Episode 4 of Outer Range begins nine months ago with Wayne receiving a chunk of rock from out west on the Abbott Ranch. After ordering the worker to leave it on the desk, the strange rock seems to have the same black inky markings inside that move around just like what we saw with Autumn’s necklace. So naturally, Wayne picks it up and starts dancing about with it. As you do.
Meanwhile, Joy heads out to Royal’s ranch and beyond, intending to go hunting for Trevor. She’s also still vigilant over the belt buckle incident, believing Royal could have taken it. For now, she gathers the family together, but Rhett is not there, prompting her to message the other officers and decide to keep an eye on him.
In the meantime, Joy questions the family and, in particular, Amy. Through Amy’s eyes, Joy visualizes an account of that night and t also seems to reinforce her suspicions about Rhett rather than Perry, given he wasn’t at home the night of Trev’s disappearance. Perry covers for him though, claiming he was out with a girl that night.
Now, time is of the essence and both Joy and Royal know this. Given Rhett is unaware of the body and what happened, Perry tries desperately to phone him before Joy can question his movements and completely blow their cover. Rhett rejects the call. At least to begin with anyway. Eventually he does pick up and tell the officer that he was with a girl (Maria), covering for the family.
Of course, news of this reaches Wayne and the Tillerson brothers, who are understandably distraught over what’s happened. While they’re grief-stricken, Perry heads out into the woods where he finds Autumn. Perry doesn’t trust her but does hand over his business card before walking away. Speaking to Cecilia, Royal admits he has no idea how the body ended up on the woods.
Royal is also standoffish, especially when Cecilia questions whether Autumn may have been responsible for moving Trevor. Royal is exasperated, continuing to keep secrets from the family regarding the hole. However, he does find a rock out in the wood. He brings it back to the barn and smashes it to bits.
Joy intensifies her questioning, turning her attention away from Rhett and instead to Maria, who cracks and confirms that she wasn’t actually with Rhett after all. This white lie sees her like a rabid dog, gnashing at both Rhett and Perry, questioning both of them individually about what happened to Trevor. Naturally, she turns them both against one another, and it looks to be working… until Royal shows up and takes them home.
Tensions are still palpable between the brothers as Royal heads off to visit Karl, the Count Assessor. Royal finds him eating potato chips and nonchalant to the whole ordeal. He cuts into what Royal is saying when he tries to talk about the West Pasture.
Eventually Royal snaps and threatens Karl, promising that he’s going to be acquainted with a big hole in the ground, knowing that he’s been paid off by the Tillerson’s. Royal is not messing around and after leaving him a shell shocked mess, decides to leave. However, Karl immediately moves the hearing up to next week, not responding well to threats. But of course, he does respond well to bribes!
Joy heads to the coroners office, where the autopsy report comes in. Now, according to the report Trevor has been dead less than 10 hours and he died from blunt force trauma to his windpipe. The wound is completely clean, while ending up on a mountain is another anomaly that can’t be explained. Despite it being 8 days since Trevor went missing, the 10 hour reveal is a big spanner in Joy’s investigative effort.
For now, the town attend Trevor’s funeral where Autumn shows up. After the procession and another trademark Billy song (not Angel Of The Morning this time, surprisingly!) Autumn ends up gambling with the boys in the dark recesses of the bar.
Royal sits opposite her though as the pair play. It’s a really tense moment, especially as we don’t know exactly who Autumn is and what her ties are. And that’s something Royal is willing to bet on. In fact, if he wins he wants to know her entire story – including the truth about that “rock around her neck.”
If she wins though, Autumn will be allowed to stay on the ranch indefinitely. Royal ups the stakes and allows her to have the western pasture in its entirety… if she gives up the necklace. Naturally, Royal wins with a better hand, thanks in part to cheating his way to success.
Wayne heads out in the middle of the night and acts as a man possessed, determined to find what may be out on the western pasture. Following a strange light, he eventually comes across that huge, gaping hole in the ground. Royal is there too though and he eventually headbutts the old man, knocking him out… or so he thought. Wayne stands back up and strikes Royal instead, knocking him out with that strange rock he obtained earlier in the episode.
The Episode Review
Outer Range storms back with a longer episode, developing parts of the mystery while also adding extra dimension to Joy’s investigative efforts. The show has done well so far to really lean into the moody, atmospheric feel of this one but it’s also done it at the expense of more consistent pacing.
At a little over an hour, parts of this chapter do meander on and in the end the big reveal with Trevor showing up on the mountain seems to bring Joy back to square one in regards to this case.
However, there’s a lot to like with this and the show has a really gripping mystery at its heart. It is a little slow but it’s also likely to be one of those sci-fi mystery boxes that will get people talking.
There’s definitely enough to sink your teeth into with Outer Range though, which leaves everything hanging precariously on a knife-edge ready for next week’s chapter.