Hello Outsiders fans. My most sincere apologies are offered for my absence. Life got a little intense for a while there for me personally and because the UK Government has gone utterly flamingly insane.
As promised, I am here to recap season 1 of Outsiders. It seems official now that the a third season will not be picked up by any network, which is a genuine surprise and obviously, crushingly disappointing. This was a great show, smart and different from anything out there. But it existed, and we can revel in the memories. So, join us if you will for a retrospective look at season 1.
Ged Ged Yah.
We open on a time lapse of a city that I always pretty much assume is LA. A hoodie wearing Asa Farrell, the original (arguable) lead of the entire frikkin’ show, silently and morosely walks across a bridge that takes him out of the city proper and into the beginning of The Wilds. He’s visibly distraught as he regards the city. We never learn why he came back home, other than his disgust with Townies and their ways, but his particular level of trauma here always makes me wonder what happened.Teary eyed, Asa takes a final, steeling breath, withdraws a handgun from his waistband and with visible effort raises it to his head. He’s struggling to take the shot and then, sensing something, he turns. There are the wolves, those oh so curious avatars of the mountain. They regard him calmly and he’s shaken, moved by their attention.
We cut to credits before we see what he does next.
We’re with Deputy Sheriff Wade Houghton as he drives in to work one fine and sunny day. This is Old Wade, not too many responsibilities to worry on, the nice-guy-with-a-quiet-drug-problem Wade, the guy who only sticks up for himself when his own interests are challenged. As we’re about to see as he’s called into a meeting with The Coal People.
They’ve bought Shay Mountain and are asking the Sheriff’s stations help with evicting The Farrell (and any other) clan who are residing up there. The language in this scene is toe-curling. The Coal folks call it ‘their’ mountain, speak horribly about the Clan as if they’re not even real people. Assholes.
Wade is told he’ll be spearheading the effort and his response is as stuttering and halting as we’ve come to expect. Wade is described has having a ‘history’ with the Farrell (we later learn his father killed Big Fos’s dad). Wade calmly but firmly asserts that the Farrell will not come down off the mountain so the coal folk can put their expected completion date down as the 12th of Never.
On mention of the Clan, we cut to a breathtaking helicopter shot of the mountains and rolling hills and lush forests, and I Want To Go To There!
We’re in the distillery with Krake while he carefully brews and samples the infamous Farrell wine. Hasil, his assistant, once upon a time, helps out but Krake is worried – they’re low on supplies. Shit dude, don’t tell Gwen, she’ll throw a party and use up what’s left.
Out in the camp, there are sounds of a fight. Big Foster Farrell duels with Lil Foster Farell who is tied to a post as part of the competition or game. The crowd is enjoying the show, as Krake arrives to deliver the news they’re out of yeast. Big happily carries little Elon around, Gwen and Lil embrace lovingly. It’s just … so nice. Before the coal people. Before Asa.
Big Foster declares a run will take place, ignoring Gwen’s reminder Big isn’t Bren’in yet, and he cheerily shrugs it off. This is Big before he got hurt; not the best guy around, but not the evil bastard he spends most of the rest of the season being. As the boys ready up to roll out Elon runs over and asks to join. He’s only 8, so Big says no, warns him the world is poison and Elon can see that when he’s grown. He gives Elon his pendant, calling him his ‘best son’. Lil Fos sits in earshot like ‘…. Thanks dad!’.
They head out and roll into the grocery store, still on their ATV’s. Hasil plays distraction to keep the teller from calling the cops and of course, it’s Sally-Ann! She’s not entirely afraid of them, just baffled they just keep taking shit without permission. Hasil thanks her by giving her her first carved bird. He tries to read her name but can’t, so she tells him, and he loves her hair and says she has a light about her.They stare at each other a little smitten; Hasil is pulled away. D’aaaw!
The boys celebrate after their raid, but their revelry is interrupted by Bren’in Lady Wray who asks ‘What, prithee, said ruckus tonight?’ They admit the run, and she’s not happy they went on a run without permission. In another example of how different and calm things were for the Farrell, she wearily points out he’s not Bren’in yet, and he just as wearily bids her goodnight. No love lost, though the rage we see later is still under the surface for both of them. Of course Big is happy here. He was about to be made King.
Down in town Wade and another deputy write up the Farrell robbery, though the owner isn’t pressing charges. It’s not worth it. At a bar later the Deputy asks why they let the ‘moron’ Farrells get away with it. Wade repeats his assertion they’re not morons, and no one should mess with them. He alludes to the incident with his and Big Fos’s fathers, saying only that the last attempt to remove the clan ended in deaths.
Wade is approached by a woman called Rickie, who pointedly mentions she’s leaving as she asks how Wade is. The deputy asks Wade if he believes the Clan have ‘powers’. Wade just repeats his warnings that nothing good comes of messing with the Clan and takes his leave, not so subtly following Rickie out of the door.
The next morning he wakes, visibly a little strung out and we see him shake out two of his Oxy pills. He arrives a little late to Ledda’s house to pick up his son, Caleb, to take him to school. Later he’s heading out with the deputy and a coal guy to post the eviction notice.
They get out of the car at what looks like a dead end, as close as Wade will take them. They discuss rumours about the mountains monsters, snake people, ‘She Wolves’ (!!). Wade, with a weight to his actions, posts the notice by stapling it to a tree, refusing to try and give it to a Farrell in person. Thunder ominously rumbles as they leave, watched by little Phoelia, Spirit of the Mountain.
Later, she gives the notice to Lady Ray who asks for that ‘Lostie’, who came back and can read, to be fetched.
The clan approach The Box and we see a filthy, skinny starved Asa, chained up in the box.
Asa is cleaned up by having water tossed over him, given a change of clothes and is unshackled so he can meet the Bren’in. He bows to her and she speaks their pigdin Gaelic but he can’t remember too much of it.
She talks of his 10 year absence, and why he came home. Asa went to school in California. He talks about how pretty some of California is, and how he’s been in The Box for 6 months. Six months locked up. She pointedly says something awful must have happened to him to come back to so much suffering. He’s given the notice, and he explains the problem with the Coal People. Lady Ray asks if they are at war and he shrugs; the Townies want the ‘the coal rock, for their power’.
Lady Ray speaks, for the first time on the show, of the Old Father’s prophecy. That demons would come to destroy them and only one who returns. Asa thinks a moment and says it was ‘Wyeth-clannin’ who sent him. My rough attempt to translate suggests that means ‘War Strength’. But, he means the wolves, so I guess we were told who and what they are from the get go. They are the warrior spirit of the Mountain people.
Lady Ray knowingly asks ‘The three?’ and explains how in the prophecy, the one who returned would be Bren’in. In season 1, this is Asa. By season 2, with Big and Lil spending time off the mountain and even Gwen’s near death, the meaning of ‘returned’ is very curious.
Lady Ray says he’ll spend one last night in chains and then he’s free, and can even stay on the mountain.
The clan, minus Asa, gather for what is meant to be Big Foster’s coronation. Everyone is actually fairly up for the transition, but Lady Ray breaks the news she won’t give the Oak this day. She tells them of the coal people and how much danger they’re in. Big zeroes on on Asa as the cause of all of this; Lady Ray cuts through that and just straight up tells Big he’s a useless, powerless drunkard who can’t lead them through this. She tells them Asa will be staying, and he’ll pay his price. She reminds them they’ve chosen to live by their own rules. And ‘May those Devils down there know this; This is our land! This is our blood! And we will never leave this mountain!’
The rallying cry does the trick, and the wine is uncorked and the clan have their party. They dance and drink and make merry and once again, I would love to be up there with them.
Asa sits alone in his dark little cage, listening to the revelry.
Big sits and watches bitterly. One couple is having sex right there on a nearby table. Lady Ray watches the merriment with a smile, watching Gwen and Lil together. Big watches too, more creepily than Lady Ray.
Later on the last few revelers lament. Lil reminds his Fa’ he’ll be Bren’in soon enough, and Big makes noise that he’ll take the Oak by force, like his daddy, and drunkenly bleats about Asa. He claims he IS the Bren’in and Gwen is like ‘but you’re not tho’. Big flashes the nastier side we’re more used to, telling Lil to handle Gwen and calling his mother a bitch.
Big knows of a guy with a house full of guns he wants to steal, and Gwen takes her leave with a reminder Farrell don’t kill Farrell.
In the morning, Gwen chases off some kids hassling Asa. They flirt a little and she teases the hungry man with some homemade bread she baked him. She demurs to answer whether she’s married and gives him his food, asks why he’s back. He talks about how hateful the world below is. Gwen warms him Big Fos is on the warpath, but he’s not afraid. Like Lady Ray she senses that something terrible happened to Asa for him to come back here.
Down in town Wade catches a couple of kids buying drugs across the road from the school. He warns them off, takes their weed but lets them go.
Asa is hauled out of his cage by Lil and another cousin, and points out this wasn’t quite the freedom Lady Ray promised. He’s tossed into a truck with Big, Lil and another cousin, against his protests about going back down. They say it’s the only way he’ll be welcomed back.
In the back of the truck he finds Elon hiding and there’s a great shot of Big, regarding Asa, Lil and Elon. His three sons.
Big is angry Elon sneaked along, but they decide he can be a lookout for them. And like that, a fatal decision is made that sets this whole thing in motion. Just like that.
Hasil, who is absent from the run, is at the store waiting for Sally-Ann. She’s a little perturbed to see him; he asks if she wants to hang out. She gently reminds him he’s got no money and asks if they’ll rob the chicken wings and beers he’s offering. She’s afraid of going to jail if she associates with him, and leaves him stung.
Big and the crew pull up outside the house with all the guns, leaving Elon to keep watch while they head inside. They wake a neighbour who runs off to fetch his own gun, while Elon looks petrified.
The neighbour fetches a rifle and Elon runs in to warn the Clan, but Big ignores him and demands Asa steal the TV. Then when they’re alone he points a loaded gun at Asa, who realises this was the plan. Elon calling for help leads them both outside. Asa just dips and escapes while he can, and the Farrell boys haul into the truck and run for it. More neighbours are shooting now at the retreating truck, and the Farrell lose most of the guns. A ways up the road, someone demands Foster stop.
Because Elon, in the back of the truck, has been shot to death.
Oh my god, this scene fucking hurts. Big loses it, shrieking in his grief and trying to plug the wound, but Elon has died instantly.
Big wails and it’s heartbreaking.
Hasil and his hair and braided feathers and his kilt walks into a bar full of Townies and asks for a whisky. He tries to pay with a carved bird, but Butch — nearby — tells the barman he’ll cover Hasil’s drinks and Hasil tries to lament about his troubles with women. When he leaves, Butch follows and introduces himself (the beginning of a beautiful friendship). Butch offers to help Hasil earn some money.
Wade learns about the Farrell burglary of some guns and the Sheriff wants some of them brought in and questioned. The Sheriff calls Wade scared. He’s not wrong.
On the mountain, Elon is laid to rest while his mother — whose name we never learn — hysterically sobs her own grief. The family lay flowers on the tiny little body ,while a melancholy tune is played.
Big spots Asa at the funeral and chases him down. He blames Asa for the death, and says Asa will never be one of them.
Asa gets close and hisses Big will never be Bren’in. Big demands Asa leave if he really cares. He goes to see Lady Ray and is angry she’s not at the funeral. I mean, she’s about 100, dude. But she’s not there because of her rage at Big for even going on the run. He rants about Asa, so she tells him where to shove that and go. He grabs her around the face as if he’d suffocate her ,and demands to know where her powers are now. The tiny, frail old woman stares in defiance at him as he smothers her unconscious.
Hasil sneaks into the distillery and steals a few bottles of wine from the back of the shelf where they won’t be missed right away.
Asa is heading down the mountain to a secret spot, where he’s buried a bag with his old Lostie ID. He has a driver’s licence under the name Philip Worthington, and even credit cards. With his bag, he heads back down the hill and he seems ready to leave a second time. He manages to stop a car, but when asked where he’s going, he hesitates.
Lady Ray lays in coma state, tended to by Gwen and the others. Big promises to oversee her duties ‘til she’s better, while everyone stands around trying not to to scream at him ‘YOU DID THIS, YOU MANIAC’.
Down in town, Hasil comes to Butch’s house where he’s getting high with Frida. Hasil talks up the psychedelic wine — which they only make 2 batches of a year. Hasil wants a thousand a jug, and Butch offers 40 bucks a jug, plus a cut of the proceeds. Hasil accepts it, because he probably doesn’t know how much that is.
Butch sells weed to the same kids Wade stopped, and then sells them a jug of Farrell wine for $150, and warns them to cut the drink with something but … ya know, teenagers.
At a raging party later everyone is getting high, and pretty much only Tyler, the kid who bought the jug, is chugging the potent ‘shine.
The wine’s made him aggressive and (more) stupid. Later on, near dawn, out of his damned fool mind, the boy staggers home. He’s confronted by his father, so without a word Tyler casually stabs him to death.
Wade is woken and called to the house. They race inside, guns drawn, find the body and search the rest of the house. Tyler is curled up in a ball, sobbing.
Later Tyler’s friends are being questioned and Wade wants to know what Tyler was on. His friend admits they had Farrell wine, and Wade is visibly shaken and sends them home.
Big and the boys learn from Krake that two jars of wine are gone. They go and get Hasil and search his cabin and find Townie money. Big is blaming Hasil for Elon’s death, as well. The younger Farrell is dragged outside, begging for a circle to be called, but Big is On One. He cuts off two of Hasil’s fingers. Even Lil is horrified.
Wade tells the Sheriff about the murder and claims Tyler was on meth or something, downplaying the Farrell involvement. The Sheriff senses their involvement though, and wants them off the mountain; Wade points out how the family have been up there for 200 years. The Sheriff doesn’t care, he wants them down and it’s Wade’s job (for some reason).
On the mountain, Asa burns his Lostie identity. Clothes, a journal with writings, and beautiful photos he probably took himself … last of all, his fake ID. He’s not going anywhere.
Wade stares ominously at the bridge that connects the town and the mountain.
Big sits and grieves for Elon. Asa sits by his fire and sees the wolves, the Wyleth-Clannin. He’s kept one thing from down below; his gun. Tucking it into his waistband, he heads back up the mountain.
As pilot episodes go, that was a thrill ride and a half. Introducing a great deal of characters, complex webs of story and giving us just enough information about the history these people share to keep us coming back for more. It’s curious watching it back, seeing how important Asa was to everything, and we’ll see how much deeper that goes as the season continues. It was also nice to get a reminder that Big had at least been on his way into growing into a softer older man until the Bren’in-hood and Elon were snatched away from him. It gives him a lot of depth I’d forgotten about the first time I saw the show, and ties into his stories on season 2 about how different he could have been if not for Lady Ray’s cruelty.
I’m also loving how Season 1 Wade actively fought for the Farrells, but not out of the sympathy he gains for them in season 2. He’s terrified of them. The Farrells have to take what they can get.
Lets see what happens next week. Ged Ged Yah.
(It’s good to be back)