The Outpost - One Is The Loneliest Number - Review: A New Adventure Begins + POLL By Aimee Hicks (July 11, 2018, 3:00 am)
The Outpost, CW’s new summer series is off to a promising start. It’s a lot like most other action-adventure shows that have preceded it. The show is international, has a small budget, and is a bit campy. But all of those things are what make shows like this so appealing. They are meant to be pure, fun entertainment and that’s exactly what this show is. It’s a compelling story with a lower budget but the writing and performances make up for that. This story is a fun ride, so here’s a look at the events of this first hour.
There is a lot of exposition at the start which is typical of the first episode of a show as the writers setup the mythology of the series. We learn right away that the prime enforcement team is known as Covenant Soldiers, who are a part of the Prime Order. There were also once Royals that ruled the land prior to someone known as the Prime Lord overtaking them and claiming the land. The world in which this show exists is consumed by a plague that has left infected humans in a possessed zombie-like state known as Plaguelings. A group of creatures known as Grey Skins roam the other sectors of the land. That means that there are only select safe areas for humans in isolated villages and in fortified outposts like the one these characters inhabit.
The main heroine, Talon (Jessica Green), began her journey thirteen years prior to the start of the series and has become a strong-willed survivor. She is known as a Blackblood and thanks to a massacre shown via flashback, she is the last known Blackblood survivor. Prior to the massacre, Talon was an adventurous child with a strong sense of righteousness. She had a younger brother and they lived with their mom. There is no mention of their father. The Blackblood people were at odds with their human counterparts, but they seem to have been living in a precarious peace right up until Talon gave humans a reason to attack. Thankfully not all humans hate the Blackblood people as it is with some sympathetic humans where Talon finds sanctuary after the massacre. Blackbloods appear to be a peaceful race not prone to fighting. However, it is strongly implied that they may not fight because of some superior advantage they may have over their human counterparts.
When the village is attacked by a human group of mercenaries led by Tiberion Shek (Cokey Falkow) it is learned that Blackbloods have the ability to call some sort of creature to their aid, but took some sort of vow to not do so. Talon’s mom reluctantly calls the creature, but is killed before she can summon the beast. However, she utters enough of the call that one of these creatures arrives to protect Talon when a mercenary has her cornered. What is interesting, is that the mercenary who had her cornered, had moments earlier tried to kill her, then he proceeds to knowingly fake her death, so she will be spared. There are a lot of questions behind the mercenary’s act of compassion. It’s safe to guess he will appear in the story again. After surviving that encounter Talon then returned to her village to lay witness to the carnage. When she finds her mom’s body and takes her the blade from her limp hand there was a major change in Talon. That was the official end of her youthful innocence and the birth of a warrior in the making.
There is definitely a lot more mythology to flesh out in regards to the Blackblood people. Unfortunately for Talon, and the audience, everyone except for her is massacred that day. While she likely knew a decent bit about her heritage it is clear there is a lot she hadn’t been told. If her mom was so special and able to call upon these creatures, then surely it is a gift that her daughter possesses as well. All of these questions and uncertainties are clearly going to be a driving point for Talon this season. It’ll be fun watching her discover answers to all these questions and learning along with her what made the Blackbloods so special and so hated.
Once the mythology was revealed it was time for the episode to flesh out who Talon has become in those subsequent thirteen years. Immediately, it is clear that she is a fierce warrior with the self-satisfaction to deal with things on her own. She’s capable of making friends but seems very selective with whom she chooses to interact. When the Covenant soldiers arrive, Talon is quick to fight to make a path for her friend to flee. She goes back into the foray and grabs Gunter (David Ury), the guy who has information regarding the identities of the mercenaries who massacred her people. She clearly only grabbed him because he had information she needed, but in contrast, she was very protective of her friend right up until his untimely demise trying to protect her. That shows that while Talon prefers to work alone she is very capable of forming connections with others. With her friend gone, she was once again on her own trekking towards a remote outpost in order to follow-up on the lead Gunter gave her.
This is a young woman who has seen more than any being should at such a young age. She may have found sanctuary with a caring human family after the massacre, but she was still acutely aware she was still in danger. After all she’d witnessed she knew she had to blend in or die so she mutilated her distinct Blackblood ears to better blend in with humans. If she was capable of that at such a young age there really isn’t much she won’t do to survive and avenge her people. That drive to survive and seek revenge has never left her and seemingly only grown stronger as she got older. Even with the loss of her friend, she pushed on through dangerous lands alone to seek out her revenge.
The montage here was quite nicely done to show just how far she traveled. Jessica Green has a calmness about her that translates quite well into Talon. This is a character that is the picture-perfect example of a calm exterior while she rages internally. She is broody and a loner, but there is so much heart hiding under her very tough exterior. Green does a good job of showing the depth of this character especially in the quiet reflective moments. There are a lot of layers to this character that are yet to be explored.
The first half of this episode was about setting up the world the characters live in and allowing the audience to get to know Talon better. With that out of the way, the show then started introducing some of the other main characters. First up was Garret Spears (Jake Stormoen) and his first meeting with Talon went about as well as one can expect. He helped her out in a fight against the Plaguelings and got nothing more than a coarse jab back in return. Though she did later thank him and reluctantly fall into his debt. Garret is a soldier, a Captain of the Border Guard to be specific, and as far as Talon is concerned that fact alone makes him someone she can’t and won’t trust. However, Garret is a bit different and his natural charm does make a tiny dent in Talon’s emotional barriers. He gets her the rest of the way to the outpost and even helps cover for her against his father, Marshall Withers (Andrew Howard). Garret and Talon may end up having more in common than they realize. They are both being driven by things they aren’t comfortable talking about.
At the Nightshade Inn, the audience and Talon were introduced to the remainder of the main cast. Janzo (Anand Desai-Barochia) is the brewer at the saloon but is only in the episode for a short time so it’s hard to get a good feel for him. He clearly sees something special in Talon and is an extremely good judge of people. He read Talon’s likes just by observing her for a brief moment. Talon thought he was crushing on her, and perhaps he was, but his interest in her seemed to go beyond that. His brewing skills and knowledge of the inhabitants of the outpost could prove invaluable to Talon, making him a good person for her to befriend.
The final introduction of the main cast was Gwynn (Imogen Waterhouse), who at first glance appears to be a card hustler. She also happens to be the daughter of the Commander of the entire outpost, a fact made curious when its Talon to whom Gwynn runs to for protection when Toru Magmoor (Richard Ashton), a Covenant Agent and one of the mercenaries who massacred the Blackblood people, appears at the Nightshade. Almost as soon as Talon walked in Gwynn eyed her up and proceeded to keep an eye on her. At this stage, no one knows who Talon is or her reputation as a skilled warrior. Yet something drew Gwynn to her, so it’ll be interesting to watch this potential friendship flourish. With Talon’s fierce fighting skills and Gwynn’s cleverness they could be a formidable duo, though, Talon will clearly be the one doing all the fighting because that is apparently not Gwynn’s strong suit. Then there is the added factor that Gwynn has some sort of relationship going on with Garret. It seems like a very complex grouping of friendships. No doubt relationships will form when this unlikely group of people put aside their own issues and start working together.
At the very end of the hour, Talon was finally able to confront Toru Magmoor. She fought valiantly, but she was so focused on getting answers, she let her guard down several times. Charging into the battle with her emotions in charge instead of thinking clearly almost got her killed. It was a bloody fight that left Talon critically injured with a slash across her stomach and two abdominal punctures. Thankfully the mystery person showed up just in time to carry Talon away for some urgently needed lifesaving medical treatment. If it wasn’t for her mysterious rescuer it would be game over for Talon. Unfortunately, before Toru met his demise he was able to write out a final message letting others know a Blackblood still lives. That will surely only make Talon’s life harder especially while she’s recovering from her injuries. Hopefully her mysterious protector can keep her shielded away for the time being until she is back in fighting shape. So, then the question becomes, who was her mysterious savior? Was it someone we’ve already met? Garret? Janzo? Or was it the old man who was intently watching Talon at the Nightshade? Based on the what her savior was wearing he is a very likely candidate, but there is still the possibility the person was some brand new character not yet introduced? Only time will tell.
This is an interesting show because it isn’t what we typically see on television right now. It’s campy and action packed. The budget is so low that the graphics are mediocre at best. Yet, with all that in mind, it is still a fun show with a compelling plot. For those that loved the old action-adventure syndicated shows likes Xena, Hercules, Cleopatra 2525, and Legend of the Seeker, shows that were just fun, campy and action-packed, this show is a callback to that era. Honestly, those sorts of shows have been missed, so to have this one arrive on the scene is a welcome breath of fresh air. Not everything has to have the best graphics or the highest production value to be a fun enjoyable watch.
The cast is a solid group of performers. Upon first viewing, Jessica Green seemed hit or miss. There was just something about her performance that seemed a bit off like she struggled with her character. Then after watching a second time, it became clear that what originally seemed a bit off was actually some very thoughtful acting. It takes time for performers to settle into the role of a character, but it can also take the audience time to settle into the way a performer brings a character to life. Green is a subtle actress choosing to make small movements where perhaps viewers have become conditioned to big overacted moments. She actually makes some very smart acting choices as she brings Talon to life. At first, she seems shaky but by a second viewing, her nuanced actions become more obvious and it’s very clear why she was cast. She is an established actress, but this is her first lead role. There is a lot riding on her getting Talon right and she’s off to a good start. There are a few places where she’s still a bit uneven, but that’s sure to settle down as the next episodes air.
The other members of the main cast are solid performers as well. Jake Stormoen and Imogen Waterhouse were the most on point of the whole cast. Stormoen is clearly a charmer in real life and it feeds well into Garret. Waterhouse is a bit mysterious which works well for Gwynn’s card shark ways. Anand Desai-Barochia wasn’t on screen really long enough to judge, but he has some really brilliant facial expressions which are perfect for the apparently eccentric Janzo. They seemed to setup Janzo as a bit of the comedic relief and if that’s the case he’s going to be a fan favorite. There are a lot of shadowy villains, but none of the performers playing those roles got much to do, so there isn’t really anything to comment on regarding them. However, that is sure to change starting with the next episode once everyone learns a Blackblood lives.
This is a fun action packed action adventure summer show. It struggles to be its own show in this first episode as it felt like a lot of its predecessors. By the end it was starting to forge its own existence, so it should be interesting to watch this show grow and mature. One of its Executive Producers is Dean Devlin from The Librarians fame and he has a steadfast reputation bringing these sorts of shows to life. It’s probably going to suffer typical growing pains at first, but once it settles out of that it should be smooth sailing ahead for Talon and her new allies, friends, and mysterious saviors.
Don’t miss the next episode of The Outpost when it airs next Tuesday, July 17th at 9/8c on the CW.
Hit the comments with your thoughts. Did you like the show? Will you continue watching it? What were your overall opinions?