The following ending explained contains full spoilers for The Outsider finale.
HBO’s The Outsider has come to an end, drawing the story to a conclusion that saw tormented cop Jack Hoskins (Marc Menchaca) kill off a number of the core characters before taking his own life. The show ended with Ralph (Ben Mendelsohn) and Holly (Cynthia Erivo) confronting the cave-dwelling “El Cuco” and taking him/it out.
Or so it seemed. Ralph certainly bashed the creature’s face in with a rock after the shotgun blasts and knife to the chest didn’t do the trick. So are we sure El Cuco is dead? Well, not really. The splatter produced with the rock impact certainly felt fatal, but the back half of the season featured many characters wondering whether or not the beast could even be killed.
Which leads us to the final scene. The one that, if taken at horror movie face value, strongly implies El Cuco survived and that Holly is its next target of duplication.
You can read IGN’s Outsider finale review here, but for the purposes of this piece we’re just focusing on the post-credits scene, and where the show might be able to go for a Season 2.
Holly’s Vision of Jack
Back home in Chicago, Holly catches a brief glimpse of Jack standing behind her while she’s looking at herself in a bathroom mirror. Very quickly, because she’s all about the rules of the beast, she checks her neck for bubbles and scarring. She needs to know if she’s been poisoned and made El Cuco’s next “Renfield.”
She’s all clear and clean, but what was that vision about? One of the major themes of The Outsider is trauma – from the death of Ralph’s son to the counselor he has to see after firing his weapon to the way El Cuco feeds off the sorrow in the aftermath of the tragedies it causes. So Holly’s quick ghost may have come from her still being shaken up – and, of course, mourning the death of Andy.
Jack’s face is un-scarred though. This was the Jack before El Cuco had him beaten up by a phantom (in the form of his late mother). What does it mean that Jack isn’t the Jack she spent the most time with (though she did get picked up by Jack and taken to a diner before his face was bashed in)? Is this a sign that he’s a vision brought about by El Cuco? In which case, if true, that means El Cuco survived.
Now, moving on from there – is she seeing Jack because she’s scratched, or is this just run-of-the-mill El Cuco nonsense?
It’s hard to catch but, as you can see above, Holly’s arm has a scratch. The same type of scratch that El Cuco dishes out.
We see it while she’s listening to “Washington Square” by The Village Stompers, which is the song from Ralph’s anecdote about his mother. It’s rarely played on the radio, but here it is, being broadcast for Holly. Is that a sign that something supernatural is taking place? That’s what Ralph thought when he heard it for a second time, years after his mom passed. Is it a signal to the viewer that the scratch is real, or is all of this just the show being a bit playful during its final seconds?
For this scratch to be real, meaning from El Cuco, we’d have to believe that the entity somehow got close enough to Holly to do it (which it didn’t in the episode) and that Holly also wouldn’t have noticed it (which she totally would have).
Therefore, odds are good that it’s a wound she suffered from the cave collapse.
What Could The Outsider Season 2 Be About?
The Outsider has been billed as a limited series from the get-go. Naturally, that’s never stopped anyone, especially HBO, from taking things further, even beyond a book (see: Big Little Lies).
One Season 2 option here is to adapt the sequel novella to The Outsider that Stephen King has coming out as part of his new collection, If It Bleeds, which is due in May. In it, Ralph Anderson receives a flash drive containing two folders: One has photos and audio spectrograms and the other is a spoken-word diary from Holly. Very little else is known about the story right now.
Another option, and perhaps the most obvious tale to tell, would be the continuing terror of El Cuco, crafting a story away from Stephen King’s pages and taking the characters off in a new direction. It’s still alive, it’s still feeding and — if you buy into the literal meaning of the final scene — Holly’s about to have a very rotten time. This time around though, she’d have four people to turn to immediately.
And speaking of “true believers.” Ralph is now one of the open-minded. His experience with El Cuco has actually made him more optimistic about his son’s fate as he now knows the world, and beyond, is filled with more things than he ever imagined. He asks Holly, as she’s about to leave, what else is out there that he doesn’t know about.
Boom, that’s the series (if it was going to continue). Ralph and Holly could easily tackle a new case featuring a new type of creature. The doppelgänger in this series wasn’t called “The Outsider.” Holly basically explained what the title of the series meant in her last scene with Ralph, and created the possibility of new stories. An “Outsider” is anyone, or anything, that’s not explainable through conventional logic or methods. So the branding is already in place for a new case where Holly and Ralph chase down a new bogeyman.
So would you like to see The Outsider continue for Season 2? If so, do you want them to keep tracking El Cuco or would you like to see a new type of threat? Let us know below!