Outsiders Review: “Shadowside”

Okay…things got much, much better. I mean, damn shit got so real, so fast.

It’s hard to know where to start. The storyline I hated, then sort of dug by the end was naturally, Big Foster. He is alive but he is not well. His host family/kidnappers are an appalling portrayal of just…everything, modern day white trash who are abusive, violent and just uncomfortable to watch. The one quiet, decent child in the family is picked on and beaten for trying to eat crackers, it’s all just gross.

Big Fos learns he was riddled with fever for days and somehow he survived both long term poisoning and then being shot in the freaking heart, dragging himself miles down the mountain … a man of his age who eats and drinks like he does.

Hmmkay.

The woman of the house is … okay, basically Big Foster is tied to the bed but rather than untie him at his request, the creepy, sex starved, creeeeeeppppyyyyyyy woman of the house climbs on top of him and sexually assaults him. That’s what happens, all on camera, and I have no idea how to feel about it except gross. I honestly can’t get a read on if its trying to be darkly funny or if I’m meant to be as disturbed as I am.

All of this happens in front of a little boy who is as abused and bullied as Big Fos by the family. It’s just all very gross.

Later, while the family is every terrible stereotype of poor white people, Big Foster breaks loose of his bonds and bribes the sad little boy with crackers to stay quiet, then snatches up a gun left nearby and even more inexplicably, loaded.

But, he’s not bad Big Fos just yet, he’s still the shambling wreck he spends so much of his time being. Though, we have to allow for his weakened, confused state this time around. His escape is aborted when he’s easily subdued by the older child of the family.

He’s chained to the bed now and the family tortures him with iodine and stitches up his wound with a dirty needle. Because David Morse is so good, we see the psychopath switch get flicked while he’s chained down. He’s done being weak and confused. They just woke the giant.

ooooh dang

The little boy is his saviour, reappearing later with the keys to the chains while his family sleeps. Big Fos takes up a knife, pausing only to give the child a single caring hug before ordering him to run, far and fast and never look back. The camera lingers long enough to show Big Foster tie his long hair back in preparation for what he is about to do.

He’s grinning. Grinning.

Holy shit.

Later he washes the blood off himself. The family has been slaughtered, save the little boy, who wanders alone down a long mountain road. I hope someone picks him up soon. Someone safe.

We’re in the mountain, following an all female clan  in red headbands and blankets as they walk across the mountain. They stop and build a campfire, ritualistically painting themselves with what looks like blood, as they prepare for something. It must be said there’s a wolflike quality to this group. I wonder if that matters.

They are the Kinnah, a break-off group from a family called McClintock, splitting off over a century ago and living in extreme isolation ever since. They’re all women and only deal with men to bear children – though they have no children in their number when they arrive on Farell land — and no one asks what happens to any boys they give birth to.

Arriving in the morning they tell the suspicious Farells that their water and lands are poisoned by a mine, and they are starving. There’s no polite way to say they look very healthy for people claiming to be starving, which I only mention because it’s a plot point. They speak what I’m going to call Shay Gaelic to Gwen, which easily wins her trust and she allows them to stay, and offers them water and shelter.

Absolutely everyone, including the Elders, Emily amongst them, thinks this is a very stupid idea, but Gwen is high on herself and insists they stay. Hasil voices his own concerns that for starving refugees the Kinnai sure seem healthy, but Gwen, suuuper high on herself, also talks him down, justifying her actions by the fact the Kinnah speak Shay Gaelic so they’re family. Oh, Gwen. Girl.

Gwen, running away for common sense

She gives him a job; to scout the woods and make sure they’re not surprised by the police or anyone else like they were the last time.

It’s obvious to us and Hasil she’s still trying to tie him to the mountain, pandering to his ego, which Hasil doesn’t rise to, but he does accept the role. He gathers some friends to work with him, ordering them to go quietly on foot rather than use ATVs.

Meanwhile, Gwen goes and talks with the Kinnai leader, Morgan, who is so overly gushing about Gwen’s youth and strength and all around just super amazingness, as to be so clearly evil and suspect. Gwen does try a probing question about how the Kinnai’s land was already known to be barren and hard to live on before it was spoiled, but Morgan just shrugs that they survived, and then compliments Gwen again, some more. Gwen is really not very bright, and just lavishes in the attention and praise.

‘You’re so pretty!’
‘Thanks!’
‘Ohmygod so you agree, you think you’re pretty?’

One portly and lazy Farell has ignored Hasil and takes an ATV to his route, and somehow, he misses a gigantic huge barricade cutting across the mountain roads, trashing his ATV in the process of just barely saving his own life.

We’ll talk on that barrier in a little bit.

This does not happen quickly

Hasil returns with LazyBoy to see the fence and retrieve the ATV, but they come across something else instead. Hasil takes it to Gwen because it is literally Asa Farell’s arm which, I guess the wolves carried all this way up the mountain?

Or the Kinnah did, because what we and Asa and the trainyard man saw were the Kinnah?

Either way, Joe is gone as gone as gone. Bye, Joe. I hope it was the promise of a sparkling film career, and not some backstage unpleasantness that saw you out.

Gwen demands the arm be buried between Farell and town land, as he was never from either world, anyway. Well, you never really let him be, Gwen. The mountain knows he tried.

The Kinnah start to move themselves into Big Foster’s old house without like, any permission at all, from anyone. I mean, rude. Gwen confronts them but can’t really rationalise why she doesn’t want them to live there, which is stupid, really. She could literally just say ‘you didn’t ask’ and have it be enough, but Super Evil Morgan decides it’s because Gwen is still grieving Big Foster. HA! Sure, okay. Gwen backs off and lets them have the house, because Gwen … is the worst.

Craic, the Farell wine brewer, approaches Gwen to raise the very valid concern that the winter is set to be long and hard and they really can’t afford to feed any extra mouths, hint hint nudge cough Kinnah cough. I mean, also maybe Lazy Boy who just trashed your ATV could go on a diet.

Gwen? You guessed it, is high on her dumb self, and challenges him, acting as if he’s trying to go against her orders, as his Bren’in. Oh my god Gwen you are making me hate you so damned much. She shoots down his, can’t stress enough, super-valid complaints about them all starving to death. In fact, she’s throwing a ceilidh, a traditional Irish folk party which requires lots of food and drink. Craic is stunned.

Literally Craic

Me too, bro.

At the ceilidh the food and booze is flowing freely and everyone has a good time and offers the Kinnai gifts and resources. Morgan’s accent goes for a walk all over Scotland and Ireland, impressive considering the sea between them, while she waxes about never being able to see the moon and stars so clearly where they come from as they do here. The other side of the mountain? She even says ‘down’ where they come from. Huh.

Gwen doesn’t pick up on this and maybe I’m over thinking it all. Morgan promises to teach the Farells all the things they’ve forgotten about what the mountain can do.

Like … turn you into an Asa-killing wolf, Morgan? Yes?

Their suddenly vaguely flirty conversation is paused. Because Big Foster, who I must remind you all, is still technically Bren’in…just came home.

Down in town, things are just as intense. Wade’s day starts terribly when Matt the emergency manager launches the plan to build a wall around Farell land, so they can’t come down and hurt anyone.

Which … they technically never did, guy. This is all so Trump right now and it’s pretty damn funny.

Hisssssssssssssssss

Wade scoffs at this absurdity and wonders where the money for this is coming from when they can’t afford a local medical centre, but Matt and corporate snake, Hayley (of the coal company) Corporate him down in their scary, robotic way.

About that fence? It’s the same barrier Lazy Boy nearly crashed into, despite this episode all taking place over one day. How fast did they get enormous metal  barricades up that mountain? We’re talking hours from  the meeting to the kid crashing.

Later, for some reason I find utterly baffling, like I feel like I missed a scene, Lil Foster is being questioned by State Detectives in the murder of Breece. He’s a suspect, somehow, which makes no sense. It appears to be mainly driven by Matt and Hayley, who see it as a great PR move for them and for Wade. Despite no evidence at all.

I’m confused too, Fos, I’m confused too.

Sidebar; Asa’s death pretty much brings to a close the story thread that Wade accidentally killed and concealed the death of a Farell. I’m a little let down by that, it’s going to make Wade’s apparent upgrade to awesome in this season feel a little cheap. Besides that, it made his dogged pursuit of Asa all the more exciting; if he brought Asa in, Asa could and probably would have destroyed him, too. But, Wade was prepared for that.

Now it’s gone, and that’s a shame.

Back to where we were. Lil Foster is being charged with murder and is placed in heavy restraints to be transported to court, then jail. He panics at first but Wade, an old pro with panic and anxiety, beautifully talks him down and they pair start to bond a little.

Wade sits disgusted through the shambles of a court scene, when Lil Foster’s unprepared public defender fumbles completely. She could argue there’s no gun, no murder weapon, no evidence of any kind linking him to the crime, and that he gave up his own father as the actual guy, and named Asa,  the previous suspect for Breece as the man who shot his father, Big Foster Farell, as well as stating clearly where (he thinks) that man is.

But, she doesn’t do any of that. Lil Fos has no idea how court works, and I seethe at the idea that a man like him can be put through the same court system as anyone else can. He can’t read, he has no idea what any of this means, he doesn’t understand he can’t have a dialogue with the Judge and just explain himself, which clearly makes his situation worse when the judge things he’s being insolent.

He’s denied bail and will sit in jail until his court case. Wade goes to see Ledda who has learned about Lil Fos and seems to be ready to accept it. Wade tries to explain his position and she has a meltdown, out of the blue enough for Wade to point out how different she was last week, and is left confused and frustrated.  It’s a brutal scene, hard to watch these two take pieces out of each other when they need each other so much. It gets worse.

Later, he learns she has pancreatic cancer. Because, of course she does. She’s a  good person, so of course she does.  It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking scene and Thomas M. Wright basically just reacts without speaking and it’s the best performance this show will ever see.

I’m just going to go and be devastated forever.

Later, Wade sheepishly fails to secure real legal representation for Foster and makes sure to put the big man’s shackles on himself as Lil Foster is moved on to jail. Wade promises to make it right, and Lil Foster promises to hold him to that.

In the jail, Foster has to duck through every door, even bowing to have his hands unchained once he’s placed in his cell. The reality of his situation hits him as he stares balefully at the bars locking him inside.

Outsiders has never held back on the wild and crazy, and this week veered hard into the creepiest side of that. I remain utterly disturbed by the scenes with Big Fos and his abductors, but the way things played out, I’m genuinely curious to see if it triggers a change in the man. I would love to see David Morse do more than be the big dumb villain and the scene when he was chained down, when we saw The Big Foster finally shake himself awake, was one of the best moments of the series so far.

On the other hand, if he has changed he may be more ruthless and brutal than ever before. Killing Breece was the end result of a tantrum, ultimately. Slaughtering that family was something else.

Letting the little kid go was the most interesting choice, though. The boy was basically mute, sure, but he knows exactly what Fos looks like, he even saw his tattoos, which are entirely unique to each Farell. Sure, they bonded, but this kid seems vulnerable, afraid, but honestly not all there. He might innocently describe the giant who killed his family to Wade. This would be great for Foster but pretty bad for the other Farells. If Wade learns Big Foster is alive, he will go back up that mountain.

Speaking of Wade, can their family please get a damn break? As I said, I am disappointed Wade’s accidental murder may just go away, but I am enjoying how he’s being positioned as just the voice of reason, and a more obvious good person.

Last year, he was a good but broken guy; this year, he’s just good and trying to be even better. I believe he will save Lil Foster, so long as Lil Foster lets him.

I am crushed about Ledda and really hope she makes it. Truly. She’s a wonderful person, with beautiful children, who need her. And, Wade needs her. He needs her so much. But, it has to be said, he’s a recovering drug addict, about to go through the most incredible stress of his life, and about to spend time around hospitals and pain medication.

The world is closing in on this little family and I want to protect them.

And finally, Gwen. Well. Well…she’s not smart. I’m honestly half relieved Big Foster is back because he might have the good sense to chase off the very suspect Kinnai. Or, maybe they came to save everyone from Big Foster. Maybe they killed Asa, maybe it was his blood they smeared on their face. Someone carried his arm back up the mountain.

Ged Ged Yah.

Nadine Morgan

Nadine Morgan

Nadine Morgan is really terrible at the ‘About You’ part of life. Nadine developed her reviewer skills writing epic facebook rants about the details script supervisors forget and trying to explain why Carol on The Walking Dead broke Lizzie by accident. Nadine loves TV, film and books but she wishes someone would pay her to be the continuity editor. She can be found on Facebook and in her forest garden and if she’s not yelling at her TV she’s trying to convince a cat to be an Instagram model and refusing to let 90's fashion die.

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  • Ray

    The all so Trump line would work a lot better but for the fact that some illegal immigrants have committed very real violent crimes.