Sunday, April 17, 2022

REVIEW: 'Outer Range' - A Discovery on the Ranch Amplifies the Tragic Uncertainty of Life for the Abbott Family in 'The Void'

Amazon's Outer Range - Episode 1.01 "The Void"

Wyoming rancher Royal Abbott discovers an unfathomable mystery at the edge of his property, setting in motion a catastrophic chain of events.

"The Void" was written by Brian Watkins and directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios

The Abbott family is reeling from personal tragedy. Perry's wife has been missing for over a month. The FBI is giving up the search for her. Local police are still incentivized to find answers. The Abbott family wants that clarity. And yet, they are starting to accept that she won't be coming back to them alive. It's unlikely she ran away and abandoned her daughter. Perry refuses to believe that. It doesn't track with everyone's understanding of her. That's just one of the mysteries playing out in the premiere. It's an event that happened before the start of the series. It informs character. It leaves them raw with these uncertain emotions. However, Royal makes the big discovery of some kind of cosmic void on his family ranch. For several days, he is able to keep the secret. He is concerned about someone stumbling upon this discovery as well. He can't make sense of it. It's no longer good enough for him to believe in God's plan. His wife Cecilia still has that devotion to their faith. Royal seems to have lost it a long time ago. Now, he responds much more practically. He can't allow anyone in his family to slack off on their chores. The ranch still has to conduct business despite all the turmoil they are enduring. That only builds and grows across this premiere as well. Royal receives no clarity about the hole. He can't fill it up. Nothing he throws into it offers a reasonable estimate of how deep it is. When Royal sticks his hand into it, he reaches a vision of the future. He is aware the local sheriff is at the house before he returns to hear her distressing news. Royal wants to protect his family. They must stay united. That's become increasingly more difficult to do. It's about so much more than the struggling business as well. Autumn arrives on the land as a mysterious wild card. She is interested in camping. Royal indulges in her request. However, she also strikes up a conversation about buying this place. She has the money and resources to allegedly make life better for this family. It would simply be stripping them away from the identity that has defined the family for generations. Royal found a home on this land. Cecilia represents a legacy. Things are happening beyond their control. They can't escape it. Nor does anyone show a strong desire to. Maria notes Rhett wanted to escape this place the first chance he could. He didn't follow though on that ambition. And so, everyone remains stuck. This new mystery may force them to adapt to something new while forcing them to question the nature of their reality.

All of this builds to Perry killing Trevor and Royal deciding to cover up the crime. He throws the body into the hole with the expectation that it will never be found. As such, the Tillerson family will have to endure the same uncertainty that has plagued the Abbott family for a month now. They will never know the truth unless Perry or Rhett break. That may still be a distinct possibility. They are racing against the clock to cover up what they did. Everything is intense. They can't deny that either. They simply have to work together as well as they can to ensure Royal's plan is enacted. Even then, he is caught discarding the body. Autumn represents the true threat to his livelihood. That's stated clearly when she pushes Royal into the hole as well. That's how her curiosity presents itself. With Royal, he had to be tentative with every action because he didn't want this mystery to suddenly take him away from his family. That may still be the end result. Of course, it's unlikely the premiere spends the majority of its time with Royal only to kill him off in the end. That would certainly be a bold move. And yet, it's structured around his story being closely connected with Autumn's. The opening voiceover features Royal detailing the story of the Greek god Kronos. In the climatic moment, Autumn is the one sharing that same information. It highlights the full circle nature of what was teased in the beginning. The show clearly said this was all building to some lethal event with Royal at the center of it. It could lure the audience in. It provided some answers right away. However, the mystery persists. Royal has been at the center of it all. He won't remain the only character in the loop. The hole presents as central to the entire series. Sure, other plot details are involved as well. Rhett is a bull rider. He wants to achieve success in the profession even though it continues to elude him. Meanwhile, Maria is back in town after burning out from college. Rhett loves her but gets distracted before being able to act on that crush once more. The Tillerson family is trying to take over more land from the Abbott ranch. They have the legal means to do so with Royal being left completely clueless as to what to do. But again, everything ultimately pivots around the hole. That mystery will define everything. And so, the show needs to be a little more certain and brisk with its narrative ambitions.