The Outpost: Tension, Answers & (perhaps) Some New Allies — Review, Ep. 411

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It’s hard to believe as I write these words that there are only two more episodes to go in the lifetime of The Outpost on The CW. The recent announcement that this will be the show’s final season landed with a thud on the fan base, though I suspect many of us knew it was coming, and I couldn’t help but notice a sense of melancholy hanging over the fandom in the immediate wake of that announcement.

Fortunately, the fans have rallied and with two episodes to go, my hope is that the fandom will embrace the hell out of these final episodes. I hope they will watch and re-watch these final installments and take it all in – all those things that make The Outpost unique in the fantasy-adventure realm – the characters we’ve loved and lost, and the organic feel that this show has not only had from the beginning, but has given it a feel that is so different from other offerings in this genre.

Some critics pick at that organic feel, but I think it makes the show even more unique and enjoyable. It also proves you don’t need loads of CGI and green screen effects to make something that fans will rally to. Let’s enjoy these final episodes – from the wardrobe to the acting to the lighting to the story to the musical scores of James Schafer. Take it in, my friends, and remember the joy of getting here.

The Outpost — “Guardian of the Asterkinj” — Pictured (L – R): Jessica Green as Talon — Photo: Aleksandar Letic/NBCU International — © 2021 Outpost TV LLC, Courtesy of Electric Entertainment. All rights reserved.

So, let’s talk about episode 411, Guardian of the Asterkinj. But first, a reminder that SPOILERS are ahead. So, if you don’t want to be “SPOILED,” stay right here. But if you’re okay with SPOILERS or have seen the episodes, then by all means, proceed.

“Guardian of the Asterkinj” is notable for being Jake Stormoen’s directorial debut. I find it exciting to see cast members dip their toes into other areas of the work they do like Immy Waterhouse directing and Anand Desai-Barachia as an associate producer. Now, Jake has put himself out there and to his credit, I think he did a splendid job. I think what most strikes me is that he continued a theme of heightening the tension and expectation that has really ratcheted up the last few weeks.

My understanding is that Jake went to college to study direction, but found the acting bug biting him and traveled that direction first. I thought his work in this episode was seamless and really did push the tension level up another notch while also providing us with some perspective on “The Seven.” I don’t have the directorial acumen to know the nuts and bolts of what Jake accomplished in the director’s chair.

The Outpost — “Guardian of the Asterkinj” — Pictured (L – R): Anand Desai-Barochia as Janzo — Photo: Aleksandar Letic/NBCU International — © 2021 Outpost TV LLC, Courtesy of Electric Entertainment. All rights reserved.

But I do know good work when I see it in a story form and I have to say that Jake Stormoen was on-point in this episode and it was another in a season-long line of interesting, visually stimulating episodes that drove the story forward. Personally, I wish the season would have gone on longer so he could, perhaps have gotten another chance to direct. For now, though, my compliments to the director of episode 411 and the story that he told through the lens. Thanks, Jake.

At long last Aster has been awakened and we got a few answers as he described the trail of the Asterkinj to Talon and Luna. It was a big moment for Talon to pass on the kinj to Aster, but it was a moment where she had to trust her instincts – and Luna had to be okay with Talon’s instincts – something that I would think a character like Talon would rely on greatly to survive the way she has. It’s funny, but I’ve begun to really think that Luna’s irreverent attitude about things is more of a defense mechanism than an immature stab at being funny. She quite clearly sees Talon as some sort of mentor at this point and clearly is willing to put her trust in Talon’s instincts.

We still don’t know if Aster is the “father” of the Blackbloods, but we do know that he is the reason The Realm wasn’t destroyed as he put the other six to sleep and secured their kinjes in his chamber. And he was right, if he really intended to save the humans and blackbloods, he probably should have eliminated his contemporaries. It’s interesting that in this episode we may have seen the beginnings of an alliance forming between Aster, the Calvi, and the rest of humanity and Blackbloods.

The Outpost — “Guardian of the Asterkinj” — Pictured (L – R): Jake Stormoen as Captain Garret Spears — Photo: Aleksandar Letic/NBCU International — © 2021 Outpost TV LLC, Courtesy of Electric Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Obviously, Aster has a plan and he’s called his brothers and sisters to the Skevikor to put it in play. I suspect he’s going to try and remedy his earlier mistake. Luna and Talon looked aghast when he called to his brothers and sisters, but he is a being of wisdom and, I suspect, considerable strength, so we will see where that ends up. He’s also clearly empathetic to other beings, something his brothers and sisters have no concept of.

It’s funny, Aster said something about his people not “belonging here.” I’ve posed this question before, but I think it is a salient point at this time. The Seven are clearly not of this world, which means there’s a bit of a sci-fi vibe to this thing as well. Are they from another world or perhaps dimension? Those both seem somewhat likely at this point as they are clearly only interested in destruction. They have no end game other than devastation, which means they like it. They like unleashing the Kahvi like locusts on a field and watching the chaos unfold, but as far as I can tell they have no reason for it other than the misery it brings.

Sounds like an alien invasion movie or TV series to me. So, what The Outpost has become is a Sci-fi/Fantasy/Adventure show, something that is truly unique within the genre. Oh, you could quibble about my argument, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s no doubt that The Outpost has a bit of a sci-fi element to it as well and that’s very appealing to me. We shall see how far down the sci-fi rabbit hole the show goes in the final two episodes, but my big hope is we get some sort of origin story on The Seven and the Blackbloods.

The Outpost — “Guardian of the Asterkinj” — Pictured (L – R): Reece Ritchie as Zed — Photo: Aleksandar Letic/NBCU International — © 2021 Outpost TV LLC, Courtesy of Electric Entertainment. All rights reserved.

This episode was really a turning point for 313, whom we shall now know as “Marvin.” “I like Marvin” he said when Janzo and Wren decided he needed a proper name and Wren threw that one out there. Marvin, who is just starting to understand the concept of freedom and choice, made some bad ones in the episodes before, but came through in a big way in this one, saving Garret from “she who orbs in and out.” Marvin realized his bad decisions and raced to save Garret from a murder attempt, thereby earning Garret’s thanks and a modicum of respect.

And I suspect that through Marvin, and his increasing grasp of freewill, The Seven are going to find their Kahvi slaves much more interested in exercising the whole freedom thing. So, in one episode, the Kahvi and Aster may have emerged as just the kind of allies needed to fend off the disaster that could befall humans and Blackbloods alike. BTW, of all the kinjes, I’d like the teleportation one the most. Just popping in here and there and quickly disappearing? That sounds like a ton of potential, right there. And, as we saw, it offers plenty of advantage in battle.

So we’ve got a date at the Skevikor coming soon, which could determine the fate of our heroes and The Realm. Fortunately, Munt and Zed will be there too. Zed continues to demonstrate a newfound compassion and mental and physical toughness after wrangling a rudimentary travois to carry Munt’s wounded body back to the Outpost. Yes, Munt will survive, which I suspect we all knew was going to happen. I mean, this show can’t keep killing off people, right?

The Outpost — “Something to Live For” — Pictured (L – R): Pavle Jerinic as 313 — Photo: Aleksandar Letic/NBCU International — © 2021 Outpost TV LLC, Courtesy of Electric Entertainment. All rights reserved.

You know, I’ve lamented the many emotional travails of Garret Spears repeatedly, but it’s also become clear that Zed had emotional burdens to carry as well. Not only the saving of Munt through incredible physical effort, but the mourning of Nedra’s death. I think the situation with his people, and the death of a long-time friend, who he clearly had feelings for, has put the struggles of his people to survive clearly in his crosshairs. Zed has had to face down plenty of emotional setbacks and he’s kind of walked through them with a Klingon-like strength, but Nedra saw the other side of the equation and I think that was good. She brought it out a little bit and now Zed is feeling the pain and sorrow of a loss he struggles to fathom.

I thought the scene at the creek where he spread Nedra’s ashes, backed by the beautiful voice of Wren (Izuka Hoyle has the pipes, baby) and the music of composer James Schafer, was a really warm and intense moment. Not all the tension of this show rests with The Seven and their machinations. There are other moments that up the tension factor in subtle ways and this was one of them. She wasn’t just a fellow warrior, she was more. And I think Zed is discovering how much more in the aftermath of her loss. Great scene and just a great touch from the director’s chair by Jake Stormoen. And Reece Ritchie is just golden in this role. My appreciation for his talent and how he plays Zed is hard to express. I just like him and his work on multiple levels.

It has been interesting to see Janzo and Wren kind of become the conscience of the show this season. And their scientific interest, combined with their genuine empathy for 313 and his people has been interesting to watch. I admit I thought their naivete nearly led to disaster via 313 (Marvin), but in the long run their patience and bold determination to free the Kahvi from slavery has been well worth the effort. It looks as though Marvin has found the first few steps of his own journey and that’s entirely to the credit of “Wrenzo.” While everyone else around them has been flailing a bit, Janzo and Wren have remained true to not only themselves, but to their values as it pertains to other life. Their goodness and empathy may pay dividends when all hell breaks loose.

Lots to talk about on the radio show Saturday and with only two more episodes left in this marvelous series, it would seem the time is arriving to see what legacy The Outpost has left us.

Follow me on Twitter: @jbakeR2D2 and @threeifbyspace.

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Radio show The Outpost Calling every Saturday night at 5 p.m. (PT) right here: https://www.threeifbyspace.net/three-if-by-space-live-radio/

John Baker