HBO’s ‘The Outsider’ fires up for climatic end

The eighth episode of HBO's series, "The Outsider," sees tensions come to a high. Based on the novel by Stephen King, the series melds crime drama with horror.

HBO’s new mystery-horror miniseries, “The Outsider,” based on a Stephen King novel, has finally started to reach its climax with episode eight, “Foxhead,” which aired Feb. 23. 

After eight weeks of buildup, the audience finally saw how the malevolent entity El Cuco manipulates and forces its victims into murdering children. Like the previous seven episodes, “Foxhead” starts slow, but instead of setting up more intricate subplots, the episode ends with excitement. It is a refreshing change that should bring the audience back to see how the series wraps up with two episodes remaining. 

Jack Hoskins (Marc Menchacha) is stuck in servitude to El Cuco. Because of Jack’s rough life, he became an easy target for El Cuco to torture and manipulate into murdering an innocent man. The reason for the murders is both uncanny and uncomfortable. El Cuco needs Jack to murder people so it can feast on their remains and eventually get strong enough to fully change its appearance into a human. This allows El Cuco to then lure children, and, assumingly, become even more powerful. 

While El Cuco’s gastronomic choices are hard to watch, it only adds to the creepiness and intensity in “Foxhead.”

Toward the end of the episode, El Cuco hastily attempts to lure Sam Davidson (Michael Banks Repeta), a 10-year-old, into a cave but is stopped thanks to Sam’s sister, Wanda Davidson (Maddie Nichols). Because El Cuco hasn’t been able to fully change its appearance into a human, it was wearing a bear mask, which was then knocked off during the struggle for Sam. 

More important than the action in this episode, is that one of the main characters, Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn), finally believes that El Cuco is real, after seeing its face in a picture taken by a bystander during the fight for Sam. Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo) spent the previous two episodes trying to convince Ralph of what was really happening, only to be mocked and berated by the homicide detective. 

The episode ends with Ralph, Holly, Yunis Sablo (Yul Vazquez) and detective Andy Katcavage (Derek Cecil) finally tracking down El Cuco, and finding its hideaway. 

Other than Jason Bateman, whose character’s last appearance was in episode two and who is an executive producer, the cast is full of lesser-known actors. However, they do an excellent job for the most part, and similar to most HBO series, the dialogue is far superior compared to Netflix and Hulu originals. 

Like most television shows and movies derived from Stephen King novels, “The Outsider” is exceedingly weird, mysterious and, at times, confusing, but overall worth watching. The first few episodes feel more like a crime drama than a horror series, but the slow pace that “The Outsider” producers instrumented  has only enhanced the show as a whole. 

“The Outsider” is available to stream on HBO Now and HBO GO and is rated TV-MA. The final two episodes of the series will be available to stream on March 1 and March 8 at 8 p.m.

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