Critic revisiting The Leftovers with western sauce on Amazon

IT WILL BE BLOOD

In the kingdom of series, hybridization is king. The genres mix and reconfigure almost spontaneously, encouraging the creation of ever richer and more unique universes. Outer Reach fully corresponds to this inventory. At the forefront of the project is a newcomer to the serial landscape, Brian Watkins, who trained as a playwright. A theatrical formation that we perceive more than once during the series and that likes to bear fruit.

In the eight episodes of this Season 1, the viewer follows the implosion of a family of ranchers, the Abbotts, on their ranch in Wyoming. After Father Royal’s (Josh Brolin) discovery of a supernatural cave on the family estate, things escalate under pressure from the Tillersons, who live on the neighboring ranch and claim part of the Abbott land. And as if that wasn’t enough, the arrival of a strange wanderer, Autumn (Imogen Poots, magnetic as ever), fuels discord between the two families.

Give this actress more roles, she deserves it!

From the pilot episode onwards, tragedy smolders. In the middle of the night, Royal disposes of a corpse before being blinded by a flashlight beam. Those very first minutes set the tone there will be blood and also gray areas, blind spots that the characters seek access to. The unknown is embodied not only by this hole appearing in the plane, but also by the Abbotts’ irrational and mutual resistance to wanting to be pierced.

It’s hard enough to know each other, so the others‘ the mother Cecilia (Lili Taylor) hands over to her eldest son Perry. Deep down, everyone seeks harmony within themselves before trying to find it with loved ones, hence a palpable sense of loneliness that gradually threatens family cohesion. Here Brian Watkins’ talent as a writer shines, orchestrating paroxysmal reckoning while respecting the sacrosanct unity of time, plot and place.

Outer Range: Photo Josh Brolin, Lili Taylor, Tom PelphreyLike a beginning tension in the air

ANIMAL KINGDOM

Beyond the land are those who populate it and preside over the people. Far from being purely decorative functions in history, The animals play the role of spiritual guides, “totems” for the characters. Even dead, they continue to be worshiped. For example, the father of the Tillerson family (Will Patton), who repeatedly relies on the wisdom of his hunting trophy, a bison head hanging in his room. The same goes for his sons Luke and Billy (Noah Reid, honored as the youngest of the siblings, a fan of pop music), whose most important interactions take place in front of a wall lined with stuffed owls.

It is the animal species that bears the responsibility of carrying the memory of the world. Memories that the characters buried themselves and don’t want to dig up again. Only Autumn, this wanderer entitled to camp on Abbott’s property, consents to live among and “listen” to the wild animals. In one of the most compelling scenes of the series, she encounters a bear who whispers to her, “show him”. A phrase whose prophetic value at this very moment completes the boundary between the animal and the divine.

Outer area: imageBiggest MacGuffin in the series

The fact that the action is set in the heart of the American West is of course by no means in vain. In addition to its affiliation with the western genre, this single shot references the genocidal history of the United States and Outer Reach tackles the subject head-on through the character of Sheriff Joy Hawk, who is of Native American descent. The audacity is twofold: not only is she a woman who brings order and justice, but she also belongs to an ethnic group that was once martyred by those she now represents.

That it’s called Hawk (or “falcon” in French) is also not insignificant, knowing that the animal is symbolically linked to the zenith of Native American culture. A sunlight that will envelop him at the end of the last episode, unlike the other characters who will remain in the dark. This day/night cycle contributes to the series’ “between dog and wolf” aesthetic and underscores the importance of these “twilight” animals, messengers that evolve from one world to another.

Outer Range: Photo by Tamara PodemskiWhat do you want, she saw the light

THE TEMPTATION OF NOTHING

Which brings us to that famous cave, the supernatural element on which the whole mystery of the series rests. Another boldness ofOuter Reach is to approach science fiction through an anomaly that comes from the basement and not from the sky. Asked by the American media The playlistexplains Brian Watkins: “I always thought of sci-fi on the show as something terrestrial, not extraterrestrial. It’s truly the story of characters discovering secrets right beneath their feet.“.

Instead of using this void as a pure script source, the series uses it for its metaphorical charge. If the characters, and Royal in particular, seem drawn to this bottomless abyss, it’s because there they see their inner emptiness and seek to fill it. And the more they try, the more their subconscious reminds them, mainly through flashes, that the staging and editing are intelligently broken off in order to better reveal them to us at the right time.

Outer area: imagegame with fire

From there, the Abbotts seem doomed. The story begins precisely with the disappearance of Perry’s wife, the eldest son. Nobody can explain it, but everyone feels deeply guilty. Here the comparison with The rest It is obvious. And even if Lindelof’s series is superior in every respect, Outer Reach means the absence, the absence, through tricks that are often relevant, like this photograph of the missing woman kept offscreen, or this little girl who regularly escapes the vigilance of her family.

Unfortunately, the series leaves most of the leads it advances open because it wants to keep the mystery at all costs. How it is, Season 1 serves as the launch pad for a Season 2, which we hope will be confirmed soon. The potential is great, as evidenced by the climax of the last episode, which unleashes not the horses but the bison to offer us a piece of bravery that is as spectacular as it is enigmatic. It would therefore be wrong to sulk our pleasure as the experience, while frustrating, remains fascinating.

Outer Range Season 1 is fully available on Amazon Prime Video since May 6, 2022

Outer Range: US poster

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