Last week, Holly Gibney’s investigation revealed a potentially supernatural (and disturbingly plausible) explanation for how Terry Maitland could be in two places at once. Meanwhile, Jack Hoskins was doing weird stuff in the woods.
Tonight, both those plot threads are pulled tight into unsettling territory.
The episode opens with the sounds of a police standoff ending in gunfire. The first we see of this event is its the aftermath. A young man lies dead in the street, blood still leaking from his bullet-ridden body and blisters on the back of his neck…just like the ones currently afflicting Jack Hoskins.
We then flash back to three days earlier. Someone–who appears to be the same young man we saw being gunned down–sits alone in a house adorned with graffiti identifying the occupant as a child killer.
As he gets up to do a bit of cleaning, we see a very familiar/distinctive cat clock–the same one we saw in Heath’s mother’s home last episode. After he’s done sweeping, the man inexplicably places a pile of clean sheets on one of the house’s empty beds.
Back in Georgia, Jack Hoskins drags another dead deer to his forest layaway lair, where he discovers that one of the lamps he bought has been broken.
He begins to yell at an unseen entity about being ungrateful for what he brought it. Jack’s rant quickly transitions into a challenge for the entity to tell him what he wants or to kill him, which it partially obliges by striking him with pain sharp enough to put him on the ground.
Upon returning to his car, we see that the boils on Jack’s neck have gotten even worse.
Back in town, Claude Bolton appears to be having a rough night at the Peach Crease…which is probably the normal state of things for a strip club owner, but this is different. Claude isn’t just morose; he also appears to be lightheaded and feverish.
As the world around him fades into a dull haze, he flashes back to the moment when Terry Maitland shook his hand and left a small scratch on his wrist.
Ralph Anderson, Howie Salomon, Yunis Sablo, and Alec Pelley meet in Howie’s office to discuss Holly’s findings. They all acknowledge that story given by Maria Caneles (the woman Holly interviewed in Rikers) and what happened to Terry Maitland sound remarkably similar, but aren’t sure at all what that should mean.
Howie believes that Holly knows more than she’s saying. Ralph agrees, but suspects that she’s waiting to gather more evidence before presenting the totality of her findings.
As the four men leave Howie’s office and head outside, Jack Hoskins watches them from his car.
Elsewhere, Jeannie Anderson is welcoming a new patient at her recovery center when she notices a man in a green hoodie sitting in the waiting room.
When she comes out of her office and calls for the next patient, the person in the green hoodie is still there. Despite not knowing what we do about The Green Hoodie Man, his presence (understandably) creeps Jeannie out.
After another patient leaves, she decides to announce that anyone wearing a hoodie in the waiting room must have it pulled down. By this point, the man in the green hoodie has switched to another seat–or isn’t the same man who Jeannie saw at first (which is my theory). Either way, this particular green hoodie dude refuses to pull his hood down. Jeannie cautiously approaches him and repeats her request. When he still doesn’t respond, she lightly shakes him on the shoulder, revealing a man who is simply dozing off in his seat.
Back at the Anderson home, Ralph researches the Maria Caneles case while Jeannie succinctly describes her work day as “weird.” She then asks Ralph to order takeout and goes to bed to lay down for a bit.
When the food arrives, Ralph walks into the bedroom to find Jeannie asleep. He sits down next to her and flashes back to the days after their son died. While Jeannie was drowning in grief, he had drowned himself in work and alcohol, putting a rift between them that could have destroyed their marriage.
Back in New York, Holly talks with the hotel bartender, bouncing ideas off her about how different cultures interpret the “boogey man” and where an entity that feeds off grief/tears would be most likely to go to sate itself. After asking if the bartender knows the city well, Holly offers the woman $200 to drive her around New York.
The next day, the bartender takes Holly to the graffiti-strewn house we saw the beginning of the episode, which the mailbox positively identifies as Heath Hofstadter’s childhood home. While taking some pictures of the the house’s interior, she notices that the sheets on the bed had been recently replaced.
Holly’s next destination is a nearby cemetery where the girls Heath allegedly murdered are buried. As she’s about to leave, Holly notices that the cemetery sits right next to a plot of abandoned buildings–the perfect temporary home for an entity that feeds off the grief it has caused.
Holly’s next stop is Heath Hofstadter’s grave site, which is also abutted by a lot filled with abandoned buildings. This inspires her to call Ralph and ask him take photos of the area surrounding Terry Maitland’s grave, looking specifically for any abandoned structures nearby. Ralph is skeptical–especially since Holly isn’t ready/comfortable telling him why she needs this information–but agrees to do it.
After hanging up with Ralph, Holly turns around to see someone at Heath’s grave (who is also the same man we saw at the beginning of the episode).
She tries to ask him about Heath, but all the man will say is that someone–or something–“f***ed him over good.” When Holly asks who the man is referring to, he refuses to tell her, instead adding that whoever it was “f***ed me over, too.”
As he walks away, Holly notices something odd on the back of the man’s neck and takes a picture.
Strangers in the Night
Jeannie wakes up in the middle of the night and goes to the kitchen for a glass of water. As she’s filling her glass, she hears someone in the dining room
This time it really is the Green Hoodie Man.
The sight of him causes Jeannie to drop her glass, which shatters on the floor. The Green Hoodie Man commands Jeannie to sit, which she does without question, walking over broken to reach the nearest chair. Once she’s seated, he instructs her to tell Ralph to stop his investigation or they will both die.
The next morning, Ralph awakens and enters the dining room, where he finds the shards from Jeannie’s glass along with blood from where they cut her. He follows her bloody footprints back to the bedroom, where Jeannie is still asleep. He gently attempts to wake her, which causes Jeannie to shoot up in bed as though she were coming out of a nightmare.
While Ralph bandages her foot, Jeannie initially appears to not remember–or not want to remember–her encounter with the Green Hoodie Man. After unsuccessfully imploring Ralph to drop the Maitland investigation, however, she tells him what happened, including the Green Hoodie Man’s warning about what would happen if Ralph didn’t drop the investigation.
Instead of believing her, Ralph attributes Jeannie’s claims to a vivid nightmare born of lingering grief from their son’s death and Jessa Maitland telling her almost the exact same story a few days ago.
Undeterred by her husband’s disbelief, Jeannie draws a picture of the Green Hoodie Man, which she gives to Ralph before leaving for the doctor to have her foot examined.
In the picture below, Jeannie’s drawing is on the left. The drawing from the kid who stole the van (and saw The Green Hoodie Man) is on the right.
I know that Jessa described the man who was in her room as “blurry”, but even the wide range of interpretation that provides would make it hard for two people to have such similar-looking recollections.
Pictures at an Exhibition
At Jeannie’s behest, Ralph lets her tell Glory Maitland that he and Yunis will be visiting Terry’s grave site. When they arrive, Glory asks why Ralph needs to take pictures, which he’s unable to answer.
As he’s photographing the area, Yunis looks over and sees the barn where Terry Maitland’s goo-covered clothes were found…which seems like the type of things someone should have noticed or connected already, but whatever.
Later that day, Jack and Ralph both attend a party for the birth of Tamika Collins’ baby. After being surprised to find Jack sober, Ralph asks him if he noticed anything unusual when he went out to the barn a few weeks ago. Jack denies that he saw anything and becomes combative when Ralph continues to press him.
Things get even more awkward when Tamika asks Jack to hold her baby and he declines, claiming to feel like he’s coming down with something and excusing himself from the party. Tamika follows Jack outside and presses him to tell her what’s wrong, but he steadfastly refuses and drives away.
That night, Ralph tells Holly to come back to Georgia and present her findings to everyone. After hanging up with Ralph, Holly invites Andy up to her room to discuss her thoughts about the case (ugh). When he tries to make a move toward getting intimate, Holly rejects him, asking instead if they can just lay down together for a while.
The next morning, we see Andy asleep in bed without his clothes, which Holly has folded and placed nearby. She kisses her fingers, places them on his lips, and quietly departs for Georgia.
Tamika has a dream about a hooded man taking her baby from its crib. She wakes up and runs into her child’s room to find that the baby is not there. After a frantic search of the house, she runs outside to find her husband holding their child and sitting outside on the porch.
Meanwhile, Jack goes to visit Ralph at his home and apologizes for his behavior at Tamika’s party. He also asks to come onboard to the Terry Maitland investigation, which Terry reluctantly appears to allow.
Back in New York, Andy awakens to find a sweet note from Holly. He also finds some of her case notes she haphazardly threw away, which he takes with him before departing the hotel room (ugh).
A few miles away, Holly is stuck in traffic due to the incident we witnessed the at beginning of the episode. The man she saw at the cemetery has taken a random person hostage at gunpoint in the middle of the street. Instead of shooting him, however, he points his unloaded weapon at the surrounding officers, causing him to die in a hail of gunfire.
The episode closes with Ralph falling asleep in his son’s bed. Dylan visits him in his dreams, imploring his father to let him go.
Despite this being a very good episode, there were some incredibly frustrating moments that also happened to be beautifully shot and executed.
Case in point: Tamica’s dream about her child being abducted. The entire sequence is all types of terrifying (and thrilling) right up to the point it’s revealed to have been a complete red herring. Same with the Green Hoodie Man showing up to Jeannie’s work.
You could argue that both these scenes were instances of the Green Hoodie Man making his presence felt (especially Jeannie’s encounter), but in the end they primarily worked as fake outs. Extremely tense and incredibly well constructed fake outs, but fake outs nonetheless.
And then you have two of the show’s most ridiculous discoveries to date. First was Holly just happening to visit Heath’s grave at the same time the man from the episode’s opening showed up–and that she got a picture of the back of his entity-infected neck. Then we have Ralph and Yunis suddenly figuring out that the barn where the doppelgänger’s clothes were found is right next to the cemetery where Terry Maitland was buried. In a show that endeavors to methodically introduce a supernatural element to a forensic investigation, these two sequences were far more ridiculous and unbelievable than any boogey man.
Fortunately, ‘Tear Drinker’ has a whole lot more going for it than against. For starters, the episode’s bookends (with the afflicted man who knew Heath) give us yet another grounded confirmation of the entity’s M.O. We also get some great character moments, especially from Jeannie. The scene with her and the Green Hoodie Man in particular–and the sound of his boots-on-gravel voice–was all types of scary fun.
I also love how both Ralph and Holly are still extremely reluctant to accept the direction their investigation is going despite all evidence pointing towards a supernatural explanation. These are extremely smart and capable people who would be the first to dismiss such a notion, yet are quickly running out of reasons to do so.
But my favorite part of the episode is definitely tied to my affection for the source material. In The Outsider novel, Jack Hoskins is completely unlikable. He’s so vile, in fact, that the charactering is jarringly two dimensional, especially for a work by Stephen King. It was one of the few things about the book that I didn’t like.
In The Outsider television series, however, Jack is being cultivated with a great deal more depth. He’s still Grade A asshole, but a surprisingly sympathetic one. That should make things a lot more interesting as the entity continues to tighten its grip on him.
Add Zak Mulligan’s incredible cinematography–the best in a show that’s looked incredible every week–and ‘Tear Drinker’ is able to overcome its narrative issues to deliver yet another solid and entertaining episode…
…and with a great one coming up next week.
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