Warning: This article contains major spoilers for The Outsider.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll already have binge-watched HBO’s The Outsider into a sweet, El Cuoco-shaped oblivion.
And if you’re as obsessed with Stephen King’s novels as I am (i.e. very obsessed) you’ll probably have read the book, too.
But in case you haven’t, let me break down a few of the key differences.
Although series creator Richard Price has been pretty faithful to King’s 2018 novel, there are a few points where the show treads its own path – and some of these differences have pretty big future implications. Especially with rumours of a second season flying around…
Ralph Anderson’s son.
The memory of Ralph Anderson’s deceased son, Derek, is a shadow that hangs over the detective for The Outsider‘s entire 10-episode run. He’s the subject of Anderson’s final, poignant conversation with Terry Maitland, and he’s the ghost that visits the detective in his dreams. He’s both a huge part of the character’s backstory, and a big driver for his actions in the show.
But in King’s novel, Derek isn’t actually dead.
There’s no backstory of grief, and Anderson’s main focus in the novel remains getting to the bottom of the Frankie Peterson case.
If I had to guess, I’d say Price probably added in this subplot as a way of developing Anderson’s character. He’ll be one of the key players if there is a second season, so it makes sense for him to be as fleshed out as possible.
Holly Gibney’s backstory.
Anyone who’s familiar with King’s books, or who’s been watching the adaptation of King’s Bill Hodges trilogy Mr. Mercedes, will already know Holly Gibney. She’s a recurring character in King’s more recent novels, popping up in the Hodges trilogy as well as The Outsider. Crucially, she’s also set to feature in an upcoming King novella, If It Bleeds (more on that one in a moment).
For the purposes of the HBO adaptation, Price has completely changed Holly’s backstory, removing references to “Finders Keepers” (the detective agency that features in the Bill Hodges trilogy, and where Holly works) and replacing it with a backstory about her troubled childhood.
Holly Gibney’s future, and a possible second season.
As long as you didn’t shut The Outsider off the minute the episode 10 credits popped up, you’ll have seen Gibney’s final scene in the show – a slightly ominous post-credits indication that El Cuoco may have scratched her in the same way it scratched Jack Hoskins. The scene (which doesn’t feature in the book) seems to be the show’s way of leaving a door open for a second season – a possibility re-enforced by King retweeting this tweet from the author Linwood Barclay, shortly after the final episode aired.
Great finale. But I don’t think this is the last of The Outsider.
— Linwood Barclay (@linwood_barclay) March 9, 2020
The other evidence a sequel could be on the cards? The novella I mentioned earlier, If It Bleeds.
News people have a saying: ‘If it bleeds, it leads’. And a bomb at Albert Macready Middle School is guaranteed to lead any bulletin.
Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency is working on the case of a missing dog – and on her own need to be more assertive – when she sees the footage on TV. But when she tunes in again, to the late-night report, she realises there is something not quite right about the correspondent who was first on the scene. So begins ‘If It Bleeds’, a stand-alone sequel to the No. 1 bestselling THE OUTSIDER featuring the incomparable Holly on her first solo case – and also the riveting title story in Stephen King’s brilliant new collection.
That’s right: If It Bleeds is a sequel to The Outsider. Oh, and guess who else is due to make a comeback in the novella? Yep, Ralph Anderson. Last year EW published an extract from the novella, which revolves around Anderson receiving an ominous package from Gibney in the post.
My best guess? Despite the differences in how the show and the novel end, this next King story will be the basis for a second season of The Outsider.
Which means we shouldn’t have to wait long to find out what happens next…
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