Let’s Talk About THE OUTSIDER – HBO’s Limited Series Based on Stephen King’s Book

HBO’s limited-run series The Outsider, based on the Stephen King book of the same name, premiered this weekend, and it was quite good. It reminded me of the first season of True Detective: dark, gritty, and just a splash of supernatural intrigue.

I am unfamiliar with the book, but the show follows a schoolteacher, Terry Maitland, who is arrested for the brutal murder of a young boy in a small Georgia town. There is plenty of forensic evidence that points to Maitland’s guilt: DNA and fingerprint matches on the boy and the murder weapon, as well as eye witnesses and video recordings. The problem is that there is an equal amount of evidence pointing to Maitland attending a book conference 70 miles away at the same time the boy was murdered – in other words, exonerating him.

I read an article in which the author laid out, in excruciating detail, all the evidence both for and against Maitland being the murderer. It wasn’t until the end of the article, almost as an afterthought, that they brought up what, to me, seems like the blatantly obvious choice: that there is a supernatural evil here.

First of all, this is based on a Stephen King novel. Right there, I automatically assume there is something supernatural going on. King generally doesn’t just write about standard murder cases. But other evidence within the episodes all but prove it.

There is the hooded, disfigured man (or humanoid creature) that shows up randomly at scenes of death and chaos. No one seems to see this hooded figure, but he is there and highly ominous. Then there is Jessa Maitland, Terry’s youngest daughter. She keeps having visions of a “man” and insists that he wants her to do bad things. Her mother attributes this to nightmares, but audiences should know better at this point. I have to assume that she is seeing the hooded figure, and that he is the center of all the shenanigans.

Then there is the “cut” that Terry got while on a family trip to visit his father in a nursing home in Dayton, Ohio. This other article I read suggests that this could have been the nurse “framing” Terry. But that seems far too complicated an explanation. The simpler, more direct explanation is that this cut, given to Terry by a male nurse, was him transferring the “evil” into him. We haven’t seen the nurse, but I would be surprised if he wasn’t the nurse – or at least in the area at that time.

What do you think? If you have read the book, then no fair – don’t spoil it for everyone else! Are you guys digging the show so far? How do you think show does adapting the source material? And why on earth is it set in Georgia and not Maine? Let’s discuss!



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