Spoilers ahead.Season one of Cinemax’s possession drama ended with a bang leaving us nerve wrenchingly waiting for Season 2. Over the course of Season 1, Outcast played a little give-and-take when it came to divulging information about what exactly is going on with Kyle Barnes, Reverend Anderson and the mysterious Sidney.
Based on the Skybound/Image comic title by creator Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and artist Paul Azaceta, the 10-episode Cinemax drama series Outcast follows Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), a young man who has been plagued by demonic possession all his life, and who is searching for answers and redemption. Now, with the help of Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), a preacher who has personal demons of his own, Kyle embarks on a journey to regain the normal life that he lost, but quickly realizes that there are things much more sinister at work than he ever could have imagined.
The inspiration for this story came from Kirkman’s religious upbringing and his darkly religious past. There are religious aspects to the show, but it’s not a religious show. They’re being true to the region and dealing with people who have various strong beliefs, and they’re working to portray those characters respectfully and honor their traditions and way of life.
There is a very involved mythology to this world. What you see in the pilot are very traditional possessed behaviours that you see, all over the genre. Throughout the series, they’ll explain what’s happening and why those things are occurring. While they’re playing with the tropes of the genre, they’ll be coming at it in a different way. They want to explore things like the phenomenon of what causes levitation, why they don’t like light and why they’re harming themselves for seemingly no reason and give those answers throughout the show.
Possession is so scary because it’s a loss of self, and there’s nothing scarier than not being able to control who you are. You can hurt the people that you care about because something else has taken control of you. But as scary as the demons in the story might be, for Black, when it comes to stuff that’s terrifying and scary, he feels like the loss of family trumps everything.
Even though the show has two male leads, there is a strong female presence both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, and they make an effort to show an even balance in the storytelling. There are actually more men than women in the show’s writers’ room and the ratio of male to female producers is 50/50.
The show’s version of Kyle is pretty close to the comic book’s version of Kyle because Kirkman is involved with both projects. But there is a lot more texture and opportunity to explore Kyle on the show because they have more tools and time to tell the stories with. The first issue of the comic and the first episode of the show are very similar, and then things branch off from there.
Megan, played by Wrenn Schmidt, is a woman who’s been through a lot and has built up a lot of armor in order to survive. She’s also the skeptic on the show with much of the evil that touches her being very human.
In the series premiere, the show didn’t shy away from playing the story as an outright possession drama, one with a few shiny visual tricks up its exorcist-inspired sleeves. However, as the season went on, the drama turned to an investigation of trauma and how often past sufferings can hang with someone for a lifetime and become a stigma that alters how they are defined by themselves and others. The series’ exploration of Kyle’s past trauma at the hands of his ‘possessed’ mother, and later, the trauma endured by Megan, Kyle’s adoptive sister, became the line for the series’ first season.
As that season draws to a close there are still plenty of questions about what Sidney’s intentions are and whether or not he’s actually the devil, as Reverend Anderson claims he is.