Big Sky Season 3 Premiere “Do You Love an Apple” Review

 

By Ezekiel McAdams

 

October 1 2022

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This is a SPOILER review,

Big Sky season three premiered on ABC September 21 2022

 

It is written by series shownrunner Elmore Reid and Sharon Lee Watson and directed by Jeff T. Thomas.

Opening

The season premiere begins with a hiker, Mark Woodman, contemplating his trail options, Deadman’s Drop or Basin Trail.  The direction opens up to a beautiful vista of a large forested hiking area accompanied by "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The juxtaposition of the song and imagery against the darker overtones of the series foreshadows something ominous is about to occur.

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Mark tries Deadman’s Drop and discovers an old recorder playing the folk song “Do You Love An Apple” by The Secret Sisters.

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A stranger emerges brandishing a knife and greets Mark with an ominous “Hello, Friend” that is meant to send chills down your spine.

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The stranger begins an awkward exchange questioning if Mark is alone or not when he stumbles to give any answer. “You are or you ain’t” the stranger bluntly states as he playfully pushes him. Mark rebuffs the stranger’s further attempt to communicate and extricates himself as passively he can.

Later on Mark now reaches the top of a cliff base and the stranger reemerges with the tape recorder in hand again playing the folk song. The stranger keeps advancing until Mark, slips and falls off the cliff.

Dewell & Hoyt Offices

Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury), Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick) and Denise Brisbane (Dedee Pheiffer) are in the Dewell & Hoyt offices, where the characters deliver a clunky and awkward exposition dump that U.S. Marshall Mark Lindor (Omar Metwaly) and Cassie have broken up off screen and he is now involved with Jerrie Kennedy (Jesse James Keitel) and the two of them are chasing after the crime syndicate from last season.

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There is also no mention of Sherriff Walter Tubb (Patrick Gallagher). What were the extent of his injuries and what is his connection to Beau?

This season adds three more regulars upgraded from recurring last season. Jensen Ackles  as Sheriff Beau Arlen, Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Tonya Walsh and J. Anthony Pena as Deputy Poppernak. It also adds Reba McEntire as Sunny Barnes.

Departing the cast are Omar Metwally  Janina Gavankar as Ren Bhullar, Logan Marshall-Green as Travis Stone and Anja Savcic as Scarlett Leyendecker.

It's a surprise that Gavankar has been cut as the second season finale promised to keep her in the fold as a foil to Jenny as Cassie. It also also hinted at more character growth as a newly minted heir to her family's cartel co-running it with her brother, Jag (Vinny Chhibber). At the time this article was written there are public reasons for her departure whether the actor left or if it was a creative decision.

Also odd, is Metwally leaving as his character had just begun a relationship with Cassie and was set to be a fixture around Dwell & Hoyt helping out with his resources as a Marshall.

Marshall-Green's character's fate was left open ended and ambiguous, while Savcic's arc was positioned to end.

 

The series has a struggled with its regular cast members. In three seasons what do we know about Denise other then she was the sister in law of Rick Legarski’s first wife? Dedee Pheiffer is a great comic relief and brings a fun ambience to the series but nothing more which is unfortunate.

 Both Mark Lindor and Travis were undeveloped. Travis was a former love interest from Jenny's past who got entangled with the Bhullar cartel. Was his last name Stone? He didn't have any discerning quality other then trigger focused on vengeance towards the Bhullar patriarch, Veer (Bernard White). It would have been interesting if Travis and Cody (Ryan Phillippe) knew each other.

Lindor added a great dynamic with the team, his friendship with Denise and Jerrie added a great camaraderie and his character will be missed. Having the resources Marshall Services added a very helpful element and will be a missed opportunity if the crime syndicate thread is completely dropped as well.

 

Jenny and Cassie speculate on Sherrif Beau's duration, while Denise makes a lewd comment on his wranglers prompting them to change the conversation. Denise informs them of a potential missing hiker case, showing a missing person flyer of Mark Woodman. 

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Beau shows up ribbing Denise that he had to walk to work because of her constant cooking, telling her "It's the best damn veggie lasagne I've ever had" prompting Cassie to pick up on Denise's flirting and responds "You never cooked for me, Mrs. Robinson. You never cooked for me"

 

Jenny and Beau depart for work at the Sheriff's Office.

 

Jensen Ackles is a plucky addition to the cast with his jovial and jocular nature. Fans of Ackle's previous series, Supernatural are in for a treat as the the actor inhabits the same energy with less brooding, Hopefully the character is not just used as a love interest for either Cassie or Jenny and provides some depth.

And... introducing Sunny Barnes

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Sunny Barnes and her husband, Buck are preparing for a new group of hikers. Sunny runs an outfitter, hiking business, Sunny Day Excursions. Sunny teases her husband about the placement of the sign.

McEntire conveys such warmth, shining through like a lighthouse immersed in fog in her brief scene. The warmth is likely a deflection for a darker underbelly setting up the missing hiker mystery.

Jenny & Beau The A Story

 While driving, Beau and Jenny see a sign of Tonya who is expanding her Realtor business. Beau tries using charm and playful banter to get Jenny to express her feelings on Tonya. He suggest visualizations and breathing exercises including his punching list which includes; his fifth grade bully, Gary Gravy, his football coach, Elon Musk, the guy from the beer commercials and his ex-wife’s new husband.

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Jenny broaches the idea of meeting Beau’s ex-wife, Carla but he strongly rebuffs the idea. This could be a subtle hint by the writers, that Beau is hiding something with his past and family. Or possibly Beau being guarded is a character trait.

While driving they come upon a man running, trying to flag anyone down.

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It turns out he is a corrections officer, Harry Miller (Brian Sutherland). Miller was tricked by his prisoner transport, Faith Cole (Bianca Stam). Cole seduced him and they engaged in a tryst whereupon she then stole his clothes, vehicle and gun.

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Cassie intersects with Sunny

Cassie stops by and inquires if Sunny has seen the missing hiker, Mark Woodman. Woodman was hiking the Continental Divide trail. Cassie is then reunited with Sunny’s son, Cormac (Luke Mitchell).

This is more set up that Sunny will be central to this season’s mystery.

Cormac is most likely setup as a possible love interest now that Mark Lindor is gone.

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McEntire imbues her character with such light but is able to pepper that sunny (pun intended) disposition with a dark undercurrent. This is the second time in the series, that the main characters have a connection to the central mystery. 

 

This first occurred in the second half of season one with Jenny and the Kleinsassers and now with Jenny, Cassie and Denise with Sunny Barnes.

Hopefully this is helping to expand the worldbuilding of the series and positioning the various players around Helena, Montana. It would be nice to have this mystery have ramifications on the community.

Prisoner on the run

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Jenny and Beau discover Faith has taken a hostage, store manager, Bill Camp, who is the brother of her ex boyfriend.

Meet our recurring backpackers

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The other duo, we meet are bickering couple, Paige (Madalyn Horcher) and Luke (Anirudh Pisharody). Luke is bitter and angsty because he wanted to go to Cancun for his birthday.

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The rest of the group are nameless and probably factor no importance other then background fodder. Cusick is well known from playing Desmond on the series Lost, so its likely his role will be important,

Enter Tonya

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While driving Cassie, discovers the ranch her father wanted to buy in season two is for sale and is shocked that Tonya is the Realtor.

 

When she arrives at The Blue Fox Diner, it appears that Tonya has bought it and running it with Donno.  This was the same diner she worked at as a waitress.

It is not clear whether they are using it as a front or as a legitimate business.

There is no mention of Ren or Jag Bhullar, even though, the end of season two implied that they would be sticking around. Alicia Corrigan advised and warned Tonya to be careful.

 

There is no explanation why Donno is there without Ren other than him continuing to look out for her.

 

Are Tonya and Donno running their own operation? Is Donno there to make sure things run smoothly?

History repeats itself

Denise recounts to Cassie that twenty years ago, that her neighbor’s son’s girlfriend disappeared on Basin Trail. It was a Prom after party. When the body was found it was mutilated and the heart was cut out. It was suspected it was not a bear attack. Denise couldn’t shake that there might be a connection.

 

What is the connection, does it involve the stranger? Is it a copycat crime? Why was the heart cut out? Was there something that triggered another incident? Is Sunny Barnes connected? Or is it her land?

Movie Night Interuptus

It is revealed that in the last few months Cassie and Beau have become friends and have regular movie nights. Jenny is surprised by this revelation and prods Beau to see if it is anything more.

Hostage falls from the sky

A heart shaped mark

Luke and Paige from the hiking group are arguing, when they encounter a heart shaped symbol on a tree.

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Emily is eavesdropping when Sunny sneaks up on her. Emily reveals her intentions that she wants to start a podcast and is looking for intrigue or gossip to use. She's searching for a theme but wants to focus on secrets and lies.

 

When asked if she would do an interview, Sunny assures Emily “that what you see is what you get”

This is the second mention of a heart and the Basin Trail area? What is the connection with the hearts and the stranger?

Hair Affair Hostage Crisis

Poppernak phones to tell Jenny and Beau, that Bill Camp did not have any kids, but Faith’s ex did. Faith was sent a letter in prison that Bill Camp and his wife planned to move to Ireland with the child.

Jenny and Beau corner Faith at Helena Hair Salon and convince her to release her sister in law and do what’s best for the child, Maddy.

Offer Accepted

Cassie meets with Tonya again and the offer is accepted. Tonya tries some good will and hopes to be invited to a house warming.

Nothing like blood to bring a couple together

Later that night, Sunny is preparing the campfire meal, Page goes looking for Luke and they discover blood dripping from the cliff. The same folk music is eerily playing in the background, hinting the stranger is nearby.

 

Buck tries to deescalate the couple, informing them it’s just a coyote. While Paige is spooked, Luke’s demeanour changes from the early petulant sulking to excitement.

Oh, glorious movie night! Huzzah!

Jenny, Cassie and Beau have a movie night outside on a projector screen. Beau calls Emily who is revealed to be his daughter. Beau feels guilt for not being in his daughter's life and is jealous of Avery, Emily's new stepfather. Cassie assures him to just be there and they have nothing to worry about if they're at Sunny Day Excursions.

Mystery Smores

Sunny takes the missing person flyer and burns it in the fire. While she does this, is clearly pained and lost in thought.

She walks into the woods with a smore as she hums, then sings the folk song.

 

Sunny meets with the stranger who appears to be her son. “Mama, brought you a treat” she says as the stranger looks back.

 

Cue the end credits.

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This was a promising start to the season, with a wonderful set up led by Reba McEntire but it remains to be seen if showrunner Reid will make good use of the characters and mystery.

There's a lot of pieces on the board with Sunny Barnes, her husband, Buck and son Cormack. the current group comprised of Avery, Emily, Paige and Luke. Where does Tonya and Donno fit in? What about the stranger?

Not to mention the five other series regulars of Cassie, Jenny, Denise, Beau and Poppernak.

           

Big Sky has an opportunity to do some great worldbuilding with Helena and the surrounding area of Montana. On FX’s series Justified, showrunner Graham Yost was able to expand the universe and constantly develop the ever growing character roster effortlessly.

Can this series do the same? What about the Kleinsassers ranch? Could we see Cheyanne Kleinsasser (Britt Robertson)? Are Scarlett and the threat of the Syndicate still looming? What about the Bhullars? Could Lindor and Jerrie reappear? What about Travis? What about the  thugs that occupy the Boot Heel led by Dietrich (David Meunier)?  

Cue the Big Sky Credits.

Deputy Poppernak informs them that the Jamboree Country Market in Lyndale was held up and the suspect is the fugitive prisoner, Faith Cole.

Sunny and Buck discuss Cassie's presence and she advises her husband not to tell the new group about it,reminding him the shed hunter got mauled by a grizzly the last month. Sunny introduces herself to Avery (Henry Ian Cusick) and Emily (Cree Cicchino). Avery expresses his displeasure that his wife will not be joining them.

Emily bemoans of lack of cell service and Sunny warmly adds "That's why its called glamping." Glamping is a portmeanu of camping and glamerous.

Jenny goes looking for the prisoner when the hostage Bill Camp is dropped from a balcony above. Beau urges her to wait for backup. Jenny goes in without backup, discovers a teddy bear from the market which makes her suspect that Faith took a child.