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Outer Range


The second season of sci-fi western Outer Range pushes rancher Royal Abbott to the limits

Outer Range may be described as “lo-fi sci-fi” by its new showrunner, Charles Murray, but the neo-western certainly has no lack of head-scratchers. The premise: A Wyoming rancher discovers a mysterious black hole on the edge of his property. The endless void, however, is only the beginning of Royal Abbott’s (Josh Brolin) problems. His neighbours are threatening to take his ranch. His son Perry (Tom Pelphrey) accidentally kills the neighbour’s son in a bar fight, after being taunted about the disappearance of his wife Rebecca (Kristen Connolly). There is a mysterious, manipulative visitor named Autumn (Imogen Poots), causing problems on the Abbott property. And when Royal discovers Autumn is, in fact, the adult version of his granddaughter Amy (Olive Abercrombie), delivered to them by the void, the family patriarch is surprisingly accepting of the news. Why? Because Royal hails from 1886, when he, himself, fell into the black hole and traveled to the 1960s.

Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured: Olive Abercrombie is Royal’s teenage granddaughter, Amy Abbott.
© Amazon Content Services LLC
Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured: Imogen Poots is Autumn Rivers, a woman shrouded in mystery.
© Amazon Content Services LLC

Time travel can be a fun element to play with, but that was not what drew Murray to the series. “It is the kind of sci-fi that I love — just regular folks moving through their day, and the next thing you know, what the hell is happening?” he says, asking, “What would you do if you were a regular person caught in this situation? A big spaceship, so to speak, decides it’s going to make its presence known, and they’re regular people having to deal with this outstanding circumstance. They’re going to deal with it the same way ranchers would deal with anything that’s bigger than them, the same way that they would deal with their house being foreclosed or all of their cattle getting sick.”

Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured: Megan West as Young Cecilia and Christian James as Young Royal.
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If the first season dealt with the secrets kept by individuals of the Abbott family, the second season is about what happens when answers are revealed. “Thematically, season two is, ‘truth hurts,’” says Murray. “Royal gets this big reveal at the end of season one, with Autumn. Does he continue to keep secrets or does he share them with the person who means the most to him, who is also going through a lot of pain right now? What happens after he decides to share that truth?’” Meanwhile, Perry — out on bail for the murder of Trevor Tillerson (Matt Lauria ) — has hurdled into the hole in search for answers. Where does Perry land? “Close to home,” reveals Murray, adding that the eldest Abbott brother is on a necessary path of self-reflection. “He has to see himself as other people have seen him, and he either has to make peace with it or he has to continue to live in the chaos that’s inside him.”

Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured: Devious neighbour Wayne Tillerson (Will Patton).
© Amazon Content Services LLC

Perry’s not the only one with an identity crisis. With the discovery that Autumn is Amy comes some introspection for the mercurial visitor. “I think a lot of what is behind Autumn’s ferocity is the lack of information about who she is,” says Poots. “The end of season one is so discombobulating. It’s torturous. In season two, to have this piece of information for her to process — and be able to contemplate her own mother and where she’s from — the undertaking of that is a huge task for her, emotionally, but also a very beautiful thing to hold within her. Whether she uses that for good is another question.”

Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured: Tom Pelphrey plays Royal’s son, Perry Abbott.
© Amazon Content Services LLC

There’s undoubtedly more chaos in store, with Murray referring to Autumn as the villain of the story. “I’m using villain very loosely, but it’s someone who has chosen their own path regardless of what it does to anyone else,” he says. “What I loved about how season one ended was that, as sure as she was all the way through, chaos entered her life and threw her completely off balance. It gave us a place in season two to say, she needs to take a step back before she goes forward. And in taking a step back, she actually gets more ammo to lean into who she believes she is and what she thinks is supposed to happen. How she responds to it is key for whatever future is to come — if there’s a future.”

Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured: Deputy Sheriff Joy Hawk (Tamara Podemski).
© Amazon Content Services LLC
Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured: Cecilia Abbott (Lili Taylor) and husband Royal (Josh Brolin).
© Amazon Content Services LLC

As it continues to play with time and tone, the show remains a vast playground for its actors. “What we were given are these brilliantly drawn characters in this wild and strange tone. We haven’t seen it before — this kind of expansive and psychedelic quality of this show,” says Noah Reid, who plays Tillerson brother Billy, presumed dead at the beginning of the second season. Tamara Podemski who plays Deputy Sheriff Joy Hawk concurs. “On a regular show, it would take many years to watch [a character] grow, but because of time travel, we get the opportunity to throw them into a situation where that development, that maturity can happen in a really condensed time,” she says. All of this is then encased in the well-loved genre of a Western. “The pure Americana of each man for himself, and man against environment — people love that part,” says Podemski. “But all of these tropes and these historical romantic notions deserve a reframing. Thankfully we’re in a moment in film and television where people are really into bringing their own lens and experience to it. I’m so grateful that audiences want it, too.”

Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured: Noah Reid as Billy Tillerson.
© Amazon Content Services LLC
Outer Range on Prime Video. Pictured: Autumn Rivers (Imogen Poots).
© Amazon Content Services LLC

Outer Range, streaming on Prime Video

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