For those of you whom the vagaries of fortune have thwarted, and who have not yet had the pleasure of suckling at the teat of determinedly second-tier fantasy adventure series The Outpost (Syfy), let me bring you up to speed before we consider the opener to season three.
Talon is the lone survivor of the massacre of her Blackblood clan. Blackbloods are a kind of human with added agility and strength and pointy ears. Occasionally, they also have the power to open a portal to the Plane of Ashes and let other Blackbloods and, alas, Lu-Qiri monsters into this realm. Talon is played by Jessica Green, who boasts a completely immobile face. Given the desultory, sub-Buffy special effects in this strangely sparsely funded offering, this facial void is actually one of the show’s most effective draws.
In season one, Talon tracks her family’s killers to the edge of the civilised world and a lawless fortress known as Gallwood Outpost. She gets revenge on those who wronged her clan, picking up some doughty friends and fighters along the way, which is strewn with the bits of set and skins that Game of Thrones left behind. Those who make it to season three include Garret Spears (Jacob Stormoen), oddball Janzo (Anand Desai-Barochia) and Princess-then-Queen Rosmund (Imogen Waterhouse). They occasionally come close to acting, but ultimately cannot vault the hurdle presented by a script that, contrary to trash TV tradition, has been typed, not by a thousand monkeys, but rather one very weary one, possibly microdosing to get himself through the day.
Oh, and there is Kevin McNally popping in and out as a white-haired smith at the Outpost. He turns out to be the man who spared child Talon from the slaughter, becoming her mentor and passing on the Blackblood prophecy that he reckons she is destined to fulfil. You want it? OK, you microdosing monkey lover, you got it: “When the moon is aflame, a Blackblood will summon the slayers of men to conquer and purge the oppressors of old.” Don’t look at me like that. It was your choice.
Season two is more of the same, but with plaguelings and Glynis Barber.
Season three finds our heroes and heroine in a pickle. Talon is pretending to be on the side of the bad Blackbloods (led by a less bad Blackblood called Zed, played valiantly by Reece Ritchie) who have captured Rosmund and enslaved Garret and her other human friends, so that she can secretly protect them. If you are still with me, well done.
They are being forced to dig the frozen ground for a Thing while the Blackbloods try to persuade Talon to reopen the portal to the Plane of Ashes and bring through their ancient prophet Yavalla. She refuses, for reasons that are not abundantly clear to me; as soon as I can get some sense from that monkey, I will let you know. Possibly, it is something to do with not trusting ancient prophets who haven’t given you a rundown of their intentions.
Anyway, she changes her tune once Zed and his bad righthand man Yobhan threaten to execute Garret and Rosmund’s squeeze, Tobin Aegisford. She open sesames the portal and out steps … Jaye Griffiths! Tremendous! As Yavalla, she claims her intention is to unite the Blackbloods and find something called the Kinj. As Jaye Griffiths, she encourages by example all those around her to do some acting.
There is some … well, I think it is supposed to be comic relief, in the form of rambunctious scenes between Janzo and an interloper to his lab, who I think (again, I will check with the monkey) is Yavalla’s daughter Wren. These are quite the most effortful and painful things I have ever had to witness on screen and it will be a kindness to them and us if I simply draw a veil. When the frozen miners find the Thing, it turns out to be a crystal whose veracity Wren must test with Janzo’s potions. There, now you can fast forward all their bits. Do so.
The Kinj is a portal to paradise, hidden somewhere in the Outpost. The crystal will help Yavalla find it and then she will lead the Blackbloods to peace and prosperity. Meanwhile, Garret kills the Blackblood who nearly killed the queen. This is going to help no one.
The Outpost is Game of Thrones meets Xena: Warrior Princess, as written by Enid Blyton. Or a monkey. It is prime pandemic fare. Feast!