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Adam Lenhardt

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Josh Brolin, Lili Taylor, and Imogen Poots star in Prime Video's latest series, which feels like "Yellowstone" meets "The Outer Limits".

I'm intrigued by the mystery of it, but there are a few too many shots of characters staring forlornly out into the distance, and saying weighty things in weighty tones.

The real at the end of the second episode, though, hooked me enough to turn in for the third:
The black void in the west pasture appears to be some sort of portal, either to an alternate reality where things played out differently, or to the future, a few years from the present.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Josh Brolin, Lili Taylor, and Imogen Poots star in Prime Video's latest series, which feels like "Yellowstone" meets "The Outer Limits".

So that’s what this is - I just saw the banner art appear on Prime and thought it might be worth a look.
 

Josh Dial

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Yeah I'm 100% in on this show. It's Yellowstone + a little bit of Twin Peaks + and maybe a little bit of Dark.
 

Walter Kittel

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Watched the first episode and agree with the "Yellowstone meets Twin Peaks" assessment. Amazingly, I did not watch the second episode immediately after the first episode and that ending. :) I'll probably get to it later today.

Liked the cast and I am intrigued by the mystery of the artifact, if that is what it is? Autumn (Imogen Poots) seems to be about more than she lets on and I am curious what will be revealed about her character.

There are at least three clues that the artifact / portal is temporal in nature. A) Royal's confusion over the time of day on Sunday morning. B) The arrows in the buffalo may indicate that it is from a time when Indians hunted buffalo on the plains of Wyoming over a century ago. (Maybe?) C) Repeated references to the Greek god Chronos and Autumn's exposition in the final scene.

While I understand why the show was lit the way it was in terms of mood and the fact that it is really dark in the country, away from electricity, I did find it a bit difficult to view at times. The daytime scenes were fine, but some of the night sequences really felt obscured.

- Walter.
 

Walter Kittel

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My brain is hurting just a bit after that second episode. :)

Heckuva a prayer at supper led by the patriarch of the Abbott family. Not exactly the sort of thing we would've said at the dinner table when I was growing up.

Trying to piece together the final scene. If you know the future can you alter it?

- Walter.
 

jayembee

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My brain is hurting just a bit after that second episode. :)

Heckuva a prayer at supper led by the patriarch of the Abbott family. Not exactly the sort of thing we would've said at the dinner table when I was growing up.

Trying to piece together the final scene. If you know the future can you alter it?

- Walter.
Funny...I haven't yet watched the available episodes, but Friday night Brolin was on Colbert and the clip that was shown was (I'm assuming) what you just described. It was compelling.
 

Walter Kittel

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Funny...I haven't yet watched the available episodes, but Friday night Brolin was on Colbert and the clip that was shown was (I'm assuming) what you just described. It was compelling.

Just viewed one segment of Brolin on Colbert on You Tube from Friday and yes, that was the scene I referenced above. I am really loving Brolin in this series and that was one of the stronger moments from episode two.

- Walter.
 

Josh Dial

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Here's my guess based only on watching the first two episodes (which are the only ones out right now, I think).

Royal (Josh Brolin's character) is originally from the past; maybe the turn of the century (?). When he was nine years old, he jumped/fell/was pushed into the hole and ended up the future (to him), which was the 1960s (I'm assuming Royal is the same age in the show as Josh Brolin is in real life). That's where he met his wife. Going into the hole caused him to forget everything. This is why Autumn (Imogen Poots' character) asks him whether he can remember anything from before he was nine years old. He has that old photograph from his original time period stashed in the barn.

Jumping into the hole in the present sends you to the future (about two years apparently). Perhaps it's some sort of compression. The further back in time you go, the further into the future the hole sends you. So in Royal's original time, the hole sends you 50-ish years into the future. Now, it sends you two years. Maybe in the distant past, it sends you hundreds of years. So the bison could be from the 1300s or something. The bison falls in while being hunted by indigenous Americans (see the arrows in its side) and gets whoosed to the show's present.

Did Wayne Tillerson (Will Patton's character--the family patriarch with the medical problems) do something to the timeline to alter the property lines?
 

Adam Lenhardt

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I definitely agree that neither Royal nor Autumn are from the here and now. Whether they arrived through this portal somehow, or this portal is only the latest manifestation of the bizarre things around that ranch, I'm less certain.

I'm not so sure that Will Patton's character knows about the portal. It seems pretty clear that he knew that there was oil and/or natural gas underneath the west pasture, and that why he wanted the land. He discovered an ambiguity with the property lines, and used his power and influence to exploit that ambiguity in his favor. On the other hand, there definitely does seem to be some otherworldly connection with his character, so who knows.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Watched the first two and I think I’ll take this ride. An eight episode season spread across four weeks feels like the right amount of time based on the mood and pacing of these first two shows.

I agree with the consensus here that there’s more to Royal and Autumn’s story than meets the eye. It actually seems so obvious that I hope it’s something the show addresses sooner. If they treat confirmation of that as a season ending reveal that might be an underwhelming conclusion.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Interesting choice to use the song “My Prayer” - David Lynch used the song in two key moments in the Twin Peaks revival, and one of the band members who recorded that song is named…David Lynch. They’re really wearing their influence on their sleeves :)
 

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Good production & acting. Weird story, a strange mixing of genres. Anyone notice the annoying compression artifacts in dark scenes with movement? I thought the latest UHD codecs would do a much better job. Looks more like early Blu-ray.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I was watching the HD stream and I didn’t think they did a great job encoding the blacks there either. I’ve had the same complaint for some other Amazon originals (cases where it’s been their productions rather than material delivered to them from third parties).

Whatever post house is handling the deliverables for Amazon Originals may have a wrong setting checked somewhere.
 

Kent K H

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My girlfriend seeing the trailer: “Did they mash-up Skinwalker Ranch with Mel’s Hole from Coast-to-Coast?”
 

Josh Dial

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I was watching the HD stream and I didn’t think they did a great job encoding the blacks there either. I’ve had the same complaint for some other Amazon originals (cases where it’s been their productions rather than material delivered to them from third parties).

Whatever post house is handling the deliverables for Amazon Originals may have a wrong setting checked somewhere.

I've noticed that the Amazon app likes to cheat the bitrate when you binge multiple episodes. Episode one will stream over at full bitrate with no compression artifcacts (or at least nothing abnormal), and black crush, etc. Then episode two will autoplay and the resolution drops and it's like there is something janky going on with the decode. If you stop, exit out of the app, then restart the episode it's all good.

This happened to me with episode two, which as you all know starts with a bunch of dark scenes. It was a muddy mess. So I exited, restarted the app and restarted the episode. It was all good--pretty inky blacks actually with good shadow detail all the way through the episode.

I think the culprit is the ads/trailers Amazon sometimes plays between episodes. The company is too cheap to plays those at full bitrate and something happens on the backend to force down-rez the ads to save bandwidth. The problem is even when there are no ads or trailers in between episodes the "down-rez" happens.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Interesting. Not sure if applicable in this case for me since episode 1 had the same issues but will keep an eye on that in the future.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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The third and fourth episodes leaned into the "Twin Peaks" influences even more heavily, with Will Patton channeling Richard Beymer when Benjamin Horne was at his most unhinged.

I don't really buy the fact that a man who requires an oxygen tank to walk across a room, who hasn't done any manual labor in years or even decades, would best a younger healthier man who spends his days doing strenuous physical ranch work in a fight.

I do pity the acting sheriff; while it was an unforced error not to lock up the key piece of evidence, that autopsy result makes putting together an airtight case pretty much impossible.

It seems pretty clear at this point there isn't a static temporal relationship between the two sides of the hole in the west pasture. Royal went forward two years when Autumn pushed him in, but Trevor's body only went forward several days. And Royal was deposited right next to the hole when he traveled in both directions, while Trevor's body got deposited a sizable distance from the hole. And now we have reason to believe that there are mastadons in addition to bison roaming this corner of Wyoming.

The whole thing with Royal and Autumn and Autumn's necklace with the disappearing mountain adds another science fiction element that is likely connected to the phenomenon with the hole but also discrete from the hole.

There seemed to be hints that Autumn is the sister Royal left behind when he traveled to the future as a child. But I think it's just as likely that Autumn is actually Amy all grown up. Amy is right around the age that Autumn was when she appeared at the hospital with no memory. I'm guessing that at some point, Amy falls into the hole and reappears years earlier. Perhaps she was just talking with Autumn at the time, so Autumn's name is in her short-term memory on the other side.
 

Walter Kittel

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I don't really buy the fact that a man who requires an oxygen tank to walk across a room, who hasn't done any manual labor in years or even decades, would best a younger healthier man who spends his days doing strenuous physical ranch work in a fight.

Agreed. I had to shake my head at that sequence just a bit.

But I think it's just as likely that Autumn is actually Amy all grown up.

I hadn't considered that before episode four, but there were some shots of Autumn and Amy that made me question whether that might be the case during the viewing. Of course both of their given names begin with an A which isn't that big of a deal, but might hint at a connection?

that autopsy result makes putting together an airtight case pretty much impossible.

Yeah, the temporal aspects, as discussed in Adam's post, really complicate the case. Short of a confession, I am not sure how the case can be closed.

-----

I didn't care that much for the procedural aspects of the first half of episode four, but once they moved beyond that and got back into the spookier aspects of the series it roped me back in. Josh Brolin remains the big attraction for me. He certainly felt like he was channeling his inner Thanos when questioning the nature of the world with the sheriff at the bar. Felt like something he could have been saying to the Avengers. :)

I am curious if the series will elaborate on the disappearance of Rebecca.

- Walter.
 

Josh Dial

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It seems pretty clear at this point there isn't a static temporal relationship between the two sides of the hole in the west pasture. Royal went forward two years when Autumn pushed him in, but Trevor's body only went forward several days. And Royal was deposited right next to the hole when he traveled in both directions, while Trevor's body got deposited a sizable distance from the hole. And now we have reason to believe that there are mastadons in addition to bison roaming this corner of Wyoming.

I think we still need a few more "incidents" to reach that conclusion. One difference between Royal's "trip" and the Trevor's "trip" is that Royal is alive and Trevor is not. Does being alive affect when you end up?

Interestingly, Royal was "deposited" right at the hole's edge each time. It's like the hole coughed him up. But Trevos was presumably "dropped" or "throw" (or whatever) so far away from the hole that he ended up off the private land and onto government land (BLM land, right? What we would call Crown land up here in the great white north). Does being alive affect where you end up?

I agree about the continuing subtle nods to Twin Peaks. We have a sheriff named Hawk and a deputy whose a bit goofy (his stare during the funeral "performance" was great!).

My spouse pointed out that during the bar gathering after the funeral, the entrances to the bathrooms and especially the "backroom" looked a bit like the red room, with red curtains and a white and black checkered floor (yes, the floor in Twin Peaks is "wavy," but the checkered pattern certain stood out in bar).

Fun stuff so far.

The mountain disappearing was neat. I can't remember if the mountain existed in the future (universe?) we saw Royal reach. I also can't remember if the disappearance matched perfectly with Royal and Autumn's handshake--i.e. was did it disappear while the touched, and reappear when they broke contact? If so, they shook hands once before when they first met. We also heard about the robber's cousin who disappeared and reappeared six seconds later (though I think he said that happened months previously, right)?
 

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