Created by Brian Watkins, the Prime Video series, “Outer Range” mixes the cowboy narrative with supernatural and mystical elements, along with a hint of mythology, to captivate the viewers’ attention. At the center of the conflict is an old cowboy, Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin), who is struggling with a void in his life and is trying to fill it with something.
In his regular routine life, he spots a strange bottomless pit in the western patch of his ranch, and like Royal, the viewers too are clueless about what it is and where it leads to, or why it appeared on his land, and when? There is no answer to all these questions, yet when a tragedy strikes his family, Royal finds a use for the pit to bury his guilt and burden with the intention of protecting his family. As Royal makes contact with the element covering the pit, he gets a glimpse of the future, a future that horrifies him to the core. Let’s trace down what all happened in “Outer Range” Episodes 1 and 2 and what it may lead to.
‘Outer Range’ Episode 1: Recap And Ending
Episode 1 begins on a haunting dark night when a shirtless Royal Abbott carries a dead body on his shoulder with his voiceover overlapping the visuals. Royal tells the viewers about the Greek God of Time, Chronos, who used to carry a sickle to separate the two worlds, the known and the unknown. Royal looks at a vast, endless pit in his ranch that justifies his discussion about gods because there in front of him is an element that he doesn’t quite understand. Yet, Royal believes that it is the thing that the world has been waiting for to rescue him from his endless loop. As soon as Royal dumps the dead body in the pit, a flashlight lights up his face. Someone has seen him commit the crime, but who?
The narrative rolls back 3 days and follows Royal, who wakes up in his house where his wife, Cecilia, discusses her strange dream in which she saw her missing daughter-in-law, Rebecca, whose absence has tormented the family for 9 months now, especially Royal’s older son and Rebecca’s husband, Perry, and Perry’s daughter, Amy.
Royal has one more son, Rhett, who is trying his hand at bull riding just like his father. Royal runs the Abbott Ranch in Amelia County, Wyoming, which he inherited after his marriage to Cecilia, whose family has owned the ranch for generations. He doesn’t know his real mother or father, and when he was just 9 years old, he walked onto Abbott Farm and was later adopted by the family. That’s when Royal met the love of his life, Cecilia. But while Cecilia is a dedicated Christian, Royal doesn’t believe in God. He doesn’t remember anything from the first 9 years of his life, and that void still haunts him every day.
As “Outer Range” Episode 1 begins, Royal feels an eerie presence and hears some strange sounds around him, but fails to figure out what it is. The next day, Royal and Perry find out that there are two cattle missing from their ranch, and while they check the fences for the missing cattle, a strange hippie girl named Autumn Rivers from Boulder, comes by. Autumn tells Royal that she is a poet and is looking for some inspiration; therefore, she needs to camp on his ranch for a few days, and as soon as Autumn brings out some dollar bills, Royal lets her stay.
Royal and his sons continue their search to locate the missing cattle when, near the fences, they meet their rivals, Wayne Tillerson’s three sons, Luke, Billy, and Trevor. The eldest son, Luke, informs Royal that, as per the county assessment, his fences are nearly half a mile over the Tillerson property and thus gives him 30 days to move his fences. As they leave, Royal continues his search and arrives at the west patch of his ranch, where he spots a vast, endless pit. He tries to put his hand inside the pit and suddenly gets a vision from the future where acting sheriff Joy informs Royal and his family that the FBI is going to stop looking for Perry’s wife, Rebecca, because she has disappeared without any trace. Royal gets surprised when he enters into the same conversation as he returns back home and deciphers that maybe the pit transcends time and reveals the events that are going to happen in the future.
Royal keeps thinking about Rebecca and Tillerson’s legal notice while most of his attention is captured by the mythical pit in his ranch, which he tries to fill with soil around it. Soon, the man loses his temper and screams in agony when suddenly he spots a bison, with two arrows piercing its body (there is also a possibility that only Royal can see this creature). As the bison strolls away, Royal rides toward Autumn’s camp and strikes up a conversation with her, trying to understand her motives for living all alone in the wilderness, while Autumn, on the other hand, tries to inquire about Royal’s prospects of selling the ranch, which he bluntly refuses and moves on.
Later that night, Abbott boys Perry and Rhett get into a fight with Trevor Tillerson outside a beer bar. Rhett knocks him down and asks Perry to wait there while he brings the truck. In Rhett’s absence, Trevor picks himself up and brings Rebecca into the conversation. That rubs Perry the wrong way, and he loses his temper and throws punch after punch, probably killing Trevor on the spot. As soon as Rhett arrives, the brothers decide to load Trevor into their truck while his brothers are getting wasted in the bar.
Perry and Rhett return to their ranch, where Royal is still waiting for them. As soon as Royal finds out about Trevor’s death, he orders Rhett to clean the truck while he decides to dispose of the body himself to protect his sons. In the meantime, Luke and Billy knock on the door, and Perry tries to keep them away from the shed. Luke finally spots that someone has been riding away and starts his vehicle to follow; while in the wilderness, Royal brings Trevor’s body to the pit and dumps it into it. The scene connects to the opening sequence of “Outer Range,” Episode 1, and as Royal turns back, he finds Autumn standing in front of him with her suspicions and questions.
At the end of “Outer Range” Episode 1, it was revealed that it was Autumn who narrated the entire Chronos monologue, through which she tries to connect the origin and purpose of the pit with the Greek God of time. And as Autumn ominously speaks about Chronos, she walks towards Royal, holds him with tenderness, and suddenly pushes him into the pit.
‘Outer Range’ Episode 2: Recap And Ending
Episode 2 opens with a downpour where Royal finds himself lying unconscious on a patch of land after his strange encounter with Autumn the night before. Royal has a wound on his foot, and as he returns back home, he finds out that his boys have already told their mother about Trevor’s death. Royal and the family decide to bury the secret to protect their family, but Perry is mentally shaken.
Meanwhile, Luke calls Deputy Sheriff Joy and asks her to search for Trevor, who suddenly disappeared last night. Royal and Perry visit their lawyer, who suggests they hand over the piece of land to Tillerson without any fuss as they never lose a legal battle. Yet Royal decides to have a conversation with Wayne. As he arrives at Tillerson’s ranch, the viewers witness the old grumpy Wayne Tillerson, who is fixed with a plethora of medical equipment and is counting his days, yet his ambition to possess the world surpasses the number of days he has left. In a very vague conversation, Wayne points out his obsession with the unknown.
In Episode 1, as the pit appeared on the Abbott ranch, Wayne too felt its presence, and probably after that, he decided to snatch away the land from the Abbotts, for which he even bribed the county assessor. Royal tries to offer 200 acres of land from his south pasture to sort out the matter, yet Wayne is obsessed with the west portion, which further proves the theory that he knows about the pit or feels its presence but cannot physically travel towards it because of his medical condition. Frustrated with Wayne’s obsession, Royal decides to take the matter to court.
In the meantime, Perry’s little girl, Amy, spots Autumn walking near the hills while trying to locate some occult symbols that look like the Abbott family brand. Autumn curiously enquires about Royal and gets surprised when she finds out that he is still alive. At the same time, Royal reaches Autumn’s camp, and inside it, he finds strange stones placed on the books of Heraclitus of Ephesus and Euripides, placed above the book of quantum mechanics. The items inside Autumn’s camp and her strange behavior make Royal suspicious of her motives.
At night, Royal conveys to his family that he wants to move the cattle from the west pasture to the east pasture. His family fails to understand his motives and thinks he is losing his mind, but only Royal knows what horror lies in the west pasture and how it is slowly consuming him from the inside out. After dinner, after everyone has slept, Royal sneaks into the barn and pulls out an old picture of his parents. It can be speculated that he has been lying all this time about not knowing his parents at all, and there is some deep mystery around it, but before he can sink into the memories, Autumn suddenly enters the barn.
Autumn finally reveals to Royal that she indeed belongs to some sort of cult, and in the conversation, she asks him whether he remembers anything from his life before the age of nine. Like Royal, even Autumn is struggling with a missing past, and her curiosity or fate brought her to Amelia County. In the end, Autumn finally asks Royal what he saw in that pit and how he survived it.
What Did Royal See In The Pit?
In his first encounter with the pit, when Royal moved his hand inside, he found himself in the near future, where Cecilia informed him about Deputy Sheriff Joy. Thus, it could be deduced that Royal not only saw the future but also became a part of it, and as soon as he pulled his hand away, he was back in his timeline.
The second encounter with the pit was utterly significant because it finally defined the purpose of the pit, though the first two episodes of “Outer Range” didn’t drop many hints about its origin, except for the fact that it was somehow connected with Chronos. When Autumn pushed Royal into the pit that night, he traveled into a future timeline where he was already dead. He found himself near the pit where he witnessed huge floodlights all focused on him. He saw some army outposts nearby where soldiers were holding guns all pointed at him, while behind them, there were several oil rigs exploiting his lands.
As Royal shifted his attention, he saw Autumn dressed in a uniform that made him believe that she was either working for the government or the drilling company. He also saw Sheriff Joy and his own son standing in the crowd, and suddenly, Cecilia came out of the gathering and walked towards Royal, informing him that he had already died 2 years ago in this timeline, and this patch of land with the pit doesn’t belong to them anymore. Perhaps, Royal and his family lost the court battle with Tillerson, after which the greedy Wayne sold the land to the government to expand his “business.” As Royal tried to decipher this information, Cecilia discreetly whispered in his ears and asked him to run. As soon as she warned him, Luke came out of the crowd and pointed a gun at Royal and pulled the trigger. The bullet left a wound on his foot, which explains the bleeding that Royal found on his foot when he woke up at the beginning of episode 2.
In the original timeline, Luke may not have found Trevor’s body, but in the future one, he probably found it because Royal threw the body himself inside the pit, after which Luke swore to take revenge on Royal and hence pulled a gun on him. The army men surrounding the pit charged towards Royal, and he had no way out except to jump into the pit once again, which sent Royal back to his original timeline. Perhaps the pit served as a portal through which the living could travel in time by jumping into it.
Also, the arrows that Royal witnessed on the bison’s body near the pit could have belonged to native Americans, which further suggests the possibility that the pit works differently for different individuals and not only helps them to travel in the future but also in the past. However, the question here is why did the pit appear on Royal’s ranch and how would it help him to save his lands from the greedy Wayne Tillerson? Hopefully, the upcoming episodes will unravel the mystery further.
“Outer Range” is a 2022 Drama Supernatural Thriller series created by Brian Watkins.