‘The Outlaws’ Season 3 Review: Jessica Gunning Steals The Spotlight!


Created by Stephen Merchant and Elgin James, the first two seasons of The Outlaws delivered a perfect balance of humor and drama, and the performances were top-notch. And while season 3 is not the strongest of the lot, the characters are entertaining enough to spend a few hours with. A group of misfits from different walks of life were brought together by community service. The characters had engaged in minor offenses, and as a form of compensation, they were assigned community service. But instead of their lives getting any easier, they found themselves drawn into bigger trouble. Sooner than expected, these small-time offenders were dealing with notorious drug lords and the threat to their lives escalated. While the characters were starkly different from each other, they were united by one common factor—they were all in one way or another at the lowest points of their lives. They could relate to each other’s struggles, and over time, friendship between the characters took precedence over self-preservation.

After planting drugs in the Dean’s car in season 2 that ultimately led to his arrest, the characters get together once again in season 3 to ensure that the kingpin remained behind bars. Rani was living the adventurous life she had envisioned when, all of a sudden, a man working for the Dean tracked her down. The former class topper wanted to stay ahead of the game planned by the Dean, but she instead ended up getting entangled in a bigger problem. She had a dead body to deal with, a powerful drug lord to stop, and gather evidence to exonerate herself in court. Rani is not the only one in a pickle; internet sensation Lady Gabby found herself in a legal battle with her father over her inheritance. Season 3 is primarily about self-discovery, as each character evolves into a better version of themselves. The focus is on the struggle they encounter as they grapple with forgiving themselves and those around them, while also embracing their own imperfections.  Perhaps the only reason to watch the third installation is to witness our favorite characters transform into better and more confident human beings.

The Outlaws has always been about the characters and their quirks, and personally, I do not mind watching them make one ridiculous decision after another and deal with the worst possible outcome as a result. But an entire season of The Outlaws without the legendary Christopher Walken is quite tragic. From the very first episode, Frank’s absence is deeply felt, and a cameo towards the end is not enough to fill the vacuum. Walken’s swagger is irreplaceable, and Frank was undeniably one of the most entertaining characters in the series. After delivering a stellar performance as Martha in Baby Reindeer, Jessica Gunning returns to television as our beloved Police Community Support Officer, Diane Pemberley. In this season, Gunning single-handedly keeps the humor going. There is something so purely innocent and loveable about Diane that you simply can’t get enough of the character. As delusional as Diane is, luck favored her this season, and she finally earned Sergeant Haines’ respect. The Outlaws is all about the characters, and creator Stephen Merchant deserves a mention for coming up with their quirks and bringing together the misfit criminals. Merchant is not just an outstanding television writer but also a promising actor, and he aces his role as the awkward lawyer, Greg, a third time. While all the characters have evolved by the end of what might be the final season, Greg and Diane steal the show.

Not only does the absence of Hollywood legend Christopher Walken affect the series, but season three also comes across as repetitive. The narrative mirrors the previous seasons, which perhaps explains why season three is not as exciting. The issue is presented to the audience in the very first episode, and by now, the viewers are already aware of how the narrative will progress and the climax will unfold. The third season feels like a concluding paragraph in an essay that has been stretched longer than necessary. Ultimately, it is the characters that matter in a comedy drama, not the intricacies of the problem that the drama revolves around. The conflict or crisis is introduced for the characters to humorously react to it and to take the story forward. Unless, of course, it is a crime thriller, and in that case, The Outlaws season 3 is not the best one out there. So, was a third season necessary? Since the previous season ended on an ambiguous note, season 3 offers a definitive resolution and a clear explanation regarding the fate of the characters.

Stephen Merchant had mentioned in an interview that the idea behind creating The Outlaws was to bring together characters with opposing principles, and that is truly the highlight of the series. Who would have thought that a leftist activist would find a friend in a right-wing sympathizer with serious anger management issues? But John and Myrna transcend their political differences, and in season three, they appear to be the most trusted friends who understand each other on a deeper level. Clare Perkins and Darren Boyd delivered a commendable performance as Myrne and John. Rhianne Barreto makes Rani Rekowski’s transformation from a devoted student to a criminal genius believable. Gamba Cole, too, offers a convincing performance as Ben Eastfield. When it comes to transformations, Eleanor Tomlinson has aced it as Lady Gabby.

Compared to the previous seasons, season three of The Outlaws was mediocre. The elaborate crisis that unfolded this time was entertaining but not as funny. The first season built intrigue and left the audience wanting for more; the second season delivered a fun-filled drama; and the third season stuck to the formula that worked before, but the creators needed to do more than that for it to be memorable. The Outlaws season three is not a complete miss, the characters and their quirks make it worth a watch.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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