The initial comparisons that people made with The Walking Dead were inevitable, but by the end of the first season, Outcast successfully stepped out from its shadow, carving out a corner for itself as one of the most chilling, gripping and gruesome pieces of TV we’ve seen this year.
Right from opening episode ‘A Darkness Surrounds Him’ (directed by Blair Witch‘s Adam Wingard), Kyle (Patrick Fugit) is established as a troubled individual. Estranged from his wife, not allowed to see his daughter and viewed with suspicion and hostility by everyone else, he isolates himself from the world – a man clearly terrified of what he’s capable of. But when Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) comes to him with demon-related troubles, he’s forced to end his seclusion – which has major ramifications for everyone around him.
While Robert Kirkman’s other show has increasingly embraced its comic-book origins over time, Outcast makes no such concessions. Relentlessly bleak and invested in the seriousness of the subject matter, it is at times a tough watch, but there is plenty to be invested in. It’s impossible not to empathise with Kyle’s existence, as it is with those who are drawn into his orbit, namely sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) and her husband Mark (David Denman).
All of this is interjected with some truly horrible death scenes – the moment one major character gets it in penultimate episode ‘Close To Home’ is particularly protracted – and very upsetting moments. This aside, it can sometimes feel like there are a few too many characters. Reg E Cathey’s Byron is good value, but superfluous, and Brent Spiner is wasted in a role that’s an evil cackle short of pantomime villain status.
This aside, it has to rank as a solid first season for Outcast, and we look forward to seeing what lies ahead for the show come the following year.