Outer Range: Josh Brolin tries the splits between Lost and Yellowstone

Outer Range
Amazon

Half-modern western, half-philosophical SF, the new series from Amazon lays the foundations of a seductive mystery in its first two episodes.

In Hollywood today, everyone wants their Yellowstone. Totally ignored in France, the neo-western with Kevin Costner is such a hit in the United States (10 million spectators watched the season 4 finale on Paramount + last January) that it imposed its author Taylor “Sicario ” Sheridan as the new pope of US TV – a kind of Ryan Murphy in cowboy boots. The series is considered a game changeraesthetic as much as industrial – expect therefore to see plenty of western series tumbling in the coming months, and plenty of movie idols on the return to integrate the Sheridan stable (Stallone, for example, is currently filming in his lap the whodunnit Tulsa Kingabout an Italian-American mobster who relocates his activities to Missouri).

If we exclude the spin-off 1883 (with Sam Elliott, the cowboy who doesn’t really like The Power of the Dog), Outer RangeAmazon Prime Video show created by playwright Brian Watkins, is arguably the first major series of this post-Yellowstone. Josh Brolin is certainly not quite a declining icon à la Kevin Costner – one can even reasonably estimate, after Deadpool 2 and his run in Thanos in the MCU, that he’s never been more popular than he is today. The actor has therefore aged a bit (whitened goatee, slightly hunched shoulders) to be credible as a grumpy and tired Wyoming rancher – and a grandfather at that.

His character, Royal Abbott (what a name!), is in conflict with his neighbors, who dispute the ownership of part of his land. Her stepdaughter has mysteriously disappeared, a scheming traveler played by Imogen Poots comes camping near her ranch, a homicide committed by one of her sons will set a detective story in motion, but above all, above all, Royal soon discovers , at the edge of his property, a huge black hole. A bottomless pit, giant, enigmatic, taunting him with his mystery and his excess. The kind of bizarre SF phenomenon that we come across more generally in a Damon Lindelof creation than in a soap opera about cowherd boys.

What is this abyss that fixes Josh Brolin? A time portal? An allegory of the absence of God in the wilds of the West? A metaphor for the decline of the American empire? The answer will come, perhaps, after eight episodes. The first two posted on Prime Video in any case lay the foundations for a solid, attractive mystery. Pursuing a career largely devoted to blowing on the embers of a moribund genre (of No country for old men to True Grit Passing by Jonah Hex), Josh Brolin runs the show with his usual grumpy seduction. The few signs of craziness slipped here and there (the son weirdo from the neighboring ranch who sings Whitney Houston in kangaroo pants in front of her mirror) raise fears of a tendency to highlighted oddness, to prefabricated nonsense – a classic pitfall of intellectual SF series. But the image of this black hole in the middle of the plains of Wyoming is undeniably powerful. The initial strength ofOuter Range is to succeed in inscribing his story in an immemorial story, to echo the contemporary apocalyptic anxieties in the midst of American pastoral, by observing a cowboy suddenly petrified with amazement, when he realizes that the myths he held for eternal are ultimately not much on the scale of the history of the world. And that they may soon be swallowed up in nothingness.

Outer Rangeby Brian Watkins, with Josh Brolin, Imogen Poots, Lili Taylor… On Amazon Prime Video, two episodes a week from April 15.

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