OUTSIDERS Review: “Shadowside”

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The blood was first thing to really grab my attention in Episode 2 of Season 2. At least, I’m pretty sure it was blood. All the clues were there: moonlit night, ring of women in headbands and braids, leaping fire, the sound of chanting in the air. What else could be in the bowl they are reverently passing around and smearing on their faces but a li’l sacred menstrual flow?

Who are these moccassined goddess-channelers though? Are they Farrell women? There was definitely a hint in the last episode that things were about to wax a bit estrogen in Season 2 of Outsiders. But this lady-centred blood-dabbing still seems a little next-level for the patriarchal people of Shay Mountain, and as we later find out, the women around the fire are actually another clan entirely – an all-female tribe who have lived on “the shadow side of the mountain” until now. Their water supply has run dry, and they are on their way to seek asylum with their fellow mountain dwellers, hoping to rely on an ancient tribal commitment to hospitality. The Farrells, headed by G’win as Bren’in, agree to hydrate and house the newcomers. As we learn, the women were once linked to the tribal Farrell ancestors, but around a century ago they departed to form their own clan. It appears the split occurred as the women wanted to retain a matriarchal line of leadership, where power is handed from mother to daughter. This information is divulged by their leader, Morgan (or Hillbilly Xena, as I came to think of her by the end of this episode). Hillbilly Xena likes G’win, hailing her as “a true leader” and showing keenness to share the ways of the women’s tribe, which is founded on the notion that “men only bring pain”, and apparently reproduces by using men for sex and then discarding them. What could be simmering here??

Meanwhile Big Foster (who, despite getting shot at the end of Season 1 was revealed to be alive and resting in someone’s basement at the end of Episode 1 Season 2) is experiencing some female-powered hospitality of his own. He’s been taken in by a nymphomaniac housewife and her angry husband and sons. She’s tied him to the bed, ostensibly to aid rest, but Big Fos quickly learns that his rest is not her only objective. Untangling from this is going to take him a while, and earns him plenty of additional physical damage.

Li’l Foster is similarly indisposed – still locked up on suspicion that he murdered one of the people of Blackburg. In court, he is represented by an underskilled and overworked lawyer, and refused bail. As the doors of the jail cell close on Li’l Fos, he’s looking rather docile and hopeless for a Farrell. Could being captured by the enemy and forced to accept their system of justice have broken his spirit? He is also eliciting some surprising sympathy from (deputy Sherriff) Wade Houghton, who is not convinced that Li’l did the deed and tries to find him some better legal representation.

As usual, Wade has problems of his own. It is revealed that his sister Abby (who lives with Wade, his son, and her children, following the murder of her husband) has pancreatic cancer. Worse than that, she does not appear to want to fight it. Upon receiving the news the sheriff looks like he is going to fall apart at the seams. Wade’s problems with alcohol, oxycontin, the coal company, the police force, and the Farrells are already bad enough. If Abby is not long for this world, it just might finish him. Maybe Li’l Foster can’t expect that sudden compassion to last much longer – especially as the person he is suspected of killing is Abby’s late husband, Breece (taken out in Season 1 while trying to broker peace between the townsfolk and the Farrells).

Someone who is almost certainly not alive is Asa. Hasil finds his arm, which was presumably ripped off by those wolves we saw Asa staring down at the end of Episode 1. Hasil brings the limb to G’win who orders it be buried (in lieu of the rest of Asa) halfway down the mountain – between the two worlds Asa (who left the clan for ten years) had inhabited.

Killing off Asa seems curious to me, given his centrality to Series 1 where, as an outsider-insider, he helps us enter the rather surreal world of the Shay Mountain tribespeople. Will we need someone else to fill that role? Will it be Li’l Foster, now stuck in the town’s jail cell? We didn’t hear anything from #Sasil this episode — maybe Sally-Ann will run away to the mountain to be with Hasil after all? Of course, I’m hoping G’win and Hillbilly Xena unite the mountain tribes with the people of Blackburg and they all together chase out the coal company before turning the joint into some kind of matriarchal Appalachian kibbutz that runs on artisan moonshine, but I’m probably getting ahead of myself there. At any rate, Big Foster has thrown off his depraved captors and made it back to the mountain. Pale, limping, and bleeding from a number of places, he demands a (tribal decision-making) Circle be called before collapsing at G’win’s feet. He’s a lumbering, hairy, possibly very dangerous spanner in the works for a clan that’s moved on and anointed a new Bren’in; so all bets are off until Episode 3.

Season 2, Episode 2 (S02E01)
Outsiders airs Tuesdays at 9PM on WGN America                                             TB-TV-Grade-B-

Read all of our reviews of Outsiders here.                                             
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is a writer from Sydney, Australia. She has degrees in sociology and gender studies, which makes her very annoying to watch TV with.
Follow Ann on Twitter: @Ann_dLandes
Keep up with all of Ann’s reviews here.

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