TV Recap: Outcast Series Premiere

Outcast Poster

Outcast Series Premiere Plot Summary:

Something evil is lurking in the town of Rome, West Virginia. A child named Joshua is one of many children who has become possessed by demonic forces. Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) has returned home after a failed marriage, and is living in his rundown childhood home. Barnes and his family are the subject of harrowing town lore, as Kyle’s mother was also possessed by a demon. Somehow Kyle was able to overcome her and this haunts him to this day. He’s drawn back into that world by demon-fighting holy man, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister).

Robert Kirkman is best known for his bloody, and at times horrifying creation — The Walking Dead. The AMC series is a worldwide phenomenon, and despite its home on cable, it is often one of the most visually brutal and graphic series on television.

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If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a Kirkman property ever ended up on a premium channel where censorship basically doesn’t exist, you’d get the new Cinemax series, Outcast.

Outcast explodes with violence at a moment’s notice, but it isn’t the fantastical zombie violence you’d see on The Walking Dead. No, this is real, visceral, uncomfortable violence. It’s so uncomfortable that within the first five minutes of the series, one could feel inclined to switch the channels, it’s nearly unbearable.

However, if you can stomach the opening sequence — which includes a boy violently head butting a cockroach to death and eating one of his own fingers — you’ll be able to dive into a fascinating television series.

The premise of demonic possession, and a jaded antihero combatting the forces of darkness is not new territory. However, the antihero was Kyle Barnes, an extremely traumatized man who has been haunted by demonic possession his entire life. Throughout the premiere episode we’re given glimpses of Kyle’s extremely violent childhood, and how his possessed mother beat him and “punished him.”

Adult on child violence is a theme prevalent through the episode, and at times it’s unsettling to watch. It makes sense within the world of the show, but still it’s not pleasant to watch, and it’s probably one of the biggest problems with the show. The potential for horrifying scenes lurks at every corner of the episode, but watching children (possessed and not possessed) take a punch to the face or be tossed into a closet, seems almost unnecessary.

Circling back to our main character, Patrick Fugit does an absolutely brilliant job portraying the fractured human being known as Kyle Barnes. The devastating nature of Kyle’s life can be see in Fugit’s eyes — which vacillate between depressive lifelessness, and excruciating paranoia. Fugit also taps into Barnes’ anger, particularly when he battles a young boy possessed by a demon. It’ll be interesting to see if the rage beneath Kyle’s sullen facade will play in the rest of the season.

As a series, Outcast terrifies, but it also intrigues. Why is this town in West Virginia known for possession? Are demons coming after Kyle Barnes — and if so, why? How exactly did his marriage fail? Will there be further possessions in town? (If there is there’s a few possible candidates who may be the next target, and those thoughts send chills up our spine). Is Barnes an emissary of God, despite his current lack of faith?

Again, Outcast is not an easy series to watch. It’s got some excruciatingly violent scenes, and sometimes the tension is just too much to handle. However, if you’ve got the stomach for this type of series, you’ll be tuning in every Friday night.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Outcast airs every Friday night at 10 pm on Cinemax.

Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be seven years old in 2016 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He currently works as a project manager in the telecom world, and is a freelance writer for NJ.com. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites