Someone downstairs doesn’t like Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit). Or maybe they really, really like him, and it’s the big man upstairs who doesn’t see it for him. Either way, Kyle Barnes has problems. He’s living a pretty miserable existence in his childhood home in Rome, Georgia; a house that looks like it should have been condemned years ago. He lives there alone with nothing but ghosts to keep him company – particularly, the memories of his mother torturing him while she was possessed by a demonic force.
Despite this, Kyle grew up to have a normal life with a wife and daughter… until his wife was possessed as well. We eventually learn his wife and child are both fine, but living elsewhere, and their only connection to Kyle is when he calls and sits silently on the line before destroying his phone.
He believes a life of solitude is what he deserves, and blames himself for whatever dark forces possessed his mother and wife.
Enter booze drinking, poker playing, foul-mouthed Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister). When word spreads that Anderson is working to exorcise an evil spirit from a local boy, Joshua Austin (Gabriel Bateman), Kyle needs to see for himself. His visit to prove Joshua is faking for attention makes Kyle a believer when Joshua speaks to him with details of Kyle’s childhood and then tries to suck the life out of him.
Now that Kyle is back on the demon’s radar, he’s forced to confront his past. First, there’s the matter of getting that pesky demon out of Joshua. If the head-smashing, roach-eating, finger-chomping opening didn’t do it, what follows next should leave you with no illusions that Outcast is for the squeamish. Kyle remembers that hitting his mother helped free her, so when Joshua goes all life force sucky again, Kyle beats that ass. Thankfully, it works, and Joshua’s mother is so grateful she doesn’t even press charges – much to Kyle’s police officer brother-in-law’s (Mark, played by David Denman) dismay.
By episode’s end, Kyle’s done hiding and issues a challenge into the night, to the demon he knows is listening: “Come and get me.”
Based on Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel series of the same name, Outcast already feels just as dark – and surprisingly as gory as – Kirkman’s other book-to-series, The Walking Dead. They didn’t pull any punches – literally – when Kyle beats the demon inside of Joshua into submission. There were more than a couple of scenes most would view through their fingers… or maybe that was just me.
I read the first volume of the graphic novel series, and I find Fugit’s portrayal of Kyle makes him more likable than he was in those first few issues. Glimpses of the happily married family emerge when Kyle sits down to dinner with his next door neighbor Norville (Willie C. Carpenter), who apologizes for not stepping in when he heard Kyle’s mother abusing him years ago. Kyle actually smiles and seems to have genuine affection for Norville.
From the little I remember of the books, there were some other changes, but nothing that can’t be addressed at a later time so I’ll refrain from mentioning them here.
One thing I found confusing: people in town seem to know about and accept the idea that some have been possessed by a demon or the devil. Anderson openly refers to Kyle’s cases and another in his sermons. This leads Joshua’s mother to quickly figure out what’s wrong with him and she wastes no time enlisting Anderson’s help. Two elderly women in the supermarket inform Kyle of Joshua’s condition and remark it’s like what happened to his mother. Yet, both Kyle’s sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) and Mark, allude to this horrible thing Kyle did to lose his family. If the flashback is any indication, he found his possessed wife after she harmed their daughter. Why is he being treated like he’s mentally ill or a domestic abuser? I’m hoping this will be cleared up later on and not an excuse to have tension between the two characters.
If you’re a Premium podcast subscriber, make sure you have your feedback on the episode in over at Patreon. We’ll be recording weekly podcasts every Sunday morning discussing the latest episode of Outcast.
Outcast - S1E1 = 9.4/10