Friday, April 22, 2022

REVIEW: 'Outer Range' - Royal Is Willing to Risk Everything If It Can Bring Him Closer to Meaningful Answers in 'The Loss'

Amazon's Outer Range - Episode 1.04 "The Loss"

As word spreads about the Tillerson murder, Sheriff Joy interrogates the Abbotts, forcing Royal to wager far more than he can afford to lose.

"The Loss" was written by Brian Watkins & Lucy Thurber and directed by Jennifer Getzinger

Trevor is dead. His body has been found on the Abbott ranch. The entire community can mourn the loss of a member of the most prominent family. Sheriff Joy can conduct a rigorous investigation to get to the truth. Of course, the show fundamentally wants the characters to reckon with the notion that the world isn't what they have always believed it to be. Instead, it is pure chaos. That's the message Royal gives to the sheriff after the funeral. Nothing makes sense. Things in this environment simply disappear. They may reappear at some point. That should give hope to Rebecca still being alive. The show is setting up some kind of twist in that regard. However, the Abbott family must first rally together to survive the investigation into their actions. The physical evidence on the body doesn't line up with the timeline Joy has been working under. That will force her to question everything. The Tillerson matriarch, Patricia, comes to town and immediately starts ordering everyone around. She operates with certainty. During the funeral, it's more important to identify the killer than mourn the loss of her son. She accurately pinpoints Perry. All it takes is the trepidation from him seeing the body. He can't keep a straight face. Patricia leads with that certainty. No one can prove it because of the weirdness afforded to the Abbott family thanks to the void's relation with time. It makes no sense why Trevor would reappear on that hiking trail. No one can offer an explanation for it. Cecilia is desperate for her husband to be more present and honest with her. She makes no progress in that regard. Instead, it's simply a situation where she asks him for more and he fails to meet the moment. He's too caught up in his own world questioning what's happening around him. He can't make it more accessible for his family. He can barely handle it on his own. His world is failing apart. Meanwhile, his sons are brought in for questioning. Joy pits their stories against each other in the hopes one of them will crack. That never happens. Joy doesn't get to see the tension emerging amongst this family. She can simply infer that they aren't being forthcoming with all the crucial details. They are hiding something. Of course, Royal is the only one who knows the extent of what happened in the field. He has to respond more rationally now in the hopes of preserving Amy's innocence. That only creates more problems for the family. That leads to yet another confrontation between the Abbotts and Tillersons.

The conflict was always going to be explosive. It was going to be fought over the void and the impact its having on the environment. However, it's also deeply rooted in Wayne's own connection to the supernatural. He apparently had some experience when he was a child. He knows the value that comes from the mysterious resource left behind whenever something pertaining to the void takes place. Royal picks up that mineral upon examining the new crime scene. He doesn't know what it is. Meanwhile, it drives Wayne crazy in pursuit of power. He can't wait to own the Western front of the Abbott land. He is eager to mine it for any connection to what he has apparently been chasing all his life. Of course, the audience is left completely in the dark. It's not clear why this is so valuable and important to Wayne. It takes priority above all else. That includes his own son's death. Royal is willing to risk it all to protect his family. He cheats in order to get ahead. That's the only rational way for people to conduct business in this community. Joy observes the laws. She enforces them. But people are blatantly trying to break laws because it's more convenient for them to do so. They believe Joy should be amenable to their suggestions because she is currently running for office. It's all about deal making that can secure the vote for her. That's what people want to reduce her to. She serves no purpose beyond that. And yet, she's the one investigating the murder. She needs to get to the truth. She will have to be open to the impossible though. Supernatural forces aren't responsible for Trevor's death. That outcome has a very rational explanation. Perry killed him in a blind rage. That's one mystery that isn't being withheld. The rest of the narrative projects importance onto the various dynamics. Royal becomes obsessed with the necklace Autumn wears. It resembles the residue left behind whenever he made contact with the void. At first, he bets the story of the necklace in exchange for letting her stay as long as she wants. It escalates to him taking the necklace. That's his grand prize. At this point in time, details are needed. It's not good enough for Royal to be in possession of something he knows absolutely nothing about. That creates no meaningful stakes. It's just hollow action done under the allure of purpose. It's projection instead of storytelling. That's a fatal flaw that has proven all too consistent from the first four episodes unfortunately.