‘Big Sky’: A SuperSky State of Mind

Big Sky

“Do You Love an Apple”
September 21, 2022

Don’t you love nature? The sweeping vistas. Fresh air. Blue skies. Dead-eyed mountain men lying in wait to murder you.

Wait, what?

A lone hiker smiles with contentment as he follows a meandering stream to a trailhead. His options are Deadman’s Drop or the Basin. He wisely chooses the latter. He pauses under an outcropping when he hears dreamy women’s voices echoing against the rocks. It was hard to tell at first if the song was part of the soundtrack or in-show. The Panasonic cassette player our lone hiker finds answers that question.

Lone Hiker is all like, ‘ … the hell?’ Perhaps said dead-eyed, knife-wielding mountain man that suddenly appears behind him can resolve the confusion. 

Dead-Eyes tries to put Lone Hiker at ease. He explains that a deer fell and he had to put it out of its misery. As you do. Lone Hiker strikes a casual pose and nods in nervous agreement. That is something one does, isn’t it? He politely takes a raincheck on staying to help butcher the animal. Yeah, maybe later. He carries on, thoughts of Dead-Eyes receding as he gains elevation and pauses to enjoy the view.

And then he hears the music again.

Dead-Eyes is magically standing behind him, which is hilarious and improbable and I’m 100% here for it. Also, Dead-Eyes is played by actor Seth Gabel, who I know best as Cotton Mather from Salem, but he’s also married to Bryce Dallas Howard, which makes Ron Howard his father-in-law.

Dead-Eyes is holding the Panasonic in one hand; the other rests on the knife in his belt. He warns Lone Hiker to watch his step as he slowly moves towards the hiker. Lone Hiker backpedals himself right off a cliff and into the title card. 

And that’s why nature is terrible.

At the investigative offices of Dewell & Hoyt, Jenny, Cassie, and Denise begin the day by discussing the temporary acting sheriff Beau Arlen, which is most certainly something one does when the temporary acting sheriff is also the FACE OF THE SUN.

Denise sighs that the man sure does fill out his Wranglers and SPEAK ON IT, DENISE. PREACH.

Cassie and Jenny compare notes on what they know about Beau’s ex-wife and daughter before shifting to the cases Jenny has on deck. The agency is a bit short-handed now that Jerrie and US Marshal Lindor are starring in Peacock’s upcoming Queer as Folk reboot and Brian Watkins’ Lincoln Center Theater production of “Epiphany” tracking the sex-trafficking syndicate that was a main part of Seasons 1 and 2’s storylines.

Denise hands Cassie the file on Lone Hiker — Mark Woodman. His parents in San Francisco reported him missing after not hearing from him for several days. Denise suggests talking with outdoors outfitter Sunny Barnes. And I don’t care what the character’s name is y’all—that’s REBA.

Beau Legs Soldier Beau Beau Arlen saunters into the office, casserole dish in hand. He hands it to Denise with a smile and a warning that if she keeps cooking for him like that he’s going to need a whole new wardrobe. Denise would be more than happy to take him shopping. Make sure everything fits right. She mimes gently caressing Beau’s backside. 

Denise is all of us. We are all Denise.

Jenny and Beau drive together to the office, and Beau encourages his partner to work through her lingering animosity towards Meadow Soprano. After Tony died, Meadow went into witness protection under the guise of small town waitress Tonya Walsh, but she soon found herself back in the life working with the Bhullar drug cartel family.

If Jenny doesn’t want to do breathing exercises, and won’t talk about it, Beau suggests she add Tonya to a Punching List. It’s like an Arya Stark list, but less murdery.

Beau recounts the people on his list: his 5th-grade bully, his football coach, Elon Musk, the guy from the beer commercials—you know the one—and his daughter’s stepdad. Beau says he’s not going to punch any of these people … but it sure feels good to think about it.

As they talk, they come upon the start to this week’s B-plot: a husky fellow trotting along the side of the road in athletic socks and Hanes briefs. He pants that a prisoner has escaped before reaching into his tighty-whiteys and pulling out his ID. He tosses it to Jenny and Beau who both try to avoid being touched by his sweaty junk juice.

While Officer Miller’s story about being overpowered by his 125-pound prisoner Faith Cole unravels—he tried to sex her, she punched him in the throat and ran—Faith is busy robbing a nearby convenience store. She and Bill the manager are both gone by the time Jenny and Beau arrive on scene.

A little digging later and Jenny uncovers a possible motive: revenge. Manager Bill is the brother of Faith’s ex-boyfriend, the man she blames for her conviction. Poppernack adds that the ex is currently in prison for stealing a thresher. Beau buzzuhs at that piece of information and chides Poppernack for calling him ‘sir’. The deputy stumbles over himself apologizing, and I know what he actually says is, “damn,” but it also kind of sounds like ‘Dean,’ so.

Beau calls Cassie en route to Manager Bill’s apartment to let her know his day has gone sideways with this whole fugitive thing and movie night might be on hold. Jenny is all like, movie night? She teasingly probes if they’re really friends or … Beau chortles at the insinuation left hanging in the air. He insists that yes, he and Cassie are just friends. He says they’ve bonded over the last few months. But if Jenny is feeling left out, she should consider herself invited. Snacks. Beers. Korean horror. 80s rom-coms.

And y’all. I know Beau Arlen isn’t Dean Winchester. And I suspect that jovial, good-natured exterior is masking some deep hurt. But there’s a lightness to this character that I can’t help thinking is who Dean might have been if he wasn’t weighed down by a lifetime of loss and pain and regret and guilt and responsibility.


Anyhoo, they pull into the parking lot of Bill’s apartment complex. Jenny thinks his building is just … down … here … and then the man’s body falls out of the sky and onto the hood of Jenny’s truck.

Yup! This is the place.

Jenny calls for an ambulance and then races upstairs to Bill’s now empty apartment. Beau calls her out for going in without backup. There are many rules that the temporary acting sheriff seems willing to skirt, but that’s not one of them. He asks about the stuffed animal that Jenny is holding and she tosses the moose plushie to him. She found it in the apartment and wonders why Faith would have taken it from the market. Beau reminisces about something similar he had as a kid … until his brother ripped its head off, Beau put him in a headlock and mom beat the crap out of both of them. Good times!

Also …

Beau talking about his brother. While holding a moose.


SuperSky is a thing, y’all.

Jenny proposes an alternate theory to the case: what if it’s about a kid? And what if Faith grabbed her? Poppernack confirms that Bill had custody of his niece, Madeleine. Faith helped raise the girl after her mother died, and knew about Bill’s plans to move to Ireland for a new job. Poppernack says Madeleine referred to Faith as Mommy in a letter found in her cell.

Faith stalks into the aunt’s hair salon just steps ahead of Beau and Jenny. Madeleine comes out of the bathroom to find her mother holding a gun on her aunt. The little girl whispers that she’s sorry. Beau and Jenny burst through the doors, guns drawn. Faith shouts that she won’t lose her daughter again. Beau says they don’t want to shoot her, which sends Madeleine rushing to throw her arms around her mother’s waist, so good job with the de-escalation, BEAUFORT. Faith tearfully drops the gun and embraces her daughter. 

Jenny quickly moves to cuff Faith, but Beau steps in. He quietly tells Jenny to give her a minute to say goodbye to her kid. There’s something about his expression that says he understands what Faith is feeling right now.

Cassie drives out to Sunny Day Excursions and seems to be well and friendly acquainted with Reba—who mentions they offer a law enforcement discount if Cassie wants to bring her son Kai out. And that’s on being a single mom who works too hard, who loves her kid, and never stops. Reba takes the missing person flyer and sympathizes with what Mark’s parents must be going through. She says she was worried sick when her son Cormac took a crazy bike trip down to Baja. She calls him over and Cassie is all like,

Neither Reba nor Cormac seem concerned about the missing hiker’s well-being, but they promise to keep an eye out. Reba also suggests to husband Buck that they not mention it to their guests. It would be a shame to ruin everyone’s vacation. And a lot seems to riding on the business’s new location.

At the office, Denise tells Cassie that something about Basin Trail seemed familiar … and then she remembered: 20 years ago her neighbor’s son’s girlfriend disappeared on Basin Trail on prom night after a party. The girl’s body was eventually found: mutilated, with her heart cut out. It’s thin, and Cassie doesn’t want to jump to conclusions, but she tells Denise to put it on the board. You never know. 

So, werewolf? Are we thinking werewolf?

Beau’s daughter Emily and her stepfather Desmond from LOST are the first guests to be greeted by Reba. Desmond says he hopes his wife will be able to join them after she concludes business in California. And I know Beau said his ex’s name is Carla, but sorry not sorry, I’m calling her Penneh from here on out. SEE YOU IN ANOTHER LIFE, BRUTHA.

Cormac points out a potential issue with young couple Paige and Luke. He wanted to go to Cancun; she booked them there. Reba marches over to get them both in the Big Sky state of mind. Now, I feel Luke when it comes to camping, but that is no excuse for him to sass his host. That is REBA you are speaking to! A three-time Grammy Award winner and Kennedy Center honoree. Put some respect on her name!

Reba takes it all in stride. She smiles and says it takes a little bit, but Paige and Luke will love what they do there. If they get with the program, they will have a great time. 

That is not a suggestion; those are instructions. REBA HAS SPOKEN.

After settling into their glamping tents, the guests convene at the trailhead for a basic safety briefing: let staff know where they’re going, employ the buddy system, and stay on the marked trails. Desmond asks about bears and Reba urges them to be bear aware. She says Mother Nature can be unforgiving, so leave no trace and hope the bears don’t eat their face!

On the Basin Trail, Claire trudges along behind Luke in the wake of his toxic masculinity, and I’m not saying he needs to go off a cliff … but I’m not saying he doesn’t need to go off a cliff. They pause at a tree that has a small heart cut into the bark, filled in with a red substance. Luke wonders if it’s blood. Claire says it’s paint … she hopes. Neither of them nope the hell right back to camp. 


Emily is observing and filming them from a short distance away. She turns and whips out a knife when she hears a twig snap behind her. Her name is printed on the handle. I feel like that’s going to be important at some point.

Reba smiles and says it’s best not to spy. Emily explains she’s recording for this podcast she’s doing. She’s working on a theme—maybe secrets and lies, relationships? At the offer of an interview, Reba shakes her head and says what you see is what you get. Her roots are planted in the past, though her life is changing fast. Who she is is who she wants to be. She’s a survivor.

Later that night, Reba tells Claire that they prepare dinner as a group and wonders where Luke is. Claire says he’s probably still off somewhere sulking because they’re paying to sleep in a tent and make their own food on vacation. I belay my previous cliff statement. Reba says he’ll come around, but if he doesn’t, they can always leave him out in the woods for a few days. Her smile suggests she speaks from experience and is only half kidding. She says she’s got a good one now. Gentle. Still gives her that look. 

Claire says Luke isn’t so bad, so he’s got that going for him. Reba sends Claire off alone into the night to look for Mr. Meh. She finds him sitting in the dark playing a game on his phone. Claire tells him if he doesn’t cheer up he won’t get to enjoy the sexy times. Luke is intrigued—never mind the murder music that begins warbling through the glen. It’s probably nothing. Tell him more about the sexy times. Luke pulls Claire towards him but she gasps and pulls back abruptly when blood begins dripping down onto her face from above.

Buck determines the blood came from a mauled coyote. Reba says it’s just nature. The cycle of life. Claire has had time to freshen up and reconsider her life and her choices. She tells Luke he was right. Nature is the worst! They should have gone anywhere but there. She wants to leave. Now. Reba urges them to give nature another chance (to murder them) and Luke surprisingly agrees. He says this is way more exciting than getting drunk by the pool. It’s going to make such a good story when they go home. (If they go home …)

Before joining Beau for movie night, Cassie makes a stop to sign a contract on her father’s dream ranch—the one he was going to buy before he was murdered by Show’s original Big Bad, Ronald Pergman. She wonders what the catch is when real estate broker Meadow accepts her offer, but apparently Cassie’s threat to reveal the murders that occurred on the property in Season 2, and the drug lab that was in the basement trumps all cash offers.

She meets Beau later at the Airstream trailer he currently calls home. She teases that even though he’s never offered her a real glass, his place is starting to grow on her. It’s the party lights. Party lights make any place feel special. Beau says they can do movie nights at the ranch after she moves in. Cassie will take it under advisement. 

Jenny strolls up and asks what they’re watching. She says she’s flexible as to choice as long as it has Ryan Gosling in it. Beau puts them in charge of picking while he makes a call. Emily sends him to voicemail. She tells Desmond she doesn’t want to be rude to the other guests seated around the campfire enjoying their s’mores. She thumbs out a quick text: “having fun. Luv U!” Reba and Buck pour the champagne to celebrate their guests’ first night. “It ain’t glamping if there ain’t no champs.” I’ll drink to that!

Cassie says they’re doing horror—CASSIE SAYS THEY’RE DOING HORROR—but Beau barely registers it. He is visibly subdued when he rejoins them. He admits he’s not okay. He feels like he’s missing out on his daughter’s life while Desmond gets to be right there, watching it all. Beau says he doesn’t know what to do with that. Cassie tells him he just keeps being there when Emily needs him, no matter what.

Jenny encourages Beau to tell his daughter how much she means to him. She says dads don’t always do that. Beau quietly takes their words to heart and can we talk about how much I love this dynamic between the three of them? The kindness, the trust, the respect? More of this. All of this, Show!

They go back to debating the evening’s movie selection while Reba sits alone by the campfire. She pulls out the missing person flyer Cassie gave her and drops it into the fire. She watches it burn and then holds a marshmallow over the flames. 

Reba begins humming the murder song as she walks into the woods with a plate of s’mores. She calls out that Momma has brought a treat. Dead-Eyes slowly emerges from the dark into the beam of her flashlight. His lower lip begins to tremble as remorse and maybe more than a little fear washes over him. Reba asks her sweet boy if they have a problem. She says a mother always knows.

Big Sky airs on ABC and streams on Hulu. Whitney will also be watching The Winchesters airing on The CW and streaming at CWTV.com. Follow her on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.

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