Last week’s episode of Outcast, which gave us Sidney’s backstory, was the show’s best yet… which means it was surely going to be a difficult entry to follow. For the first 95% of this week’s installment, “Close to Home,” it appeared they weren’t going to even try, abandoning big, shocking moments in favor of an intimate look at where the characters find themselves now, and moving their stories along. For almost the entire hour, this was the type of quieter episode you need in order to make those big moments that come later on in the season more meaningful.
But then we got to the end and got one of those moments anyway. Possibly the most stunning moment yet.
We have mostly avoided discussing the show in comparison to the comic book it is based on, because the show has been so good on its own. But for readers of Robert Kirkman’s series, Megan’s possession has been one of the moments we have most looked forward to, and with good reason. In the comic book, it is a shocking, awful, tense instance that results in something horrible and sad.
What none of us could have known is that the show’s take on it would produce a much worse result. Show Mark has been much more developed than comic book Mark (sans his great mustache), and therefore our connection with him has been greater. So while many of us were anticipating this scene with a weird mixture of dread and excitement, we didn’t know it would end with Mark dead in a pool of blood. The saddest and most stunning moment on a show that offers those scenes every week.
It’s the first loss of a major character we’ve experienced on this show. If we thought Outcast were capable of anything before, we know now just how true that is. Mark was a good man who loved his family, and his wife loved him. Seeing him care for Kyle and knowing that he had a second child on the way made it even worse. Sidney may have tried to convince Kyle that being possessed isn’t that bad, but we see what it results in Just how “Close to Home” it hits. The afflicted thus far have been strangers, or only shown in flashbacks, giving us some distance between those being harmed by it and ourselves. No longer. This one hurts.
Even how they got there was shocking. The opening scene, where Megan squeezed the piece of broken glass (in some great foreshadowing), was a hint that this would be the hour when we got to her possession. That inclination seemed to grow stronger with her being ill; when it turned out that was just pregnancy morning sickness it seemed less likely, making the final sequence all the more surprising. The writing on this show and its ability to manipulate and surprise the audience, even comic book readers, is a big part of what makes it so good.
Wrenn Schmidt‘s performance is another. When she turned, she turned, becoming something entirely nonhuman. Though it sounds strange to credit the show with making demonic possession come across as “real,” when she looked in that mirror through the demon’s eyes, it was genuinely frightening. Seeing her then examine the blood while Mark sadly begged for help was even worse. On a show full of great acting it can be easy not to recognize all of the performances as often as you want, but Wrenn Schmidt has been tasked with a difficult role, that of a woman being pulled in a million different directions by the forces of evil, and she deserves as much credit as anyone else on Outcast for making the show what it is.
Just as important, the episode featured lots of ominous talk about “what’s coming,” and everybody’s inability to stop it at this point. The supposed-to-be-leaving Ogdens stuck around to take part in something strange that will involve mannequins, Reverend Anderson fell (again) for Sidney’s plan to isolate him further (though he did get to punch the devil in the face), and Kyle proved unable to save Allison from herself. Still it’s Mark’s death that will stay with us.
What is happening to the people in Rome is not okay, and it is not going to end well. Kyle may have though that last week, but now, after seeing another member of his family afflicted and yet another dead, it will be hard for him to ignore the reality of what is happening any longer.
Because “Close to Home” hit too close, and none of us saw it coming.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Talk about it with us in the comments below.