Big Sky writer on that winter premiere twist: 'No one is safe'
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Tuesday's episode of Big Sky, "The Wolves Are Always Out for Blood."
Big Sky is back, and there has been an awakening.
The ABC drama returned for its winter premiere Tuesday night, picking up right where it left off with Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) rescuing the three kidnapped girls after shooting Rick Legarski (John Carroll Lynch) in the head.
But it turned out Cassie's shot wasn't fatal… yet, at least. Rick was taken to the hospital and placed under observation in a coma the ICU. In the meantime, Cassie had to deal with the fallout, with the police investigating the shooting and its justification. That included facing Merilee (Brooke Smith), who wrestled with the truth about her incapacitated husband and dealt with police tearing her home apart for evidence.
But that was hardly the biggest problem. With Legarski taken down, Jenny (Katheryn Winnick) finally discovered the truth about Cody (Ryan Phillippe), leading to a tearful funeral that brought her and Cassie together in unexpected ways. The two decided to team up to close out this case, determined to find Ronald (Brian Geraghty), who took extreme measures to cover his tracks, including spray-painting his truck cab a new color.
But they barely scratched the surface of the mess in store. Ronald is still watching Jerrie (Jesse James Keitel), leaving threatening notes at her home. And in the episode's final moments, Legarski opened his eyes — alive, but in what condition?
We called up the episode's writer, Maria Sten, to learn more about the potential consequences of this waking nightmare and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We all assumed Legarski wouldn't make it after being shot in the head, but the final moments of this episode revealed him opening his eyes. How are his chances looking now?
MARIA STEN: There's a lot of tests and medical whatnot that he probably has to undergo, but we pride ourselves on being a show that continues to deliver on the promise of twists and turns and the unexpected. With regard to his still being in the running and still being a threat, it just gives us more drama, more juice. It gives Cassie and Jenny something to combat just when they thought that they had finished the job and they got the girls to safety. They still have a big baddie that they need to combat and defeat. And then there are other questions that come up [like], what are his mental capabilities at this point?
How much might this reveal complicate things for Cassie and Jenny, especially Cassie?
We left it that way so that hopefully people will tune in to episode 7 and see how the hell are they going to get over this? How the hell are they going to get rid of this guy who continues to just be a thorn in their side?
What about for Ronald?
Ronald and Legarski's relationship at this point is fairly contentious, and Ronald has his own agenda. The guy who sort of made him this tool is now his enemy. They're at odds. There a lot of things for Ronald to get into, he has to cover his bases. He has to close the loop and tie off the loose ends, so hopefully we're starting the year off with drama and lots of things to get into in the next couple of episodes.
Speaking of Ronald, his violent fantasies involving his mother seem to be escalating. How concerned for her safety should we be?
I think it's safe to assume that on Big Sky you should be concerned for everybody's safety at all times.
He's still actively terrorizing Jerrie. How much danger is she still in? Has she just jumped out of the frying pan into the fire?
We try to always keep the fire going. And the pressure and the tension. With Jerrie, she is the only person who can really identify Ronald at this point. The Sullivan sisters have gone back to Colorado, so she's the only one who's around and can identify things. She's definitely still in danger. And then the question of course will be, will she get her day in the sun, her comeuppance, or not?
Ronald has gone to great lengths to hide his truck and cover up evidence, but he's also still maintaining a bond with Legarski's wife (unbeknownst to her). Might some of these risks catch up with him, or is he doing a good job covering his tracks?
He is a long-haul trucker, and he prides himself on being an expert in all things trucking. I loved writing that sequence where he has to disguise the truck. Because it just gives us a little more insight to who he is and what he does and where he comes from. But it is a show about Cassie and Jenny and our two heroes, and it would be nice to see them finally get to these awful guys and get the upper hand. That would be very nice to see, but it didn't happen in [episode 6]. We still have a couple of more episodes to get them their wins.
Merilee is grappling with the truth about her husband, but also still connected to Ronald without knowing it. Is she in danger? And is she likely to be a help or hindrance to Cassie and Jenny going forward?
I really love this episode for Merilee because she's in such an awful position. She's married to this guy, and now she knows the truth about who he really is and has been blind to it for who knows how long. This is a moment where she needs to decide, "Am I going to stand by my husband, or am I going to throw him under the bus?" For her character, having been neglected for so long, it's a really interesting place that we're leaving her at the end of that episode. Then, coming into [episode 7] when he wakes up, she has to now decide, "Where do I stand with my husband? Will I stand by his side or not?"
Grace [Jade Pettyjohn] and Danielle [Natalie Alyn Lind] are scheduled to leave Montana soon. Will we see much more of them on the show?
They came up here to visit Justin [Gage Marsh]. Now, who knows what will happen? Things went really, really wrong. We all feel like maybe this is the time for them to go back to Colorado. We can always bring them back into the world, and with Ronald still being on the loose, no one is safe.
You all said goodbye to Cody in this episode, with Cassie and Jenny discovering the sad truth and the funeral. Is the book on his story closed now, or might it still have threads to come?
It's safe to say that Cody Hoyt, unfortunately, has been laid to rest at this point. But we still have Jenny and Cassie to carry on his legacy.
Cassie and Jenny seem an unlikely pair given their history, but they're committed to closing this case. How might we see their partnership grow and evolve? Will Cody still be a barrier, or is that water under the bridge at this point?
What I love about [episode 6] is we do see them come together, and it's oddly the loss of Cody that bonds them together. They share that loss but also understand that they still have a bit to do. I love seeing these two strong women band together for their cause, if you will. So moving forward, whether they now can learn how to work together or whether they'll continue to butt heads, that is to be determined.
They've started this partnership. Ronald is the first order of business, but will it expand to include more cases this season? Is Ronald perhaps just a small cog in a bigger machine?
C.J. Box and David Kelley did such a good job building out this world. We've set up that no one is safe in this world and there are a lot of awful things that happen in the backwoods of Montana. So in that sense, we are very excited about introducing new characters, new story lines, new cases that will come to pepper the show and spice things up and throw a wrench in the day to day for Cassie and Jenny.
Can you tease the next episode?
Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies. I can say that things with Rick and Ronald are about to get even crazier. That is as much as I can say.
A twisty crime thriller set in the remote climes of Montana, from TV legend David E. Kelley.