"It's a completely different story, but still Big Sky-worthy."

By Maureen Lee Lenker
April 01, 2021 at 11:32 AM EDT
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"New cast, new storyline, new look and feel." That's how Big Sky star Katheryn Winnick teases the back half of season 1 of the ABC drama.

When the David E. Kelley series returns, it'll be with some new drama — and plenty of new faces — in store. The first nine episodes centered on a storyline involving a sex trafficking operation, three kidnapped young women, and villains, Rick Legarski (John Carroll Lynch) and Ronald Pergman (Brian Geraghty). But the girls have been rescued, Legarski met his demise at the blunt end of a hammer, and Ronald is still at large. So, what's left for newly minted partners Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) and Jenny (Winnick) to do?

Quite a lot when it comes to Big Sky. The first trailer for the spring return, which EW can exclusively debut above, showcases Ronald in his new disguise, still very much on the run and menacing Jerrie (Jesse James Keitel). But it also introduces us to a crew of new characters, including a U.S. marshal, an old pal of Jenny's, and a family with a penchant for violence.

"When we come back in episode 10, it's three months later and we sort of pick up with Cassie and Jenny still reeling from not getting Ronald," executive producer Matthew Gross teased during the Big Sky PaleyFest panel. "They want to track this guy down. And in [episode] 10, it's a one-off because it is a self-contained story in this episode. But then in [episode] 11, we launch into this new story."

Executive Producer Ross Fineman also explained that the episodes will use the C.J. Box novels that inspired the series to set up a trilogy of storylines per season if the show continues. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, season 1 is shortened, thus allowing for only two major mysteries this season. While the first half of season 1 followed the plot of The Highway, these upcoming episodes draw on another book in the series, Bitter Roots.

"The last six episodes of the first season have a bit of a Succession feel to it," teased Fineman. "We meet another family and that family has their own issues that are both deep-rooted and on the surface and our girls are going to get right in the middle of it. Just like the first nine episodes, there's a lot of onion to peel. There's a lot of things to be shocked about that you're going to want to come back and see."

One other major difference in these final six episodes? Jenny and Cassie's immediate proximity to danger. While they were the heroes in the first half of the season, the fulcrum between the three missing women and the villainous Legarski and Ronald, now they're very much in the thick of it.

"They're drawn into it because an ex-boyfriend of Jenny's is in trouble and that's what brings them into the story of this messed-up, August: Osage County, hillbilly family," Gross said. "What's different is they get thrown into peril themselves. They get thrown into a lot of personal jeopardy themselves and they become the victims of the story initially."

While there will be a lot of new faces and thrills, the producers and cast promised the show will still have its signature feel. " It's tonally atmospheric and it's really exciting," concluded Gross. "It's a completely different story, but still Big Sky-worthy and steeped in character and terrific writing."

Watch the trailer above for more. Big Sky returns to ABC at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13.

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