The Outpost: Does A Kinj In The Head Mean Double Trouble? – Review, Ep. 303

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At long last, that which was lost was found at The Outpost. But what does it all mean, this missing Kinj that is now in the mind, and apparently heart and soul of the Blackblood priestess Yavalla? Oh, it’s a tangled web and one that we should try to unravel, but there’s plenty of mystery going on here, including the mystery of Yavalla herself. And the Yavalla that went down the dark cave and survived two possible death blows, was not the Yavalla that re-emerged, was she? Nooooo.

Episode 303 of The Outpost had a bevy of nice reveals, some interesting conflict, a nice ode to “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and the burgeoning bromance that no one could have possibly seen coming. The episode, “A Life for a Life,” was another in a nice run of episodes that have continually upped The Outpost’s profile and increased its fandom. I enjoyed the heck out of this episode and really delighted in the multiple puzzles in play to eventually lead to the missing Kinj. So, let’s talk about it.

When Yavalla, Talon, Janzo and Wren make their way into the tunnels, they are confronted by the very essential fact that if it seems too easy, it’s a trap. As they make their way along the musty and dusty corridors, they are tested – or more precisely, their worthiness is tested. It should come as no surprise that as each trap is sprung, Janzo, Wren and Talon prove they have a commitment to each other, while Yavalla is willing to sacrifice them all, yes even her daughter, in the quest for the Kinj. If I was suspicious of her before, her behavior in the tunnels only reinforced that. Her endgame is the Kinj, no matter the cost.

The Outpost — “A Life for a Life” — Image Number: OUT303_1558.jpg — Pictured: Jaye Griffiths as Yavalla — Photo: Aleksander Letic/NBCU International — © 2020 Outpost TV LLC. Courtesy of Electric Entertainment.

This whole arc, which ends with Yavalla getting that which she lusts after, is a delightful reminder of the things that make us enjoy characters like Janzo, Wren and Talon. Janzo demonstrates an active intelligence, but more than that he shows us his intuition and that he’s willing to act without thought to himself for the greater good. His burnt arm was a great example of how quickly he can divine the answer to a peculiar problem and then act. Sure, he’s a bit impetuous, but we see the best of what he has to offer to this kind of quest and the people around him. He gives without a second thought.

“Any longer and we all would have been unconscious and cooked alive. He did the right thing. Just like Janzo always does,” Talon tells Wren as the young Blackblood tends to his blistering arm, an arm that solved the first riddle of the caves. It bears repeating that Anand Desai-Barochia has created a singularly complex character in Janzo and has facilitated his growth in the two-plus seasons of The Outpost. It’s been a tremendous work by this fine actor.

In Wren, we see a character that is also smart and quite capable of matching Janzo’s intelligence. She’s a great match for him with just enough difference in her demeanor and personality quirks that she isn’t redundant in Janzo’s shadow. Despite her mother’s coldness, Wren has the distinction of being empathetic within her scientific and analytical acumen. Wren and Janzo’s moment over the word “erection” was quite a nice little touch  of subtle humor that made Janzo uncomfortable while Wren’s naivete’ left her wondering if he were feverish. Perfect. They will share the lab. Izuka Hoyle has been a worthy addition to this cast and helps change the dynamics in a fun way.

In Talon we get a reminder of the warrior she is, the athleticism she brings to the party. She does some jumping, spinning and general flying around to complete the quest to the altar. Along the way she finds the lost Blackblood City while executing a backflip out of danger that would have done Legolas proud. I don’t think Jess Green gets enough credit for delivering a moving character in The Outpost. It would have been easy to keep this character one-dimensional, but Talon has experience growth as well and that’s a credit to the writers, producers and Green’s own growing talents. The Outpost, at its core, is about family – the family you’re born into, the family you become part of and the family you sometimes have to create for yourself.

The Outpost — “A Life for a Life” — Image Number: OUT303_1366.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Imogen Waterhouse as Gwynn and Reece Ritchie as Zed — Photo: Aleksander Letic/NBCU International — © 2020 Outpost TV LLC. Courtesy of Electric Entertainment.

Talon, the consummate loner when she arrived at The Outpost, has forged meaningful, ever-deepening friendships with the people she has come into contact with and her race through the death maze at the end was that final confirmation that she will risk it all for her friends – fail and everyone dies. For her, that’s not an alternative. There’s complexity about her and this foot-in-two-worlds struggle that is really interesting to watch play out.

So what does it all mean? Well, Yavalla got a nice snake bite that transferred the Kinj to her. At last, she has what she coveted. But a funny thing happened on the way to Paradise – Yavalla’s personality changed almost immediately. She became serene, suddenly very peaceful and docile. It’s weird and a little unnerving. “It is done. I didn’t realize. Yes, I am wonderful…my sweet child. Thank you, Janzio, thank you, Talon,” Yavalla coos to her companions seconds after the Kinj arrives. Odd as hell, right?

Then, when Talon asks, “What exactly does your Kinj do, Yavall?” Yavalla offers a wry smile and replies, “Talon, I told you. It takes us to paradise.” So much about that raises red flags for me. How about you?

Once back in The Outpost proper. Yavalla announces that the humans are enslaved no longer and free to go back to their world and that the Blackbloods will be off to paradise soon. It’s clear though, that this Kinge has some special powers and perhaps a mind of its own. While Zed’s Kinj allows him mind control, it would appear that Yavalla’s Kinj not only controls the mind, but can replicate and go into another body. It lets one meld with other’s minds. After Yavalla melds with Gwynn in private, and thereby finds out that Garret is alive, you have to kind of ask yourself whether Yavalla is in charge or the Kinj? Does it accentuate Yavalla’s natural inclinations or is the Kinj an entity with an agenda of its own? Gwynn is compliant (and yes, suddenly docile) and told to bring Garret to Yavalla.

The questions I have is is this Kinj a parasite of some kind? Is it capable of replicating more and more of its own kind? Is that how they’ll gain control of everyone – one Kinj at a time? That splitting of the Kinj aspect opens up some interesting doors. Anxious to see what’s behind the correct one. Let’s ponder that for a bit, shall we?

Does Yavalla want to take Garret’s life? I don’t know, seems too easy, too obvious. No, my feeling is that she wants Garret to play some part in this trek to “paradise.” Personally, I’m not buying the rosy rhetoric this lady (and her new companion) are laying down. I begin to suspect there will be little that is paradisical in this paradise that’s been promised. I also worry that the humans will somehow be enslaved again. This story arc has taken a different twist with the Kinj’s arrival in Yavalla and Gwynn’s respective heads and one reels at the many ideas of what’s possible. I’ve never trusted Yavalla, but now I’m not sure if it’s Yavalla or the Kinj calling the shots.

The Outpost — “A Life for a Life” — Image Number: OUT303_2062.jpg — Pictured: Imogen Waterhouse as Gwynn — Photo: Aleksander Letic/NBCU International — © 2020 Outpost TV LLC. Courtesy of Electric Entertainment.

A little story arc that I really thought played well was the push and pull of Gwynn and Zed. The pair got to kind of air their grievances against each other in this episode, which was fun. They’ve always had a tenuous relationship, but now we know where each stands with the other and why. I enjoyed that. And in the end, we got a nice little give-and-take with Gwynn “poisoning” Zed to get him to free The Outpost, followed by Zed putting a knife to her throat to get the antidote. Truth is, it’s obvious neither really wants to hurt the other. They just piss each other off.

The beauty of this whole arc is that Gwynn didn’t poison Zed, she was bluffing. That didn’t surprise me as even though I think she’d go to great lengths to free her people, I don’t see her as Gwynn The Poisoner. She just isn’t that base, really. Too much honor going on with our queen. Zed fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is, “never get involved in a land war in Asia.” But only slightly less well-known is this, “never go in against a queen when her kingdom is on the line”. hahhahahahahahha..Sorry, just had to do it.

In the end, with Yavalla’s promise that the humans will be freed and Gwynn can be queen again, she admitted her bluff to Zed. I actually think deep inside he was kind of impressed by her gutsiness. Imogene Waterhouse has done a wonderful job of taking Gwynn from childlike immaturity to a smart, strong, calculating queen. I particularly enjoyed Zed and Gwynn hissing quick insults at each other as they parted. A nice moment.

In a show that has allowed all of its characters to evolve, Waterhouse has done that with great aplomb for Gwynn, And Reece Ritchie, though not on The Outpost as long as some, has proven to offer a formidable talent in carving out Zed’s personality. While Zed continues to spout the party line, there are some things within him that seem to playing on his mind. Can’t do anything but applaud the efforts of Ritchie and Waterhouse as they gave us a very good arc in this episode. It was fun, it was somewhat unexpected, but it delivered some meat on the bone. Reece, I give you guff on Twitter, but you’re killing this role, sir. Just sayin’

Joyfully, episode 303 gave us the continuing adventures of the The Outpost’s newest bromance – Munt and Tobin. As they make their way to Tobin’s kingdom while being pursued by Zed’s Lu-Qiri, Vika, we see the innocent wisdom of Munt. He looks at the world with child-like vision, but sees far more than he realizes. He’s a wonderful leveling instrument for Tobin, who realizes that he can’t treat Munt as inferior. In one moment he calls Munt an “idiot” as Vika is bearing down on them, then later apologizes to him, noting he considers him a fierce and mighty warrior.

The Outpost — “A Life for a Life” — Image Number: OUT303_2032.jpg — Pictured: Jessica Green as Talon — Photo: Aleksander Letic/NBCU International — © 2020 Outpost TV LLC. Courtesy of Electric Entertainment.

He also asks Munt about what people say about him within his kingdom. Remember, Munt was in Aegisforth earlier with Aunt Gertie. Munt confirms to Tobin that he’s not well thought of and you can see that it impacts Tobin. He’s grown, matured, become able to see the past with reality he couldn’t before. And Munt offers no judgement within his honest truths.

These two are such wonderful characters and I’m glad they are part of their own story arc. We get more onscreen time with Tobin and Munt, which I’m completely delighted with. No one would have predicted these two teaming up, but here they are – learning from each other even as we learn from them and about them. it’s one of my favorite developments of season 3. Adam Johnson and Aaron Fontaine bring a nice meshing of different personalities together to create something fun. Well done, lads.

Three episodes into season 3 of The Outpost and it’s clear that the game has been “upped” again. The social media chatter is extremely interesting to see and to be part of, something that I think The Outpost lends itself to nicely. As I said early on, the show is on a nice run of episodes that not only entertain, but push the characters and the story along very nicely. I like the mojo of The Outpost right now and feel there’s a real good rhythm to the episodes. It’s good stuff and again demonstrates that fantasy-adventure, well done and adequately financed fantasy-adventure, has a place on network TV. It’s never going to be a monster ratings success as the niche it occupies is smaller, but there’s a place for it to succeed. The Outpost has proven that.

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John Baker