Welcome to the Montana reimagined by David E. Kelley.
Kelley is the man who brought you Big Little Lies, so the expectations were high for Big Sky on ABC.
The series delivered a solid pilot episode with plenty of jaw-dropping moments mixed with some soapier moments to lighten the mood a bit. After all, this is a show where the central mystery is the kidnapping of two young women who run into car troubles.
The episode doesn’t start off too menacingly as it focuses on establishing the relationships between the characters.
And when I say things are complicated, I’m talking love-triangle complicated.
Jenny Hoyt finds out that her bestie and co-worker at the private investigator firm, Cassie, is sleeping with her maybe ex-husband, Cody. I say maybe ex because Cassie swears that Cody told her things were over between them, while Jenny was under the impression that they were “working things out.”
And Cody, who seems to be the embodiment of self-destructive, seems just about fine sleeping with both of them and doesn’t truly know what he wants out of life.
While their personal lives seem to be quite a mess, the show establishes early on that each of these characters is not only cutthroat and dedicated to their craft, but they also have kids, which makes a case of missing women something they become personally invested in.
In a different vein, we meet Ronald Pergman (and how great is it that Brian Geraghty finally got a solid role? Though, after this, I don’t think I’ll ever look at him the same way!), a 38-year-old truck driver who still lives with his momma.
His mom is overbearing, calls him “boo boo,” and takes any chance to point out that he’s a failure in life, so naturally, audiences feel for Ronald.
However, any and all sympathy we may have felt for Ronald fades rather quickly when he picks up a sex worker at a truck stop, seduces her, and then tasers her.
Turns out, Ronald isn’t the kind of man his mother thinks her is.
The whole scene, even prior to Ronald revealing that he’s an absolute creep, gave me such weird vibes, so props need to be given to Geraghty for naling the essence of the character.
The audience is led to believe that Ronald killed the prostitute as we see her wrapped up in plastic in the back of his truck, but it’s unclear what his intentions are until his nasty run-in with Danielle and Grace, two sisters making the trek from Colorado to Montana.
The sisters make the mistake of taking a deserted road to get to their destination to avoid a pile-up on the highway. After a road-rage incident with Ronald, he finds their car broken down and attacks them with, you guessed it, a taser.
Big Sky has taken a different approach than we’ve seen in other thrillers by revealing the killer/kidnapper early on. The mystery goes from wanting to know who is behind the crimes — though Jenny and Cassie will still have to work that one out — to finding out what Ronald’s intentions are.
It doesn’t seem as though he fits a serial killer profile since he doesn’t kill any of the women (yes, even the prostitute ends up alive, and I know you jumped at that scene) even though it may have seemed like the easier alternative. This means there’s a reason he wants them alive.
At one point, it seems as though the women might outsmart and overpower him, but he still manages to take them down.
And once they regain consciousness, they’re chained up in some lair and wondering, much like the audience, what his next move will be.
Is Ronald more into psychological mind games?
Justin, Danielle’s boyfriend, informs his parents, Jenny and Cody about his missing girlfriend and they leap into action.
Cody’s secretary connects him with Montana’s Sheriff, Rick, who we meet briefly in a pretty strange scene where he makes a sex analogy to help a man in a Tesla out of a ditch. Something immediately feels off about Rick, but a later scene of him eating dinner at home seems to prove that he’s just a quirky, small-town man.
Though, the fact that he calls his wife “mother” should have been the second telling sign.
She’s practically beginning for a divorce when he gets a call about the missing women, but again, we brush it off as Rick being a man that’s just too preoccupied with his job and neglecting his wife.
Once Cody and Rick connect, he immediately talks about sending him information about a local church that may be involved because “this has happened here before.”
Again, we should have seen the signs, but instead, we trusted Rick because he’s a Sheriff.
This leads us to an uneasy scene where Cody and Rick are about to embark on a journey together. Rick is making some quirky comments, Cody is ready to get on with, and then bam, Rick shoots Cody point-blank and presumably kills him.
Anyone who was tuning in solely because of Ryan Phillippe — the show’s star power — likely reacted the same way: jaw-drop.
Also, the fact that Rick is calling Ronald sloppy while coming out of the car covered in another man’s blood is truly a sight to behold.
Big Sky’s pilot episode delivered a major shock in the final moments of the episode by not only killing Phillippe (who seemed so central to the plot) but by also revealing that Rick is in cahoots with Ronald.
Now, Rick likely thought Cody was working on this alone, so it’ll be interesting to see how this pans out once Jenny and Cassie realize Cody is missing and connect it to Rick.
With its Montana scenery, Geraghty’s truly traumatizing portrayal, and that shocking twist, did the pilot hook you enough to make you want to come back for more? ABC surely hopes so.
In the time of COVID where primetime TV pickings are slim, I think Big Sky is a promising pilot.
What do you think Rick and Ronald are doing with these women?
Are they just into kidnapping them to exert some power? Is it a sex trafficking ring? Do they murder them?
And who else is in on it? If Rick was in cahoots with Ronald, there may be others who are involved!
Big Sky Winter Finale Review – [SPOILER] Dies (1×09)
The winter finale of Big Sky was one wild ride!
But was justice served? That depends on your definition of justice.
The episode kicked off with Erik trying to get inside Ronald’s head.
As he was sitting in a cage in a gasoline-doused basement with two dead bodies surrounding him, he still found the courage to antagonize his captor. That is one brave kid!
Ronald’s biggest mistake up until his point was opening the door when Cassie was canvassing the neighborhood to find Erik. While she didn’t immediately recognize Ronald, which was surprising considering she had a sketch on the newspaper front page that looked exactly like him, she didn’t disappoint as she remembered a brief brush-in with him at Merilee’s shop.
Going off a hunch, they were able to track down his mother’s social media page, which had a photo of Ronald that Jerilee was able to identify. And once that happened, all bets were off!
Cassie is seriously a gem. She’s been pivotal to this whole case. If it wasn’t for her and her trusting her gut, they likely wouldn’t have even found the girls in the first place. But not only did she save the girls and prove that Rick Legarski was guilty, she was also the one responsible for locating Ronald and saving Erik.
Unfortunately, Ronald was too smart and had a plan for when he would get caught. It was only a matter of time, so you have to commend him on being prepared.
When SWAT rolled in, he set his plan into motion by rigging the house with trap guns and setting off a gas leak.
Thankfully, no one was injured in the explosion, not even Jenny, who stayed back despite orders to evacuate to save Erik, which ended up being Ronald’s mother placed there as a decoy.
He really is a twisted man! Did anyone else scream after seeing her decaying face?
It took them way too long to figure out that Ronald likely used the late priest’s Tesla as his getaway car, and really, that’s a sign of the times that a serial killer is escaping in a Tesla!
For the next half of the episode, I was convinced we were watching a Tesla commercial. Seriously, did that not convince you to upgrade to an electric car? Did you see that smooth stop when Cassie and Jenny cut the car off while it was on autopilot?
As Jenny and Cassie pursued the car, I was convinced Ronald put it into autopilot and abandoned it with Erik. However, I didn’t account for the fact that something had to be weighing down the steering wheel, so the shot of the dead priest was gruesome.
And poor Erik. He held it together, but he’s just a kid! He’ll carry that trauma that he endured throughout that whole order for a long time. At least there was a happy ending for him and his mother!
Sadly, Ronald’s escape was too clean. Tubb was right — he waited until the hunters passed until he made his escape. As we saw him merrily driving his rig towards some new future, I was angry and impressed by his ability to escape capture despite the walls closing in on him.
But if the show has taught us anything about Cassie, she’s not going to back down anytime soon. A new mystery may be starting in April, but Ronald will eventually get what’s coming to him! I’m sure of it.
While justice may not have been served with Ronald, some might argue that Rick got what he deserved.
Since he woke up from his coma, audiences have been wondering if he really was experiencing memory loss or if he was simply faking it.
His act was convincing, and he even managed to pass a lie-detector test, but the finger tapping was something that Merilee simply couldn’t shake.
And neither could I! The nervous tick was a dead giveaway that he was lying.
There was also the fact that he a clear memory of all the women that he sold into sex trafficking during a dream and when he apologized, he explained that it “got out of hand.” Sign number two that Rick’s memory was in-tact.
And as Merilee began reminiscing about their relationship to figure out how exactly she was duped all these years, she realized that all of his little sing-songs were about killing including “If I Had a Hammer,” which led her to the conclusion that Rick was coming to kill her that night.
I thought that by taking out the hammer, she was simply trying to provoke Rick so that he’d snap and reveal that it was all an act.
And technically she did.
When he said it was her “menopause” talking, you could see a flicker of the real Rick breaking through. It was a smug, assholish way of speaking that was far from the innocent act he’d been putting on this whole time.
At the moment, you saw Merilee snap.
The rage and embarrassment of being used and lied to simply bubbled up the surface, and she couldn’t fathom the idea of him walking free after committing murder.
They always say “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
His death, at the hands of his wife using the same hammer that he tried to kill her with, was disturbingly poetic.
I fully thought it was another hallucination where she was contemplating what it would be like to dole out justice and redeem herself, but this time, it was for real.
To be honest, I’m kind of disappointed by it. Merilee was hurt, and she deserved to recover from this and move on. Sure, she’d have some major trust issues to work through, but it would have been the healthier alternative for her in the long run.
I would have rather she proved that he was lying and had him stand trial so that he would have to confront all the pain he caused and answer for the crimes he committed.
After all, he was clearly feeling guilty in his subconscious, so having him live with that guilt would have been the perfect punishment.
However, there was never any guarantee that he wouldn’t walk free, and killing him ensured that the monster met a permanent punishment. I can’t be upset by that either.
In the end, the moment was pure shock value, and even if you wanted a different outcome, there was something freeing about Merilee getting a smidge of power back from the man who mentally and emotionally abused her throughout life.
With the mystery of Montana’s missing girls closed, at least partially, Big Sky is going on hiatus until April before returning with episodes that feature “deeper secrets” and “bigger twists,” per the teaser.
Cassie and Jenny have grown so much over the course of nine episodes, and their relationship has flourished to the point that Cassie even scolded Jenny after almost losing her in the explosion.
There’s no denying that they make a great team and the world needs their services for situations and cases that the police, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies fail to investigate.
And while Cassie and Jenny’s detective adventures will take them in a whole new direction, the teaser does reveal that someone will eventually pop up with information about Ronald. And we cannot wait for that glorious day to come.
What started as a mildly sloppy series in the first few episodes has turned into the most compelling series on television.
What did you think of the episode?
Was justice served? Where is Ronald going?
Big Sky Review – Ronald Begins to Unravel (1×08)
Big Sky continues to up the ante with each passing episode.
I questioned how the show would continue after releasing the three hostages, but it keeps finding ways to surprise and remain unpredictable.
On Big Sky Season 1 Episode 8, Ronald has fully unraveled. Whatever semblance of humanity or soul that the kidnapped girls saw in him in the first half of the season is dead and gone.
And he’s racking up quite the body count. I think the change happened when he snapped and killed his mother with barely any remorse. Despite his toxic relationship with his mother, she kept him somewhat in check and was his last tether to reality.
With her gone, Ronald has gone full psychopath and doesn’t even make an effort to hide it.
Can you even believe there was a time when we thought Rick Legarski was the big bad?
After killing his mother, he kidnapped the newspaper kid who snapped a photo of him and then drowned a priest who came to see his mother.
It made for one spine-chilling hour.
Jenny and Cassie said that Ronald’s been very methodical up until now, but as we see, he’s a loose cannon that’s just killing anyone who gets in his way or close to figuring out the truth.
Rick would’ve been upset with how sloppy he’s gotten.
When Erik snapped the photo, Ronald snuck up behind him and locked him in a cage. At least he hasn’t stooped to killing children yet, but he’s well on his way.
The priest’s death was avoidable if he had just looked at the paper that day. I mean, Ronald’s mug is all over town and there’s a statewide manhunt underway! How did he not know who they were looking for?
Also, wouldn’t someone be able to identify him? He may have flown under the radar, but his mother seems to be connected in the community.
The priest’s second mistake was following Ronald downstairs without a weapon. He heard clanging and muffled screaming — what dog is capable of making those sounds?
At the very least, he was alerted that something was off about Ronald because of Helen’s concerns, so he shouldn’t have followed him without a weapon. Rookie mistake.
But even though it was obvious the priest was going to die, it still didn’t lessen the severity of the situation. To be quite honest, I’m shocked that such a gruesome death scene made it to primetime television. Those kinds of scenes are typically saved for cable and streaming. I guess we’re just that desensitized these days, huh?
With three people missing all in the same area, it’s only a matter of time before investigators and/or Cassie (as seen in the teaser) connect the dots and seek out Ronald. The only question is, will they be able to one-up him?
His unpredictable and reckless nature may work in his favor.
Though, I really hope he doesn’t burn the house down with Erik inside because that kid is one brave soul! He’s a 12-year-old that had the nerve to stand up to a deranged man and aim a staple gun at his head.
Cassie and Jenny focused largely on figuring out if Rick was really suffering from memory loss. Turns out, he’s not faking it.
The idea that he could be faking it is much easier to swallow than admitting that the man isn’t competent enough to stand trial because accepting that he won’t ever answer for all of the crimes he committed and the pain he cause is just too painful.
We see that with Jenny, specifically, as she confronts him for killing her husband. Despite her best efforts, she can’t deny that Rick is no longer there.
Rick’s situation is unfortunate because he’s the only one who can fill in the pieces of the puzzle and lead them to Ronald.
However, the finger-tapping makes me think that the old Rick is there just below the surface and is just dying to come out.
I wonder if the series will ever explore how “Big Rick” came to be bad Rick in the first place? From everything Merilee said, he was a stand-up guy when she married him as he cared about humanity and wanted to help others, which is why he became a State Trooper.
Where did he go wrong? Or is this some case of a split personality disorder like Jekyll and Hyde?
It would be interesting to see what he remembers last as that may be where the “switch” happened.
It’s hard not to feel bad for Merilee, who is questioning everything about her existence. She’s been fooled by two men that she trusted, which doesn’t paint her in a great light. It’s not surprising that the police think she’s an accomplice because how could one woman be so blind to what was happening right in front of her?
I guess willful ignorance is bliss!
And this is more of a general question, but why does the media reveal everything that they know about a case when the suspect is still at large? It’s the equivalent of revealing your cards to your opponent while playing poker.
With the news revealing that the victims were able to give an accurate description of the truck, it gives the suspect time to revamp and/or get rid of the truck! It makes no sense.
Ronald gave his truck a makeover immediately after they caught Rick, but he’s still able to stay one step ahead by watching the news and seeing what they know about him!
What did you think of the episode? Do you think Rick will remember the truth? What’s Ronald’s next play?
How deeply disturbed are you by the series?
Big Sky Review – Who Died? (1×07)
This is the episode where Big Sky found its footing and brought its A-game. This is the episode I was waiting for. This is good television!
Since its premiere, the show has proven that it isn’t afraid to take big risks. And the big risks seem to be paying off.
Big Sky Season 1 Episode 7 is filled with intense, jaw-dropping, and I-can’t-believe-this-is-actually-happening moments!
As Rick wakes up from his coma, the investigation really starts to take shape, even if he isn’t quite in the right headspace.
His ability to talk and construct sentences is impressive and nothing short of a miracle. Up until the end, I was convinced Rick was pretending and actually remembered everything. He’s cunning enough to pull something like this off, and he of all people would know that it would buy him some time.
But it seems as though he’s truly suffering from some kind of memory loss and has regressed three years ago since he remembers he’s a Montana State Trooper (a role he prides himself on) and thought his father was still alive. It makes me wonder what happened to him back then to bring him into the world of sex trafficking and make him such a terrible person.
Sadly, his current state means that he isn’t paying the price for his actions. At least, not fully. But even without his memories, there’s no getting out of this for Rick even with a “best efforts” lawyer by his side as the evidence is stacked against him. Even his own wife thinks he’s guilty!
Grace’s positive identification also has him on the hook for murder. She was beyond brave in this episode by confronting her captor, leading the police to the acid pit, and identifying the disintegrating fisherman. I’m not sure how quickly acid deteriorates the body, but would it be possible to make this identification without pulling dental records? And why couldn’t Grace just pick out Rick from a photo lineup? They really made sure to pile on even more trauma on top of the emotional and physical abuse she suffered!
It probably would have been in Ronald’s best interest to skip town, but instead, he walked right into the line of fire while trying to protect himself.
Using Merilee to get privileged information on Rick’s health was both smart and incredibly stupid. He would have been better off dying his hair and skipping town. Even if Rick regained his memories eventually, by that point, Ronald could have been in a different country.
Instead, he stuck around and quite possibly got himself caught.
Every time Merilee agreed to meet up with “Mitchell,” I kept yelling “Merilee, you’re in danger, girl!” How is it that one woman could be played and fooled by two psychopaths within weeks of each other? Look for the signs, Merilee!
After what happened with her husband, she should have had her guard all the way up.
Mitchell preyed on her insecurities and weaseled his way in with kindness. He saw a neglected woman and found the sweet spot to make her feel like someone cared.
Cassie and Jenny’s timing couldn’t be more perfect. I was afraid they weren’t going to show Merilee the photo, but this series insists on doing things the “smart way” and upping the stakes, which is so refreshing and allows for the fast-paced nature of the show.
Merilee immediately recognized Mitchell from the sketch and didn’t hesitate to inform them that he was upstairs. And all of this just as Ronald found Rick’s hiding space and secured the evidence that incriminated him.
Catching Ronald while he’s inside the house would be too easy though. As the teaser for next week reveals, he likely heard the commotion downstairs and escaped through a window.
After all of this, Merilee needs to retire to some mini-islands that’s free of psycho and sociopaths.
Speaking of Ronald… throughout the whole episode, I kept asking myself why Helen just didn’t call the cops on Ronald. It’s clear that she was terrified of him and yet, there she was protecting him despite knowing all the “filthy” things he’s done.
They say a mother’s love knows no bounds, but she was harming so many innocent lives with her silence. And it was very obvious that Ronald would never change.
The only logical explanation for her cooperation is that she felt some sort of guilt for the way he turned out because she coddled and belittled him all his life. Also, I couldn’t help but laugh at her prayer comments. No amount of prayer could fix this.
Eventually, Helen realized it was her responsibility to get her son some much-needed and long-overdue help, which was smart.
What wasn’t smart? Telling a man who openly said he would consider murder that she was going to report him to the cops. He was already so agitated, why would she think this was a good idea?
Maybe she could’ve informed him as the cops showed up at their house, but absolutely not before she even made the call. What did she think was going to happen when she pushed him into a corner? Did she think God was going to protect her?
It was like watching a car accident unfold. By confronting him, she was basically asking to be killed. I wish God told her that.
Ronald was so upset that he snapped her neck, and unlike all the other times, this one didn’t happen in his imagination. You could tell he didn’t want to hurt his mother, but he couldn’t stop himself nor was he even aware of the rage bubbling inside of him.
Their relationship was dysfunctional and highly-uncomfortable to watch, but it was nothing compared to Ronald leaving his dead mother on the chair watching television.
And right after that, he went to Merilee’s house and didn’t even miss a beat. If that isn’t delusional, I don’t know what is.
Seeing how calm and collected he was after killing the person closest to him, you can see why I was so worried for Merilee. At any moment, she could say the wrong thing or push the wrong button and end up just like Helen.
Poor Merilee. She’s not a bad person, she’s just a person that bad things keep happening to.
Do you think Cassie and Jenny will apprehend Ronald based solely on a sketch and a fake name?
And will the decaying Helen eventually help them crack the case? If Ronald doesn’t do a better job of cleaning up, he’s going to leave a trail of bodies that lead right back to him.
Will Rick regain his memories? Is he faking it?
- Why is Tubb so insistent on Cassie and Jenny staying off of the case? They may not be cops, but it wasn’t cops who cracked the case. They’re clearly good at their jobs, have earned the trust of the kidnapped girls, and are determined because the same suspects killed Cody. At the very least, they should be able to assist.
- I hate watching Jerrie live in fear. The fact that the cops didn’t offer protection from the get-go is unreal. There’s a kidnapper/murderer on the loose and these girls can identity him. How does that not warrant protection?
- The show was heavily criticized in its early stages for ignoring the kidnappings and sex trafficking of indigenous women in Montana. However, it was brought up by a cop named Elena, who suggested looping in the tribes at reservations truck stops for help. How else should the show incorporate this real-life problem?
Let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments below!
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