HBO’s The Outsider (an adaptation of the Stephen King novel) has aired its eighth episode, “Foxhead.” The drama series combines King’s infamous adoration of supernatural touches with a murder mystery to chilling effect. We’ve talked about all of the deepening plot twists and mysterious scratches and spooky dreams that have unfolded along the way. Now it’s time for everyone to come together and stop El Cuco.
This week’s episode of The Outsider took the series full throttle. So many disgusting scenes went down involving El Cuco’s newest transformation, and make no mistake, the bogeyman/Tear Drinker/Grief Eater or whatever you want to call him is truly monstrous. Yet the episode also contained some wonderfully human (and funny) moments. That’s an engrossing contrast, a week after I didn’t think I could enjoy an episode of this show more than the one where everyone yelled at Ralph for perpetually refusing to see what’s in front of him and gaslighting everyone. Well, King promised viewers that “the last three episodes are going to blow you away,” and this week, “Foxhead” did the deed.
The episode both rattled and delighted me so much that I’m making a terrible pun with this piece’s headline by purposefully referencing All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (the 2006 not-so-great horror film starring Amber Heard). The reference doesn’t really draw any thematic parallels here other than everyone being (like it or not) fascinated by Holly Gibney, for various and justifiable reasons. I definitely did not plan to reference or draw any comparisons to You Don’t Know Jack (the 2010 drama starring Al Pacino as Jack Kevorkian). I’m only saying that no one is paying attention to what Jack is doing. And they should be watching Jack! We’ll catch up with him later.
First, “Foxhead” apparently refers to those animal masks worn at the cave festival. Elsewhere, Holly (along with Yunis, Andy, and Ralph) maintains an overnight vigil alongside the O.G. Claude in order to vouch for him in case El Cuco has hatched a Claude doppelganger. Well, here’s Claude 2.0 attempting to kidnap a kid at the festival.
Let’s talk about the trio of Holly followers who help her sort out the Claude business. Even Ralph starts to get his act together by episode’s end. It’s about damn time.
Well, Andy’s the character who’s literally in love with Holly. As Yunis accurately guesses, Andy’s got a sort-of thing with Holly, but it’s all relative to the unusual manner in which Holly connects with people. Andy’s not on the force, but he’s been helping her with clues, and they slept together awhile back. I think she does actually like him, and I don’t think she’s using him to help her investigation, but she does have an atypical attachment style (which might be down to her being on the spectrum). Andy got to cuddle with Holly later on, but this exchange where Yunis is messing with Andy is classic. I enjoy the hell out of Yunis for tolerating no bullsh*t from anyone but still being able to pull a fast one at appropriate moments. Here, he convinces Andy (if only for 10 seconds) that Holly’s “gifts” are even more spooktacular than Andy bargained for. We needed a moment like this to balance out the gruesomeness elsewhere.
As for Yunis, he clearly respects the hell out of Holly on professional and platonic levels. Yes, he’s making a mischievous Yunis face in the church, but that’s because they’ve had a meeting of the minds. They’re both seeking some comfort during “a storm,” with Holly admitting that she’s so damn tired, and he’s totally getting it. He’s the colleague who dared tell Ralph to get it together. Yunis was also the first of the police detectives to see value in her beliefs, and she appreciates that more than words can express. Meanwhile, Yunis simply wants this nightmare to end, because he truly believes (as he said weeks ago) that “dreams are messages, bro.” He realizes that keeping an open mind on Holly’s findings is vital to solving all the unspooling threads of Frankie Peterson’s murder.
Meanwhile, Ralph is actually learning to set aside his stubbornness and listen to Holly. The two have a marvelous exchange while en route to Tennessee. On one hand, Holly admits that she needs to be challenged by someone like Ralph, but he also shows that he’s starting to seek guidance from her. When they discuss his dead son, she labels something that he actually found uncanny to be a mere “coincidence.” That led to some bonding laughter, but Holly later told him to leave the Claude vigil if he planned on continuing to be an obstacle. Well, Ralph stuck around, and it’s a damn good thing that he did. By the end of the episode, law enforcement shows up to apprehend O.G. Claude after the doppelganger’s attempted child kidnapping. When Ralph finally sees the video evidence that there are indeed two Claudes (while he unquestioningly knows that O.G. Claude went nowhere all night), we get to witness he moment where Ralph finally accepts that Holly’s right about El Cuco. (Ben Mendelsohn’s doing a heck of a job.)
However, everyone forgot about Jack this week. Well, El Cuco didn’t forget.
I guess everyone figured that the Jack business could take a backseat, a week after he kidnapped Holly and she had to fake her period in order to escape. Suddenly, everyone forgot about him, maybe thinking that he’s just out there in the wild, punching himself in the face, and probably isn’t an emergency situation for now? It’s odd and unwise, even though the mission to protect O.G. Claude from murder accusations succeeded.
Poor Jack, man. He may have truly yearned to draw attention to himself by calling police and robbing his own house, and still, he couldn’t get an intervention. What Holly and friends didn’t count on is that El Cuco decided to use Jack’s slave status to set up the newly hatched Claude doppelganger with a food supply. Good god, the sounds that come out of this creature are definitely inhuman, and Jack is forced to help El Cuco keep feeding. It looks grueling, and Jack’s dealing with El Cuco’s complaints that the victims aren’t fortifying enough or cancer-free, and ugh, it’s such a raw deal for Jack. The monster’s even disapprovingly throwing body parts at him, and since the GIF I cut is far too dark, I’m thankful for this Twitter user, who brightened up the visuals.
— Ismael AbduSalaam (@Ismael_BBM_NYK) February 24, 2020
And below, this is where El Cuco ends this hour’s horror, and he’s definitely looking like Claude. Somehow, this is the least disgusting instance of him eating, even though we can actually see it happening now. Next week’s the penultimate episode of the season, so we’ve only got two more weeks (tops) of dry heaving left to go.
HBO’s ‘The Outsider’ airs on Sunday nights at 9:00 pm EST.