Warning: This post contains spoilers from the Season 1 finale of Outer Range.
Having one time-traveling character in a Western drama would be shocking enough, but three of them? Consider us baffled.
In the final two episodes of Prime Video’s Outer Range (now streaming), Royal revealed to his older son Perry that he knew damn well what the metaphysical void on their land was. That’s because he already traveled through it when he was a child — in 1886! — after accidentally shooting his father dead in a hunting mishap. When he crawled out the other side, it was 1968, and the Abbott family took him in and let him work the land. Following the reveal of this huuuuge family secret, Perry went and did the unthinkable: He jumped inside the hole, as it seemingly closed up around him.
But in the second hit of the supernatural Western’s one-two punch, Autumn was revealed to be Royal’s granddaughter Amy from the future. After the young woman was trampled by the mysterious herd of buffalo, Royal was set on finishing her off, until a familiar forehead scar caught his eye — the same scar Amy had gotten the night of the big Abbott family brawl when shattered glass rained all over their kitchen.
Below, Imogen Poots talks to TVLine about Autumn’s connection to Royal, her “freaky friendship” with Billy Tillerson and the beauty of the show’s puzzling symbolism.
TVLINE | The relationship between Billy and Autumn in these last two episodes sure is something special! How would you describe their relationship, and does Autumn actually care about him or is she just manipulating him?
IMOGEN POOTS | I think what initially begins is a sort of acquiring of a disciple when it comes to Billy. [But] in my heart, I feel she really starts to fall for him. He’s game and she respects that. I think she’s probably a deeply lonely person and she probably has a pretty good time hanging out with him. It’s sort of — and I’ve got to be careful how I say this [Laughs] — but it reminds me of my best friend. We’ve not gotten up to anything they get up to, but I enjoy that kind of underground, freaky friendship where you’re both just down to explore weird goblin caves and get into strange scenarios, you know? I really love that friendship and that energy, and it was something I actually am quite familiar with, so I really loved it.
TVLINE | Their kissing scenes are so awkward, and you and Noah [Reid] both commit 100 percent. How were those scenes written in the scripts?
I think it was like, “a long string of saliva is bridged between their mouths,” something that was so funny and extreme. And it was cool because they lived up to it while filming. We tried many different types of materials and fluids to get that kind of texture and at one point, we even had K-Y jelly on our tongues… in the deep, noontime New Mexico heat, in a parking lot trying to stay conscious while your electrolytes are just sprinting out of your bloodstream. Trying to get that right was very amusing and memorable.
TVLINE | The scene from Episode 7 where Autumn pumps herself up in the mirror was powerful stuff. She seems totally unhinged in that moment. What does that say about her, and what did you do to prepare to get into that mindset?
We did that one crazy early in the morning. It felt really necessary for the character to have something like that. Something deeper in her, not responding to something outside. And I think that reflects a lot of who Autumn is. She was such a blank canvas for other people’s opinions and thoughts. I think that’s quite a dangerous place to operate from. So the fact that she chooses that as her mantra… I felt it came out of her like she’s been going over it and over it and over it again and again. It’s something she probably says to herself under her breath a lot. It felt right to get close to almost like a beat poetry rhythm, that sort of Allen Ginsberg-esque, relentless engine of dialogue, where it just comes out of you. It really revved me up. I felt the raw nerves while doing that.
TVLINE | Autumn becomes quite the adversary for Royal and seems almost like a puppet master. How would you explain her demeanor shift throughout the season?
In the beginning, I think there’s a reason why the writers didn’t decide to have her say, “It’s good to meet you.” So from that moment, I enjoyed the fact that it’s kind of on Royal that she’s sticking around. It was his decision. And I think you sort of see someone who’s an opportunist, and she certainly is there for her own reasoning. I don’t think she knows the entire truth, but I think she has a pretty good sense that this is where she belongs, and that she, in deep psychosis, believes there’s something that’s her right to own or have access to. I think the shift certainly can feel quite extreme for viewers, but I also imagine that once she realizes the power she has over the family, that probably boosts her confidence quite dramatically, which is why she realizes that now is the time to act. Once she acquires Billy as sort of a disciple, they’re off to the races.
TVLINE | In the finale, Royal and Autumn find themselves in a true Western standoff. Why do they both feel the need to take each other out?
I guess I have the question of: Can Autumn actually die? Can anyone actually die? There’s something about that shootout that almost feels like a video game. It’s just for s–ts and giggles because what about the future and the past, and all of that? That’s why there was a sense of “woo-hoo!” to the whole thing. The stakes felt kind of floppy. She wants to take him out because he’s standing in the way of what she wants. Of course, Autumn and Royal complement each other throughout the series. There’s a lot of Royal in Autumn, and Autumn in Royal, untapped. You can go into deep metaphor about all of that, but she’s going to try to take him out, in that present moment at least.
TVLINE | I would be remiss if I didn’t ask about your experience working with Josh Brolin. You both have some incredibly intense scenes together in the finale and throughout the season.
I love Josh. He was wonderful to work with. He really wanted everyone in the cast to feel great, and he went out of his way to do that. I remember early on we were all doing costume fittings, Lewis [Pullman], Noah [Reid], Isabel [Arraiza] and I were having lunch in this little room, and Josh came in and sat down. Everyone went quiet because it felt like, “Whoa! Josh is here!” But he doesn’t want that at all. He wants everyone to have fun and he really broke down some boundaries there. He’s a big goofball, but he takes it all very seriously, and he really believes in this project and this cast. I adored working with him. That’s what makes it so great and makes the hours worth it because you’re spending time with people who are really happy to be there. He still loves what he does. I’ve worked with and know of actors who certainly don’t feel that way. He’s very grateful. Yeah, I’m a big fan of his. He is intense, but in those scenes, you want that to act with. You want that tennis match. It has to be intense.
TVLINE | How far in advance did you know the big twist — that your character was actually the grown up version of Amy?
I didn’t know when I signed on. I signed on say, the August before we began shooting in January, but then [producer] Zev [Borow] and [creator] Brian [Watkins] told me a few days before we started shooting. It was sort of strange because I was hanging out with Tom [Pelphrey, who plays Perry Abbott], he’s a little older but we’re the same generation or whatever, and then it’s like, “Oh s–t, Tom’s my dad?” [Laughs] It was funny having that weird banner in the works. But yeah, I didn’t know that bit of information until just before we started shooting.
TVLINE | In terms of the show’s symbolism and Easter eggs — from the buffalo with the arrows in its side, to the bears, the symbol and the disappearing mountain — does Brian ever clue you in on what any of that means, or are you just as in the dark as we are?
I have some of my own making of what those things are. Especially in terms of the animals and the parallels of the myths of the American west, and the myth of America in general. But in terms of Brian’s revealing, no. It almost felt disrespectful to ask. I know that sounds stupid. It would’ve been almost a lazy question to want to understand every single beat and fleeting Easter egg and symbol. I also feel like, and this might frustrate people, but when a musician comes out with an album, people say “Oh, is this about this?” A musician has the luxury of being able to say, “I don’t know. What do you think it’s about?” So perhaps the show is doing something in that vein as well.
TVLINE | Yes! I love that. Now, in terms of a potential Season 2, have there been any talks about what might happen should the story continue?
I certainly know what would happen because obviously things in Season 1 have been set up to be furthered in a later season. But I think with a show like this, because it felt so original, you kind of don’t envision… there’s a world in which Outer Range goes for five seasons and a world in which it doesn’t go more than one, because it’s its own beast in that way. I can see it working this way, just as a kind of a one and done. But the impression that I get is that people are really hoping it goes again, and there have certainly been whispers of that, just in the sense of its potential and how it seems to have hit a nerve with some audiences.