‘Outer Range’ Season 2 Review: Prime Video Delivers The Best Time-Travel Show Since ‘Dark’


With the exception of Westworld, the movie as well as the HBO series, and maybe Tremors, it’s generally considered that Westerns and Sci-Fi don’t go well with each other. This sentiment was worsened by critical and box-office bombs like Wild Wild West (the movie that Will Smith apparently chose to do instead of The Matrix) and Cowboys and Aliens (it has Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde). But 2022 was a turning point for the subgenre. On the big screen, Jordan Peele gave us the tale of a tech salesman, a cinematographer, a theme park owner, and a pair of siblings trying to wrangle a Lovecraftian monster in Nope. On the small screen, Brian Watkins assembled an ensemble cast of talented actors and threw them into a time-traveling hole in Wyoming. In 2024, things are looking even better for the subgenre with the debut of the ghoulish gunslinger Cooper Howard in Fallout and the return of Outer Range.

Outer Range Season 2 starts where Season 1 left off. Royal Abbott has rescued Autumn and brought her back home because he thinks she is an older version of his granddaughter, Amy. Cecilia Abbott is distraught about the disappearance of Amy and Perry and the fact that Rhett has decided to leave Wabang with his girlfriend, Maria. Luke Tillerson has somehow survived the bison stampede that he started by opening up a rift in time and space. Wayne Tillerson has made a miraculous recovery after ingesting the mineral from the hole. Billy is surprisingly alive after being shot in the neck and has been hospitalized. Hawk has seemingly traveled to the 1800s and come across a Shoshone village. And, to top it all off, the hole in the patch of land between the Abbott and the Tillerson ranches begins to reveal how interconnected all of the aforementioned lives are while hinting at some new and trippy time-traveling superpowers.

For the first season of Outer Range, the writers used the feud between the two ranches and the time-traveling hole to fuel its central murder mystery. In comparison to that, the second season is a completely different beast. Yes, the family drama, the time travel, the visions, and the usual kookiness of the characters are all there. But the focus is on subverting the saying that “time heals everything.” The writers literally and figuratively dig into the roots of its central as well as supporting characters to show that certain incidents cause such irreparable damage that people are destined to be defined by them until they reach the end of their lives. Of course, it’s not a particularly cheerful thought, but it’s the truth. The Abbotts and the Tillersons literally meddle with each other’s lives in different timelines, while we do the same by passing on hate, pain, and ego from one generation to another in real life. Meanwhile, Joy’s arc is a little different as it delves into historical atrocities and how even a glimpse into the past can remind minorities that the benevolence of the majority communities is merely a facade.

The first season didn’t switch between timelines a lot. But Outer Range Season 2 shifts between different timelines like it’s walking from one room to another. That said, the treatment of these time periods—in terms of the cinematography, the tone, the art direction, the production design, etc.— is quite interesting. The town area and the outskirts of Wabang in the 1800s, the 1980s, and the 2020s are not really that different from each other. If a White person from the 2020s jumps into the 1980s or even the 1800s, they won’t be singled out and seen as an outsider. The same can’t be said about the indigenous characters. And that says so much about the two cultures and deepens the commentary on how one is stuck in time to cherish regression while the other is progressing to teach the importance of preserving their roots. It’s a very subtle but interesting storytelling choice. That doesn’t mean that the directors don’t swing for the fences during the show’s drug-induced moments; they absolutely do, and it’s extremely fun to watch. This season has better pacing than its predecessor. The music and the sound design are fantastic. What can I say? It’s a perfectly made show.

The performances from the cast in Outer Range Season 2 are pretty much on par with those of Season 1, and by no means do I mean that as an insult. Strangely enough, the consistency in terms of the acting brought a sense of comfort during my viewing experience. It felt like I was reuniting with people who I personally know and love. I don’t think I’ve felt this way for any ensemble cast since Dark (which is another time-travel show that you should watch if you haven’t already), and maybe this sensation is a by-product of so many shows getting unceremoniously canceled after the first season. It was really nice to see Imogen Poots, Shaun Sipos, Tamara Podemski, and Tom Pelphrey flex their acting range. Will Patton’s outbursts are truly hilarious and weirdly ominous, especially when Deirdre O’Connell is around. Josh Brolin and Lili Taylor are the gravitational center of the show, as they bring a degree of stability to the narrative amidst all the chaos. Lewis Pullman, Noah Reid, and Isabel Arraiza do some solid work on the sidelines. As for the rest of the supporting cast, they are all fantastic.

Since I’ve already brought up Dark, allow me to underscore my love for it by saying that it’s the best show I have ever watched. When it concluded its three-season run, it felt like a void had been created in my soul, and none of the shows that I came across were able to fill it. I watched Undone, Loki, The Shining Girls, and Time Patrol Bon, and while they were amazing in their own right, they failed to hit that sweet spot. That said, Outer Range is really close to being as satisfying as Dark. The family drama, the exploration of time-related issues, the vibes, the cast, the storytelling—all of it is on point. Now, given how Brian Watkins and his team of talented artists have set the stage for an intriguing third season (which hasn’t been greenlit at the time of writing this article), they simply need to stick to the landing. If they do, I’ll christen Outer Range with the title of “Best Time-Travel Show Since Dark.”

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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