Outer Range Review: Time Waits for No One

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Outer Range Season 2 Episode 1 begins with the gravelly, subtly menacing voice of Josh Brolin, channeling his Thanos the Mad Titan persona.

Brolin may not have the iconic voice of Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones, but he’s working on it, and his tone is prescient for what is to come.

When I realized it was me who was the one in pain when I realized that I had created the hole inside me, it spat me out like it never wanted me in the first place.

Royal Abbott

The Outer Range Season 2 premiere picks up right where Outer Range Season 1 Episode 8 left off.

Joy is caught in the past, running into a fellow time traveler, while Royal and Amy reconcile in the way that a cobra comes to terms with having to share a room with a mongoose.

Cecilia and Royal Ride The Range - Outer Range

Cecilia’s search for Amy yields little, while her journey from fierce Christian matriarch to doubting Thomas is nearly complete.

In fact, the first two episodes feature a nearly complete interchange between herself and Royal.

Amazon Prime’s marriage between The X-Files and Yellowstone remains an interesting concept, though the multiple plotlines are gambling with irrelevance.

Young Cecilia - Outer Range

If nothing else, the writers for Outer Range should look to George R.R. Martin for a healthy dose of what it's like to string together too many plotlines at once.

Martin’s troubles with the immensity of his universe led to shoehorning the latter episodes of Game of Thrones and well over a decade between his last published book and the latest, yet unpublished, Winds of Winter.

Joy and Rhett are fine examples of this, sharing very little screen time when matched against Autumn/Amy, Royal, Cecilia, and the Tillersons.

Don’t worry; the show hasn’t lost its way yet. But it’s always good to keep these things on your radar.

As for Joy, she’s proving that the rules the black hole on the Abbott’s western pasture applies to the local environment are malleable.

While she never physically jumped into the hole, she’s caught in the past – the latter half of the 19th century, that is.

Young Royal - Outer Range

Her situation is a fascinating open door, sizing up a modern-day woman of native heritage with the Native Americans of the past, when they still ran free, and buffalo covered the land.

Other than Joy experiencing a bit of luck by running into someone in a similar situation, her story arc doesn’t travel very far.

Rhett is in a similar circumstance, having left the rodeo with Maria.

The show gives the impression that they are on the lamb, though later events negate that assumption.

As with Joy, there’s not enough material here to get too invested despite the desire to do so.

The relationship between Rhett and Maria also feels disconnected.

Maria told Rhett she didn’t want to be involved in whatever was going on with him, Sheriff Joy’s investigation, and his brother Perry, knowing that he would prioritize his family over her.

Exploring Her Heritage In the Most Unexpected Way - Outer Range

Rhett goes on to win the rodeo, and now everything is okie dokie, and they can be together?

The time the first two episodes spend with them is not enough to establish that understanding between the audience and the fictional relationship.

The more interesting aspect of the series is Cecilia's interactions with Autumn. Imogen Poots plays the random, somewhat aloof, manic hippie Autumn to a T.

Matching her with the fiery Cecilia generates some interesting situations and dialogue, especially when they’re at church.

Though most of the first two episodes play out in the present, we get glimpses of Joy and Perry’s doings in the past as well.

Perry is working with his younger father (an interesting head-scratcher that conjures all kinds of paradoxes if you let it) and discovering some things he probably wishes he didn’t.

Luke Doesn't Look So Good - Outer Range

For instance, finding out your mother (Cecilia) is dating the family archenemy, Wayne Tillerson, is an uncomfortable scene to say the least, while also dredging up even more mysteries within the Abbott and Tillerson families.

In the meantime, Joy is learning the intricacies of native life in the West, along with their interactions with white immigrants and traders in the area.

The trouble with lengthy time travel sequences is the amount of time it takes for familiar characters to build relationships with all new ones, especially those from a different time, era, and stage of cultural evolution.

While this can be fascinating from a historical perspective, it makes it difficult to invest in new alliances and liaisons. 

The concern remains centered on Joy, and the rest of the characters are all but dead to us, meaning little outside of their effects on the future.

Royal Seeks Answers - Outer Range

One of the show's potential Achilles heels is the time issue.

In one instance, Joy’s wife Martha spots a picture of Joy, presumably taken during her time in the past. Of course, from Martha’s perspective, this is impossible.

At the same time, Perry spends a lot of time with his younger dad, Royal.

Yet, the Royal of the present doesn’t seem to respond to any blossoming memories of meeting his son in the past.

The Joy pic insinuates a linear timeline.

Royal’s lack of memory suggests a nonlinear timeline. It bears mentioning, thanks to the trouble past shows and movies have run into when tackling time travel.

Whether or not Outer Range falls into this same category remains to be seen.

Will Patton continues with his perfect rendition of Wayne Tillerson. Will already carries the manic vibe with him, even when not in character.

Under a Blood Red Sky - Outer Range

Wayne Tillerson is the kind of role he thrives in.

All of the Tillersons are strange, but Wayne, as the patriarch of the family (his ex-wife Patricia is even more strange), leads the ensemble.

It would be nice to see more of Patricia.

Her character is one of predominant selfishness and favoritism, the latter of which is convenient to her personal whims at any given moment.

It's no wonder the brothers are subject to random musings, sudden outbursts of song, or wacky visions that are so jarringly bizarre that they threaten the feeling of immersion at times.

Between Wayne's obsession with the west pasture and their mother's instability, a picture emerges that conveys the odd relationships between the siblings and their parents.

Trevor's death in Season 1, while tragic, was far from a catalyst.

The conflict between the Tillersons and Abbotts over the western pasture lingers at the forefront of everything, but it doesn’t feel like the mainstay of the show throughout the first two seasons.

Playing Mechanic - Outer Range

While the Abbotts run circles around each other, with shifting character arcs, the Tillersons have their own personal battles to deal with.

With Billy currently bedridden, Luke alternates between going off the rails and trying to prove himself to a father who isn’t looking to abdicate the throne to the middle child anytime soon and to a mother who doesn’t really care.

Outer Range Season 2 Episodes 1 and 2 feature several dark and twisted treats, rewarding the audience for navigating the maze.

Only, instead of a traditional maze, it’s a carnival house of mirrors with lunatic clowns leaping out of dark corners.

The number of knots lying around, waiting to be untied, manufactures enough potential to fill an entire season and then some.

However, it's possible we’re seeing the first few cracks within the tapestry.

Wayne Tillerson in His Black Hat - Outer Range

Outer Range threatens to open too many branching pathways to satisfactorily close them all.

At the same time, it’s meddling with time, a concept (at least on film) that only results in success or travesty, never in between.

It's well-acted and has outstanding cinematography, though we get to spend so little time with some of the secondary characters that it's difficult to build a legitimate attachment to them.

Though it's peopled with fascinating, often bizarre characters, a lot of the heart and soul of Outer Range remains to be seen.

With only seven episodes in its second season run, let’s hope the showrunners get it right.


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Thomas Godwin is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow him on X

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Outer Range Quotes

It's gonna eat you up to keep all of this inside.

Royal Abbott

When I realized it was me who was the one in pain when I realized that I had created the hole inside me, it spat me out like it never wanted me in the first place.

Royal Abbott