The Outsider season 1 premiere review: Stephen King adaptation hits HBO

The Outsider season 1 premiere review: Stephen King adaptation hits HBO
Stephen King’s The Outsider adaptation hits HBO. Pic credit: HBO

The first major new show of 2020 for HBO is The Outsider and it premiered tonight on the premium cable network. The series itself is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, which sees a beloved member of the community accused of murder.

The first two episodes premiered on Sunday night, Jan. 12, on HBO and set up the 10-episode series that looks to be like no other mystery drama on television.

Jason Bateman directs these two episodes and also stars as little league baseball coach Terry Maitland. When a young boy is found murdered and butchered in the woods, all evidence points at Terry.

As a matter of fact, not only does all evidence point at Terry but it is an open and shut case. There are three witnesses that all place Terry as the killer, his fingerprints and DNA are all over the crime scene and the child, and there is video evidence that places him everywhere the witnesses saw him at.

There is no way Terry isn’t the killer.

However, Terry was 60 miles away from the crime scene the entire day of the murder and his attorney finds video proof that Terry was at a school convention where he attended panels based on censorship, and public access TV has him on video at the panel at the exact time the murders took place.

There is also fingerprint evidence he was at the convention, which matches the exact fingerprints from the murder scene.

The Outsider season 1 premiere review: Stephen King adaptation hits HBO
The poster for Stephen King’s The Outsider TV series. Pic credit: HBO

That is the setup for this new HBO series, which stars Ben Mendelsohn as Det. Ralph Anderson, the man trying to figure out a case where the evidence points to both the guilt and innocence of the same man.

The Outsider is a slow-burn drama, similar to True Detective, but with a clear fantasy element — no surprise since it comes from the mind of Stephen King.

There is also the revelation that Ralph lost his own son to cancer, which is why he was angry enough to have Terry arrested at a little league baseball game in front of the town.

In the first two episodes, two families are destroyed — the family of the murdered child and the family of Terry himself. There is also a strange looking deformed man that is always hanging around, watching the destruction as it plays out.

Ben Mendelsohn is fantastic in his role as the conflicted detective on the case. Likewise, Jason Bateman is good in his role as the accused murderer and Julianne Nicholson turns in a solid role as Terry’s wife, as she tries to hold her family together after the tragedy.

There is a lot left to play out, as the second episode ends with a young man finding the clothing left behind by the murderer in a barn and Ralph learning about a cut that Terry sustained in the same town where the van the killer who abducted the child stole it from.

It isn’t much of a spoiler to say that Terry was not the killer, but the entire mystery here is who killed the child and how was he able to make everyone think Terry Maitland was the killer.

The Outsider is a crime story with a supernatural twist, a perfect treat for fans who always wanted to see True Detective as done by Stephen King.

The first two episodes of The Outsider aired on Jan. 12 on HBO and subsequent episodes will air every Sunday at 10/9c.

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