Jesse James Keitel Explains Jerrie’s Farewell From ‘Big Sky’
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Big Sky Season 2 Episode 5 “Mother Nurture.”]
The November 11 episode of the ABC drama Big Sky has plenty of action. It opens with the show’s two heroines Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) and Jenny (Katheryn Winnick) being shot at by drug cartel member Donno (Ryan O’Nan), while teenagers Max (Madelyn Kientz), Harper (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson), Bridger (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Madison (Lola Skye Reid) try to escape dirty cop Deputy Harvey (Michael Malarkey, The Vampire Diaries).
One character not involved in all of this, however, is Jerrie (Jesse James Keitel) – Season 1’s kidnapping victim who now works with Cassie as a private investigator. She gets her own significant story arc this episode when her estranged father (Jeff Kober) shows up, and says that her mom has cancer. The result is that she leaves at the end of the episode in what’s being positioned as the character’s exit, although Jerrie and her father will be briefly seen again in the December 16 winter finale.
TV Insider spoke with Keitel to discuss this farewell for her fan-favorite character, as well as Jerrie’s love triangle with U.S. marshall Mark Lindor (Omar Metwally) and Cassie, and her search for her former kidnapper Ronald Pergman (Brian Geraghty).
In this episode, Jerrie’s not really involved in the action surrounding the big case but she has her own big character moment that’s going on for her.
Jesse James Keitel: When her dad shows up and then takes her by surprise, it really throws her. A lot of issues from her past come to the surface, and it’s something she has to grapple with right there in the moment. I don’t know if she was really emotionally ready to do that, but thankfully she got the opportunity to.
And we learn through this episode that her parents kicked her out of the house when she came out as trans.
So, in a very early episode of the first season, I believe it’s established in the second or third episode, it was mentioned to Danielle, played by Natalie Alyn Lind, that she was kicked out at 14 and has been living in a trailer park, living on her own, doing what she had to do to survive. I think there’s a direct correlation to how when her parents kicked her out, she ended up in Ronald’s truck. She turned to sex work like a lot of people in the LGBTQ community have to do sometimes, and it ultimately put her in a really scary, dangerous position that almost got her killed. I think she directly blames her parents for where and how her life turned out, and the fact that her life kind of turned around is a testament to her and her strength.
She’s in a very different place in her life than she was when she was that 14-year-old person.
Yeah, come on character arc.
She leaves at the end of the episode to go see her mom. Does she even know how she’s going to approach this? Because she does have some perspective now of everything that’s happened.
I think there’s an endless amount of possibilities for Jerrie here including whether she decides to rebuild a relationship with her family, whether she chooses to just be there, make peace, say goodbye and move on. Or if there’s the opportunity for her to allow them to right their wrongs. I don’t think she’s got that plan, she’s definitely going to just follow their lead, because she’s definitely still got high walls up as she certainly should.
Yes, so I assume Jerrie is going to be gone for maybe the next few episodes. Do we know when she’s coming back? How long is she going to be gone for?
You’ll definitely miss her, but I can’t say you won’t see her again.
OK, and especially because we have this big moment at the end of the episode where she actually confesses to Lindor how she feels. Where does she get that courage from in that moment because up until then she knows he likes Cassie?
There’s always been a chemistry between the two of them and I think her leaving, it’s like ‘hey dude, what’s going on?’ She’s leaving to go make amends with her family. She’s overcome such a huge incredible obstacle. He’s really been such a strong mentor figure for her, her advancement from office secretary to private investigator on the team with Cassie is really a lot due to how he treated her and respected her, which is something her family never did. He gave her the courage to also go back home. He encouraged her to do it. I think in that moment it’s just pure honesty. She’s got nothing else to lose.
Yeah, that’s true. She’s leaving so it’s now or never. And he reciprocates her feelings. I love the way you put it because I guess they really do bring out the best in each other. There’s so much affection and respect there. Is there a relationship in the future for them or we can’t really say?
There’s a lot of possibilities here, a lot of which depends on what Lindor does when Jerrie’s not around.
We’ll just say that Cassie’s still there and she’s not.
Listen, Cassie’s still around and Jerrie isn’t.
Who knows where that’s going to go.
For sure. What do you want to come through about Jerrie to viewers in this episode? I think you play her with such quiet empathy.
Thank you. I hope people care about her and the struggles she had to go through because it’s real, and it’s something I’ve worked really hard to showcase on the show. [Long pause] Sorry, I’m actually getting very emotional. You know, I know Jerrie Kennedy. I think a lot of queer people do. There are parts of Jerrie’s story that we’ve all been through, and to see her overcome the obstacles she’s had to inspires me, and I hope it inspires the queer people at home who may be watching, and their families who may not understand but can hopefully empathize and that’s it. I want them to see Jerrie as a person who life has dealt a lot of really s**ty cards to that she’s overcome with such grace and strength and… she’s still got hopes and dreams and fears and desires, and a family that’s put her through a lot of shit and she’s still come out a winner on the other end.
I love that we’ve been able to see her come so far. She didn’t just disappear after the kidnapping was over. We’ve been able to see she has real skills as a private investigator.
David E. Kelley set up a really great backstory for this character, and I’m really grateful that Elwood Reid allowed us to really dive into that and deepen it and explore that because it’s rich and it’s good and, you know, when it’s right it’s right. Jerrie is a real one.
And she’s taken over the search for Ronald, her and Lindor, pretty much this season because Cassie and Jenny really had to step away. I think they were a little bit too close to it. She’s been hitting a lot of dead ends. What does being the person who’s taking charge of this case mean to her?
That’s the hardest part about Jerrie leaving, is knowing that she’s really close to finding Ronald. At least she feels like she is, and so, of course, right when she’s at a pivotal career moment, a pivotal personal journey she’s on, her family comes in and ruins it again. For her, it’s personal, and more so than anyone else because she not only had some bizarre bond with Ronald, but she also was kidnapped by him. She’s got a really lovely line in the previous episode saying, what about the girls who aren’t as lucky, the ones who don’t get the opportunity to get revenge? The fact that she gets to walk through the world with that intention in mind saying, ‘I’m going to help the people that need me to help them.’ It is badass, I love her.
She’s so close too. She knows about Wolf, [Rick Legarski from season 1’s twin, also played by John Carroll Lynch]. She’s on the right path.
In an earlier episode when she’s on a little date with Lindor, or at least she thinks she is, they mention her past as a sex worker and how there are things she learned from that that she can use in her job as a private investigator. She had to be observant, she had to know who she could and couldn’t trust, and that’s why the Ronald thing kind of threw her a bit. She probably thought she was a pretty good judge of character…we all know how that ended up.
But she’s repurposed the skills now. I’m not ready for her to be gone, but I hope we see her again very soon.
Yeah, she’s… you’ll just have to watch to find out.
Big Sky, Thursdays, 10/9c, ABC