Monday, July 25, 2016

Outcast, Season 1, Episode 7: The Damage Done

The town is commemorating a new memorial to many men who died in an apparent mining disaster. This means everyone being kind of solemn and also kind of festive because, hey, party.

Though we do see some hints of demonic cause behind this – Kyle, who managed to survive the disaster (much to the disgust of Ogden and, no doubt, other members of the community who are not Kyle’s biggest fan) remembers touching a friend’s hand and him recoiling. As does a random member of the crowd he touches. There’s demons demons everywhere.

Despite this as the backdrop, we actually focus very little on the event and more on various meltdowns everyone’s having.

Anderson is having the most epic meltdown following Ominous Sidney carving a pentacle into his chest. This has pretty much traumatised him – as it should really (I think we can be so inured to violence on television it can be surprising for us to see a character actually be traumatised when something terrible happens to them. So I’m glad to see this even if Anderson has sufficiently made me Team Demon). He’s not only off his poker game, but when he sees a pentacle painted on their new memorial he completely breaks down and has a rather unhinged rant about demons among them. He isn’t convincing and he’s probably lost most of the crowd. Kyle has to take him home and tell him to calm down and be more intelligent

Kyle tells him this

Kyle. When Kyle is the voice of reason you know you’ve gone awry.

He kind of ruins the whole memorial celebration – but what do you expect inviting a fire and brimstone preacher to a memorial?

Meanwhile Giles is still trying to home in on what Ogden is up to with his serial killer trailer and burning it despite all evidence not actually leading anywhere. Giles finally turns to Kyle to do his painful lay on hands thing (and, yes, we confirm beyond doubt that Giles knows all about the demons – in as much as any of us know what is going on here).

Ogden isn’t possessed – so Giles tries to make nice with his old friend (making an interesting point that he has a long habit of trying to prove himself to the towns folk because he’s a Black man and more than a few people are still all kinds of awful about that). Ogden concedes this and adds that Giles is totally good at turning a blind eye as well. So could he do that please.

Which isn’t suspicious at all.

Megan and Mark are also imploding. In desperation and utterly horrific, Megan gives their entire live savings to her rapist Donnie to try and stop him pressing charges against her husband Mark who brutally beat him on camera for raping her because a) he completely ignored her own wishes and agency and b) he’s a complete fool

On top of that Donnie decides to press charges anyway so they’re broke and Mark is losing his job anyway. It’s a shitstorm and not made better by Donnie trying to justify his bullshit by shaming Megan for not talking more about her traumatic rape with him. She shouts that down right now because AW HELL NO do you do that. She does not deliver a swift kick to the balls which he would totally deserve.

Alison, Kyle’s estranged wife, is definitely launching on her own meltdown – though it seems to be propping up Kyle. With lots of ominous imagery, Allison is beginning to remember when she was demonically possessed – and not only that, it’s clear her daughter Amber remembers as well. And that Allison attacked Amber (likely the cause of Kyle’s attack on her etc etc). This leads to an awkward, heart breaking and so fragile reconciliation between Kyle and Alison, including them having sex… and then her leaving, leaving Amber with him

It’s understandable that she would be so horrified by the violence she has inflicted while possessed and her desire to keep Amber safe from her – but we have a couple of problems here. Firstly we have the whole problem that Alison thinks she’s a threat because she doesn’t know about the possession. Kyle and Anderson have kept her in the dark “for her own good” (words cannot express the hatred I have for this trope). Secondly, Kyle knows he was violent for reasons he doesn’t entirely understand – but that didn’t stop him pushing into Alison and Amber’s lives… but Alison suspecting the same just runs? He demands his family, she sacrifices herself for her family; female passive sacrifice is a trope. Thirdly, Alison doesn’t know about possession, but DOES KNOW Kyle violently attacked her. Does she devalue her life so much that she’s willing to forget that, to leave Amber in his care, to be alone with him? We need some unpacking of this! Fear for Amber cannot be used to overwhelm every qualm Alison must have. She is a person, not just a mother.