If I had to paraphrase the question most often asked by commenters during my tenure on the Outcasts beat, it would go a little something like this: “Why the hell is The A.V. Club even bothering with this stupid show we’ve all already seen and hated, especially since it’s been cancelled anyway?” Well, there are a couple of possible answers to this very good question. For one thing, it’s summer, and there’s not a hell of a lot going on. I’ll admit that I volunteered to cover it because it sounded interesting, and I knew some people who’d seen and enjoyed it. And even if Outcasts does suck—and it does, it does—since when has it been A.V. Club policy to only review things that are great? Sure, there wouldn’t be much point in covering one or two hundred episodes of a terrible show, but this one only lasts eight episodes, and maybe there’s something to learn from its failures. At any rate, we’re so mercifully near the end, we may as well see it through.
Having said all that, whatever dim hope I had that Outcasts would pick up steam near the end was obliterated by “Episode Seven.” If this were an HBO show, we could at least look forward to someone getting whacked in the penultimate episode, but alas, all the regulars survive. Worse yet, the plot is heavily dependent on every single character behaving like a complete idiot and making all the wrong decisions along the way, because the story would be resolved within ten minutes otherwise.
Our central figure this week is Cass, or “Tom Starling” as his real name turns out to be. Yes, Cass has a secret past he’s kept from everyone, including the woman he’s finally worked up the nerve to ask out on a date, Fleur. (Actually, he didn’t really manage to ask her out; he just stammered for a while until she finally took pity and invited him to dinner.) Someone has found out his secret, and Cass responds by freaking out, flaking on his date with Fleur, and picking up a one night stand at the bar. Complications ensue when he and Fleur are called in to investigate a missing persons case, and the victim, Carla Shapiro, turns out to be the woman he’d bedded the night before.
If Cass had come clean right away, it wouldn’t have been fun for him, but he could have spared himself a mess of trouble. As always, it’s the cover-up that’s worse than the crime, but while you could make the case that this is a realistic portrayal of how these scenarios often turn out (we’ve seen it over and over in politics, most recently with Anthony Weiner), it still irritated the shit out of me as a plot device. It gets even worse when Cass has Carla at gunpoint and she escapes just as Fleur and her team of PAS officers arrive on the scene. It’s as if Outcasts has learned all the worst lessons of Lost regarding the maddening lack of communication among the characters.
Other bad decisions are being made all over Carpathia. Tate decides to venture out alone to meet up with Rudi and the ACs in hopes of forming an alliance against the indigenous, shape-shifting lifeforms. They beat him up and send him home. Lilly has gotten herself arrested for stealing at the bar, and when Stella shows up at her cell, her daughter confesses that she only did it so Stella would notice she exists. Barf. Fleur gets drunk and goes home with Jack. And I’ve finally figured out who Julius Berger reminds me of: He’s every dopey, overconfident frat-rat Survivor contestant who thinks he’s got everyone else under his thumb, little realizing that they’re all laughing at his ineptitude behind his back. (At least, I wish that were true. It seems the show still expects me to take him seriously.)
So now there’s only one more hour to go. The spaceship Julius has been communicating with has yet to arrive. Will something amazing happen? Something that will make me feel like I haven’t wasted eight hours on this show? I’m not betting the house on it.
- Tate to Cass: “Everyone’s redeemable.” Thanks for the Cliff Notes.
- Julius to the citizens of Forthaven: “We are fighting for our lives. Normal rules do not apply.” I guess this is a half-assed 9/11 allegory, but I’m not gonna dignify it with a response.
- Did I mention there’s only one episode left? High five, everyone!