Review of "Outer Range" 1.3-4
Twin Peaks Out West
So it occurred to me, as I was watching the enthralling third and fourth episodes of Outer Range, that this new series on Amazon Prime has a lot of Twin Peaks in it. I mean, an investigation of a murder against a backdrop that has a Philip K. Dickian mind-bending vibe is a rare thing, with a pulsing potential to be memorable if it's done up right. If Deputy Sheriff Joy, one of my favorite characters (and being played really well by Tamara Podemski) expresses a joy in cherry pie, I may be on to something.
Outer Range is one strange bird, if I may mix metaphors, and getting stranger by the episode. In the third and fourth episodes, and linguistically evocative also of Twin Peaks, we have a mountain disappearing right in front of our eyes. This gives the time shifting or time traveling or whatever exactly is going on a much longer timeline. If we're talking about mountains coming and going, we're entering the NBC series La Brea territory, and even further back than that.
Autumn probably has the most knowledge of what's going on at this point, and she's not saying too much, despite her smile and her seeming willingness to answer every question. On the other side of the being informative curve, it's not clear how much of what happened to Royal (good portrayal Josh Brolin), when he spent the better (or worse) part of the dead of night in that waterhole, is something he either doesn't really remember or doesn't want to talk about. I hope his wife Cecilia keeps pushing him for a briefing, and he does more than looked pained when she walks away, frustrated, because he's not talking.
He does have a lot on his mind. A dead body is bad news in the most normal of times, and Outer Range is most assuredly not normal. Wayne (well played by Will Patton) knows a little more than what he's saying, too, and the fact that he's more focused on that west pasture than who killed his son, says a lot, too.
But back to that in-and-out mountain: You can't beat Burl Ives singing "Big Rock Candy Mountain," and with Juice Newton's "Angel of the Morning" also playing in episode 1.4, we've got some timeless music in this time warping narrative.
See you back here with my review of the next two episodes next week.
About the author
Paul Levinson's novels include The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; his LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up. His nonfiction including Fake News in Real Context, The Soft Edge, & Digital McLuhan have been translated into 15 languages.