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Who or What Is “The Man?” in THE OUTSIDER

Warning: This post contains major spoilers from episode three of The Outsider.

After the first two episodes of The Outsider, all of the evidence for and against Terry Maitland made no sense. He was, seemingly, in two places at the same time, which is impossible… unless he exists in a world created by Stephen King. Since we we haven’t read the novel, we have no idea what will happen. But after the third episode, we might know how Terry Maitland was framed.

The show provided more evidence that a supernatural force followed him from Dayton, Ohio back to Georgia. And while we don’t know yet what kind of monster is lurking, one thing does seem clear: it isn’t finished killing yet.

Jessa and Jeannie sitting on the Maitland stepsHBO

Terry Maitland and his family took a trip to Dayton, Ohio from March 4 to March 7. Terry was visiting his father, Peter, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. While at the hospital, Terry bumped into a nurse “on a wet floor.” Terry’s oldest daughter explained what happened next. Her father “grabbed the nurse’s hand as he fell down, and when he got back up he saw he got a cut on his wrist.” In episode three, we seemingly met that nurse, and he has another connection to the Maitlands.

This episode introduced a nurse whose connection to the story was not apparent at first. He was in jail for murdering two young girls. Police found the girls’ bodies on either March 5 or 6 (based on the news story’s date). That’s when Terry Maitland was in Dayton. (Police arrested the nurse on either March 12 or 13.) Holly the private investigator learned reporters and detectives had been trying to speak with Peter Maitland after his son visited. They weren’t there to ask about Terry, though.

A news story about the arrest of a nurseHBO

The hospital didn’t know Terry was dead or had been arrested for murdering a child himself. Therefore, they must have wanted to talk to him about his nurse who was arrested. Peter wasn’t any help though, because as the hospital employee told Holly, Peter has been “going downhill rather fast recently.” Curiously, his decline started in early March, around when the girls went missing and his son visited him.

Maybe the nurse did kill those girls, but someone likely framed Terry Maitland. The nurse might have been set up too; he might have even had a doppelgänger, like Holly said was possible with Terry. That would explain why the nurse refused to let himself be killed.

“No. You don’t get to do this,” he said to his would-be assassin right before he slit his own throat. If you were framed for a horrible crime, and there was no way to prove your innocence, you might want to at least take control of your own death.

The jailed nurse sees his would-be assassinHBO

What happened to the nurse’s doppelgänger then? Detective Jack Hoskins’ visit to that barn and Jessa Maitland’s nighttime encounters with “the man” could answer that.

The clothes “Terry Maitland” changed into at the strip club were found in a barn at the end of the second episode. The large belt buckle he was wearing had his bloody fingerprints on them. But something about some prints were off; they were definitely Terry Maitland’s, but they more resembled  the fingerprints of an 80- or 90-year-old man. Mystery prints found in the van used to kill the Patterson boy will likely match those old prints too.

Fingerprints found on the bloody belt buckleHBO

The second episode also ended with the feeling that someone—or something—was still in the barn. None of the police officers found anyone there during their search. But then, Jack Hoskins saw someone in the doorway of the barn.

A shadowy figure stands in the doorwayHBO

That shadowy figure vanished when he dropped his flashlight. Jack still thought someone was nearby, and then something stabbed in the back of the neck. We could hear the attack, and we saw the wounds after. But we couldn’t see whoever or whatever did that to him in the moment.

Over the course of the episode, his neck wounds grew worse and more painful. By the end, when he collapsed at the strip club, he was pleading with an unseen figure to end his pain. His cries were ominous. “I’ll do anything, just make it stop. Just make it stop. Please.”

Young Jessa Maitland has also been dealing with an unseen figure. “The man” told her he’d stop visiting her if she gave Ralph Anderson a message. “If you don’t stop, something very bad is going to happen,” she told Ralph. Every adult thinks Jessa is dreaming. We know she probably isn’t.

Jessa maitland with her mother and sister on a couchHBO

Jessa said “the man’s” appearance keeps changing every time she seems him. The first time he looked like her father, but his “skin was wrong and he was mean.” The second time he visited he resembled her daddy “a little bit,” but “messy.” Jessa said his face “was blurry, like someone tried to erase it.” That sounds a lot like the mysterious figure in the green sweatshirt seen in the first two episodes.

His face seemed to be melting each time we saw him. This is what he looked like in episode one.

Melted face manHBO

In episode two his face was even more distorted.

A mysterious figure with a melted face in a green sweatshirt

He looked like a completely different person that last time. Jessa said “he was more muscly” in his arms and his face looked “inky.” This creature must be transforming into someone else, but the change is not yet complete. And the most muscular character on the show? Detective Jack Hoskins.

Detective Jack Hoskins at his deskHBO

A “ghost” stabbed Jack. A “ghost” no one else can see is also visiting Jessa. And he has a melting face, like the figure in the green sweatshirt. These all seem to be the same supernatural being. It can physically appear when it wants to, but possibly only when it can shape-shift into someone’s exact double. And it needs blood or DNA to do that.

The first person it copied was the nurse, whose doppelgänger then cut Terry Maitland. Remember, his daughter said Terry slipped on a wet floor. We know from the barn this monster leaves behind a mysterious substance. That might be what Terry slipped on. Once the creature had Terry Maitland’s blood, it was able to transform into him. Now it’s doing the same with Jack Hoskins.

Jack Hoskin's infected neckHBO

Shape-shifter? Demon? Ghost? Whatever this thing is, we know it’s a killer preying on children and leaving behind innocent people to take the fall. We also know from those “ancient” Terry Maitland prints that it’s old. It can completely mirror into another person physically, but it can’t hide its age. Which means it’s likely been doing this for a long time. No wonder it wants Ralph Anderson to stop looking into the Frankie Patterson case. This supernatural monster survives not by hiding, but by framing others.

Considering what it does to its victims, Ralph Anderson might want to heed Jessa Maitland’s warning. “I think you’re the one who’s supposed to be scared,” she told him. Everyone should be. We know we are.

Featured Image: HBO