Sung to the tune of TLC’s “Waterfalls,” I promise this title is going somewhere, and it does have something to do with “Outer Range,” which releases two new episodes every Friday on Prime Video. I actually felt that this episode went a bit slower than the first two initially, but the ending proved me very wrong. The mystery keeps growing, the questions keep coming unanswered, and Sheriff Joy may be starting to suspect something.
The Abbotts are trying to go about their lives with the weight of Trevor’s death hanging over them (although Royal and Autumn are still the only ones who know what happened to the body). Perry isn’t handling it well. Royal is struggling with Wayne Tillerson over the west pasture. Rhett is trying to get it on with his high school sweetheart who moved back to town. All around, things are popping off. (Check out the recaps of episode 1 “The Void” and episode 2 “The Land” to get all caught up.)
From here on, there are SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS FOR THE THIRD EPISODE, “THE TIME.”
Questioning Linear Time and Having an Existential Crisis About It
This episode, “The Time,” opens with a monologue from Royal Abbott about the creation of the Earth, and hoo boy it’s a doozy. The sequence is phenomenal, mountains and lakes growing from nothing and receding, only to grow again. Amazing work from the CGI folks. What Royal says, though, hits hard right from the beginning.
“First there was a storm of carbon and molten rock,” he starts. “And that beget granite and soil, and land shook and cracked, and rose until it spiked the sky. The forests grew and died and grew a hundred times again. The people grew, and died and grew a hundred times again. There were storms, seasons, and fences and blood, wonder and vengeance and regret. And the land and the sky didn’t give two s–ts.”
This episode is, obviously, about time. The passage of time, and its complexities. We’ve already heard the myth of Chronos from the first episode, about the creation of time. Now, we’re getting into the creation of the Earth, myth and folklore. Time is growing, becoming, passing, and the Earth doesn’t care. Almost as if it’s beyond time.
Is time linear? That’s the big question we want to hang onto. Many people say yes, there is a beginning and an end: birth and death, and everything in the middle. But if we take a minute to look at physics right quick, we can blow the concept of linear time right out of the water.
So, there’s this theory about a block universe–“a four-dimensional place where nothing happens,” says MIT physicist Max Tegmark–where past, present, and future all exist together. “Change is an illusion,” says Tegmark, “because there’s nothing that’s changing; it’s all just there.”
“Outer Range” feels like a block universe somehow, is what I’m saying. It feels like everything is happening all at once; past, present, future.
Sheriff Joy is On the Case
This episode was a bit Sheriff Joy-heavy, but she’s starting to put some pieces together, or at least trying to. In the beginning, she was very skeptical that something happened to Trevor. Apparently, he’s known for going on benders and disappearing. But, in this episode of “Outer Range,” Sheriff Joy is doing her best to appease Luke Tillerson about his brother, while singlehandedly promoting her campaign for Sheriff.
In a gas station, she picks up a vagrant who rants about people disappearing, and says his brother disappeared for “six seconds.” Sheriff Joy doesn’t believe him, of course. She’s a level-headed woman; she doesn’t believe in nonsense. She believes that what she can see and touch is the truth.
Meanwhile, Wayne Tillerson wants his son Luke to offer Royal $1 million for his west pasture. Luke refuses to do it, claiming his dad cares more about land than he does his own missing son.
Autumn, on the other hand, is wandering around the ranch when she comes upon the wounded bison. Remember, from the last two episodes? She gets close, and rips the arrows out of its side. Strangely, we don’t see that arrow again, but keep it in your mind: Autumn has an arrow that she pulled out of a weirdly calm bison. Additionally, we find out that she takes Lamotrigine when she goes into town to pick up a prescription. She either has epilepsy or bipolar disorder. We’ll have to wait and see which, but my money is on the latter.
Cecilia also has a moment in town where she thinks she sees Rebecca, Perry’s missing wife, driving down the road. Later that night, she tells Royal that she was trying to pray, but couldn’t. This is a big one for Cecilia; in contrast to her husband, she takes her faith seriously. For her to even think that she might be losing it is something important. I keep thinking about the cross-stitch hanging in the Abbott house that says “Lord Reveal Thyself To Me.” This whole show is about God keeping to himself, about questions but no answers. Will “Outer Range” ever reveal the answers to us?
Sometimes You Lose a Mountain for a Couple Seconds, No Big Deal
At the end of this “Outer Range” episode, Royal goes to make a deal with Autumn. They had a talk in the barn in the previous episode, but Royal never revealed what he saw in the void. Autumn sort of figures it out: he saw a glimpse of the future. But, he won’t tell her anything else. He makes a deal with her, that she can stay if she keeps everything quiet and leaves his family alone. But she wants more. She wants to know.
Royal says that they’ll keep talking about what he saw, but she has to keep everything a secret. He holds out his hand for her to shake. When she takes it, Royal watches the mountain in the distance disappear.
On the road, Sheriff Joy sees it disappear, too. Again, she doesn’t believe it. But, when she gets to the station, her deputy says they’ve been getting calls from people claiming that a mountain disappeared. Now, Joy is starting to think that maybe there’s something going on.
Royal and Autumn end their handshake, and the mountain reappears, like reversing a tape. He doesn’t tell Autumn what he saw, though, just turns around and leaves. Meanwhile, Amy goes out to take a hike on the path behind the ranch. She doesn’t get too far before she finds Trevor Tillerson’s body, broken and bloody, dead among the leaves.