a decidedly unexpected question this week, and it was a doozy: what if the Devil was actually…kind of reasonable? In “What Lurks Within,” we finally got some answers, and though they might not have been the ones some wanted to hear- in particular Reverend Anderson- they were also pretty fascinating in their own right.

For instance, does a lesser kind of evil outweigh a more insidious one? Is there even such a thing as “evil,” in the typical, or even Biblical sort of sense? Or is evil actually more complacent, less obvious than we think? Is it even possible that the evil lurking within the Devil and his compatriots isn’t as bad as that lurking within the hearts of man?

Some heady questions indeed, and though “Outcast” was more content to bring them up for consideration than outright answer them, the truth is, it worked like gangbusters here. Besides, a good poker player knows when to show their hand and when to keep playing- and “Outcast” is proving to be an ace at just that- perhaps even more so than creator Robert Kirkman’s signature show, “The Walking Dead.”

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In this episode, the Chief, convinced that the Reverend was telling the truth when everyone else clearly thought he was out of his mind- as evidenced by their staying away in droves from this week’s Sunday service, as predicted- decided to take matters into his own hands and arrest Sidney.

The problem was, there was no hard evidence to speak of- it was just Anderson’s word against outsider Sydney’s- and he wasn’t exactly forthcoming. Interestingly, Sydney couldn’t have been more cooperative- perhaps a sign of things to come.

Also interesting: the Reverend wasn’t exactly overjoyed when he discovered what the Chief had done, saying that it wouldn’t do him any favors when the lack of proof ended up setting Sydney free, which indeed ultimately proved to be the case in the end.

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But, on the plus side, it did set the stage for a bit of a showdown between Sydney and Kyle. Would Kyle take advantage of the opportunity and take down the Devil? Was Sydney even the Devil in the first place, for that matter? Whatever the case, Kyle aimed to find out- and the Chief was all too willing to let him, even unsupervised, which was somewhat unexpected.

Before that, though, we got a glimpse throughout the show of who Sydney had been before he was possessed- and it wasn’t pretty. It seems that the person who was inhabited was already a piece of work- and one of the worst kinds of evil imaginable, the kind that preys on children.

As we saw, the original Sydney worked in an arcade, where, from time to time, he would apparently kidnap a child, lock them in a padded room nearly naked and bound and gagged, and do God knows what to them. Thankfully, we never quite saw what it was, though it certainly didn’t look good, that’s for sure, given the apron, knives, gloves and the like he had good to go.

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Instead, what ended up happening was that Sydney was possessed just before he was able to do whatever it was he had planned. With the demon now in control, it had a choice: continue as planned, letting Sydney continue to steer- or stop him dead in his tracks and put a premature end to the proceedings.

Astonishingly, it chose to override OG Sydney and let the child go, telling him to run while he still had a chance. As the current Sidney pointed out, there were worse things that what he and his kind did- and many of them were human. Or, at least, so he claimed.

As Kyle grilled Sydney, coming ever closer to doing his thing and ejecting the demon from him, he was surprised to find that things might not be as bad as one might have thought. It seems that, just like humans, demons have a personality, and that personality isn’t always bad- sometimes, in fact, it depends on the human.

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As Sydney points out, the demons don’t exactly have a choice where they land- they just hop into someone and hope for the best. As we saw with Mildred, sometimes that choice wasn’t the greatest, as the host body was old and frail and if they died, the demon was ejected and died themselves, or so it would seem.

In other cases, the demon possesses someone who was already no saint themselves. Such was the case with Sydney, and, as the demon pointed out, just because he was largely in control of things didn’t mean the original person wasn’t still present and accounted for- or that they might not wrest control if they had the will to fight things hard enough.

We got a sense of that first hand when, after Sydney was released, he went back to his current residence- aka Kyle’s former neighbor’s house- and found Aaron there waiting for him. The frustrated kid vouched for Sydney at the precinct, telling the Chief that he’d seen the Reverend cut the pentagram into his own chest and that Sydney wasn’t even there, even though we know better.

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Turns out that what Aaron really wanted was for Sydney to help him get rid of Reverend Anderson, seeing him as just another loser in the string of bad choices his mother had made in terms of the men in her life over the years.

No doubt seeing the situation as potentially mutually beneficial, Sydney let the boy stay, but it was clear that OG Sydney was still lurking deep within- and boy, was he ever tempted to wrest control from the demon within, given the circumstances. Will he succeed?

That remains to be seen, but in setting things up this way, the show puts forth an intriguing proposition: what if letting a demon take someone over is actually an improvement? For that matter, what if we were put in a position to actually- gasp- root for a demon over the human they were possessing?

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In precisely such an example, we got another case where that proposition was put to the test: Kat (Debra Christofferson, “Carnivàle”), wife of Ogden, who the Chief thought was up to no good until this episode. After talking to Anderson and asking him to look into things, on behalf of himself- and his friend, who wasn’t exactly forthcoming- things went from bad to worse when the Reverend kidnapped Kat and took her back to Kyle’s house.

Waiting on Kyle to return from his jailhouse visit with Sydney, Anderson and Cat had an interesting conversation, in which she pointed out that, if indeed she was possessed by a demon and Sydney was, in fact, the Devil himself and the Apocalypse is nigh, then wasn’t that a good thing?

In other words, as a preacher, isn’t that what he ultimately wanted: the return of his Christ and Savior? If the Book of Revelations was to be believed, and the End of Days is coming, then the upside is that it will mark the return of the Lord to the world He had long since forsaken, more or less.

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Taken aback, the Reverend wasn’t sure what to make of this, and Kat had a high old time messing with him about it, gleefully testing his faith to see if, indeed, Anderson practices what he preaches- or if he even believes it himself. Once again, some fascinating questions raised here, and none with easy answers.

But as I mentioned before, “Outcast” isn’t looking to answer such heady questions, it’s looking to present them to get viewers to think about them as well, while hopefully entertaining them along the way. Mission accomplished, at least on this viewer’s end. The real question is: will it be enough for other viewers?

Thankfully, we’ll have at least one more season to puzzle it out, if Cinemax sticks to their guns and upholds the renewal it already announced. Lest we forget, sister company HBO reneged on its own vow to renew the promising “Vinyl,” even though it also got a renewal, so until it’s a sure thing, I’m not holding my breath just yet.

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Back at the precinct, Kyle continued to question Sydney, discovering that there’s a reason the demons seem to populate Rome more than other places. It seems that Kyle is sort of a “light in the darkness,” which is to say, there’s something within him that draws the demons out and directs them where they need to go, which is to say, within Kyle’s general vicinity.

As Sydney points out, it’s not an entirely necessary thing for them- the demons can still find a home, with or without Kyle- but it does make things a hair easier. The problem for Kyle is, it also puts the people he cares about in jeopardy, as evidenced by the fact that the demons have already possessed both his mother and his wife, Alison.

But, as Sydney points out, things don’t have to always end the way they did with his mother. According to Sydney, and confirmed by Ogden, when a person is possessed, there’s a period of a few days in which the demon has to become accustomed to the host, who naturally, fights it tooth and nail, albeit some more than others.

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As such, had Kyle managed to wait it out instead of doing what he did, his mother might still be with them today. Not that he had much choice at the time, given that his “mother”- or perhaps the demon inside her- had been trying to kill him, but, as Sydney points out, it can be a choice on Kyle’s end.

Such was the case with Ogden as well, and he chose to ride it out, later not only accepting the demon in question that had inhabited his wife, but, astonishingly enough, falling in love with it. As he pointed out, the inhabitant is like a newborn baby, with everything new to them and wondrous.

Just as Mildred clung to her figurines for some comfort and took some joy in giving people the business, so did the demon possessing Kat embrace her new life within her host body. That included falling for Ogden, with who she had teamed up, in a sense, to help others in her position, using the camper in the woods to help “shepherd” the newly-minted demons into their subsequent state.

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This was what happened with Lisa, and why she had broken a fingernail clean off and left behind a lot of DNA in the camper- apparently, the “real” Lisa put up a hell of a fight before relenting. It’s those first few days that are key- once a person gets past that, it’s usually okay. But, of course, Kyle and the Reverend are disrupting all of that, by yanking the demons out of people.

According to Ogden, there’s some half a dozen of them in Rome already- and those are only the ones he knows about. The Chief is taken aback by this fact, but he also realizes he might have made a dreadful mistake by sending Anderson to check on Kat, so the two rush to Kyle’s house.

Shortly before that, having opted to let Sydney be for now, at least long enough to mull things over, Kyle returns home to find Anderson and Kat waiting for him, with the Reverend insisting Kyle do his thing and rip the demon from Kat’s body, as he’s done many times before, at this point.

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Much to his astonishment, Kyle refuses, saying it’s not that simple, and that Kat should just leave. Not taking no for an answer, the Reverend lunges at Kat to stop her, then Kyle when he intercedes on her behalf. The two get into a knock-down, drag-out fight, only stopped by the arrival of the Chief and Ogden, who break things up, with the Chief sending Anderson away and telling Kyle he’d take things from there.

After taking Ogden and Kat back to her car, where Ogden helps repair the flat tire that essentially got her into this mess to begin with so they can finally head home, the Chief returns to the precinct to inform Sydney he’s free to go, but with one caveat: if anything happens to his friends, he will not hesitate to take the law into his own hands and take care of Sydney off the books, as it were.

That was basically it for this episode, beyond Mark and Megan finally making their peace with one another when Mark hawked his truck for some cash in order to get Megan her wedding ring back, trading it in for a cheaper car in the short term, until they could figure things out with the Donnie situation.

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Finally forgiving him, the two sat down to dinner with not only their daughter, but Kyle and his daughter Amber as well. We didn’t get a similar “making peace” moment between Kyle and Mark, as of yet, but Kyle did finally come clean to Megan about what happened with Alison and how she was the one who hurt Amber, not him, and told her he needed to find her, lest she blame herself enough to hurt herself.

It will definitely be interesting to see how things proceed from here, what with Kyle left with the looming threat of Sydney living next door to him while he has Amber on the premises- and not just from Sydney himself, but the freak he is inhabiting, who preys on children. (Although, on an icky note, it might just be boys he favors.)

Meanwhile, Anderson is basically on his own, save the lone saving grace of Patricia, who lets him stay with her after everyone else shuns him, even his own town, with the Mayor informing him that his services would no longer be needed at the church and he was to pack up and leave ASAP. Ouch.

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Will Kyle and Anderson come to terms with what they have to do next? Or will they remain at odds with one another? Will Kyle opt to leave well enough alone, or will he ultimately decide to continue his efforts to wrest the demons from everyone? Will there be another showdown between him and Sydney, with less favorable results? Or with Anderson and Sydney, for that matter?

It will certainly be interesting to see where all this is going, least of all with only a couple more episodes left. Let me know what you thought and make your predictions for the rest of the season and how things will play out down below, and I’ll see you next week!