The Outpost: An Appreciation

When the moon is aflame, a Blackblood will summon the slayers of Men to conquer and purge the oppressors of old. One remains.

When it comes to picking TV shows to watch, I’m very picky. And not because I have a very particularly refined taste (Quite the opposite). But as a 20-something adult working in the real world and about to reach their 30’s, I want to pick shows that really speak to me.

Some have heeded my calling: Krypton, 90210 (The CW spin-off), and Kyle XY, and random British soap operas, among others.

One show in particular have gotten me smitten in ways I never expected. Such is the case of this little fantasy show called The Outpost.

The first time I’ve heard of this show was on the day it was announced it was going to be shown on Syfy’s international channels (and Universal TV in some territories) with a cast already being announced and production about to begin. Then came the news of it getting picked up for US broadcast via The CW, a terrestrial TV network that have found a niche in airing sci-fi, fantasy and youth dramas geared towards a young audience.

In fact, the show is The CW’s first proper fantasy series, in the truest sense of the word, set in a medieval-like world of kings, queens, strange creatures, and magical beings.

The Outpost is the story of a young woman named Talon, once thought to be the last of her people called the Blackbloods, named so because of the color of their blood, and are quite recognizable because of their pointed ears. Because of a prophecy foretold about the supposed end of humanity at the hands of the Blackbloods, her people were slaughtered by someone from the Prime Order, a powerful force who took over the realm after killing the kingdom’s ruling dynasty. Talon, in the hopes of finding the people behind this, ended up in Gallwood Outpost, where her story truly began.

To be quite honest, I was late into watching this on a regular basis until halfway through in its initial run, but I did manage to catch-up right before its first season finale aired.

One thing I noticed, and obviously everyone else who did, was how low budget the show looked. From the cramped-looking sets to green screen scenes that were not cleanly keyed out in post-production (I heard that because of the CW pick-up, post-prod had to be rushed in time for airing). Of course, these aspects affected how the story could be told, and the cynical online people really wrote it off right away.

I for one saw something different. What they lacked in certain things, they more than make up for it with the strong quality of storytelling, and the amount of time dedicated to building the world of the show. With how they were able to use their external locations, which I thought were the better parts of the first season, courtesy of Utah and Ireland (for the show’s first flashback sequence featuring Young Talon), there is potential that needed to be realized.

And realized it did after the show was given a second season. Relocating from humble Utah to the Balkan realness that is Serbia in Southeastern Europe, a new set was built, and countless locations for filming were at the show’s disposal for them to utilize.

Everything now looked bigger, grander, and more ambitious (mixed in with the extras and several supporting characters suddenly having non-North American/British/Aussie/NZ accents). From there forward, The Outpost finally let loose with their storytelling.

One thing I love most about the show would be their ensemble cast. While Talon is the face of the show, she is not alone in the fight against the tyranny of the Prime Order as she is joined by three human but vastly different beings, each with their own thing happening on their end.

Gwynn Calkussar, a seemingly upperclass noble, is in fact the sole survivor of her kingdom’s ruling family, Princess Rosemund. She was raised by one of her father’s trusted men, and left the Capital to live in Gallwood where she grew up learning the tools and means to become a leader to her people.

People may underestimate her because of her status, but the moment she came out of hiding and declare her intentions to reclaim the throne and overthrow the Prime Order, she has become a much stronger character.

There’s really nothing to dislike about Gwynn. While she may have her own desires of living her life and be with the man she loves wholeheartedly, she knows more than anything that she cannot be selfish at the expense of her people. She struggles of making harsh yet fair decisions, even if it means isolating her friends. But in the end, Gwynn knows she needs to use her heart in order to do what is right.

And while she hasn’t had her chance to be on the spotlight when it comes to fighting, she more than makes up for it with her strategic mindset.

Janzo, the best brewer of the realm, is quite the fascinating character. Eccentric but lovable, yet somewhat shy but comes out of his comfort zone every so often, even if it leaves him scarred for life multiple times. He throws shades as much as he throws pints at non-paying customers. He is one with a curious mind, who spends much of his non-working hours working on scientific stuffs in his laboratory a.k.a. the basement found beneath the bar he works, the Nightshade, which is run by his adopted street-smart mother, Elenor a.k.a. The Mistress.

Janzo never had real friends until he crossed paths with Talon, who appreciated him for who he is. He was instrumental in helping her uncover the secrets behind a power she possesses, a supernatural being living inside called a kinj that gives her the ability to open portals and summon demons. The two forged a friendship that have proven to be strong and stoic, and giving Janzo the boost for which he can forge his own path a strong fellow who can proudly show off his nerd badge with dignity and honor.

Although there’s the thing about him having feelings for Talon, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

And finally, Garret Spears. The dashing young knight in shining armor. A commoner who rose through the ranks, trained by the best and lives by a code of honor for which he serves to protect the people and fight for what is right. That also makes him incredibly bland, at least at the start of the series.

At the start of the series, he first met Talon when he saved her from parasite-infected humans called Plaguelings. Earlier on, he is surprised on how well-versed she is in her fighting skills. A curiosity that have led to a developing fascination towards her, despite being in a relationship with Gwyn.

With all the seemingly flawlessness of this fine knight, he does have one thing that makes him not so perfect: A strained relationship with a father he usually call by their first name, Gate Marshall Wythers. They never have the best father-son bond but the events of the first season led to some level of reconciliation. However, things changed dramatically the following season as Garret underwent a whirlwind of life-altering changes, for which he came out a different person than when we first met him.

In over 2 seasons, Talon went from being hell-bent on revenge to finally have found something she care for. The loss of her family, both her Blackblood clan and her adoptive human family, forced her to grow up quickly in order to survive. When she finally got the revenge she wanted, it didn’t made her feel good in any way. But the people she now calls family has given her a reason to live a different purpose: To protect them and to do what is right.

Together, these characters became people for which we could root for, to see them survive every ordeal they are in, and make us wanna tune in to see what happens next.

The world of The Outpost is quite fascinating. We don’t have an exact idea of the status quo but little by little we are given some semblance of how society works in this world. While there is the still-unnamed realm that have largely been taken over by the Prime Order, there are still pockets of independently-run places for which either exist as mostly unwilling vassal states to the Capital, or municipalities that have been destroyed after showing defiance.

I do find it funny that despite the animosity between the Capital and the outpost, regular on-the-ground postal service between the two continues to be a thing. Bird-mail is an alternative yet expensive option as well.

And we can’t have a fantasy series without some creatures lurking outside the walls of the outpost, like the humanoid-looking Greyskins, and the abovementioned Plaguelings, which turned out to be possessed and still living humans whose minds were taken over by parasites that grew out from dormant eggs found in an addictive substance called colipsum.

And of course, Janzo found a way to cure the Plaguelings so there’s that.

Being a CW show, it is imperative that The Outpost must have young beautiful people involved in, at its basic form, a love triangle. What we ended up getting is a love square, that evolved into a pentagon in Season 2 (and at some point, a short-lived hexa). Talon had taken a liking to Garret while Gwynn seemed indifferent that Talon is attracted to her boyfriend who also seemed drawn to her. Then there’s Janzo, who fancies Talon but Talon only fancy him as a friend.

But it’s this kind of complicated romantic relationship that I didn’t really feel irritated by, at least in the same way others in several CW shows have. We will see in the future where this would lead.

As the second season rolled, our characters went to their own adventures. Gwynn trying to become the Queen she is expected to be and trying to prepare her people for the upcoming battle with the Prime Order. Janzo was tasked to find a cure of the plaguelings but along the way, went on his own journey of self-discovery for which not only did he discovered some cold truths from his past (one of which I am not exactly a fan of, go figure), and was key to the survival of his people. Talon got more than what she expected in unearthing the mysteries surrounding her people and the Plain of Ashes found on the otherside of the portal while Garret became the unfortunate recipient of my favorite TV trope: Getting brainwashed and crazy.

Now let’s talk about Garret. No character has been through hell and back than this dude in Season 2. While pursuing Ambassador Everit Dred (the mastermind behind the Blackblood massacre), he was mortally injured, became a Prime Order captive, was tortured, and at one point, died before he was revived by the leaders of the Prime Order, known as The Three. A cycle of torture and drugging led to his eventual brainwashing that made him turn against Gwynn and Talon, becoming the Blade of the Three.

I gotta say, the actor portraying Garret is really good at playing brainwashed and crazy. He even got the crazy eyes nailed down to a tee.

Sadly for Garret, under such a state, he killed without hesitation his own father, Wythers who came searching for him, in cold-blood. In the scene where he drew his sword as he fixed his eyes towards his dad, the moment he tilted his head and his face became emotionless was truly the point of no return for him.

He eventually wrecked havoc upon his return to the outpost, before getting captured and finally getting cured by our go-to genius Janzo (who is doing too many things for Gwynn with no overtime pay), for which everything came back, including that harrowing realization of what he had done. That really stuck out to me knowing he will never be the same ever again, and nothing he can do will change things back to what it once was.

Even the music in the show is its own character. Certain situations and scenes calls for certain cues. There’s of course the main theme song that we hear in the intro and its full version in the end credits. The main melody serves as a foundation on several cues that involves action, drama, and things in relation to Talon’s journey so far. And of course, the second season gave us something different, and despicable. The theme of The Three comes in at certain dark moments involving the leaders of the Prime Order that gives you a sense of dread and fear that emanates by the Three’s presence. However, the main man behind the music, James Schafer, balance that out with tracks with humor, and very reminiscent of fantasy series of old (hello Xena).

There so much that I want to rave the show about because of how much thought was put into making this second season better tenfold but I might end up writing a multi-page thesis paper about this as a result, hehe.

But above all, the fan interaction between the cast/crew and the fans have been incredible, to say the least. I don’t usually jump on the live-tweeting but I do share my thoughts a bit later on in Twitter that people from the show, even Dean Devlin (EP of my mom’s fave show, Leverage, and of course, Stargate) notice and they would often reply back, which is kind of endearing.

Ooh, and he’s doing a show on my turf!

It’s just so refreshing to see such a healthy discussion on episodes, character development, and even the extra stuff like the external locations (which I cannot stress enough how I love the look that Serbia has provided the show with). I even tune in to an aftershow podcast dedicated to the show, which is something I haven’t done for a good while (the last time being 90210).

All in all, The Outpost is a fun show with a lot of heart. It’s hard to fit into words of how invested I feel towards it, and it would be an incredible shame if it doesn’t get renewed for another year. There is so many stories left to tell and I don’t know how I would deal with the cliffhanger we were left with.

Whichever the case, I will never regret watching a show that I never myself expected to be so attached to it. I appreciate everything that the cast and the crew have done to make the show that that it can be, and to prove that it can turn things around to prove naysayer wrong when given the chance.

Hvala and maraming salamat, The Outpost. Hanggang sa muli.

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