‘Outer Range’ Is a Trippy New Spin on the Western
5/5 black holes.
Do you like a good western but feel exhausted by the same rinse-and-repeat story about needing more land or tending to the cattle? Then Amazon Prime’s Outer Range is the show for you! The first two episodes are out today, and it’s been compared in other reviews to Lost and rightfully so. The show takes us to the Abbott ranch, where Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin) lives with his family: his two sons Perry (Tom Pelphrey) and Rhett (Lewis Pullman), his wife Cecilia (Lili Taylor), and his granddaughter Amy (Olive Ambercrombie).
Created by Brian Watkins, the series is labeled as a mystery thriller, and it is just that, in the best of ways. It has all the right beats of a classic western mixed with whatever is happening to Royal Abbott, and it doesn’t feel like the same thing we’ve seen over and over again.
In the first two episodes, we’re thrust into a battle between the Abbott family and the Tillerson family and the mystery surrounding the death of Trevor (and it’s connection to Perry), but beyond that, we’re also ushered into the mystery of Royal Abbott himself. It’s established quite quickly that Royal came to Cecilia’s family farm after escaping from his family, though he has no idea why he was running, and the two have been together ever since.
Combine that with the mystery of Perry’s missing wife, and there’s enough to keep the audience wrapped in the story to see where this is all headed because when the elusive Autumn (played by Imogen Poots) shows up trying to escape and just live on the Abbott’s land, things just get progressively weirder. That and there’s a giant black hole on their land that Royal keeps going out to look at that seems to be a portal of some sort.
This show also features Josh Brolin just constantly shirtless, so there’s that. I will also say that the casting of Brolin as the father of 39-year-old Tom Pelphrey, who is only 14 years his junior, is weirdly refreshing to see, given that it is usually women being cast too young to be someone’s mother. (Also, Lewis Pullman is the son of actor Bill Pullman, and once you learn that information, you cannot unsee it.)
Not your typical western
What’s so great about Outer Range is that it’s something fresh while having the feel of a western in all the right ways. There’s battling families, single fathers (look at you Tom Pelphrey in all that plaid), and men trying to unpack their feelings in less than healthy ways—the standards of a western. But it also doesn’t shy away from the fact that it is also bringing in these sci-fi elements, and it masters the art of giving us just enough information to keep us coming back.
The end of episode two sets up one of the biggest “WHAT?” moments that I’ve seen in recent years in a television show like this, and it does remind me of how Lost used to make me feel watching it each week, and it’s a great new addition to that genre of television show.
Come for the horses on Outer Range, stay for single dad Tom Pelphrey being so sad and trying to figure out how to live his life without his wife and raising their daughter.
(image: Prime Video)
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