Episode 2 of Outer Range begins with Autumn standing over the hole. After pushing Royal in, she grabs his severed shirt from the fence and hurries off. The Tillerson brothers, as it turns out, head over to Royal’s house but they’re told to leave when Cecilia answers the door. So where is Royal?
Well, Royal inexplicably awakens in the middle of a field. The rain pours down as his horse arrives and helps bring him back. Shirtless, he eventually stumbles through the front door where the boys and Cecilia are sitting waiting for him. Royal matter-of-factly confirms that Trevor’s body is gone but they’re worried about Autumn.
Royal sports a pretty nasty cut on his leg, a result of a blind gunshot in the night from an unknown source. “You think we’ll be forgiven for this?” Cecilia asks while stitching up Royal’s leg, as this situation involving Trevor inevitably spreads across town. Predictably, Deputy Sheriff Joy is on the case, and she passes Rhett in the morning as she heads down to the Tillerson ranch.
Luke wants the police to find Trevor, with Joy promising they’ll keep their eye on this. The vote for the new sheriff is in 28 days and there’s definite tensions here, especially when Joy mentions she’s gay. Forcing a smile, Joy takes Trevor’s bloodied belt buckle, recovered outside the bar, and decides to look into this, especially given the Tillerson boys could help swing the upcoming vote in her favour.
There’s also the situation of the land dispute between the Tillerson’s and Abbott’s. The ranch has been here for 3 generations but according to the Abbott lawyer, Tom, this is a good old fashioned “topographical f*ckjob.” The lines were drawn up a long time ago and they’re using these old land maps to take a swipe at the land the Abbott family have had.
Royal eventually decides to try and settle things up with the Tillerson family straight up, and heads over to their place. He finds a business card from the Rare Earth Society on the table, which appears to be who’s helping them.
Wayne is in bed and hooked up to monitors. When Royal heads in, he tries to negotiate the land but Wayne is an opportunist. He smiles wryly, pointing out that he’s hungry for more. He wants Royal’s pasture for the sake of it. With the State of Wyoming on his side, it doesn’t look good for Royal.
Out in the wild, Autumn finds little Amy. Autumn tells her that she feels like she’s “meant to be here” and points out some drawings of a strange sideways A she has drawn in the past. Autumn is taken aback when she learns that Royal is up and walking about, but more concerned by her drawing the same markings as that carved on a rock cropping near where she’s camped. The symbol looks a little like an A. A for Abbott perhaps?
While she’s out and about, Royal makes it to Autumn’s tent, snatches up his bloodied shirt and throws it in the hole. Royal is rattled, especially when he heads back home later that afternoon. He rambles about a great void in their life and decides they should move all the cattle away from the western pasture. He also warns the family against speaking to Autumn (something Amy admits she’s already done when she heads home.)
That night, Autumn shows up at the barn. Royal demands she leave but Autumn refuses, knowing she has a fair few secrets she’s using as leverage against him. Both throw a number of questions at one another, with Autumn admitting that she believes in fate. She used to be in a cult and admits she couldn’t remember anything before the age of 9 before she arrived at the ranch.
So what did Royal actually see in this hole? Well, Royal heard a timer flashing. With the sky bleached purple-blue, Cecilia approached and confirmed that this isn’t their land anymore.
There are numerous people standing in the distance, as Cecilia reveals that Royal has been dead for 2 years. “Run.” She whispers as Luke Tillerson steps forward and shoots him in the leg. This explains the gunshot wound he sports in the present, as everything is left on a bizarre note leading into next week’s follow-up.
The Episode Review
Outer Range has been utterly bizarre but completely gripping from start to finish. The moody atmosphere and ideas this show pedals feels like a blend of Arrival, Signs (before seeing the water-fearing alien of course) and 1883. Yep, that’s a strange mix but it works surprisingly well.
There’s definitely a lot of questions to be had for where Royal is but I would imagine that this is the future, potentially 2 years. We saw that Royal placed his hand inside this hole and temporarily saw flashes of that later that morning so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he’s jumped into the future and is seeing Tillerson and his boys take over the entire ranch.
If that’s the case though, will Royal be able to change the outcome of his own destiny? It’s certainly intriguing and the entire show has a really nice ebb and flow to it. This chapter we don’t see a whole lot of Rhett and Perry, although we do see more of Wayne and learn of his motivations, which is a good compromise.
This is a moody, atmospheric thriller and one of those shows that’s likely to have a lot of people discussing every week. What the heck is going on? Well, we’ll have to wait and see!