WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS for Outer Range Season 1 throughout. We recommend you catch up on all eight episodes before going down this hole.
It is no wonder to me why Outer Range Season 1 became a pretty decent hit on Amazon Prime. This is mostly due to its top-notch cast led by Josh Brolin and a concept that uniquely splices two radically disparate genres into one intriguing blend. However, there was plenty that I was left to wonder about after the finale of creator Brian Watkins’ Neo-western TV show with a sci-fi twist, in addition to the dizzying amount of other pressing thoughts and questions I had while watching the first seven episodes. The following is an exploration of what was going through my head most frequently as I took this journey, starting with one thought that I am sure was on a lot of other viewers’ minds, too
Outer Range Really Is A Sci-Fi Yellowstone
I would not be the first person to call Outer Range the sci-fi fan’s answer to Yellowstone, but the comparison is certainly justified and by more than just genre alone. The Amazon Prime original (in which Josh Brolin’s Royal Abbott discovers a portal to another time appearing on his Wyoming cattle ranch) boasts several similarities to Taylor Sheridan’s Paramount Network hit. The most notable examples lie in the main characters’ struggle to maintain control of their family’s land, which involves hiding a murder from authorities, and from their wealthier rival who wants the Abbotts’ west pasture and is played by recurring Yellowstone cast member, Will Patton.
Outer Range Could Have Been An Alternate Reality Sequel To No Country For Old Men
Another title Outer Range reminds me of is 2007’s No Country for Old Men - Joel and Ethan Coen’s Best Picture Oscar winner based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy - largely due to the casting of Josh Brolin, of course. However, the Oscar nominee (who also executive produces the show) gives a wonderful performance as Royal Abbott that I genuinely believe represents the kind of person Llewellyn Moss could have grown to become (had things gone better for him by the No Country for Old Men ending) - especially for his courageous efforts to protect his family, bold confrontational demeanor, and the way he tries to keep secrets. Actually, that last characteristic was what frustrated me most about Royal.
Why Doesn’t Royal Just Tell His Family About The Void?
Most of the issues haunting the Abbott family can be traced to the void on their land, as it's the reason why Will Patton’s Wayne Tillerson wants their west pasture in the first place and what causes them to question Royal’s sanity when he begins to act somewhat out of character. If I was in his position, I would have explained that my strange behavior was the result of a time portal appearing on my property, but instead, he chooses to keep that to himself, allowing it drive the wedge between them deeper and deeper. Because it would have solved a number of problems for him, I was genuinely frustrated with him not telling his family the truth, until an interesting detail about the character was revealed that I will touch on later.
Is The Grounded Drama More Interesting Than The Sci-Fi Stuff?
Among the many questions Outer Range posited within me, perhaps the most frequent was, What is it that keeps me watching this, really? I found myself more interested in coming back to the show each week by things like the Abbotts’ struggle to hide their involvement in a manslaughter committed by eldest son Perry (Tom Pelphrey), younger son Rhett’s (Lewis Pullman) bull riding victories and romance with Maria (Isabel Arraiza), the disappearance of Perry’s wife, months earlier, and other things that barely had anything do with the void. I respect that the show never relies entirely on its sci-fi elements, but was also getting a little impatient waiting for these seemingly disparate plot lines to intersect at some point, especially when the sci-fi elements only had me racking my brain more.
WHAT IS THIS SHOW?!!!
There were multiple times when I honestly did not know how to feel about Outer Range, particularly when its gets so odd and confusing that I realized another show this series earns many comparisons to is Twin Peaks.
By that, I mean (at risk of pissing off fans of David Lynch’s work) that strange, bewildering things often happen almost completely at random and with little to no payoff. Such as when a mountain suddenly disappears as Royal shakes hands with Imogen Poots’ character, Autumn Rivers, and another time when I am pretty sure Autumn telepathically communicated with a grizzly bear. There was also a scene with Noah Reid singing in front of a mirror in his underwear, but that actually brings me to another one of the show’s strengths.
Noah Reid Was Born To Play Billy Tillerson On Outer Range
Canadian actor Noah Reid became a more recognizable name in the United States when he joined the Schitt’s Creek cast as Patrick Brewer - a role that allowed him to put both his comedic skills and his musical talents on display. He gets to do the same on Outer Range by giving one of the best (and certainly the most eccentric) performances of his career as the Tillerson’s youngest son, Billy - a singing cowboy with a few unique social quirks who eventually forms a romance with Autumn. This turns out to be the spark to leads to his bitter end, unfortunately, but that fate seemed pretty clear with the person Autumn turned out to be.
Imogen Poots Plays A Surprisingly Good Villain
I have always thought that the English-born Imogen Poots was one of the most underrated talents of her time, especially by how she has portrayed the victim of distressing situations in great horror movies like Green Room or Vivarium. Well, now I realize that she is also good at portraying one who perpetuates distressing situations with her performance in Outer Range as Autumn Rivers, which cleverly plays on her young, sweet, every-woman appearance before turning increasingly manic and sinister, with hints at her being an aspiring cult leader, too. However, that is the least shocking revelation about her character.
OHHHHH, NO FREAKING WAY!
I had this thought a couple of times - first at the end of Episode 7 when Royal reveals to Perry that he is originally from the 1880s and found himself in the 20th century when he jumped into the void after accidentally killing his father in a hunting accident at just 8 years old. This actually explained a lot about Royal’s behavior after we first see him find the void.
The second time that thought crossed my mind was in the season finale, when it is suggested that Autumn is actually Royal’s young granddaughter, Amy (Olive Abercrombie), but from the future. This twist actually required further explanation for me (especially with what a murderous psychopath she became), which I hope we will receive eventually.
We’re Getting A Season 2, Right?
I am not sure if I have ever felt a stronger urge to see a TV show get renewed for a second season after watching the Outer Range finale - not just for how much I grew to enjoy the show, but because I have A LOT of questions that demand answers. For instance, at the end of the penultimate episode, Perry jumps into the void right before it closes up and near end of the finale, Amy’s mom and Perry’s wife, Rebecca (Kristen Connolly), suddenly returns after eight months missing and takes Amy away with her.
Among a few other pressing matters, I want to know where Perry will end up, where Rebecca has been and where she is taking Amy now, and just what was the hell was the deal with that disappearing mountain?
Despite the more distressingly confusing moments and all that was left unresolved by the end, the Outer Range season finale was, honestly, one of the most thrilling, deliciously teasing, and captivating hours of television I have experienced in recent memory. It almost had me apologizing for my impatience while waiting for things to start making more sense. Well, in some regards, I am still waiting for that, but I am also anticipating the moment I see more of the Abbotts and hoping Amazon gives Brian Watkins and co. that chance.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.