Outer Range S1E1: “The Void” Opens Onto the Unknown

Royal, seen from behind, approaches the circular hole in the middle of a field
Courtesy of Amazon Prime

The following contains spoilers for Outer Range S1E1, “The Void” (written by Brian Watkins and directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios)

Outer Range S1E1 (“The Void”) is bookended by a monologue about Chronos. At the beginning, this is in the voice of Royal (Josh Brolin) as the stage is set for the series, while at the end the words come from the mouth of Autumn (Imogen Poots), before she pushes Royal into the weird circular “hole” he’s discovered out there on the range. The lines are the same, and the repetition brings home a running theme about time, so one has to wonder whether the time at play is cyclical in nature.

Chronos is supposed to have spawned an egg that hatched Phanes. I’m led to wonder whether the hole in Outer Range is the egg, or if it is Chaos, and if I’m going to need to delve into Greek mythology quite a bit more as an interpretive framework for the show. One thing I can line up is that the void of the title of Episode 1 is probably better conceived of along the lines of chaos than those of pure nothingness. You have a notion of a kind of positively charged void prior to the creation of the cosmos (which is by definition ordered), so we could see this spot on the Abbott ranch as a kind of rift or opening onto that primordial chaos.

When Royal tests it out by sticking his hand into it, he gets a flash of the future. The things he throws in seem to disappear, but it’s worth noting that it’s not at all clear that they do. Maybe they go somewhere else. I think Royal is perfectly open to that possibility when he decides to throw Trevor’s (Matt Lauria) body in, and is just pushed to this decision by the exigencies of the situation.

Rhett stands in the kitchen next to a refrigerator
Courtesy of Amazon Prime

Perry (Tom Pelphrey) beat Trevor to death for his stupid comments, and I don’t quite know what it says about me that I just basically thought Trevor had it coming. Regardless, his brothers are pretty suspicious and I can’t imagine throwing the body into the void will be the end of this storyline. Maybe dead Trevor will appear somewhere else (or some when else?), but either way I think we’re just getting going.

What exactly Autumn is up to, and what she knows, is a big mystery coming out of Episode 1. I’d like it personally if she was just kind of unhinged enough of a person to push Royal into the void with no idea of what would happen whatsoever, but she definitely comes across with a vibe like she’s withholding secrets.

This would be my one criticism of Outer Range, in fact. At least through its first episode, the series has a way of being perhaps a little too on the nose in its dialogue. Autumn practically says that she has secrets, and makes the link between Chronos and chronology explicit, when I’d like to think that pretty much anyone could figure that out, if they didn’t already know the etymological link. I wish Outer Range would trust its audience a little bit more, but I suppose it’s not uncommon for pilot episodes to feel a little rough around the edges in precisely this way.

Autumn stands holding a shirtless Royal by the arms
Courtesy of Amazon Prime

Another mystery that stems from before the beginning of Outer Range is what happened to Rebecca. Joy (Tamara Podemski) comes to tell the Abbotts that the FBI is giving up their efforts to search for her in a meaningful way, and it’s Trevor’s comments about her that set Perry off, but we don’t get very much information about Rebecca here in Episode 1. I expect whatever happened to her will be more complicated than a simple disappearance, kidnapping or murder, but maybe that’s just due to the general tone of Outer Range and the weird void hole in the ground. It’s possible Rebecca’s fate was completely mundane.

Royal, Rhett and Perry stand in a row, wearing cowboy hats
Courtesy of Amazon Prime

We only see Wayne (Will Patton) briefly in S1E1, but he seems keyed into whatever is going on. One has to guess that his interest in claiming Abbott land as his own even stems from it.

There is a buffalo that appears more than once over the course of the hour, with a couple of arrows sticking from its hindquarters. While this doesn’t seem entirely out of the ordinary in Wyoming (it’s even the state animal), the arrows in particular make me wonder if this particular buffalo has traveled through time.

It’s fitting that Outer Range is set in the American West, which has long been an exemplar of the frontier of civilization and continues to serve as such a symbol. It would seem the series is set to play with those tropes but push them further into the unknown.

There’s the frontier in terms of the boundary of ordered human civilization, but then there’s the void as a frontier with regard to ordered Being itself.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. Has the world, indeed, been waiting for something like this?

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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