The Outsider: HBO’s Stephen King adaptation offers a compelling mystery

Photo: Ben Mendelsohn and Yul Vazquez in The Outsider.. Image Courtesy Bob Mahoney/HBO
Photo: Ben Mendelsohn and Yul Vazquez in The Outsider.. Image Courtesy Bob Mahoney/HBO /

A brutal murder in a small town forever changes the lives of many. What seems like an open and shut case is far from over in HBO’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Outsider.

Don’t confuse Stephen King’s The Outsider with S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. The plural is a very important distinction. Stephen King’s version is about a heinous murder of a young boy in a small town.

The prime suspect is the unlikely Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman). A pillar of the community, Maitland is a middle grade English teacher and kids’ baseball coach. Eye witnesses spot him at the scene of a murder, and there’s damning DNA evidence.

However, he has an iron clad alibi. He was 70 miles away at a conference. How can a man be in two places at once? Before the answer can be realized the foundation of the small town is rocked to it’s core.

The Outsider is a gut wrenching macabre mystery in a beautiful locale. You have to pay close attention to the first episode as it goes back and forth in time. I don’t remember the book being so nonlinear.

More from Stephen King

HBO’s new show based on Stephen King’s novel, stars Jason Bateman who also serves as the director. Considering the last thing I saw Bateman in was Office Christmas Party, this show is a pretty big departure from what he usually does.

Bateman’s performance is subtle but effective. He is able to convey the difference between Terry Maitland and the real killer. The show does a masterful job of obscuring the face of the titular character so we don’t know what he or it looks like.

Mr. Mercedes fans will recognize one of the characters. Holly Gibney returns in The Outsider, albeit with a different actress. I don’t understand this decision.

It’s unclear why they would cast someone else. It may have something to do with contracts, but it would be nice to see a connection to a King Multiverse.

Despite that small qualm, after two episodes I’m sure that HBO’s The Outsider will only get better before all is said and done.

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