“The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep”
September 28, 2022
“My sweet boy … do we have a problem?”
Reba is holding the plate of warm s’mores, her flashlight still trained on Dead-eyes. His dead eyes get shifty. How did she know? Reba tells him a mother always knows … and reminds him that he can’t be there. He has a place, and as long as he stays there, everything is peachy keen. That’s their deal.
Dead-eyes Walt simply says he needs to show her something.
Walt leads her a short distance and points to hiker Mark who SCHEISSE MINNELLI IS STILL VERY MUCH ALIVE. Walt says the man fell. Mark is bloody and broken, his whole body shaking from the effort to keep drawing breath. SWEET BUTTERY JEBUS IT’S BEEN DAYS. Reba shoos Walt away and says she’ll handle it.
And by handle it, she means asking Mark to see past his fear and agony and understand that she has a child of her own to protect. Reba begins to softly sing the murder song, and Mark is like, welp! Life can’t get much better than a personal Reba concert, I may as well just embrace my eternal rest.
The next day, two young women come into the agency in response to the missing person flyers. The one says it’s hard to forget a face like Mark’s. She invited him to grab a few beers with them by the hot springs, but he seemed more interested in the Dead Man’s Drop trail than in them. And good thing too, as far as Denise is concerned. She chimes in that one of the first rules of not getting murdered is NOT inviting handsome strangers back to your remote campsite.
“That features in my Top 10 Serial Killer Most Certain Death Scenarios.”
Once again, Denise is all of us. Or, me. Denise is me.
Also, that’s funny, because Beau used to know a guy who was a “true crime” enthusiast.
At the station, Beau is tucking into a sandwich and I hope for Jensen’s sake that he has retained the lesson of not actually eating the on-camera food.
Deputy Poppernak is delighted by how much Beau is enjoying the layers of flavor that are in his mouth right now. Jenny gets a sour taste in her mouth when Poppernak says the sandwich is from the Blue Fox Diner—Meadow Soprano’s place. Beau acknowledges that two things can be true at the same time—Meadow can be Jenny’s mortal enemy and she can make a damn fine sandwich.
Jenny will not be swayed by bread and meat! She insists that, far from going legit, Meadow and her “lap dog” Donno are criminals and Jenny is going to prove it. She’s going to lock Meadow up. Jenny turns on her heel and stops short when she sees said mortal enemy standing directly behind her. Meadow sweetly asks if they can help her with a squatter problem first.
Jenny and Poppernak meet Meadow at a client’s home. Meadow stink eyes Jenny’s hood and the still unrepaired damage from the guy who fell on it last week. Jenny sasses that at least she didn’t get her car from a guy who owed her dad gambling money.
The sound of a struggle comes from inside the house and they find Donno tussling with the squatter—Jef with one F. But Jefwof says he has every right to be there, according to the Homestead Act of 1862 and Montana’s adverse possession laws. Jenny is delighted to see Meadow thwarted … until Donno finds Jefwof’s crime satchel full of stacks of cash, fake IDs, and a gun.
Jenny runs them both in and lets Jefwof stew in a cell with Donno. Poppernak throws in a drunk and disorderly for good measure. At the sound of tussle, part of the second, the officers rush back into holding to find Donno trying to prevent the D&D from jabbing Jefwof with a syringe of certain death.
Jenny boots D&D in the face and he swings at her with the needle. Donno rips open his shirt like a Great Value Hulk Hogan while screeching at the top of his lungs.
“Mental kuzushi. Art of distraction. You’re welcome.”
Y’all, what is this sorcery that Big Sky seems to wield of presenting compelling and oddly entertaining villains? Like, I know Donno murdered a bunch of people last season, but he can totally stay.
At Sunny Day Excursions, Reba is showing Emily where to store her food so that the bears can’t get to it. Hey, did you know there’s actually a place in Montana where manufacturers send their coolers to be “real-world tested” by grizzlies? Emily holds her phone up and asks Reba if she’s ever seen a grizzly. Reba is like, what’s this podcast about again? Emily thinks a moment and says maybe today’s subject is things she’s afraid of.
Well, bears are our #1 threat.
Reba allows that she has seen a bear or two, and while they’re generally of a live and let live nature, she cautions against ever getting in between a momma bear and her cub. FORESHADOWING!
Reba sends Emily back to camp when she sees Buck and his troubled countenance heading towards her. He wonders where she slipped off to in the dead of night. Reba says the moonlight called to her so she went for a walk. She places a reassuring hand on Buck’s chest—there’s blood on her hand and dirt under her fingernails. THAT’S JUST FROM THE FIREWOOD REBA BROUGHT INTO CAMP. NOT FROM DIGGING A SHALLOW GRAVE DON’T BE SILLY, BUCK.
Cassie brings Beau along to check out Dead Man’s Drop. He pants up the trail behind her. Has he ever told her how flat Texas is? He stands by his previous statement that he was born for the outdoors—but she didn’t tell him they were trekking through the Grand Canyon! He says he would have worn marathon boots and brought some oxygen if she had.
Beau takes a pause from his self-admitted tantrum long enough to spy the water bottle Mark dropped when he tumbled off the cliff. This new piece of possible evidence seems like a good reason to check in on Reba’s operation … and has nothing to do with wanting to check up on Emily.
Cassie makes introductions, and I’m pretty sure that look of fanboy delight on Beau’s face is actually Jensen Ackles just basking in Reba’s presence, as you do. Buck invites them to stay and eat but Cassie declines. If the man’s not going to be allowed to eat a meal, can he at least get some pie to go?
Cassie briefly makes googly eyes at Cormac before turning the conversation to missing Mark. She says he was last seen six days ago and SIX DAYS? IT’S BEEN SIX DAYS??! SWEET CHUCK, THAT POOR MAN! Reba and Buck continue to downplay (and deny). Buck says some people just want to disappear. Beau agrees that’s true … and adds that there are also people who make them disappear. DRAMA!
The conversation draws to a close when Emily catches sight of her dad. She gives him a tour of her tent and lovingly scolds that he didn’t need to come all the way out there to check up on her. Beau insists that the visit is just business (mostly). He says they’re checking out a missing hiker and chalks it up as a case of overprotective parents. The worst, right?
Desmond strolls over and the vibe gets awkward and weird but Beau saves it by telling Emily he’s just happy he got to see her and gives her a big dad hug. YAY FOR GIRL DADS! YAY HUGGING!!!
Cassie verifies through Mark’s social media that the water bottle is his and that he was on the Basin trailhead the same day the girls saw him. Denise is like, hey remember that “Bleeding Heart” murder I told you about? Yeah, the girl’s body was found at Dead Man’s Drop and her killer was never found.
The day wears on and the light begins to fade. Luke and Paige are out on the trail, lost and bickering again some more. The sniping escalates until Paige decides she’s done. All they had to do was lay low until things blew over and they could go back for the money (money you say?) She says he would be in jail right now if it wasn’t for her, but she’s through fixing his messes and listening to his whining.
Paige wishes him luck waiting for “mommy” to come find him. Luke’s hand shoots out and wraps around Paige’s throat. She breaks his grip and shoves him away from her before warning she’ll kill him if he ever puts hands on her like that again.
Luke picks up a large rock, weighs it in his hands, and follows on the trail after her.
The next morning over coffee Reba alerts the campers that Luke and Paige are missing—but don’t worry! Her good buddy Ranger Mike is on it! (Range Mike is not on it.) A guest asks if there’s more they can do and Emily aggressively picks up on the idea.
THEY NEED TO DO SOMETHING. THEY SHOULD ALL GO OUT AND LOOK. FORM UP SEARCH PARTIES.
Reba looks like she wants to smack the helpfulness out of Emily, but she reels it in and agrees that’s a great idea! She was just about to suggest it! Thank you for helping, EMILY.
Reba tells those who want to help to grab a partner and fan out. For the rest who don’t care whether two people live or die, they’re free to enjoy the hot springs or just relax by the fire.
And Desmond doesn’t mention it, but he can confirm that Luke and Paige are not in their tent. He conducted a thorough snoop before Emily busted him.
Reba limits her search to Walt’s homestead. She skulks around his outdoor workshop calling his name. Carving tools and bits of work in progress lay about. It looks like he could be making dolls? I think I saw a tiny little hand.
Desmond didn’t care about Paige and Luke to begin with, but he’s officially done caring now that he needs a toilet. And no, he can’t use one of the trees and he’s not a GODDAMNED BEAR so can they just go back to camp already??
Emily is on a mission. She says there’s just one more trail she wants to check out. He can go poop and she’ll go on alone. It’s fine.
It’s never fine, DESMOND. If something happens to Emily …
“So I leave you with a basic squatter situation and come back to a drunk assassin attack in our holding cell?
Jenny brings Beau up to speed. Jefwof’s real name is Paul. He’s a whistleblower on the run with evidence that his employer, Redmond Aircraft Corporation, hid evidence that their new multi-million dollar fleet of passenger aircraft failed safety tests over and over again. Paul was going to testify, but he got cold feet fearing that the Feds couldn’t protect him. So he decided to hide out in an empty house in Montana instead. Sound plan.
Jenny and Beau work together to convince Paul that making a run to Canada with a bag of cash is not a long-term solution—for himself or the hundreds of people who could possibly die in one of Redmond’s death machines. Also, as a side note, I have it on good authority that attorneys who specialize in aircraft-related cases are super fun to travel with.
They hand Paul over to Deputy Marshal Weaver—but only after checking her credentials and calling her office to verify her identity. Beau jokes that she could be pretending to be a Fed.
She’d be surprised how often it happens.
A short phone call later and Beau seems satisfied. They’re good to go … but just to be on the safe side, he details Poppernak and his mom’s minivan to follow them. Good thing too—Weaver passes the turn to the airport and seems to be headed back to the squatter house.
So either Weaver was turned by Redmond, or those weren’t the Feds that Beau was talking to.
At the squatter house, Jenny and Weaver get into a standoff with Paul caught in the middle. Poppernak slips up behind Weaver and clubs her across the back with a lamp. Beau and his pleasing plum pullover (second cousin to the henley of hotness) prowl through the house.
He creeps downstairs and kicks in a door. A woman screams and Jenny immediately shifts into PROTECT BEAU AT ALL COSTS mode, as you do. But it’s okay! Beau just discovered Paul’s insurance policy—a fellow employee who can corroborate his story and help him take down the evil aviation company. Tiny bags of pretzels and exit-row seats for all!
After the dust settles, Beau and Jenny stop by the ranch for an impromptu housewarming. Beau hands Cassie a loaf of bread—so you never go hungry—and a carton of salt, so you’re always protected. Cassie has a momentary confused and then realizes …
“Oh, from demons.”
Goddammit Show, quit flirting, and just marry me already!
And of course asking for bread and salt is the traditional Westerosi means of invoking guest right and ensuring you’ll sleep safely under your host’s roof.
Unless you’re attending a wedding at the Twins.
Anyhoo, Cassie finds some glasses and they pour the tequila that Jenny brought, toasting to blackmailing Meadow for this beautiful home. Beau offers a cheers to Paul’s safe transfer into actual custody and to doing the right thing.
And again I will say how much I enjoy this easy rapport and camaraderie that these three have. Even though the relationship blossomed in the off-screen period between Seasons 2 and 3, the chemistry between them feels real and authentic and IT GIVES ME LIFE.
This, Show. Keep doing this.
Jenny asks how the missing hiker case is going and Cassie just casually mentions the whole bleeding heart murder thing and Beau tries not to FREAK OUT AF. He whips out his phone to text Emily. Just to check in, he says. A short and sweet love you, miss you PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T GET MURDERED IN THE WOODS.
At that moment in those woods, Emily is following a trail of blood that brings her to a high point looking down on a stream. Luke is crouched down by the water with his back to her. Emily is amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood that are smeared on his arms and down his leg. She takes a picture and Luke turns at the sound of the shutter click.
So let’s just add that scenario to Denise’s list of things you sure as shit don’t do when you’re alone in the woods.
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.