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Inside ‘The Outsider’: We Need To Talk About This Spreading Plague Of Dreams

HBO’s The Outsider (an adaptation of the Stephen King novel) has officially passed its seasonal halfway point. The drama series combines King’s infamous adoration of supernatural touches with a murder mystery, and the show’s sixth installment, “The One With The Yiddish Vampire,” continues piling onto existing mysteries. We’ve talked about all of the deepening scratches, and it’s time to dig deeper into those dreams.

This week’s The Outsider put Holly Gibney in an uncomfortable spot with her child-murders theory, which went over disastrously with most characters. Ralph (and Terry’s wife, Glory) are absolutely disgusted that her exhaustive investigation has led to blaming the bogeyman/Tear Drinker/Grief Eater/El Cuco following the presentation of her beliefs. The private investigator knows that folks think she’s a space case, and that makes her feel humiliated. And Cynthia Erivo’s performance (which arrived with her desire for Holly to not be a caricature of someone on the spectrum) is so nuanced that it’s painful to witness that humiliation. But yes, her findings are not going over well. Jeannie and Yunis are the only ones truly on her side, and Jeannie’s extremely distracted, so it’s up to Yunis to save us all.

Yunis: Still The One Most Worth Rooting For

HBO
HBO

It’s a pretty dark visual up there, but Yunis follows through on his suggestion to track Claude. The strip bar owner (as far as anyone knows, because everyone’s ignoring shady Jack) appears to be the most recent El Cuco infectee following Terry’s scratch. Or is this a Claude doppelganger who’s acting punchy in the club? It’s difficult to tell, but given that Yunis is the one who declared, “Dreams are messages, bro,” it’s worth nothing that some of the dream-encounters with hoodie-guy seem real, and others are apparently occurring in subconscious land. Yet all are unsettling. Yep, it’s probably a good time to evaluate the hoodie-guy-infected dreams that we’ve seen over the past few episodes. Thankfully, Yunis has not been the victim of a dream (yet), but several other characters are afflicted.

Jeannie: Still Worth Worrying About

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I don’t know about y’all, but I’d be upset if my husband was pretty much gaslighting me over some melted-face guy invading the family home (god, Ralph, so rude). Ralph insists there’s no supernatural stuff going on anywhere, and he trusts that forensics will fix everything. Meanwhile, he’s got Jeannie’s drawing next to Merlin’s drawing and drawings based upon Jessa’s three visits from Hoodie Guy, and they all (according to an apt observation from Holly) look like the same guy with tweaks. Holly’s figured out that Hoodie Guy is undergoing a metamorphosis with each scratch-cycle, but Ralph has every possible excuse for why she’s wrong. And he won’t stop making digs at Jeannie’s mental state, all because she’s not afraid to hide her grief over their dead son, and Ralph would rather wallow in the depths of denial. I’m really not sure how that makes him feel better about Derek’s death, but Ralph’s infuriating at this point.

Holly: Not Immune To El Cuco After All

HBO

Well, well, well. The plane-averse Holly’s bus ride got supernatural when she had her own El Cuco dream-vision involving Tracey Powell. Right after she read Andy’s message about Heath’s connection to Tracey (they were first cousins), Holly apparently passed out and had a nightmare. This somehow led to her ordering the bus driver to stop, which caused an accident that will undoubtedly get him fired. Not cool, but it’s not Holly’s fault. She’s only trying to piece together clues about Jack’s and Tracey’s necks, and why some of El Cuco’s victims manifest as slaves, and others spread the “virus” and do the doppelganger-murder thing. I’m sure we haven’t seen the end of this dream’s fallout, but duty called for Holly, so things got shelved. Right now, the biggest take I’m seeing is that El Cuco isn’t afraid to mess with Holly, even if she might be strong enough to ultimately withstand his powers.

Ralph: (Inexplicably) Still In Denial

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Again, Ralph’s testing nerves to the max, and his poor therapist is attempting to sift through his inner wreckage. Naturally, the detective’s insisting that he’s fine and dealing with everything, despite working on a case that’s clearly pouring salt into wounds that weren’t even close to closed. That vision that he had of Derek, he believes was “definitely a dream.” The therapist isn’t convinced that Ralph is convinced of this insistence, but the patient reckons that he’s had “a big breakthrough.” He believes that Dream-Derek truly wants him to move on with life and stop grieving so deeply, and it’s not even within the realm of Ralph’s reality that the dream occurred for any other reason. Like maybe El Cuco’s bestowing the dream upon Ralph now in order to halt the Frankie investigation? Holly points out that El Cuco must be acting out because he feels threatened by the investigation, and she believes that the entity should have Ralph at the top of his target list. But once again, he’s stubborn, even after Holly puts the black-light spotlight on evidence of El Cuco’s shedding “like a snake” in his own home (after Jeannie and Jessa both passed on warnings that he needs to shut the case down).

Jessa: Still In Need Of A Real Childhood

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Terry’s daughters have endured so much, it’s no wonder that Glory’s not a fan of Holly’s theory, especially since she’s been publicly ostracized after Terry was killed and unable to defend himself. Where Jessa is concerned, the child has attempted multiple times to convince Ralph that the warning from “the man” was real, and he should be scared. In this episode, she’s so weary of telling her tale that she’s whispering it into her older sister’s ear, and that’s the method of delivery. We can probably assume that there’s probably not much lost in translation here about the hole-shaped eyes of Hoodie guy, but yeah, it’s time for Ralph to believe Jessa. And at least the child got some old toys from Jeanne/Derek out of the deal.

Tamika: Still On Standby

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I’m only mentioning this dream (which happened last episode) again because it seems unlikely that there won’t be a followup after she dreamed that Hoodie Guy swiped her baby. We didn’t see Tamika or the child this week, but this show’s focused upon the Grief Eater being obsessed with children and the subsequent suffering of families, so yeah, keeping an eye on this one.

And this was not a dream, but it was wild…

Jack: Still The Worst That Humanity Has To Offer?

HBO
HBO
HBO

I’m starting to develop some mixed feelings about Jack, which is surprising for several reasons, not the least of which is that atomic wedgie. From what we’ve seen, he was a horrible person even before his brush with the supernatural. However, it’s difficult not to feel sorry for the guy now. His refusal to hold Tamika’s baby did seem motivated by his desire not to hurt the child. He’s also terrified after the lamp-sacrifice refusal, so much so that he’s thanking El Cuco for his scratch immediately after waking. However, there’s no mercy for Jack because El Cuco is now sending him written messages (on walls, in scratch-like form on his hands) that Holly must be stopped. So, he’s working hard to ingratiate himself to the rest of the Frankie Peterson/Terry Maitland investigators, but it’s apparently not enough to appease the Grief Eater. Yep, El Cuco sends the dream-esque-ghost of Jack’s mom to beat the holy hell out of him, and her greeting is positively The Shining-esque. We see her, yet she’s invisible while beating Jack up, and he finishes the episode with Holly observing his blister-burn in the flesh. See you next week, dreamweavers.

HBO’s ‘The Outsider’ airs on Sunday nights at 9:00 pm EST.

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