The CW Conclave: Is fantasy drama The Outpost worth a watch?


The CW’s new fantasy drama The Outpost, which has aired two episodes so far, isn’t necessarily groundbreaking. Warning: Spoilers

The Outpost, the CW’s only freshman show in its summer lineup, is distinguished in two ways. It’s an action show with a sole female lead, and it’s a medieval drama on a network most well know for superhero shows and edgy teen soaps.

The fantasy drama centers on Talon (Jessica Green), who is seeking vengeance on behalf of her slaughtered people. Talon is the sole survivor of the “Blackblood” race — who look like elves and have mysterious supernatural abilities that Talon doesn’t fully understand — following a massacre committed by mercenaries when Talon was a child.

Talon journeys to “the outpost,” basically a fortress, after learning that one of the mercenaries Toru Magmoor (Richard Ashton), who murdered her mother (Claire J. Loy), is going to be there. He’s now an esteemed covenant agent for the nefarious Prime Order (think the Empire or First Order from Star Wars).

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Along the way she encounters a horde of Plague-lings (think zombies but more ridiculous) and is rescued by Captain Garret Spear (Jake Stormoen) of the outpost. Fortunately, the show doesn’t totally play into the whole white knight-damsel in distress cliché.

Talon accepts his offer to escort to the outpost reluctantly and fights off a new batch of Plague-lings alongside him before they make it safely inside the gates. Garret is also not a jerk. He respects Talon and doesn’t try to control her.

After getting inside the outpost, Talon manages to slay Magmoor but not before he runs her through twice with his own sword. A mysterious old man (Kevin McNally) carries Talon from the scene as she’s dying, and he manages to crudely sow up her wounds.

It remains unclear why she doesn’t die from severe internal bleeding and organ damage, except presumably that it has something to do with her being a Blackblood. Although, that begs the question of why the rest of her people didn’t survive wounds from swords and arrows.

Anyway, it turns out her rescuer is obsessed with a prophecy stating that a Blackblood will “summon the slayers of men to conquer and purge the oppressors of all” (aka, that’s why her all people are dead).

Talon thinks he’s being ridiculous but later learns to her horror that he might be on to something. She accidentally summons a creature, which looks quite like Predator but is apparently a demon and inadvertently sets it loose in the outpost.

Talon’s bigger concern, though, is Magmoor. The death of a covenant agent doesn’t go unnoticed, and Talon is soon captured and sentenced to death by the outpost’s marshal, a stereotypical tough guy named Withers (Andrew Howard).

Enter Gwynn (Imogen Waterhouse), the only character that I found myself getting at all invested in. Gwynn is the daughter of the outpost’s commander General Calkussar (Michael Flynn), and for unclear reasons, Magmoor wanted her dead.

Prior to his death, Gwynn sees Magmoor at the outpost’s bar/inn and flees to the second floor where the bedrooms are. She demands, like a spoiled rich girl, that new guest Talon let her stay in her room. Talon heads out to kill Magmoor as was her plan anyway and reluctantly tells Gwynn to stay in her room.

Gwynn comes along anyway, thinking she’ll be safer with Talon. The seemingly polar opposite women actually have a rather entertaining rapport.

They part ways when they run into Garret, who is Gwynn’s secret boyfriend (pretty sure there’s going to be a love triangle). Anyway, when she hears that Talon killed Magmoor, Gwynn feels indebted to Talon, even though Talon didn’t kill Magmoor for her sake.

Gwynn intervenes to stop the execution, claiming that Talon killed Magmoor in self-defense, and ultimately convinces her father to set Talon free. In a sea of static characters, Gwynn was the only to show any development in the first two episodes. Unfortunately, that fact is not enough to make me want to tune in next week.

As much as I hate to discourage people from watching a female-led action show, The Outpost isn’t going to be the next big thing and probably isn’t entertaining enough for most people to enjoy watching casually.

There are some witty lines of dialogue and funny moments and the acting is somewhat adequate. However, the show’s highly derivative plot, which brings nothing new to the fantasy genre, and its awkward tone are rather insurmountable drawbacks.

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The Outpost firmly establishes itself in an unfortunate position between fantasy dramedies such as the BBC’s quirky Merlin and HBO’s brutally dark Game of Thrones. On the one hand, The Outpost takes itself too seriously to offer entertaining camp; and on the other hand, the moments that are meant to be poignant fall flat.

Additionally, nearly everything from the creatures to the landscape is very noticeably low-budget CGI, which is a major blow in today’s highly cinematic fantasy TV landscape. Merlin‘s CGI was equally poor, but that show kind of got away with it because it debuted in 2008. Better CGI still couldn’t save The Outpost, but it would make it more watchable.

Have you seen The Outpost on The CW? What did you think? Let us know in the comments section below.