After eight episodes and almost as many time slots, the BBC’s upper-end science-fiction melodrama Outcasts comes to a halt for now. With ratings on the low side, it’s hard to feel optimistic about the chances of it ever returning.
So do we get a beautiful resolution with a bow on top? Is the episode itself any good? Will yet another character face dark revelations about their past? The answer to two of those questions is “yes”.
The Virus Takes Carpathia
After episodes that could be described as either a little ponderous or downright boring (depending on my mood), it was pleasing to see them pick the pace up for this dramatic climax. Multiple subplots came to fruition, Julius “The Schemer” Berger finally does something, and things generally go down.
If every episode had been more like this, perhaps we’d not be in this position of seemingly inevitable doom. The meandering politics push on, there’s proper mortal danger, albeit with a slightly over-easy resolution, and maybe too much crying, but frankly I’ll take that over endless dead-straight delivery of over-earnest dialogue whilst nothing much happens.
There are so many revelations here that one of them was barely even hinted in previous episodes. We get more about Cass’s shady past, which is gratifying as I thought we’d genuinely never know.
The Cliffhanger That Never Ends
On the other hand, a couple of things are only beginning to happen as the episode ends. It was clear from the outset that this was a show with a long-running masterplan, so that’s no great surprise, but I still held out hope we would get a clean ending so we could all pretend this was planned.
Taking a moment to look back at the failure (well, “underperformance”) of Outcasts, I must admit, I’m disappointed. But perhaps that’s simply because I’d have liked to see adult-orientated sci-fi with decent production values succeed on the Beeb. Outcasts had some interesting ideas, but the presentation has been dry and slow.
It’s a shame, too, as the involvement of Kudos, not to mention personally beloved talent like Hermione Norris and Daniel Mays, gave me high hopes. But it just didn’t have the quality to get a mass audience to care about other planets, and since it’s clearly very expensive to produce, that might be a terminal problem.
But if you do care about other planets, check it out on iPlayer anyway, and then join me in hoping for a second series with a better sense of pace.