This article, “Outer Range Season 1 – why does the Tillerson family want Royal’s land?” contains spoilers regarding Amazon Prime Video’s Outer Range season 1.
The Tillerson family are the Abbott’s neighbours and historically have been their long-time rivals, therefore they fittingly become the show’s main villains. If the Abbotts are the quintessential American family, then the Tillersons are the stereotypical eccentric types, isolated from society, twisted by wealth and power. Their bitter rivalry is encapsulated in a fevered land dispute, with the Tillersons desperate to obtain the Abbott’s Western Pasture at any cost, but why?
Outer Range season 1 – why does the Tillerson family want Royal’s land?
The opening episode introduces Wayne Tillerson, an odd fellow, who holds conversations with bison taxidermy and warns the Abbotts of impending doom (he’s quite the prank caller). The old man is rigged up to hospital equipment and rambles on incessantly, this is after all your clichéd bad guy. As the series unravels though, Wayne becomes a more three dimensional character, with a strong connection to the hole and a blinkered determination for dominance. He’s a fascinating chap, who sings and dances like nobodies watching and constantly speaks in riddles. His two son’s Luke and Billy believe him to be senile or just downright insane, yet his bizarre behaviour starts to add up as ranch life takes a supernatural turn.
Wayne first attempts to obtain Abbott’s land with lawyer spiel, claiming there is a mapping error and that land is lawfully theirs. Royal refuses to be intimidated by the Tillerson’s attack and even ignores his own lawyer’s advice to forfeit ownership. Then Wayne throws money at the problem, ready to pay a fortune for this nondescript piece of land. In the end Wayne has a stroke and the issue is left moot, but then the Tillerson boys take over Wayne’s dogged assault.
Through flashbacks, the series reveals Wayne’s connection to the hole, which explains this unyielding desire to own the West pasture. He yearns to control this magical abyss and to seek out its many powers. By owning Abbott’s land he will in turn own the alien portal, free to test out its endless possibilities. But how does Wayne know about a hole he hasn’t yet seen? Well, Wayne has in fact witnessed this hole once before. When Royal time travelled to the swinging sixties and popped out the other end looking like some horror movie zombie, Wayne was there to welcome him home. Just a child at the time, Wayne peered into this unusual, perfectly circular hole just as Royal came tumbling out, frightening the boy half to death. This memory haunted Wayne’s nightmares for decades to come.
Wayne may have forgotten about the hole or he may have even doubted its existence, burying the memory deep into his subconscious until the present day. Possibly believing it was just a nightmare after all. The half dream is triggered back into his thoughts by a co-worker who passes Wayne a strange rock. This rock contains black minerals that are intrinsically linked to the hole. The revelation reignites Wayne’s fascination with Abbott’s land, starting the whole damned debacle.
Interestingly, when the Tillerson boys discover the existence of a strange, mystical hole, Luke decides to start digging himself, searching for more of this black substance or any subsequent holes on his father’s property. In the finale, Luke finally comes across his very own hole, yet a stampede of bison instantly proceed from within the portal, trampling poor Luke. It’s a bitter sweet victory for the Tillersons, yet the possibilities are endless now he knows how to summon this magical entity.