10 Biggest and Weirdest Things to Remember From Outer Range Season 1

10 Biggest and Weirdest Things to Remember From Outer Range Season 1

Prime Video’s Outer Range—one of the weirdest sci-fi series in recent memory, and among the weirdest sci-fi neo-Western series ever—is returning for a second season, which feels like a streaming miracle. You can likely thank the star power of Josh Brolin, who anchors the show’s oddball plot and tone with his performance as Royal Abbott, a Wyoming rancher dealing with family drama, neighbor drama, and cosmic drama… sometimes all at once.

If you didn’t watch season one, you have time to catch up: season two arrives May 16. Season two has a new showrunner, with Charles Murray (Luke Cage, Sons of Anarchy, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) replacing series creator Brian Watkins, and according to Brolin a big goal was making Outer Range a bitless confusing this time around. We’re OK with that—as long there’s no compromising on the weirdness. Thankfully, the trailer for season two suggests there’s still plenty of that in store.

But if you did watch season one, which premiered in April 2022, your memory might be a big foggy, because as Outer Range itself will remind you, “Time’s a motherfucker.” With that in mind, here are the 10 big takeaways (including some lingering questions) you’ll need to recall ahead of season two.

The hole

Image: Prime Video

Royal discovers an apparently bottomless hole lurking on one of his pastures in episode one—but as we come to learn, it’s not the first time in his life that he’s encountered it. The hole is a doorway that spans time, with unpredictable powers and fluid borders; the rocks and soil within the hole also share these mysterious properties. Though Royal tries to keep its existence a secret, most of the characters find out about it one way or another as Outer Range progresses, and some become dangerously obsessed with it.

The bar fight gone bad

Photo: Richard Foreman/Prime Video

The Abbott Ranch shares a fence line with the Tillerson Ranch, and there’s no love lost between the two families. Despite a patriarch in Wayne Tillerson who could kindly be described as “bonkers” (all hail Will Patton), the Tillersons are far wealthier than the Abbotts; they’d be right at home on Yellowstone. At the beginning of the season, we learn the Tillersons are disputing the property boundaries, claiming ownership of the very pasture that happens to contain the hole. (This is not a coincidence; Wayne knows exactly what he’s doing.)

There’s an ongoing rivalry between Royal’s sons, Rhett (Lewis Pullman) and Perry (Tom Pelphrey), and the similarly aged Luke (Shaun Sipos), Billy (Noah Reid), and Trevor Tillerson (Matt Lauria). The tension bubbles over in episode one when a drunken bar fight that starts with Rhett vs. Trevor becomes Perry vs. Trevor, followed by a barrage of punches so fierce that Trevor is killed. The fallout from this fatal brawl winds throughout the season, bedeviling Deputy Sheriff Joy Hawk (Tamara Podemski)—not just because it involves two prominent families, especially the deep-pocketed Tillersons, and not just because she’s hoping to be elected sheriff in a rapidly approaching local election. There’s also the hole-ness of it all.

That’s because when Rhett and Perry tell Royal what happened, he tells them he’ll take care of it… and dumps Trevor’s body in the hole. A perfect plan, until a few episodes later, the body suddenly reappears in the nearby woods. He’s been missing for days, but (apparently) dead for mere hours (thanks, time hole!)—a detail that frustrates Joy’s case against one, both, or all of the Abbott men.

Autumn pushes Royal into the hole

Photo: Richard Foreman/Prime Video

Autumn (Imogen Poots) wanders onto Abbott Ranch looking for a place to camp… or so she says. At first glance, she’s a harmless hippie chick. But it’s soon very clear there’s something distinctly off-putting about her—she’s a little too familiar with Royal right off the bat. Like when she shakes his hand, she says “Glad to finally meet you,” with no explanation as to what the “finally” might refer to. She has a notebook full of doodles that resemble the Abbott family brand, and she seems strangely in awe of the land itself.

When she materializes out of the darkness while Royal is doing his murder clean-up, she catches him heaving Trevor’s body into the pit. We don’t even have time to worry that this strange woman knows the Abbott family’s deadly secret before she reaches out and shoves Royal into the hole.

Next we see, he’s waking in a field, disoriented but no worse for wear. But Autumn demands to know what he experienced in the hole, and we get to see: he traveled into the near future, emerging from the hole and finding it surrounded by a fence, spotlights, and a countdown clock, with mining operations for a company called “BY9″ visible in the background. (There’s a few scattered BY9 references throughout season one, but we don’t learn much about the company or what they’re after; it seems likely season two will explore this further.) The gathered crowd includes Autumn, who appears to be some kind of leader, and Royal’s wife, Cecilia (Lili Taylor), who tells him “You died two years ago,” and then warns him to run. He jumps back in the hole and emerges in his own time.

Rebecca’s disappearance… and reappearance

Photo: Richard Foreman/Prime Video

Perry’s wife Rebecca, the mother of his young daughter Amy (Olive Abercrombie), has been missing for nine months when Outer Range begins. Did she run away? Possibly; she wasn’t fond of Wyoming ranch life, though nobody thinks she’d abandon Amy. Did she die? Also possible, of course. Or did she go… in the hole?

We never learn the whole story. The only crumbs are a scene pointedly labeled “nine months ago” in which one of Wayne’s ranch hands shows him an unusual rock he found, and we can tell Wayne immediately knows it’s from the hole—and another scene in which Cecelia thinks for an instant she’s spotted Rebecca in town. When Rebecca herself (Kristen Connolly) pops up in the season finale, we still don’t learn what happened; she steps out of a shadow, beckons Amy over, and tells her “I had to go. I had to hide. I’ll explain it all…” before melting back into the shadows with her elated daughter in tow.

Perry jumps into the hole

Photo: Richard Foreman/Prime Video

After a certain amount of agonizing—and nudging from Autumn, who’s working her own chaotic angle—Perry decides to take full responsibility for killing Trevor, insisting to Joy that nobody else in his family was involved. While the Deputy Sheriff is skeptical, she’s fine with making the arrest; when it comes time to post bail, Cecelia and Royal put up Abbott Ranch as collateral.

A very bad idea—as is Royal’s decision to tell Perry all the startling details of his own secret past (which includes another accidental murder, which we’ll get to in a moment) while the two are standing right at the edge of the hole. Figuring he might emerge somewhere where he can make a fresh start, Perry jumps in… meaning he’s skipping out on bail… meaning his family will likely lose the ranch they’ve owned for generations. And did we mention, after Perry jumps in, the hole closes up and disappears?

The billboard

Photo: Richard Foreman/Prime Video

The road leading to the Abbott Ranch has a random billboard on it that simply reads: “America tells you that the only things worth knowing are those which can be known. America is wrong.” It’s lingered on several times, including in the season finale when Rhett and his girlfriend Maria (Isabel Arraiza) crash their truck into its base. Another sign that appears several times is a cross-stitch in the Abbott home—Cecilia is a devout Christian—that reads “Oh Lord, reveal yourself to us.”

These production design choices are so prominently featured you have to assume Outer Range wanted viewers to take note of them and key into some deeper meaning. The cross-stitch makes some sense considering that inexplicable, unknowable hole; its existence leads Royal to ponder his own complicated relationship with God. But ultimately both signs feel more like distractions in a show that already has a lot going on. Maybe that’s the sort of enigmatic element that, as Brolin mentioned, season two will be pulling away from?

Autumn’s heel turn

Photo: Richard Foreman/Prime Video

Granted, we knew Autumn had an off-kilter agenda when she pushed Royal into the hole, and thanks to Royal’s subsequent journey into the future, we know she plays a major part in what’s to come. But her energy becomes more frantic and violent near the end of the season. Some of that, it’s suggested, is because she’s briefly without access to her bipolar medication—her illness unfortunately doesn’t get much exploration beyond frantic trips to the local pharmacy—but her viewpoint on reality has already begun to fracture by the time she encounters a bear on the ranch who leans over her and whispers “Show him!”

This leads to an unlikely alliance—it’s hard to call it a romance, despite their distressingly awkward make-out scenes—with Billy Tillerson, who’s an odd duck himself, fond of spontaneously belting out Whitney Houston and Fleetwood Mac songs (he does have a nice voice, but still). He pledges to do her bidding, which is worrisome because a) he has access to a lot of guns, and b) Autumn has shifted into the sort of person who stares into a mirror and says things like “I am the mother of undying time and I will usher her into the world with power and love and justice as a gatekeeper to the unknown.”

And when we do learn a bit more about Autumn—including a key reveal we’ll get to in a moment—her wild-eyed, would-be fight to the death against Royal in the season finale gains another level of “Wait, what?”

Joy Hawk’s time leap

Photo: Richard Foreman/Prime Video

Outer Range establishes that to travel in time, one must pass through the hole. Somehow, though, Joy—who’s merely walking through the woods, investigating reports from a property owner about strange sightings in the area—finds herself overlooking an incredible scene: a herd of buffalo racing past a Native American settlement that suggests she’s very much in the past. Did she Outlander it somehow? Did the hole change its rules when Perry jumped in and it vanished? Is all of Wabang, Wyoming now part of some kind of time-travel void? And how will she get back to her wife, daughter, and that damn upcoming election? From the looks of the season two trailer, Joy will still be stuck in the past.

Royal’s true history

Photo: Richard Foreman/Prime Video

In 1886, a boy out hunting accidentally shot and killed his father. Horrified by what he’d done, and too guilty to tell his mother and sister, he decided he’d rather disappear instead. Enter the hole—and enter Royal Abbott into 1968, which is when he burst out of the ground (knocking over a young Wayne Tillerson, who was lurking by the edge). Royal made his way to the nearby ranch owned by Cecilia’s family, and they promptly took him in; presumably, that’s when Royal and Cecilia’s romance began.

Royal Abbott looks pretty damn good for being, like, 150 years old. This glimpse of the past also explains a bit more about why Wayne is so fixated on the hole, too.

Autumn is Amy

Photo: Richard Foreman/Prime Video

After Amy goes off with Rebecca to parts unknown, and after Royal and Autumn nearly kill each other in a car chase gun battle that also involves a buffalo stampede, Royal realizes Autumn is Amy. (Paradoxes be damned: the two characters do actually interact in an earlier episode, and it’s unclear if either or both realized she was talking to herself.) Somehow, the granddaughter he knew to be a precocious eight-year-old is this deeply unhinged 20-something with intricate ideas about fate and destiny, a mysterious trust fund bankrolling her mostly off-the-grid lifestyle, and a deep desire to possess Abbott Ranch, even if it means killing Royal. Especially if if means killing Royal.

The family connection is what makes Royal save her and apparently forgive her; the season two trailer hints that she’s on good terms with Cecilia and Royal—as well as still with Billy, who was implied to be dead at the end of season one, but is somehow still alive? (Also still alive, per the trailer: Wayne, who had a debilitating stroke in season one, as well as Luke, who got trampled by that buffalo stampede.)

Outer Range season one surely had some missing pieces, but we’re ready to fill them in—or not—when it returns for season two. It’ll premiere May 16 on Prime Video; you can watch season one now. The soundtrack is killer, by the way.

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