“You’re the key. We need your light.”
-the possessed Sherry to Kyle
Thus far, Outcast has primarily focused on the personal story of Kyle Barnes and his attempts at securing a normal life—one in which he ultimately reconnects with his wife and daughter. While this week saw the show’s biggest commitment to that plot, “The Road Before Us” also took steps towards framing the much larger story to come.
The mysterious “Merge,” which was mentioned in the first episode, was a major focus this week, and it was imbued with a sense of importance far greater than the possession of any single person. While Reverend Anderson is facing the complete and utter failure of his own exorcisms of individuals, and Kyle is seeking out information he can use for his own personal plight rather than out of concern for the afflicted, the demonic forces of Rome, West Virginia are committed to something much larger.
What that “something” is still isn’t clear, but it’s far more interesting than just some easily understood invasion of evil over-running mankind. The demons, who seem to have distinct personalities themselves, are taking over these bodies, but out of necessity and at some risk to themselves. After hearing “Mildred” talk about how she/it has been buying little knick-knacks (just like as the person she possessed), and after she made fun of “Sidney’s” clothing choices, the two had an exchange that showed this “Merge” might be a survival tactic as much as anything.
“I won’t survive ’til The Merge.”
“You took your chances, my dear, just like all of us.”
This raises lots of great questions, well beyond just whatever The Merge itself is. Are these demons trying to escape hell? Do they die if their host body dies? Do they have choices in who they end up inside of? How much do they control the soul they overtook, and how much does it control them? What is the cost of not being a part if it? Outcast has turned out not just to be a great horror show, buy also a great mystery series, which is what makes it so good week to week.
Then of course, there is the issue of that—for lack of a better term—spirit-draining kiss (shout out to Dementors everywhere!). Mildred attempted to do it to Sidney, in what seemed like a desperate try to escape her frail old body for his younger one, and then Sherry tried to do the same to Kyle. Like other demons, she had no problem explaining to Kyle how important he is to everything, saying that they need his “light,” a word that stands out since it describes a man who lives in darkness.
It also makes Sidney’s threats to deal with Kyle seem less about killing him and more about stopping him via other means. So although Allison is truly free of her demon (though the show did a great job not revealing that to us until the end, making a small scraper as terrifying as a giant axe), can anyone close to Kyle be considered safe? Is this why the people around him keep being possessed, to push him further and further away from his humanity? Or from God (which he already rejects and doubts)? Or simply to make him give up?
And all of that doesn’t include the ongoing investigation by Chief Giles (has Reg E. Cathey ever been bad in anything?) of the bloody, burned-down trailer of his firefighter friend. A mystery that somehow, strangely, got cloudier when it turned out someone wasn’t dead.
Eventually, all of these stories are going to merge (had to do it), and we’ll start to get some answers beyond just the vague responses of demons to Kyle, but I’m in no rush. The mystery of all of it is a big part of what makes this show as creepy and compelling as it is. “The Road Before Us” is only getting better the more questions it raises.