Outer Range (Season 1) Episodes 1, 2 Recap And Ending Explained: Westerns have largely been associated with stories about redemption, violence, revenge, and survival in the wild, wild west. Some examples that define it are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Magnificent Seven (1960), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Stagecoach (1939), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Then came the Neo Westerns like No Country for Old Men (2007), Hell or High Water (2016), Wind River (2017), and Logan (2017). Apart from maybe Logan (which is a considerably grounded take on the superhero genre), this genre has been synonymous with the word ‘grounded’ with a lot of focus on the human psyche and the elements. Westworld (the movie and the show) is one of the rare IPs that told a high-concept Science-Fiction story within the conventions of a Western. And it seems like Outer Range (2022-ongoing) is on its way to doing the same.
Outer Range (Season 1) Episode 1 & 2 Recap:
Episode 1, titled The Void, opens with a shot of a bison with two arrows stuck to its side (yes, this is important because this bison shows up a couple of times throughout the show). Then we see a montage of a man riding a horse, thunder in the clouds, someone trying to break through a barn door, while the disembodied voice of Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin) talks about the Greek god Cronos who carried a sickle to cause a tear in the cosmos to separate the known from the unknown. As Royal throws a body into a void and someone shines a torchlight on him, he says that the world has been waiting for something like this. Then the narrative shifts to three days before the events that we just witnessed. Royal wakes up and so does his wife Cecilia (Lili Taylor), the latter of whom narrates a dream and tells Royal to not tell it to Perry (Tom Pelphrey). To which Royal says that he never does.
After Royal’s ride through his ranch, we find out that he and his wife live with their two sons, Perry (Tom Pelphrey) and Rhett (Lewis Pullman), and Perry’s daughter Amy (Olive Abercrombie). They go to church on Sundays. Rhett is aiming to be a professional bull rider but he isn’t all that good at it. You know, your classic Western setting. But while tucking Amy into bed later that night, when Amy asks Cecilia how she and Royal met, we get a hint of the mystery surrounding Royal. Cecilia says that Royal had a very rough childhood and he didn’t know his parents. One day, something inexplicable happened (inexplicable because Royal apparently has no memory of it) that made him run away from his home. And he just showed up at Cecilia’s family ranch (the ranch where they’re currently at). Cecilia says that she felt like she was waiting for Royal her whole life. That’s when both Royal and Cecilia hear a strange droning sound from the distance. The same one that Royal heard earlier that day.
A flock of crows leads our eyes from the Abbott ranch to the Tillerson ranch where a sick Wayne Tillerson (Will Patton) hears the droning sound as well. He touches a weird spherical object, talks to a taxidermy mount of a bison (probably the same bison from the beginning of the show?), and gives Cecilia a call. Wayne tells Cecilia that something is coming and that something is happening. Cecilia thinks Wayne is drunk and hangs up the phone. The following day, a hitchhiker named Autumn (Imogen Poots) arrives at the Abbott ranch seeking to camp there for a few days. Royal is understandably hesitant but he lets her stay. Royal and Autumn shake on it and part ways for the time being. At the fence dividing the Abbott and Tillerson ranches, Royal, Perry, Rhett, Trever Tillerson (Matt Lauria), and Luke Tillerson (Shaun Sipos) have a little argument about the boundary of the branch and that the Abbotts have to lose some land and push back the fence. They momentarily agree and Royal sends his two sons to look for the lost cattle.
Royal scours the west side of the pastures and notices a humongous hole in the ground with seemingly no end and some kind of cosmic dust floating over it. He throws a rock into it and it falls in but doesn’t hit the bottom. Then he proceeds to see if his hand can break the surface of the hole. As soon as he does that, he sees flashes of him walking into his home as Cecilia tells him to say “hello” to Deputy Sheriff Joy (Tamara Podemski). As soon as he turns, his dining room turns into flashes of light and he retracts his hand from the hole. Before he mounts his horse to go back home, we see a bunch of moving black spots on his hand that disappear soon after. Upon returning home, the exact moment that he saw earlier plays out in real-time, thereby hinting at the fact that the cosmic hole in the ground allows those who touch to look into the future. And as the scene goes on, we learn that Perry’s wife Rebecca is actually missing and that the FBI is going to stop looking for her because there aren’t any new leads. So, the case has become low-priority now.
The following day, Royal visits the hole again. He sees if it can be filled with dirt. He tries to cover it up with a tarpaulin sheet. None of it works. Frustrated, he starts screaming at the void and the bison with the two arrows stuck to its side appears again and walks away. Royal visits Autumn and advises her to move to the east pastures because the hole is at the west pasture. The conversation eventually arrives at the topic of the price tag that Royal is willing to put on the ranch. Autumn says that based on how things are going, Royal has to sell it one day. Royal says that the ranch is his wife’s and it has been in the family for over 100 years. Autumn shrugs that reasoning off and starts naming prices. Royal inquires if Autumn has that kind of money on her. Autumn says maybe she does. When Royal tells her to prove it, Autumn goes into defense mode and says that that’s a secret that she’ll share only if Royal is ready to spill one of his secrets. Unamused but intrigued, Royal walks away from the conversation.
Later that night, Perry and Rhett go to the bar to drown their sorrows about the FBI backing away from the investigation around Rebecca. They get drunk and Perry gets into a scuffle with Trever. Rhett intervenes and knocks Trever down momentarily. Rhett tells Perry to wait there as he brings the truck around. In the meantime, Trever makes an off-handed remark about Rebecca which makes Perry lose his cool and he punches Trever to death. Shocked and scared, Perry and Rhett load Trever’s body into the truck and bicker about going to the police or to the hospital. And as tensions boil, the bison shows up smack in the middle of the road. For some reason that prompts Rhett and Perry to take the body back home. Royal is understandably angry about it and makes a split-second decision to dump Trever’s body into the cosmic hole. As that unfolds, we get context for the images we saw earlier. The man riding a horse with a body is Royal taking Trever’s body. The barn door breaking bit is Luke and Billy Tillerson (Noah Reid) is breaking into the Abbott barn, suspecting that Trever’s in there.
Related Read: 15 Best Westerns of the 21st Century
The first episode ends with Royal dunking Trever’s body in the cosmic hole and Autumn discovering Royal doing so. Strangely enough, Autumn recites the story of Cronos and his sickle before pushing Royal into the hole. Episode 2, titled The Land, opens with Autumn hyperventilating after probably sending Royal to his death. Luke and Billy barge into the Abbott ranch but Cecilia manages to send them away. It’s revealed that Cecilia is in on the truth as well and now they’re waiting for Royal to return. Where’s Royal? On the fields, lying consciously. As he gets up, he tries to make head or tail of what just happened and finds his horse coming up to him. The one thing that’s different about him is that he has a wound on his leg that’s really deep. While everyone in his family questions him about the wound and the body, he keeps saying that he’s alright and that the body has been dealt with, and that’s all everyone needs to know.
Luke urges Joy to look into Trever’s disappearance because she thinks Trever isn’t missing, just around somewhere. And Luke gets racist about it to get his point across about finding Trever. Since Rhett’s childhood crush Maria (Isabel Arraiza) is one of the few people who witnessed the tussle between him and Trever (not Perry murdering Trever), Rhett takes Maria on a date with the agenda to keep things quiet if the Tillersons inquire about what happened on that fateful night. Meanwhile Royal and Perry take a trip to their lawyer to talk about reversing the order that wants the Abbotts to shift their fence and give over a major chunk of the land to the Tillersons. The lawyer tells them to forfeit the portion of the land and Royal disagrees. Even Perry tries to convince Royal to do the same but Royal gives Perry a history lesson about Wayne Tillerson to get the point about not cozying with the Tillersons through his head. Royal pays Wayne a visit to offer him a deal so that he can keep the west pasture. Wayne rambles about his greed and refuses to budge. So, Royal says that they’re going to go to court for this and bids adieu.
Amy comes across Autumn looking at the Abbott family brand that’s used to mark their territory on the mountainous rocks. Autumn says that she has apparently been drawing the design of the brand her whole life and now she’s here at the Abbott ranch, thereby hinting at the larger connection between Autumn and the Abbotts. At the Abbott household, Royal randomly says grace before dinner, which turns into an all-out rant at God. Amy enters the scene and mentions how she came across Autumn. Royal tells everyone in the family about Autumn because she’s a suspicious character. Then he springs the idea of moving the cattle to the east pasture the next day, probably because of the cosmic hole. The family protests but Royal borderline bullies them into agreeing with him. That same night when Royal is looking at an old photo of a couple (I’m assuming here), Autumn pays him a visit in the barn, which leads to the episode’s mind-boggling conclusion.
Outer Range (Season 1) Episodes 1 & 2 Review:
As a fan of Westerns and Sci-fi, Outer Range is certainly intriguing. The way Brian Atkins and the director of the first two episodes, Alonso Ruizpalacios, balance the human drama of a family, while maintaining the mystery within and around them, and also tackles an aspect of science fiction that has been done to death, is brilliant. On one hand, they take theism, which is a constant in Westerns, and on the other, they take atheism, which is constant across Sci-fi films and shows, and basically mash them together. Which opens doors to so many intriguing questions that a person whose worldview has been governed by the notion that’s a dude in the sky who’s looking after everything. But Atkins is clearly not cynical about it. He approaches it with empathy and that’s evident in Royal’s rant/argument with God. He stretches the concept of faith to its maximum and searches for cathartic answers, and that’s very satisfying to watch.
On a technical level, Outer Range is spectacular so far. Cinematographers Adam Newport-Berra and Jay Keitel give an idea of the expansive nature of the ranches and make an effort to visually dwarf the conflict between the Abbotts and the Tillersons. And then Atkins goes up and expands the canvas even further by introducing the cosmic hole. Because the existence of something so earth-shattering as a hole that gives you premonitions makes the conflict and drama rooted in human nature feel all the more insignificant. But, along with editors John Peter Bernardo and Sheri Bylander, the show consistently stays up close and personal with these characters so that you can notice how emotionally these revelations are impacting them. Whether or not the impact is deep enough to see beyond their jealousies and materialistic needs is a whole nother issue that’ll probably be dissected in future episodes. In addition to all that, the production design, costume design, art direction, and set design are top-notch.
As for the acting, if you hire a bunch of talented actors, and if you are smart enough to extract good performances out of them, then you are going to heighten the quality of the show. And that’s exactly what’s happening here. Josh Brolin is clearly the star of the show. He doesn’t need to prove how brilliantly he can play silent stoic characters and pull off dialogue-heavy scenes. But has anyone said that to his face because, in Outer Range, Brolin is up there on the screen proving yet again that he’s one the best in the industry? Tom Pelphrey is great, again, as he deftly internalizes Perry’s pain and loss. Imogen Poots seems fantastic as the mysterious Autumn whose gleeful exterior is a facade. Lili Taylor, Lewis Pullman, Noah Reid, Shaun Sipos, and Olive Abercrombie are terrific as well. However, out of the supporting cast, it’s Will Patton who truly stands out as the diabolical and annoying Wayne Tillerson.
Outer Range (Season 1) Episodes 2 Ending Explained:
Autumn asks Royal what he’s looking for. Royal asks her the same question. When Autumn doesn’t answer, Royal says that he wants her off his land. Autumn says that no he doesn’t. When Royal asks why, Autumn pulls out the “I’m the keeper of your secrets” card, especially the part where he threw Trever into a hole. Royal retorts that so did she, referring to her throwing him into the hole. Autumn justifies her actions by saying that, unlike Trever, Royal came back. And now she wants to know how he did it. Royal doesn’t answer. Instead, he starts asking some random as hell questions. He asks what Autumn’s full name is. Autumn says it’s Autumn Rivers. Royal asks about the source of her money. Autumn says that she has access to a trust fund. Royal asks if she has an interest in mining and drilling. Autumn says she doesn’t. Royal asks if she works for the government. Autumn denies. Royal asks if she has ever been involved in a cult. Autumn finally says yes. Royal asks what the color yellow means to her. Autumn says “power”. Royal asks if she has ever killed anyone. Autumn says she hasn’t and asks Royal back if he has killed anyone and if that “anyone” is Trever”. Royal asks if she was trying to kill him when she threw him into the hole. Autumn says no.
Autumn switches gears and asks Royal what he remembers from his childhood. She gets a little more specific by asking if Royal remembers anything before the age of 9. When Royal asks why Autumn answers that she didn’t remember as well until she reached Abbott Ranch. Then Autumn asks the same question Perry had asked earlier about fate since she believes something brought her to Abbott Ranch. Finally, Autumn asks the million-dollar question: what did Royal see in the hole. We go into flashback mode and see Royal falling through the hole and landing on a field surrounded by big bright lights and the army pointing guns at him. Black patches appear all over his body and disappear. He notices Autumn standing amongst some cult-like figures. There are other people there as well, including Joy and Rhett. There are drills mining into the fields everywhere. Cecilia comes out of the crowd and explains that Royal died 2 years ago, in her arms. Royal asks if this is their land. Cecilia says that it’s not anymore. Then she silently orders him to run! Soon after that Luke Tillerson walks out of the crowd and shoots at Royal’s leg before being subdued. And Royal jumps back into the hole and onto the field where we saw him at the beginning of episode 2.
So, what’s the void? Is it a portal? A portal to what? The future? Or alternate realities? Because when Royal inserted his hand into the void, he saw a few minutes into the future. But when he goes into it completely, he doesn’t literally go to his future. Because apparently he physically died in the reality in which he lands. Then is it yet another premonition about what’s going to happen if he dies? Well, that doesn’t explain the physical wound that he sustains. The only thing that I can say for certain is that the hole or void or whatever-you-may-like-to-call-it is a two-way street between two tangible, real places. To know more, we’ve to watch the rest of Outer Range.
Outer Range (Season 1) Episodes 1, 2 are now streaming on Prime Video