Prime Video’s Outer Range Opens Up in a Hole New Way in Season 2 | TV/Streaming

The show’s writing, led this time by Charles Murray, who takes over for series creator Brian Watkins, contains the same level of heady philosophizing and convoluted plotting as its inaugural season. But there’s something different about it—it feels relaxed, more well-structured, and ravenous to further pry open the pages of each character’s story through the lens of the hole. You feel this most in episode four, “Ode to Joy,” the standout episode of the season, as it follows Sheriff Joy’s years-long stay in the 1880s, among the Indigenous tribes that lived there in the final years before homesteaders drove them off. The sight of a modern Native woman, modernized in so many ways while still clinging to the culture of her people, experiencing life among their ancestors, is distinctly powerful — doubly so when it lets her witness (and participate in) a formative moment in a familiar character’s life. 

That said, the plotting isn’t without its missteps, and Murray struggles to figure out where some of the pieces Watkins gave him truly fit. Rhett and Maria are the biggest victims of this, spending half of the short season driving around thinking about leaving and the latter half standing around, never impacting the story in any real way. The Tillersons also feel scattered this season, with only Patton’s scenery-chewing in the latter half standing out (not to mention a bizarre country-Western pop music video coma hallucination from Billy, one of the show’s rare tips of the Stetson to the absurd). 

Still, the ones that do get service — Royal, Autumn, Joy — let us see the clash between what could have been and what could still be, and similar metaphysical questions about the nature of our existence. Are we always fated to be who we’ll become? Or can a change of scenery, or chronology, change that?

It’s astonishing to see “Outer Range”‘s deft command of tone, one as nihilistic and brooding as “Dark” but suffused with moments of surprising warmth and tips to the ridiculous. (That kind of camp is necessary; after all, this is a show where more characters talk about hole than a Folsom Days group chat.) Characters experience psychic visions with the help of black soil the hole produces; bodies tumble through the void while falling through it in ways not unlike the Sunken Place from “Get Out.” 

But these gestures toward the oblivion of existence feel part and parcel of the show’s bone-deep sincerity toward its characters—all of whom pivot their lives, deaths, and decisions around the existence of a simple hole in the ground and the terrifying possibilities that await them within. And the season builds to a cliffhanger that promises even more astonishing mysteries to come. Bring on Season 3, I say.

Whole season screened for review. Premieres on Prime Video today, May 16th.