‘Big Sky’ EP Breaks Down the Finale & Teases What’s Next in Season 2 — If Everyone Survives
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Big Sky Season 1 Finale, “Love Is a Strange and Dangerous Thing.”]
It’s a mix of good news and bad news in the Big Sky Season 1 finale. The good news: Jenny (Katheryn Winnick) and Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) finally have Ronald (Brian Geraghty) in custody. The bad news: He doesn’t stay there very long.
The mysterious syndicate arranges fort his escape, and among the injuries sustained during that mission is a gunshot wound to the chest for Jenny, who is still alive at the end of the episode. Jenny sends Cassie off after Ronald and speaking of that psychopath, he and his match made in heaven Scarlet (Anja Savcic) ditch the syndicate (and one of the member’s bodies) to return for her daughter.
Elwood Reid, who’s taking over as showrunner for Season 2, breaks down the finale and teases what’s next.
Can you confirm Jenny survives?
Elwood Reid: What show are you watching? You know what the show did in the first episode, right?
I don’t know who’s going to survive. Cassie almost gets strangled to death by Ronald and we see her driving away in a car with the machine gun. We don’t know what happens after that. Jenny was shot. Anything can happen on this show, and I do truly mean that. When we talk about storytelling in the show, no one’s off-limits. I’m not willing to commit that you’re going to see Jenny back.
Where did you want to take Jenny and Cassie’s partnership leading up to that ending?
So much of network television, we kind of hit reset on characters every week. Twelve things [will] happen and the next week, they’re just fine and dandy. One of the things that I think works for both Jenny and Cassie is there’s a sense of emotion and weight. In the pilot, the husband and the business partner of the two main characters was killed, and that resonates throughout the season. One of the things that we’ve been having fun doing as writers and that leads to the success of the show is to build true emotional depth with these characters, so when a character dies, when Blake Kleinsasser [or] Angela dies, that weighs on Jenny. It’s showing these women really carrying this stuff on their sleeves.
When we were writing the second half of the season, I wanted to leave all these characters just shattered. Tubb [Patrick Gallagher] has been shot. Lindor [Omar Metwally] has been in a serious car accident and is not conscious. Cassie’s nearly been strangled to death and then just chasing this dangerous cabal of the Canadian syndicate. Jenny’s been shot in the chest. That to me is Big Sky in a nutshell. That’s how you end a season. It loads up all these characters emotionally for what comes for them in the second season.
While Jenny and Cassie were separate on their own cases in the second half, they also seemed more together than they ever have been.
That was a conscious thing. The show is gonna be introducing during Season 2 one to two large mystery arcs, with new characters that come in and shake up our world. And we have our ongoing saga of Scarlet and Ronald, and some of the personal stories of our two women. I want the show to have all those things.
I agree with you. One of the things I thought was important for the show is that women could be separated and be charging after and investigating different things. But at the end of the day, they have this emotional connection and what it means to do the job they’re doing. What does it mean for the partnership? They don’t always get along and they don’t always agree, but one of the things that we’ve done is take the legs out from both of them and force them to make peace with the emotions, with the wreckage that’s happening around them.
Ronald found his match in Scarlet, so talk about him coming across someone who’s just as crazy as he is. Is it just a matter of time before one of them kills the other?
Like any good love story, yeah. When I was pitching this character, an easy thing was you bring her in and she’s going to be a victim and you’re going to be waiting for her to wake up. What if she’s already been woken up and she knows exactly who Ronald is and this is really a love story? I told the writers, “this is like the Titanic love story. These two psychopaths have found each other.” The old saying, there’s someone for everybody out there, that’s true of Scarlett and Ronald. We had a lot of fun in the writers’ room holding off that twist and then paying it off. There’s still a lot more to be discovered both about Ronald and Scarlet.
I very much enjoyed Jerrie’s [Jesse James Keitel] arc. What’s next for her as she continues to heal, but with Ronald out there, but also knowing she’s confronted him?
That was very much in the Big Sky language: You give something to a character, then you take it away. I talked a lot to Jesse James Keitel when I came on and just in her social work out there, she did a lot of research on people in her community falling into sex work and what that would mean, what that would mean being a victim. That really was important to her as an actor to explore that side of Jerrie: She was still a victim, but she realized if she was going to move on with her life, she had to put that side of herself away. [She] came full circle and to terms with, “I’m going to face this monster.” And in many ways face what her past life was like.
In thinking about the second season, there’s going to be something from her past, not Ronald-related, that’s going to come up that’s going to generate another mystery. We’re going to learn more about Jerrie’s backstory. There’s a whole lot of backstory to these characters that we haven’t quite explored yet.
It seems like now Cassie and Jenny and Ronald and Scarlet have a common enemy in the syndicate.
The show is going to operate on two poles. There’s going to be a new mystery that’s going to come in that our ladies are going to take if they survive. Then there’s going to be the further adventures of Scarlet and Ronald. Scarlet and Ronald in many ways have their own storyline. Whether Cassie or Jenny or Jerrie get them, we can still follow that storyline. There were a couple of Easter eggs I put in in the finale. There’s mention of Legarski [John Carroll Lynch] and the syndicate and having a twin brother. Who’s that state trooper that shows up at Scarlet’s house? What’s his relationship with this whole thing? That’s going to be an active part of Season 2, along with another storyline. Hopefully, we’re going to be able to follow two storylines next season.
I leave that open to Season 2. We have not, to be honest with you, figured that part of it out.
[Laughs] Cheyenne was such a fun character to write and in that small town of Montana in that world, she is someone who could come back and perhaps be an ally or a nemesis to them. Britt Robertson, who played Cheyenne, was not one of those characters any of us as writers wanted to let go of. She was so much fun to write. I had that cupcake scene just to let the audience know she could stop by at any time.
Will Cassie and Lindor get that raincheck if they both survive?
Yeah. If they both survive, that’s the key to that right there. We’ll see. I think the audience has been rooting for it.
If Jenny survives is being a sheriff in her future?
Jenny has a history of law enforcement. We don’t really know why she didn’t pursue it. Cody’s [Ryan Phillippe] death dragged her into being a private eye and taking over his firm. One of the things we’ve seen with Tubb is he recognizes something in her that she may not even recognize herself. It’s something we’re playing with. If Jenny survives, would she embrace that part of her? Would she run as far away from that as possible? And if she did embrace being a sheriff or joining law enforcement officially, how would that change her nature of a relationship with Cassie?
Because the show to me is the relationship between these two women. There’s a push-pull with them, but when they come together emotionally, the show really finds its footing.
What surprised you the most about this first season that you’re looking at when planning Season 2?
What surprised me writing it was the ability to make Ronald both a monster and a fun monster to root for/root against. You want to hate him, but you can’t take your eyes off him, and giving him a girlfriend that can match him lash for lash was something that was a tall order for any actor. We weren’t sure when we cast if that chemistry was going to be there, but it was immediate to me when we cast Anja.
This goes back to David E. Kelley: the show works best in my opinion when it has the emotional underpinning but also the “give zero f**ks” attitude toward the plot. Anybody can die. Anything could happen. No plot twist is too crazy.
Is there anything else that you can tease about Season 2?
As I said before, we’re going to learn a little bit more about the syndicate. We’re also going to start a big mystery that’s going to come in with some great guest cast and that mystery is going to have a tie to Jerrie’s past. And it’s going to hook both of our women, if they survive, emotionally.
I can’t wait to see who survives.
That’s the language of the show, and I tell all the writers, “We have to be ruthless with these characters and not be afraid to burn them.” And that’s everybody. I tell the leads that all the time: “It’s Big Sky. We killed Ryan Phillippe off. We’ll kill anybody off. Don’t tempt me.”
Big Sky, Season 2, Fall 2021, ABC