Audiences are willing to suspend disbelief for a time. They’re willing to sit back and enjoy the ride, especially when the puzzles presented are so inviting, so captivating that they dare not look away for fear of missing some fatal clue, some principle reveal that helps bring everything into a new perspective. I suspect that the trick – so far as storytellers are concerned – is properly balancing that waiting game against a relative drip-drip-drip of information long enough to maintain interest without creating unhelpful chaos. Viewers need to be rewarded – even in small ways – if they’re to hang around for a wild ride.
That said, Outer Range managed to squeeze in a pretty significant reveal into its eighth hour – “The West” – even though it’s one close watchers had suspected since very early: the episode confirmed that Autumn Rivers is, in fact, the grown slightly older – and much crazier – Amy Abbott. (I don’t recall when I first began wondering as such, but it was definitely much earlier in this first season.) Creator and screenwriter Brian Watkins also slipped in a little something extra with that surprise that may’ve gone over most folks heads: things are not – as Autumn has contended – set in stone.
How do we know?
Well, it’s a delicate supposition, at best, but when the Range first introduced Autumn – that fresh-faced traveler who seemingly happened across the Abbott Ranch in the beginning – there was no scar on her forehead. (For the uninitiated, Amy was cut by glass flying about when the Abbott family started exchanging blows in the final moments of hour six.) Now – when Royal’s kneeling over Autumn’s injured body after the buffalo stampede – he sights the scar, and realization washes over him by way of the narrative flashback. No scar. Now scarred. This confirms to the man that (finally) he’s on the right track by seeking to change those events he’s seen of his own future.
Still, the question remains: what more might Royal know?
Actor Brolin has mustered a helluva lot of anger in his portrayal opposite Ms. Wacky Rivers. (!!!) That might be the understand of the season’s review, especially given the fact that the man (whose past secret we now know) has grown downright homicidal in the process. “The West” truly culminated in the modern version of an old West style showdown – complete with appropriate Sergio Leone style music cues – and saw Royal, Billy Tillerson, and Autumn racing one another down not so much as on horseback as they were by pickup trucks. Though Billy’s demise looked certain, Autumn was left crawling away as Royal approached to deliver the kill shot when …
A herd of buffalo changed the course of time.
Well, because Watkins treated us once again to a significant scene that others may’ve overlooked: after the stampede has moved away, that lone buffalo – the one with the arrows? – shows up once more. An episode of two back, Autumn plucked one of the arrows from its hide, and – in this moment – Royal removes the other, allowing the beast to then wander off yet again into the wild. An injured beast is now (somewhat) injury free thanks to the separate but related assistance from the show’s mortal enemies: Autumn and Royal. Together, they’ve changed time, yet neither know it. Their individual acts have now been united, and the rancher is rewarded with the revelation that she’s his granddaughter.
But from when?
“The West” – that expansive territory mankind is still trying to tame – chucked in a few other surprises of note.
Sheriff Hawk quite literally walked herself out of her present existence and into something long ago, all without any explanation. Billy not only confessed to naming a stuffed owl after brother Luke, but also he promised his elder that he’s happily sign over the ranch to him if dear ol’ dad Wayne kicks the bucket. In response, Luke seemingly commits his life to finding the portal, which has seemingly vanished, and has begun digging holes across the Abbott’s west pasture. Rhett Abbott makes peace with his anger, wins the rodeo bull-riding contest, and promptly leaves town with the love of his life, Maria. Cecilia Abbott officially loses her farm and her mind. And Rebecca Abbott magically returns, somehow knowing exactly when and where to find her young daughter Amy at just the right moment, explaining curiously that she had to disappear … until now.
The way most shows do these days, Outer Range closed with a series of small(ish) cliffhangers, tempting viewers that there’s more to come … should Amazon Prime pick up the option for renewal. No word has been forthcoming as of yet. I, for one, would welcome a return to the place as I think it’s now poised to truly show us something a bit more special than Season 1 did.