Outer Range Season 2 TV Review

Outer Range Season 2 TV Review
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Josh Brolin returns in this unique science fiction neo-western that may be the weirdest show you are not watching.

Outer Range Season 2 TV Review 3

Plot: The mystery surrounding the enigmatic void on the west pasture of the Abbott family ranch deepens as Royal and his wife Cecelia struggle to keep their family together in the aftermath of their granddaughter’s sudden disappearance. The stakes have never been higher for the Abbotts, who now face threats on multiple fronts with profound and unforeseen circumstances that could shake the very foundations of time itself.

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REVIEW: With so many shows on television and streaming platforms, it can be nearly impossible to distinguish yourself from the pack. While Outer Range may be a complex blend of genres, the first season was unlike anything else. Blending elements of everything from Yellowstone to Arrival and The Twilight Zone, Outer Range ended its first season with some substantial cliffhangers, while the second season wastes no time diving right into the murky complexity of this story of multiverses, parallel timelines and so much more. Where the first season tried its best to deliver a mysterious narrative through a main sequence of events, Outer Range goes completely bonkers for the sophomore run of episodes, which will likely require viewers to have a pen and lots of paper handy to keep track of what is happening. While that may sound like homework to some, to myself and others, it makes for an immersive viewing experience that requires active participation rather than casual enjoyment.

The first season of Outer Range introduced the Royal family. Led by Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin) and Cecilia (Lili Taylor), the owners of an expansive ranch in Wyoming. When Royal stumbles upon a mysterious and massive hole in his western pasture, it opens up a complex web of converging elements involving his neighbor and rival rancher Wayne Tillerson (Will Patton), a mysterious stranger named Autumn (Imogen Poots), and more. As the first season came to a close, it was distinctly hinted that Autumn may be an older version of Royal’s granddaughter Amy (Olive Abercrombie) and that Royal himself was born in 1873 and traveled through time via the massive hole. All of this came through rodeo conflicts, car crashes, and musical numbers sung by Billy Tillerson (Noah Reid) that made the first season bizarre viewing. Having seen the entire seven-episode run of Outer Range’s second season, you have no idea how weird this show can get.

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It is virtually impossible to say much about this season without spoiling plot details, but I can say that the narrative splits the characters across multiple timelines and universes. In one timeline, characters are thrust into the 19th century, as hinted at by visions of indigenous people through the first season and the destructive herd of bison that ran through the prior season finale. Another timeline takes the action back just a few decades, revealing past details about the Abbott and Tillerson families that have major consequences for the present day. Each of these timelines is intercut into each episode, making for a challenging narrative to follow. Complex connections involving a degree of what may or may not be time travel that will hurt your brain if you think about them too hard. I am still not sure I exactly follow how everything comes together at the end of the second season, but I have not enjoyed being this confused since Lost was in its heyday.

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Outer Range Season 2 TV Review 4

Outer Range is chock full of fantastic performances, this season led by increased screen time for Shaun Sipos as Luke Tillerson and Tamara Podemski as Deputy Sheriff Joy Hawk. Tom Pelphrey also gets a solid focus as Perry Abbott gets more direct interaction related to the time-warping black hole on his family’s land. Lili Taylor and Will Patton are as great as they always are and, thankfully, get more to do this season than before. Imogen Poots cuts a mysterious figure as Autumn’s true motivations deepen her relationship with Royal at the risk of everything he has built as the patriarch of the Abbott clan. While Noah Reid’s role is somewhat reduced this season, I was glad to see Lewis Pullman get more time as Rhett alongside his new love interest, Maria, played by Isabel Arraiza.

Created by Brian Watkins, Outer Range boasts an almost entirely new roster of writers and directors for its second season. Led by Gwyneth Horder-Payton with the first two episodes, subsequent chapters are helmed by Blackhorse Lowe, Catriona McKenzie, and Josh Brolin in his directorial debut. Watkins leads the writing staff including Dagny Looper, Jenna Westover, Douglas Petrie, Cameron Litvack, Glenise Mullins, and more. The fact that the behind-the-scenes crew is almost entirely different is not visible on screen as Outer Range manages to have an ethereal quality that is at once deeply entrenched in the balance of westerns and art-house indie films while still delivering a melodramatic serial quality that reminds me of Yellowstone. There is a family drama, backstabbing, twists, and turns that all feel right at home in a Taylor Sheridan series but enhanced by the curious and confusing lilt of the genre elements of this story.

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Condensing the complex elements of Outer Range was challenging when I reviewed the first season and damn near impossible this time around. I watched all seven episodes in a binge session, which kept the plot threads easier to track, and I still needed to go back to prior episodes to ensure I was on the right track as to where things were going. The fact that this series is as complex as it is will be an instant turn-off for viewers unwilling or unable to invest their full attention, especially since Prime Video premiered each episode across weeks rather than in a season dump. I applaud the maturity of this series and that Outer Range does not dumb itself down to be accessible to the widest audience possible. This is a complex series for fans of complex stories, and the more you put into it, the deeper it pulls you in. The hole in the Abbott family’s western pasture may have a gravitational field that reaches through television screens because I am just as hooked this year as I was when the first season debuted. Be warned that some questions are answered this season, but far more mysteries are presented for the inevitable third season.

Outer Range season two premieres on May 16th on Prime Video.

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