Episode 1 of Outer Range begins on the Abbott Ranch. Royal Abbott awakens, unaware that his entire life is about to change forever. The sun pokes its lazy head above the horizon as Royal does the rounds on his horse, heading out into the pasture. While there, he begins hearing strange noises; ominous rumbles that lead him to lose track of time.
For now though we see more of the day to day life of these ranch owners. Royal’s son Rhett fails with his bull-riding while church sees everyone get involved singing and praying… except for Royal. We soon learn that his disillusionment with God is a result of Perry’s wife, Rebecca, having gone missing.
They say animals can always sense something before humans and that night, another of those ominous groans echoes across the pasture. This time though a whole flock of birds fly way.
One person who seems to know what’s happening here is Wayne Tillerson. He has connections to the Abbott family and he rings them that night after rambling to himself: “You feel it too don’t you friend. They’re here.” Wayne warns that something is coming.
In the morning, Royal counts the cattle but the numbers are down. The fences appear to be completely intact though but he and Rhett are caught off-guard by a woman named Autumn arriving wanting to stay for a while. She has a fair amount of money and the allure of that sweet green dollar is too much to turn aware in such dire times.
Autumn camps out by one of the fences, while Royal and Rhett do the rounds. They’re still hunting for their two missing cows, and the farmers split up to cover more land. On the way though, Royal uncovers a bizarre hole in the ground, with strange particles swirling lazily around. When Royal puts his hand down, flashes to the future cause him to hurriedly head back home.
The whole family are gathered, and together they learn from Deputy Sherriff Joy that the FBI are going to stop looking for Rebecca. Now, Royal is more concerned about that strange hole and after covering it up, he heads out to see Autumn and warns her to be careful.
Autumn instead broaches the subject of selling the ranch, and even offers upwards of 6 million to take it off his hands. There’s definitely something off with her, and she seems to know what Royal is up to. “Do you have any secrets you want to share?” She probes, as a mischievous smile crosses her face. It looks warm on the surface but that smile has layers of deception to it.
Rhett has problems of his own though. He’s not happy about his father’s old-school methods of farming and worries about the commercialization of the industry. He regrets the family not selling up 10 years prior and believes they’re all stuck in a rut as a result of Rebecca’s disappearance.
These issues are only made worse by land disputes that get ugly real quick, especially that night when one of the Tillerson brothers, Trevor, gets into a fight with Perry Abbott. Perry beats him to a pulp outside, battering him and subsequently killing the guy. As he scrambles to cover this up, Perry drops Trevor’s belt buckle.
Rhett drives with Perry, Trevor in the back of the truck, as they head back to the ranch. Royal is understandably not happy but works to try and cover up the body with his sons, burning the bloody clothes while Perry has to deal with the Tillerson brothers, Billy and Luke, who remain determined to find Trevor.
So where is he? Well, Royal ends up riding off with Trevor, heading straight for that strange hole. It doesn’t take long for the Tillerson’s to realize what’s happening and they ride out to track Royal down. However, he drops Trevor’s body deep into the bowels of this mysterious hole.
A blinding light from behind sees Autumn arrive with a flashlight. She wants to know what’s going on, having seen Royal throw Trevor’s body into the hole. She’s shocked and starts talking about the Greek God Kronos.
Apparently this hole is the manifestation of a tear between Heaven and Earth. Autumn promises to keep it a secret… before pushing Royal into the hole.
The Episode Review
Outer Range is the latest series of Amazon Prime and it kicks off with a moody, atmospheric opening chapter. There’s a lot to like with this one, and from the characters and setting down to the ominous vibes and sci-fi feel, Outer Range manages to blend its genres together nice and in a pretty confident way too.
The set-up is straightforward but the hour-long chapter takes its time to flesh out each of the characters and understand what their motivations are. Rhett and Perry are obviously caught in the middle of this land dispute, with the boys regretful for not selling their ranch earlier.
Meanwhile, Rebecca’s disappearance hangs heavy over the entire family as they try to make sense of what’s happened and piece their life together.
Of course, then there’s the hole itself. I don’t want to compare this to Arrival just yet, but there are definite similarities and the show has a lot of promise this early on that it could follow suit.
With two episodes releasing a week, there’s a nice model with this one and thankfully we don’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next after that agonizing cliffhanger!