Josh Brolin Explains the Biggest Line in the ‘Outer Range’ Season 2 Finale

cecilia abbott lili taylor and royal abbott josh brolin
The ‘Outer Range’ S2 Finale Left Me SpeechlessAmazon Prime Video

This story contains spoilers from the season 2 finale of Outer Range.

“Hole’s back,” Josh Brolin’s Royal Abbott declares in season 2 of Outer Range. “I want to show it to you.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Prime Video’s western sci-fi series returned for a much-anticipated second season on May 16, deepening the mystery of a Wyoming ranch family and the massive void on their property. The series is a lot like Yellowstone...if the Dutton Ranch had a big ol’ hole in the ground that let Beth, Rip, and John travel through time. Imagine!

While we wait for Taylor Sheridan to jump on that one, here’s your Outer Range refresher: The series follows Royal Abbott, the patriarch of the Abbott Ranch. We learn that there’s, you know, the aforementioned hole on the man’s property. If you jump into it, the void sends you to a seemingly random moment in time. Though the series takes place in the present day, Royal reveals in the first season that he hopped into the hole back in 1886...and emerged in 1968. There’s no real rhyme or reason to Outer Range’s time-travel logic, but I’m determined to figure out how the hole works.

In season 2, Outer Range sends multiple characters into the past. (Think: Yellowstone combining its prequel series, 1883 and 1923, into one flagship show.) Maybe one day the hole will send Royal Abbott to Montana to meet John Dutton. In the meantime, there’s much to discuss in Hole News Quarterly. Gather ’round, readers, because the timelines are about to get funky.

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Why is Autumn so determined to start a cult? Richard Foreman - Amazon Prime

Autumn = Amy

Obviously, Autumn (Imogen Poots) is one of the most puzzling characters in Outer Range season 1. She randomly shows up on Royal’s property and starts studying the area, clearly knowledgeable about the hole. After she pushes him into it—and he has a sobering vision set two years in the future—she is firmly established as the antihero/conflicted villain of Outer Range. (Which one? Up to you.) At the end of season 1, we learn that Autumn is very likely an older version of Royal’s nine-year-old granddaughter, Amy.

In season 2, Autumn initially denies that she’s Amy. Over the course of the first five episodes, we discover that Autumn was adopted by a very rich family but that they’ve either disowned her or don’t even exist. It takes a dose of the Hole Rocks—what are we calling it, readers?!?—for Autumn to finally experience her connection to Amy. (Consuming the earth from the hole acts as as a revelatory hallucinogen.)

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Grab a drink with Royal.Amazon Prime

Young Royal

When Royal’s son Perry (Tom Pelphrey) jumps into the hole at the end of season 1, he ends up back at the Abbott Ranch—only to see his father as a young man in the 1980s. After initially hiding his true identity and working as a new ranch hand, Perry eventually tells Royal that he’s his son from the future. This is a real line from Outer Range: “I came from the same hole you did.”

Shenanigans ensue, as if Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III were combined into one film. Perry finds out that his mother, Cecilia Abbott (Lili Taylor), dated rival rancher Wayne Tillerson (Will Patton) in the past. He catches Wayne cheating on her at the bar. Later, they tussle and Perry leaves without killing him—which, um, is growth for this man. He’s soul-searching on this trip! Even if Perry won’t say it outright, accidentally murdering Trevor Tillerson (Matt Lauria) in season 1 is one of the reasons he jumped into the hole. His wife left him. His father lied to him his entire life. He clearly has a lot of anger issues because of it.

In the season 2 finale, Royal pushes Perry back into the hole—and he arrives just minutes before his fight with Trevor in Outer Range’s first episode. Perry stops his past self from murdering Trevor, but then his past self falls, hits his head on the curb, and dies. The man drags his own dead body into the hole, replacing himself with...himself? When he returns home, Royal flashes a funny look, as if he knows what the hell just happened. Or, at the very least, that this Perry is the Perry he met in the eighties.

This is where we need Outer Range to offer some clarity on its time-travel logic, because the ramifications of this event should heavily alter the future. Sadly, we have to wait for season 3 for answers on this front.

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Sheriff Joy has an episode all to herself.Amazon Prime


At the end of season 1, acting sheriff Joy Hawk (Tamara Podemski) accidentally transports herself to 1882. In season 2, she meets another Shoshone woman from 1972 who is also trapped in the past. Outer Range even dedicates an entire episode to Joy’s adventures in the Old West. After she spends four years in the past living among the Shoshone, the void finally reappears in 1886. It’s an important year, because that’s when young Royal jumps into the hole after accidentally killing his father in a hunting accident. In season 2, episode 4, Joy alters that event.

Now Royal and his father are hunting Joy. She drew the ire of a local baddie while investigating the murder of a Shoshone woman. Before Royal’s father can kill her, Royal shoots him and runs into the hole. Royal lands in 1968, while Joy appears just days after she first disappeared in the present. Like I said, the hole works in mysterious ways!

The incident also seems to jostle Royal’s memories in the present day. He still recalls the hunting accident, but he’s also plagued by visions of Joy’s involvement in his father’s death. Seemingly, when someone alters the past, it warps people’s memories—as the old timeline and the new one merge into one. Still, Outer Range hasn’t really shown us real consequences from all the timeline meddling. Another job for season 3, apparently!

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A window is also kind of like a hole.Amazon Prime

Outer Range 2: Back in the Hole

In the thrilling season 2 finale, Autumn is determined to toss Amy (Olive Abercrombie) into the hole. According to Autumn, her journey can only continue once Amy’s has begun. If we’re to believe everyone’s premonitions, Autumn will form a bizarro time cult in the future—and she’ll do whatever it takes to make that reality come true. She takes Amy from her mother, Rebecca (Kristen Connolly), who just got her daughter back after disappearing last season.

Autumn is also joined by Luke Tillerson (Shaun Sipos). Now’s probably the best time to discuss the crazy Tillerson family, right? Throughout season 2, patriarch Wayne fights to acquire Royal’s west pasture, the location of the hole. Thanks to some help from the church, Royal is able to stop Tillerson—but it turns out that land rights are far from Wayne’s most pressing problems. His two living sons, Billy (Noah Reid) and Luke, both fell in love with Autumn. Luke kills Billy to replace him as Autumn’s guardian—and get back at his father for loving his brother more than him. After finding Billy, Wayne burns his house down and begs the hole to give him a sign. The hole shoots some sort of sensation up his spine as he exclaims, “That makes all the sense in the world!” Then, wouldn’t you know it, he jumps into the hole.

Now at Autumn’s side, Luke drives her and Amy to the hole. Royal and Cecilia rush to the void—hoping to stop them from sending Amy elsewhere in time—but they know they won’t make it quickly enough. Royal calls Joy and asks for her help. She knocks out Luke and shoots Autumn in the chest, but Autumn is still able to push Amy into the hole. Amy’s plunge is fated, it seems. The hole disappears and Autumn is rushed to the hospital. She survives her surgery—only because Amy survives her descent, waking up somewhere/sometime in the desert. Two random hikers find her—members of a rich family, perhaps?—but she can’t remember her name or where she came from. She says, “I think it might be Autumn.” Amnesia...a classic!

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Season 3 can’t come fast enough.Amazon Prime

Time Is a River, Royal

When Amy is thrown down the hole, Royal suffers some kind of seizure. He experiences a terrifying dream in which his family is lined up outside his front porch, repeating the phrase, "Time is a river, Royal. This is your destiny." As Royal hugs his wife in the present and says that everything is going to be fine, a flash of Autumn from the future warns him, “This is just the beginning.”

Josh Brolin credits Richard Bach's novel Illusions as the inspiration for the line, telling Esquire that "if you hold on [to the riverside], you're going to get battered. Whereas if you just let go of these ideas of yourself, you'll flow in the water. That's the whole Royal thing. The truth of the matter is that he has an idea of masculinity. What happens when you break that idea?"

One last stinger for the road: It turns out that Royal’s younger son, Rhett (Lewis Pullman), may very well turn on his father after all. Near the end of the episode, we see him meet up with Dr. Nia Bintu (Yrsa Daley-Ward), the researcher who is trying very hard to discover, well, the secrets of time. Rhett says he’ll tell Royal to cooperate with Dr. Bintu if she’ll fork over a ton of money. She accepts the deal, ensuring that season 3 will keep Outer Range’s signature father-son beefing rolling merrily along.

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"If you just let go of these ideas of yourself, youAmazon Prime

You Got to Go and Dig Those Holes

In stellar Outer Range fashion, a dozen solved mysteries in season 2 opened up another hundred questions. Just like the feeling you have when finding a massive hole on your ranch, I’m speechless. Looking back at all my questions from the season 1 finale, I see that Outer Range surprisingly answered a good number of them—while keeping the mystery chugging right along.

Season 3 already has a lot on its plate. Will Perry’s body swapping actually affect the future? (Related: Is Trevor Tillerson alive?) Will we finally see the formation of Autumn’s time cult? Where will Wayne Tillerson end up? Where did Amy go, and will next season show all of the events that led to her becoming the Autumn we met in season 1? Is Rhett and Dr. Bintu’s deal what leads to the seizure of Royal’s ranch? (Remember: He took an ever-so-brief trip to the future in season 1.) Will John Dutton appear from the hole, finally confirming Kevin Costner's Yellowstone exit?!?

You know, all I want is for a hole to open up beneath my feet and take me to season 3. Until then, I’ll be frantically digging for answers like I’m Luke Tillerson. Show me a sign, hole!

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