The Outsider began as a seemingly straightforward, hardboiled mystery, but in the weeks since, the HBO show has revealed itself to be something downright supernatural. We shouldn't be surprised, after all, this is a Stephen King adaptation, but if there was any doubt that Outsider's mysterious hooded man was more than just a guy in a green hoodie, Episode 4 ("Que Viene El Coco") proved we were right all along.
This isn't just a True Detective-style fakeout. The Outsider is going full-on supernatural.
Warning! Spoilers below for Episodes 1-4 of The Outsider — and speculation for what comes next.
Much of The Outsider Episode 4 follows private detective Holly Gibney as she investigates the case at the heart of this story: Did Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman) really kill that kid? The answer only becomes more complicated as Holly follows a chain of similar child murders starting at the retirement home where Terry's father lives all the way to New York City.
In each case, a child was murdered by someone who seemingly had no motive. And in each case, the alleged murderer has a clear alibi (often with video evidence) but was also somehow spotted at the scene of the crime. Most interesting, Terry actually briefly encountered the previous murderer in this chain when they literally bumped into each other and the other guy scratched Terry's hand. Before that, a woman accused of murder in NY met that second guy and scratched him while they were having sex.
It's almost as if "murder" is being transmitted like a disease from one host to another through these scratches. But that's ridiculous, right? Maybe not.
Near the end of the episode, Holly visits an older woman from Cuba (I'm not totally sure how they know each other) to discuss the case. The woman suggests they could be dealing with a demon, "El Coco," some sort of monster that can take the form of a human.
"It may look like a person if it needs to be, but it's not," the woman says. Could this be the hooded man?
She goes on to (possibly) identify the specific demon haunting The Outsider:
"The grief eater. It takes the child itself, but afterward it likes to linger because it craves the pain of the ones left behind. If the child is its meal, the suffering of its family is the dessert."
Again, this explains a lot. Why else would the hooded man hang around after the death of that child at the start of The Outsider? This monster seems to be stalking the friends and family of the people it kills and the people it frames for the murder.
So now that we know the identity, what comes next? Will Holly and the other detectives confront El Coco? Can it even be defeated at all? If anyone knows, it's probably the same woman who's already identified the monster behind all these seemingly unrelated murders. Maybe then we'll also learn how she knows so much about demons.
The Outsider airs Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.