Outsiders Season 1 Retrospective: ‘Messengers’

Last week, Big Foster’s endless thirst for drama and validation drove the first major wedge between he and Lil.

Meanwhile, Wade went out of his way to hide evidence that Farrell Wine drove a local teen to butcher his father.

This week, Wade is sleeping in front of the TV and misses Caleb sleepwalking out of the house and up the hill behind their home. It’s a really well shot, eerie scene and lays some of the groundwork for later, when we learn what happened to Wade’s wife. It’s also where a lot of fun theories get their start.

Some of us think Wade’s wife could have been a Farrell who returned to the mountain. Some of us wonder if the mountains mysticism extended to Caleb and Wade too. We’ll never learn now, but this is where it began.

Higher up the mountain, Big Foster visits his ailing mother, while Gwen and others stand vigil/guard over her bed. Even in a coma, Lady Ray flinches when Big holds her hand. Because even in a coma Lady Ray isn’t playing around.

After the credits, Wade wakes up and finds the back door open and for a horrible second it looks like Caleb hasn’t come back. He calls for Caleb and to his relief, finds the boy awake and already dressed in his room. Caleb has some scratches on his face, perhaps from his nighttime wanderings, though Wade doesn’t notice them as they head to school.

Back up with the clan, a wedding ceremony takes place. The groom has to run through a crowd of his cousins and brothers who all ‘try’ to stop him reaching the other side of the crowd. They wrestle and play fight with him, but it’s all in good fun and cheer. He reaches his glowing bride and presents a ring.

And because this is the Farrell Clan, of course there’s a huge, resource using party to celebrate. Asa, alone makes up That Table at every wedding reception, Cousin Deborah is making eyes at him, and Hasil comes over to make friends and congratulate Asa’s win in the pit fight.

Gorsh, hev’s a handsome devil

Hasil lets slip that he knows the Lostie world isn’t all that terrible, and he and Asa start to bond. We learn that Asa was taught to read by a Lostie from the town who worked as a journalist. It caused the man trouble of some kind. Krake comes over to share wine and when Hasil leaves, Asa learns why Hasil is short two fingers. Asa realises he may not be as alone as he first thought.

Cousin Deborah, who I just love so much, comes over to give Asa a necklace she’s made and asks him to dance. They have a spirited jig but Asa naturally makes eyes at Gwen, and especially when a slow song comes on.

Asa asks her for a dance and Gwen accepts, but just as I’m distracted by how lovely she looks with her braids the flowers in her hair, she tricks Asa and knees him right in the balls, in front of everyone.

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn, Gwen!

Asa’s shame — probably not horrible pain —  is cut short by Explosions! The clan heads out and spots mine people opening up a blocked up logging road with explosives. Big rushes off to declare war, ignoring Asa’s pleas that they stop and think first, and it’s about here I’m starting to wonder if my idea in season 2, that Eco Warrior boy inherited some of Asa’s backstory holds water. I’ll get to that …

Down the hill, Wade has a delightful and yet also grim scene with Lucy, a local sex worker he’s trying to move on from a street corner. She’s a little strung out, and she’s sassy and doesn’t possess a single identifiable fuck to give. She digs through her purse and finds a big giant bottle of Oxy pills. Wade actually manages to get offended for thirty seconds, then she tosses the pills on his seat and saunters off.

The scene gets sad as Wade lets her leave, and stares at the bottle like it might bite him. Aaw man.

Big Foster has called a meeting of the men and they’re readying for a fight, a war. Gwen arrives to Voice of Reason, and remind Big that the last time the Farrell and townsfolk went to war over that road was when Big Foster’s father, their Bren’in, was shot to death.

Big counters that the coal folk stopped coming for 25 years. Asa backs up Gwen. He talks up Big’s dad but explains that things are changed and they can’t fight the way they used to; if they fire guns or hurt people, they’ll be dragged off the mountain before the smoke clears.

Big Foster spits that the mountain is no longer free, and they pay their rent in blood. Great line delivery from Morse. He leads the men off.

An older Farrell who has stayed behind thanks Asa for telling them this was all coming, and thinks he’ll be the one to get them out of trouble. I think it’s the dude who works in the smoke shack in season 2?  Asa is despondent, even as Gwen suggests he go back down and fix things.

Maaan, I miss Joe Anderson. All his scenes with David Morse are so fraught and intense.

Down the hill, Wade picks Caleb up from school and finally notices the scratches on his face. He asks if Caleb got in a fight, then a little hopefully if Caleb ‘Hit him back?’. Wait, is Wade My dad?

Caleb says there was no fight so Wade just takes him home.

Asa comes to vent at Gwen about her suggestion he go back down the hill. Once again, they both hint that whatever made him come back was much worse than just how shitty it is, but he sidesteps that, as he always will. And now, I think he’s got a motive.

They argue about him leaving ten years ago and basically breaking her heart. Teary-eyed and emotional he apologises. Gillian and Joe are both so great in this scene. She clearly sees the sincerity of his mea culpa, but she’s not ready to accept it yet. She takes shots at him about how their way of life is under threat. He asks her what to do, and she firmly states ‘Show them who we are’. Ooh girl! Fiery!

Poor Lil.

Big and the crew have gathered all the clans known guns together. They have handguns and rifles, and Lil Foster turns up with a few extra weapons, but Big is a total piece of shit to him because Big is a total piece of shit. They argue over his losing to Asa, and the change in Lil is heartbreaking. He’s sheepish and uncertain, and it makes me hate Big Foster so fucking much. I hadn’t forgotten what a douche he is, but I’d forgotten these smaller moments of cruelty he had.

Asa goes to visit with Lady Ray, and finds another notice has been posted by the townsfolk. There will be a hearing on the mine development.

It’s so fucking shady that they post these notices to people they know are illiterate. I know Wade is afraid of the Farrell, but isn’t there an actual law that says you have to say these words to an actual person’s face?

Asa heads down the mountain and spots the town. Visibly anxious he heads into the streets, and digs through the bins at a thrift store so he looks more Lostie like. He heads into what I guess is Sally-Ann’s second job at a grocery store, because it’s not the same as where she met Hasil. Asa steals some matches and things ,while Sally-Ann and a manager are distracted at the counter.  He heads over to an old man called Mr. Rourke, who is the old journalist who taught Asa to read years before. Asa wants to know why the paper closed, and he quickly realises Mr. Rourke has lost some of his mind to age. Aaaw maaaan.

Wade visits Caleb’s school to ask about the scratches on Caleb’s face, and learns Caleb says he fell in the woods. The teacher has to awkwardly explain that Caleb came to the school with the scratches, but up until then she’d assumed Wade knew about them. Wade is, you guessed it, awkward as heck. As HECK.

At the Hearing for the coal development, Asa and Wade are both there, and Hayley is on form as she sells the crap out of the coal project, and re-frames the Farrell as illegal squatters. She blames the Farrell for pushing back the start dates for the coal folk hiring full time jobs, and the towns people quickly descend into arguments about the Farrell’s rights to stay on the hill. Asa watches this all with a steely eye.

Hasil visits Butch for the last of his money and learns they have none ,after the wine sent a teen on a murder rampage. Hasil explains he needs the money for a date and Butch and Frida laugh at him so he goes digging for his last bottle of wine. He finds it and Butch tussles with him, but for probably the only time in the show, ever, Hasil gets sinister music cues as he easily overpowers Butch. What the what?! That’s like a playing the Imperial March over a Labrador puppy!

Hasil full on head-butts Butch in the face and demands his money, so Frida runs off and gets it to chase him away. Hasil takes his cash and his wine and he books. I’d forgotten that, too! Damn Hasil!

Lil Foster is in his and Gwen’s place (a set that totally vanishes from season 2 even though it would have made a perfectly good home for the Kinnah, just saying) and he’s making up lies about needing to leave. She offers a shotgun she has casually hidden under the bed, and when she senses he’s withdrawn, she asks why. He’s afraid she has or will go off with Asa, but she doesn’t want him to worry.


At the meeting, Ledda (beloved!) is fighting for the mountain. She talks about the horrible pollution the mine will bring and the truth about how few jobs will created. Again, the results are mixed.

Breece, her husband gets up next. They totally disagree. He wants a future and a job ,and he’s pro-Coal. Breece is a veteran, I’d forgotten that too. Breece wins the crowd over with his earnest testimony and more to the point, he wins over Hayley. Breece asks why they should play by the rules when the Farrell don’t and Asa, realising the room is turning, heads up to the front.

He speaks, recites a poem, a bastardised version of the American National Anthem that criticises fat cats and corporate greed.

The room is dead silent, and Wade is wound tighter than piano wire as he watches to see what will happen. The deeper meaning of Asa’s recitation somewhat lost on the townsfolk, but they understand loud and clear the next thing he says, with his cold psychopathic eyes and in that low, throaty gravel he has; ‘Any of you come up that mountain, you ain’t gonna’ be comin’ back down’.

I keep having to remind where Asa gets his crazy from; his father.

Because, Asa is genuinely scary as fuck.

The crowd reacts about as well as you would expect, though Wade manages to hold them back just long enough for Asa to get out, and disappear. There’s a very cool shot of Wade and Asa passing each other, as Asa leaves Wade to try and tussle with the swarming, angry mob.

Elsewhere in town, Hasil is waiting outside a restaurant for Sally-Ann and the jerkass middle manager has called the cops on him for loitering. Hasil is already in No Damned Mood, besides the fact he has no idea how to react to a policeman. Their exchange ends with Hasil tasered and on the ground, while a late arriving Sally-Ann looks on.

Back at Ledda’s house, the adults wonder if Asa was a Farrell in front of the girls, who are mostly just curious but right now probably lean over to Ledda’s point of view, more than Breece’s. They bring up the last attempt to move the clan that ended in two deaths, except Wade corrects it to three, because he considers their dads death later on Farrell Magic Karma or something.

The girls ask if Wade will kick the clan off their land, and Breece twists the conversation into an ugly argument, which neither of them wins or comes out particularly well from. Wade gets a call about Hasil’s tazing and rages into his phone.

Elsewhere on the mountain, Big and the other Farrell go and find the tree moving equipment on the logging road, and open up the engines to basically just fuck shit up.

….now kiss?

Wade gets to the jailhouse, and heads straight in to see Hasi, sweeping up Hasil’s bag in the process. He gives him his wine back, and intimidates him a bunch about the Farrell  staying up the hill, and not coming down and making trouble. He says point blank he’s trying to make this all ‘Go away’, and shows Hasil out of a back door and Hasil, who is all attitude and sass this week, slopes out.

That’s twice now, that Wade has got all up in peoples faces to intimidate them. It’s kind of hot, honestly.

At their home, Ledda and Breece argue and Breece is a really frank and open person, but it comes across as nastiness. He’s not really wrong in his arguments (though I disagree with blowing up mountains for finite resources); he’s just not as great at presenting them to his family as he is a room full of his work buddies.

Asa walks along a road up the mountain, and he’s stopped by some angry miner types. He takes on two at once for a while before they overpower him and break out a crowbar. Three big dudes with a crowbar against this kids wiry ass? You absolute ninnies.

The crowbar is introduced to his ribs but it’s really a mistake on their part because all they’ve done now is given Asa a weapon. He takes the crowbar from them and in a few quick moves leaves the three men groaning on the ground. He gives the men a warning to stay the fuck away, before darting into the woods.

Sorry, for some reason that last part made me giggle. He just nips into the woods like a fucking forest imp.

Lil is on his own mission down in town. He’s gone to the home of the old man who shot at them that night. Now in this old man’s defence, several of them fired at the truck. But, Lil has decided this is the guy so he goes, and when the man confronts him, Lil just … is big and giant in his presence, and tells him what he did, that he shot an 8 year old to death. The man initially apologises but walks it right back by claiming he has a right to defend himself. Oh, dude. No.

Lil lurches at him and the man flinches, and his gun fires into the ceiling, but the shock of the whole situation gives him a heart attack. Lil is shaken, probably not intending to actually kill the guy. In stunned silence, he takes the guns, a photo of the man, and leaves.

That was such a dark scene.

Asa arrives back at the ranch, bruised and covered in blood from when he got beat up. Big Foster finds this hilarious because Big Foster might have a personality disorder. Asa hobbles over to see Gwen who, totally stone faced asks ‘How did it go?’

Um …

‘not …. great’

He tells her they are at war, and she worries they’re losing. Then, because of how much pain he’s in, and because he looks like Joe Anderson, she starts to tend his wounds and then they make out and then … way more. There’s a cool shot where she even has the blood from his face smeared on her head that makes this whole thing even more primal and intense.

Lil drops off the guns and the photo of Elon’s alleged killer at Big’s house to show what he’s done, then goes home to his cabin with Gwen. We see her there in bed, pretending as if she’s been there this whole time.

And so we see the first glimmers that Asa is a dangerous and the kind of fearless guy you should be worried about. As we know, he will roam the hill for the next few weeks, causing absolute havoc constantly, all the time. And I’m so excited!

The more I watch this back the more I think that they would have revealed Asa came back because he was forced to. As in, I think Hippy Boy’s backstory that he did some ecoterrorism that killed people was originally Asa’s narrative. Asa could have come home to hide out, or he could have been sent home by the Coal People to try and oust his family. But, he’s double crossing them.  Or perhaps in season 2 it would be Asa, possibly after having been cast out a second time, who is the one the Matt and the Feds forced back up the mountain. Especially as the season goes on, and we see the things he can and does do, the things he knows to do, and how to do them. It becomes clear he’s had experience at this sort of sabotage behaviour. So, that’s something to think on.

Otherwise, it’s always fun to catch those smaller moments that had slipped my mind from my first watch. I’d forgotten things got nasty between Hasil and Butch, or that Hasil was arrested and ran into Wade once before their meeting in season 2. I’d forgotten how much more definitive Gwen and Asa’s love scene was, which makes me idly wonder if he could be the father of her child.

And as I’ll keep saying, I love Joe Anderson and David Morse’s scenes together. I love Anderson with everyone, but he and Morse play off each other particularly well, and it’s a thrill to rethink and reframe their scenes, knowing that Morse was aware of Asa’s parentage. There is a lot more stuff there, in the things Big does and says, not just to Asa, but in any scene where he is being, or discusses being a father. Both men have an intensity about them, and now we know what we do, Asa’s journey is all the more poignant. They both want the same thing, though they can’t see eye to eye on why. Knowing it’s because Big is likely just disappointed in Asa, who is such a capable and intelligent person, just adds a new gut punch to Asa’s absence in season 2. I’ll get over it one day, but until then I’ll try and picture what would have happened had Asa survived, and found out.

There’s still a certain calm at this point, which I’m enjoying while it lasts. Very soon, the tension kicks off and basically never lets up until the show’s final episode.

We’ll be back next week for more!

Ged Ged Yah!

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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