OUTER RANGE (2022)
Season One (Episodes 1 & 2)
Aired On: Prime Video
Release Date: 04/15/22
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"A rancher fighting for his land and family, who discovers an unfathomable mystery at the edge of Wyoming's wilderness."
It's fortunate to have received the volume of outstanding modern-day westerns in the recent years we have. Shows such as Justified, Yellowstone, and Westworld have become the benchmark to measure up to or exceed when a new western or neo-western comes along. Prime Video's new series Outer Range aims to hit that mark, with the service premiering the initial two episodes April 15, 2022. I'm relieved to claim it's more hit than miss.
Starring Josh Brolin, Imogen Poots, Lili Taylor, and Tom Pelphrey, Outer Range possesses a strong cast to bear this mystery western. In its first episodes “The Void” and “The Land”, Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin) encounters an incomprehensible mystery on his family's Wyoming Ranch. The series begins with narration from our main character informing us about the ancient Greek god Cronus, a subject you wouldn't expect to hear coming from a rancher; let alone a series in this genre. Outer Range immediately grabs your attention and sets the tone for itself. The first episode functions as a slow burn, whilst also setting up the main plot and establishing the characters and the mysterious, immense hole which has appeared in a pasture on the Abbott Ranch. Arriving overnight is a mystery enough by itself, but Outer Range has more than one piece missing from its puzzle. A piece that is required for it to be entirely put together.
Early on, a young woman backpacker named Autumn (Imogen Poots) walks up to the ranch, explaining she is seeking a suitable place to camp for a few nights. Although reluctant at first, Royal agrees. As these early episodes progress, further conundrums like this emerge. Instances like when the local sheriff shows up to announce to the family that the FBI has halted the search for Rebecca, the spouse of Royals’ son Perry (Tom Pelphrey). Or when Abbott questions Autumn regarding her true intentions and reasons for being on the ranch.
Without going into too many specifics of plot points and interesting moments from these first two episodes, one of the notable features of this series is how well it melds a western structure and setting within a mystery/sci-fi story. It has a lot of the great qualities and characteristics of a The Twilight Zone episode; one that's been fleshed out into its own television series. Another aspect that the show does sufficiently is the dynamic of the Abbott family slowly taking shape across these first two hours.
Josh Brolin is terrific and fits naturally back into this kind of character. No surprise, considering he has played this macho male, blue-collar, egotistical but internally struggling roles before (Sicario, No Country for Old Men). Even though Brolin's Royal Abbott gets most of the screen time at least in these first two episodes, Lili Taylor proves that even with the limited screen time so far as Royals wife Cecilia Abbott, she can make an impact playing Cecelia to be the loving concerned mother/wife yet hard-hitting. The Abbott's sons Perry (Pelphrey) and Rhett (Lewis Pullman) have a tormented mystique to them, garnering interest to watch and learn from them after certain events.
While Outer Range is full of enigmatic moments used to draw the audience in, a common risk similar series take is leaning too far into that particular aspect. Therefore putting itself in the hole (pun intended), where its answers could potentially lead to lacking, or worse, unsatisfying results. These first impressions indicate that it's a show with an impressive arsenal at its disposal, one that I'm eager to continue watching unravel and witness the possibilities.
Something large looms over Outer Range indeed. Whether it be proportionate to the magnitude of Cronus separating heaven and Earth with a swipe of his scythe as Autumn states to Royal remains unknown; but these promising premiere episodes are packed with intrigue, a terrific cast, and captivating story that has me locked in.