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The Outsider Plot, Cast, & Review: What Makes it a Must Watch?

Shrijan Published On Fri Feb 28 2020   Modified On Fri Feb 28 2020
The Outsider Plot, Cast, & Review: What Makes it a Must Watch?

The Outsider is a supernatural crime-thriller drama miniseries airing on HBO since January 12, 2020. 

Based on the eponymous novel by Stephen King, the 10-episode miniseries follows a gruesome massacre of a child and the ensuing investigation, all the while, a supernatural force lurks in the shadows.

The show has been highly rated and consists of an ensemble cast of actors. 

We have all the details on The Outsider, including plot, cast, and the critical and fan reception towards the show.  

Plot Synopsis

The Outsider is set in a small town in Georgia. When an 11-year-old boy, Frankie Peterson, is found killed and dismembered, Detective Ralph Anderson sinks his teeth into who he thinks is the perpetrator: the Little League coach of the local high school, Terry Maitland

Despite having no prior criminal records and living a pedestrian suburban life with his wife and two kids, Detective Anderson is convinced that Terry was the one behind the murder and mutilation; the evidence is overwhelmingly straight-forward; there can be no doubt; Terry is the killer! 

Detective Anderson goes forward with the arrest and during the public trial, Terry is shot dead by the victim's brother. With his dying breath, Terry still pleads his innocence and condemns Anderson.

The cut-and-dry murder case becomes shrouded in mystery when police evidence comes to light of Terry having an airtight alibi with witness testimonies that effectively extricates him from the crime scene.

Enter Holly Gibney, an eccentric investigator who follows a trail of blood to Georgia, not unlike the Frankie Peterson slaying. Due to her being intertwined in similar cases, she is willing to suspend her disbelief and not discount the possibility of a supernatural entity running amok.    

Ralph - ever the pragmatist - refuses to believe in anything that cannot be explained by logic. But as they dig deeper, Detective Anderson must come to terms with the fact that something metaphysical, something unexplainable, is tampering with the case.

The Cast and Characters

The Outsider is helmed by the veteran Ben Mendelsohn, who plays Detective Ralph Anderson. Ralph is the lead detective in the murder and disembowelment of the 11-year-old Frankie Peterson. When all evidence points to the perpetrator being Terry Maitland, Ralph makes a show of arresting Terry publicly leading to his murder at the hands of the victim's brother. 

Cynthia Erivo joins the cast as Holly Gibney, an investigator who follows a string of similar crimes that leads her to believe that there are supernatural forces at work.

Jason Bateman plays Terry Maitland, the prime suspect in the Frankie Peterson slaying. He seems, by all accounts, a normal suburban dad who holds a job as the Little League coach of the local high school. When all evidence point to him being the killer, he is arrested despite pleading innocence. He is killed by the victim's brother during the public hearing.

The ensemble cast of The Outsider
The ensemble cast of The Outsider
Source: HITC

Bill Camp plays Howard Salomon, the criminal defense attorney of the Maitland family.

Yul Vazquez plays Yunis Sablo, the lieutenant of the police department.

Julianne Nicholson plays Glory Maitland, the wife of Terry Maitland. 

The show also stars Mare Winningham, Marc Menchaca in major roles.

Fans and Critics Reviews of the Show

As of February 2020, The Stranger has garnered an 8.7./10 rating on IMDb based on the reviews by 17,854 IMDb users.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the show holds an 81% approval rate based on 58 critic reviews; the audience approval rate is significantly higher at 92%.        

The show also holds a 69 out of 100 scores on Metacritic based on 28 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

Erik Cain, writing for Forbes Magazine, has compared the show favorably to Stephen King's novel, even going so far as to say that having watched the eighth episode, "the show is officially better than the book!"

He went on to say:

"Sunday night’s episode of The Outsider was scary, exciting and did something few adaptations achieve: It improved on the source material in pretty dramatic ways."  

Mike Hale, of The New York Times, praised the performances of the lead cast but criticized the pace and the convoluted plot.

" 'The Outsider' takes an entertaining and propulsive, if routine, read and renders it with style and savvy but not much of a pulse."

Taylor Antrim, of Vogue, praised the first two episodes but was less enthused as the show progressed. In her review, she said:

"I was hooked. Yes, the show is unrelentingly dark, with a throbbing score, spasms of unforeseen violence, and a lead-grey prestige-y light that suffuses everything—but the question of Maitlin’s guilt or innocence makes it irresistibly tense. There's also the fact that the supporting cast is world-class (Julianne Nicholson, Bill Camp, Paddy Considine). Mutilated kid or no, I was all in."

Why You Should Watch The Outsider

The Outsider has all the makings of a supernatural horror thriller: a vicious child massacre, an unexplained supernatural force, a tortured protagonist, and a riveting plot.

The show is adapted from the Stephen King novel, and while the novel itself is a far cry from Stephen King at his creative best, it still is Stephen King through and through. The show manages to remain faithful to the original novel, if not outright surpassing it!

Ben Mendelsohn as Detective Ralph Anderson is a masterstroke- as are all Ben Mendelsohn performances. But he manages to embody the tortured protagonist to perfection; this may very well be his magnum opus. The other cast members also perform exceptionally well.

Jason Bateman as Terry Maitland and Ben Mendelsohn as Detective Ralph Anderson
Jason Bateman as Terry Maitland and Ben Mendelsohn as Detective Ralph Anderson

As great as Mendelsohn is, the unsung hero of the series is Jason Bateman. Not only does he give one of his best performances in the role of Terry Maitland, but his eye for directing crime thriller comes through in the first two episodes; it is no wonder that the first two episodes are the highest rated. 

The plot can get convoluted at times, and more than a little over-indulgent, but not to the point that it actively affects the quality of the show.

It also bears mentioning that the show is not for everybody, what with its gruesome plot and the unfiltered imagery. But the graphic nature of the show lends to its overall quality and provides for a gripping television experience.