Sunday, April 17, 2022

REVIEW: 'Outer Range' - Royal and Autumn Are Confused Over Their Destined Purpose on the Abbott Land in 'The Land'

Amazon's Outer Range - Episode 1.02 "The Land"

The Abbott family frantically conspires to cover up their crimes but can't piece together what has happened to Royal.

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

A void now exists on the Abbott land and Royal needs answers. He can't simply let the mystery be. A profound experience happened. And now, he must protect those he loves before that dire future can come to pass. That urgency is already apparent in the present. The family is left covering up Trevor's murder. Luke believes he can intimidate Sheriff Joy into investigating his brother's disappearance by threatening to campaign against her in the local election. Cecilia, Perry and Rhett want to be on the same page. They look to Royal for clarity. He has to tell them what he's comforting letting them know. Right now, that doesn't include the hole. He keeps that to himself. It motivates all of his actions. It leaves his family feeling isolated. They believe he has lost his mind. He is spiraling as a result of what they did. He has become more unpredictable because he was forced to cover up for a murder. And so, the family can't do anything else that may further set him off. He operates with absolute clarity regarding Trevor's body never being found. He is certain about that even though he returned from his venture inside the hole. Autumn can offer no rational explanation for why she pushed him in. Instead, it's all about her feeling like she belongs in this place. This land has been calling out to her for years. She is finally here. She doesn't know why. It's just important. As such, she has to give into these urges whenever they arise. She must trust that her instincts are right. She pushed Royal inside. He acts more strangely amongst his family. It's noticeable to everyone including Amy. It's not concerning to them just yet. Of course, the audience knows to challenge the nature of his new reality. He carries the burden even though for the longest time it seems like he didn't experience anything profound inside the void. He simply woke up afterwards without all his memories of what happened the night before. He returns to his family with injuries though. Those have to be covered up too. He leads himself with urgency. He must stop Wayne's threat to take more Abbott land. That too is a plot point mostly because these characters are motivated by greed and ego. It's all about the hunt. They can never receive full clarity about the world. They have the resources to pursue whatever their hearts desire. In this case, it's a battle over land where Royal knows how important it is while Wayne can only infer some priority. It's basically the show knowing to throw these characters into conflict without always having a justifiable reason for why it should exist in the first place. That's troubling.

A mystery-based show doesn't have to ultimately provide every answer in order to succeed. Some narratives design themselves entirely around the mystery though. The characters are completely secondary. That's the impulse here. Everyone has various interests outside of the void. It leaves them uncertain how to respond when Royal prays over how distant God is. It's simply cruel for him to continue playing with humanity. Royal has no reason to believe in a higher power. Cecilia is distraught because her family is hurting and she doesn't know how to give them the support they need. It's simply turmoil all the time. That's all that they know. They can't be apart. They have to remain together. They can't be left to their own devices. Perry can't handle the guilt of what he did to Trevor. Of course, that's not really a concern with Rhett. His bull-riding career is revived because a qualifier was exposed for using performance-enhancing drugs. Rhett receives that news while Maria also agrees to go out on a date with him. His future looks bright. The show wants to play around with time though. It wants to trick certain characters into feeling good while others are distraught. That way their fates can turn as the story plays out. Cecilia is certainly devastated in the moment. She still maintains a great deal of power. In the glimpse of the future, she is concerned for Royal. She wants him to run. However, his presence defies all rational logic. He is destined to die in her arms. He leaves her behind with this giant mess to figure out. The family land will be taken away so the government can mine it. Royal would love to place all the blame onto Autumn. She is still in the picture two years later. She represents power. That's how she responds to the very random questions Royal asks. They are bonded over this secret. Royal can't make sense of any of it. That baffles him. He can't keep it to himself for much longer. That would create a very insular narrative. One that is limited in its scope. The world needs to expand further so the audience has a chance to connect with these characters. The narrative simply can't offer strangeness and hope that's enough for the viewer to care. It needs more complexities than that. It can't be withholding with character motivations either. That's distracting and may only confirm how the priority remains on the mystery and not with the characters meant to endure the twists and turns no matter what they are.