‘Big Sky’s John Carroll Lynch Breaks Down Rick’s Actions & the Latest Shocker

John Carroll Lynch Big Sky Episode 5 Rick Legarski Flashback
Spoiler Alert
ABC/Darko Sikman

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episode 5 of Big Sky, “A Good Day to Die.”]

John Carroll Lynch‘s Rick Legarski is now part of major shockers to cap off the first and last Big Sky episodes of 2020.

After Rick was the one to kill Cody (Ryan Phillippe) in the premiere, it’s private detective Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) who pulls the trigger on the state trooper. She tracks him down to that bar (he’s a creature of habit), where he has Danielle (Natalie Alyn Lind), Grace (Jade Pettyjohn), and Jerrie (Jesse James Keitel) and is waiting for the buyer. But to his surprise, it’s Cassie who walks in, and even as he taunts her that he’ll count to five before doing something (likely shooting her), she (presumably) kills him with a bullet to the head.

The episode title is “appropriate,” Lynch laughs while discussing the shocker with TV Insider. “Certainly any day after he kills Cody is a good day for Rick Legarski to die. I think everybody can agree on that.”

Here, Lynch breaks down the winter finale and reveals if we’ll see Rick again.

Rick is dead, right?

John Carroll Lynch: [Laughs] Rick is dead. … We’ll find out whether or not Rick is dead. Certainly, in the circumstances, one would think so.

I just had to check because with TV, the right trajectory…

It’s so true. … Let’s just say, he appears in other episodes.

I was wondering, because we have gotten flashbacks with Cody.

I certainly think [that’s] a possibility. He has relationships with a lot of different people, so each of them might have an experience flashing back, particularly Merilee, obviously.

Rick Legarski Big Sky Episode 5 Final Scene

(ABC/Darko Sikman)

Rick really seemed to think he could talk his way out of any situation. First, there’s when they find him in the storage shed and he’s spiraling, blaming Cassie. Did he think it would work?

Yes. Whether or not he’s the best judge of whether or not things are successful in that way, he’s clearly proven his belief in his own bulls**t ability’s a little higher than other people’s.

Then he goads Cassie. How did he think it would end up? Did he think if he talked long enough maybe whoever was supposed to show up for the girls would intervene? That he could fire quicker?

The writers and I have differences in opinion in regards to what he was doing. Whether or not Cassie is capable of firing that gun is something they’ve had discussions about before. She’s assured him she was, but he has been led to believe by the people he’s checked in about her with that she bailed at the academy for a reason. We may find out [why].

There’s also a possibility it’s a reverse death by cop: there’s no way out of this circumstance now for Legarski, and he’s finding a way to end it in a way he feels is right.

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What’s great about the language is people are left to decide for themselves what is happening. I think your point of view — whether or not he’s just delaying long enough for backup — is also a really cool way to look at it. Is he teaching her a lesson? He doesn’t raise his weapon. He tells her he’s going to at five, but it takes a long time to get to five, and he has the gun out for quite a long period of time and doesn’t raise it, so maybe you’re right that he’s waiting for backup.

What’s great about [executive producer] David [E. Kelley]‘s writing is there’s interpretation, an open-endedness to interpretation. You can bend it to how you need to in order to make it alive. I was really happy with that scene and happy working with Kylie on it.

Did he underestimate Cassie and Jenny (Katheryn Winnick)?

Absolutely. But I don’t think it’s the first time Rick Legarski has underestimated the power and intelligence of women. Clearly he underestimated Grace, Danielle, and Jerrie as well. He underestimates a lot of people, and that comes from a certain kind of hubris and pride that is unjustified for Rick Legarski.

Big Sky Episode 2 Rick Cassie John Carroll Lynch Kylie Bunbury

(ABC/Darko Sikman)

Did you know Rick would be killed — or appear to be dead — five episodes in when you signed on?

There’s no moral universe in most places in storytelling where a person as odious as Rick Legarski makes it through alive. I knew there was a pine box in his future. I just didn’t necessarily know when it was, but the writing on this show is so on the edge of your seat. It’s a real rollercoaster to act and to watch and I really appreciate how the writers are keeping the tension in each episode and not wasting a single one.

Rick told Merilee he was going to turn over a new leaf. What did he envision that entailed? Did he think he could?

Yes, he did. I really think he thinks, “If I could just get rid of these three young women and close this whole thing down, I can return to the upstanding citizen reputation that I had to start before I engaged in this stuff.” That’s a long way to go, but redemption is possible.

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There was something almost as terrifying about him moving Merilee’s hair and sitting with her as his vision of killing her, and he tells Ronald she’s all he’s got. Would that have been enough for him to turn over a new leaf for her or would they have eventually ended up back in the same place?

That’s a really good question. It would be about whether or not Rick is capable of the effort necessary to change the things he’d need to change in order to be the partner Merilee needs. He hasn’t shown any indication he has that ability. But mercy is always possible and grace can transform people. I would hope that would be possible, but I personally, as a human being, don’t know if you can do that without taking responsibility, and he’s not interested in that.

Going back to the premiere, what was your reaction to Rick killing Cody?

When I read the episode, I thought it was bold, fantastic, and interesting and I really appreciated it. The execution of it by [director] Paul McGuigan, [cinematographer] Oliver [Bokelberg], the actors and all the storytellers involved was really successful. Obviously, there’s an audience for this kind of thriller, and this episode is no different. I’m sure after people see what happens to Rick Legarski, their minds will be, in some ways, as blown — pardon the pun — as Cody’s brain was.

John Carroll Lynch Big Sky Pilot Rick Kills Cody

(ABC/Darko Sikman)

Did Rick regret killing Cody?

There’s regret in all of it. His intention to turn over a new leaf is about, to some degree, regret, but I don’t know he sees — taking somebody’s life in the way that he takes a life is so selfish and self-centered and so impulsive and un-thought out. In the very short period of time the show takes place over —not very many days — he’s not a guy who strikes me as somebody who does a lot of self-reflection to begin with, so it might take him a little more time to realize all the many things he should’ve regretted. Even in the flashback, there are things that certainly should be subjects of regret. The primary thing he’s regretting during this episode, that’s most flipping him out, is how much damage has been done to his marriage that he was not aware of.

And like I said, it was probably inevitable they’d get to the same ending.

Unless he’s willing to change, you’re absolutely right.

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Speaking of that flashback and regrets, is bringing Ronald in the biggest one?

To me, the thing he should most fundamentally regret is “I think I should go into slavery. I’ll get into sex-trafficking.” That was a poor [decision] to start. It’s proven to be true Ronald was another mistake he made, and the mistake of killing Cody, and he just continues to make mistakes. I love shows and characters that celebrate common decency. Behaving in the way Rick is behaving from the time he shoots Cody on, I would hope that would be an unsustainable level of corruption. It finally catches up to him in the embodiment of Cassie Dewell. She is an appropriate messenger for his level of mistakes.

As chilling as you were on American Horror Story, there was something just as disturbing about Rick’s “cheerful” disposition at times, from helping the tourist in the premiere to warning Ronald he’s not in the clear. I never knew if Rick was going to try to be helpful in a questionable way or kill someone. Even in that final scene with Cassie, the expression on his face when he takes out his gun…

With the exception of John Wayne Gacy on American Horror Story, the other two characters I played, so far, to some degree, are misunderstood or have a backstory that provides pity as horror can so successfully do.

John Carroll Lynch Rick Legarski Big Sky Episode 5

(ABC/Darko Sikman)

There’s nothing pitiable about Rick Legarski. There’s nothing he didn’t sign up for. He’s not a person from a broken home. He’s not damaged in the way those characters are damaged. He’s not betrayed in the way those characters are betrayed. He chose all of this, and he chose it from a position of privilege. When he began this process, he was a decorated officer of the Montana State Patrol, if we were to believe everyone around him who thought that. Somewhere along the line, he started making the decision he knew better than the law. In that way, I personally find him more reprehensible than anybody I played on American Horror Story, with the exception of John Wayne Gacy.

Big Sky, Tuesdays, 10/9c, ABC