Movie Reviews

Outer Range Season 2 Retcons Josh Brolins Character Backstory With A Time Travel Twist I Didnt See Coming

WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Outer Range season 2.


  • Royal purposefully killed his violent father to protect Joy, a major change to his backstory.
  • In season 1, Royal told Perry he shot his dead by accident while hunting.
  • The rules of time travel in Outer Range remain confusing, leaving unanswered questions about the show’s timeline.

Outer Range season 2 includes a significant retcon that changes the backstory of Josh Brolin’s Royal Abbott, although it all may be part of a massive time travel twist. Amazon Prime Video’s sci-fi Western show dove deeper into its time travel aspects in season 2, which followed characters in at least five different eras, including the present. Outer Range season 2’s ending may have featured the show’s biggest twist yet, but episode 4 was also a headscratcher when it comes to the rules of time travel.

None of the Outer Range characters, not even the ones who have traveled through time, can say exactly what the Hole is. It is not even clear whether the Hole and its powers are a science fiction thing or a supernatural one. Regardless, Outer Range’s timeline, or timelines, only got more complicated in season 2 after the stories of Joy Hawk (Tamara Podemski) and Royal intersected in 1886.

Outer Range Season 2, Episode 4 Changes Royal’s Backstory

Royal didn’t shoot his dad by accident

Outer Range season 2, episode 4 explores Joy’s time in the past, following her journey from 1882 to 1886 before she eventually returned to the present. Joy, who was slowly giving up reuniting with her family, spent four years in the late 19th century, hoping she would find a way of traveling back into the present. Considering 1886 was the year Royal shot his father and fell through the Hole, it was easy to predict that Joy’s story was going to intersect with that of young Royal in some way.

Either Joy created a new universe where Royal killed his dad to save her, or history has been rewritten to accommodate the butterfly effect she caused.

However, Outer Range season 2 surprisingly revealed that the circumstances of Royal’s father’s death were quite different from what Josh Brolin’s character originally described in season 1. Instead of shooting his dad by accident during a hunt and running away in shame, Royal purposefully shot his father to prevent him from killing an unarmed Joy. The episode revealed Royal’s dad to be a despicable, violent man who hated his family and wanted to get rid of them. When asked to shoot Joy, Royal shot his dad instead. Royal and Joy would then fall through the Hole together.


Outer Range Season 3: Will It Happen? Everything We Know

Prime Video’s mind-bending series Outer Range provided more questions than answers in its second season, but will it return for season 3?

Is Royal’s Backstory In Outer Range Season 2 A Retcon?

Outer Range’s time travel means this isn’t necessarily a retcon

Royal faces his family in Outer Range season 2, episode 7

At first, it may seem like Royal purposefully killing his father to save Joy is a massive retcon. In season 1, there was no indication that Royal’s backstory had anything to do with Joy, let alone that the death of his father hadn’t been an accident. However, the change made to Royal’s origins most likely has an in-universe explanation – the fact that Joy went back in time and changed the past. Either Joy created a new universe where Royal killed his dad to save her, or history has been rewritten to accommodate the butterfly effect she caused.

Royal told his life story to Perry in
Outer Range
season 1, episode 6.

The rules of Outer Range’s time travel are still confusing, and it’s difficult to say whether things are supposed to be a closed loop or not. For example, Joy’s daughter found a black-and-white picture of her mother and others, a picture that was only taken after Joy went back in time. A similar question applies to whether Perry saving Trevor in Outer Range season 2, episode 7 created a new timeline, or if it rewrote the same timeline where the show has always taken place. Hopefully, Outer Range season 3 can settle the show’s timeline mysteries.

Stream on Prime Video

outer range poster

Outer Range

Created for Amazon Prime Video, Outer Range is a Sci-Fi and Western television series that began in 2022. The series was created by Brian Watkins and stars both Imogen Poots and Josh Brolin. The premise sees a Wyoming rancher trying to care for his farm and keep his land safe when a strange void shows up in one of his pastures.

Shaun Sipos , Lewis Pullman , Isabel Arraiza , Imogen Poots , Tom Pelphrey , Noah Reid , Lili Taylor , Tamara Podemski , Olive Abercrombie , Josh Brolin

Release Date
April 15, 2022

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