WARNING: The Following Review Contains Spoilers for Amazon’s Outer Range
Westerns have been slowly making a return in this modern era. Sci-Fi/Western crossovers have been a pretty popular concept for some. The Wild Wild West, Westworld, and The Dark Tower all are Sci-Fi/Westerns and have attributed to the genre-bending becoming more popular. Amazon’s Outer Range takes the concept and ups the ante. It puts you in the mind frame of Paramount’s Yellowstone, but ultimately it’s entirely different in concept and plot.
The show follows the Abbott family – Royal (Josh Brolin), Cecilia (Lili Taylor), Rhett (Lewis Pullman), Perry (Tom Pelphrey), and Amy (Olive Abercrombie). They own a ranch out in Wyoming. Amy’s mother, Perry’s wife Rebecca is missing. The farm is also in a bit of disarray financially. The other family is the Tillersons – Billy (Noah Reid), Luke (Shaun Sipos), Wayne (Will Patton), and Trevor (Matt Lauria). There’s a massive hole, on Abbott’s land. A noise is heard one night, and afterward… The Tillersons have a sheet saying that the Abbotts need to move back a few acres. This leads to a conflict between the two families.
There’s also Autumn (Imogen Poots), a mysterious and strange young woman. She wants to go camping on Abbott’s ranch. He first denies her access, but then eventually gives in once money is offered. She comes out of nowhere practically and is just very mysterious. As the first episode progresses, Trevor Tillerson is killed by Perry. The two men get into a physical altercation, and it only makes the feud between the families worse.
Royal is missing something. He has a void to fill and we can see it through his conversations and mannerisms in the first episode. He seems very welcoming to an adventure. There are some cows that go missing, and that can be attributed to the void in the ground. It does also seem like in the same sense Wayne Tillerson knows something that nobody else does. This is why he takes to having the Abbotts move their land back.
As we push into the second episode, we finally kick into hyperdrive. Perry and Rhett bring Trevor’s body to the farm. Royal has them clean up and figure out a way to get rid of the body. The Tillerson’s are on the property looking for their missing brother. They bang on the door of the main house, break into the farm, and never find their brother. Royal takes the body to the void and throws it in.
Autumn sees this and talks to Royal. He starts trying to explain everything to her, and suddenly she pushes him in as well. He falls into the hole, and Autumn goes back to her tent. After some time passes Royal returns from the pit. He’s alive but on edge and extremely nervous. He explains he thought the void was where things go to die. As the second episode ends, we see what the void or hole truly is… It’s a form of time and space travel, almost multi-dimensional in a sense. Royal fell through and had an entire law enforcement agency waiting on him. Lili screams for him to run after he gets shot and he takes off back to the other side.
Brian Watkins has put together an amazing concept. The hole or void is beyond interesting. It’s also a metaphor. Brolin’s Royal character is missing something, he needs some excitement. Then he stumbles upon the giant hole in the ground he can’t cover-up. This is going to be interesting going forward and trying to figure out how it works and why it exists.
Watkins delivers with two different types of scripts. One is a pretty simple and reserved script where he introduces his hero and villain. The way he sets everything up is fairly easy and simple. The ending of that episode sets up a wild second episode of Outer Range. Then, we go camp mode, and it’s so much fun. It starts to feel like an adventure like the walls are closing in on the Abbott family. The Sci-Fi aspect wasn’t super heavy until the end of the second episode, but it fits the story so well.
What we do know is that the hole leads to a sort of different universe. What w don’t know is how it operates within the Sci-Fi rules of the TV show. That’s the unique thing about Sci-Fi movies, no matter how ridiculous or outrageous, they each make their own rules. Outer Range is no different, as the hole acts like a time, space, and multi-dimensional travel device. The last scene was very telling as to how it worked, but also confusing in a way.
Alonso Ruizpalacios takes these two very different styled scripts and does wonder. He gets some really great acting from Poots and Brolin. The other actors also carry their own weight, but those two and their chemistry are amazing. Outer Range has a lot of potentials. At first, I thought this was just a knockoff of Yellowstone, but Watkins has truly created something interesting here. This could go several different ways plot-wise.
These first two episodes were great and intriguing. Like most sci-fi/westerns it doesn’t give away too much at first. They do enough to draw you in, much like Westworld. They slowly stumble out the information instead of making it overbearing. I am truly looking forward to the rest of this first season. I love multi-dimensions, and time/space travel. There aren’t any true rules because those things don’t exist in reality. We will have several theories brewing soon as I have seen plenty already. Sci-Fi fans have been doing well with content, and Outer Range just adds another notch onto that belt in 2022. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Rating – 8/10
New episodes of Outer Range Premiere Fridays on Amazon Prime!