I know Big Sky Season 3 is officially subtitled Deadly Trails. But in my head, I’m going with Three’s Company.
After all, the addition of Jensen Ackles’ Sheriff Beau Arlen has created the loveliest, prettiest, most fun dynamic among Cassie, Jenny and Beau. And while two of those three may end up as romantic partners as the episodes roll on, I’m very much enjoying the way they’re all interacting as the season gets underway.
But put those warm fuzzies aside for a moment, because we’ve got a case to solve! Read on for the highlights of the premiere, “Do You Love an Apple.”
UNHAPPY TRAILS | Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” is pumping on the soundtrack as a hiker sets out on a trail, and everything’s going great until he reaches a rocky ledge and finds an old-school tape recorder playing some music… and then sees the creepy guy (played by Salem‘s Seth Gabel!) holding a knife standing just behind it. The guy is preparing to butcher a dead deer that’s nearby, and he asks for help, but the hiker reads the room and extricates himself from the situation quickly. Much later, when the hiker pauses to sip from his water bottle and take in the views, the creepy guy is there to greet him. And when he advances, the hiker falls backwards off a cliff.
Meanwhile, Jenny has swung by Dewell & Hoyt for a little catch-up with Cassie and Denise. Word on the street is that Temporary Acting Sheriff Beau Arlen is going to stick around. Jenny hasn’t met his ex-wife yet, but both she and Cassie are heart-eyed about the loving way Beau talks about his daughter. In other housekeeping, we find out that Lindor and Jerrie are off chasing The Syndicate, and Cassie makes it very clear that that is OK with her, because they broke up. “We’re better as friends,” she says. “He and Jerrie are a great match.” (WE KNOW!)
The ladies briefly discuss how Cassie will look into the missing backpacker, whose family is worried and has been in touch. Then Beau stops by just long enough to be ridiculously charming — seriously, I marvel at how smarmily that scene would’ve gone if the actor playing the new sheriff weren’t Jensen Ackles — and then he and Jenny head out.
JUST FRIENDS | On the way, they pass an ad for Tonya’s real estate business. Jenny is still really angry that Tanya’s not in prison, and while Beau is advising her to do some visualizations to help manage her rage, they notice a man running in his briefs and socks… and nothing else. Turns out, he’s a corrections officer who was transporting a female prisoner, and she got the jump on him. So now, she’s “armed, dangerous and dressed like a prison guard,” Arlen says, summing up the situation.
At the station, Jenny and Beau quickly realize that the nearly nude officer is lying. “OK, she kinda seduced me,” he admits. His tale of shame is interrupted when they get a call that a female prison guard is holding up a local market.
The woman is long gone by the time they arrive, but security footage shows she’s taken the market’s manager hostage. Turns out, he’s the brother of her ex-boyfriend, whom she blames for her imprisonment.
While Jenny drives Beau to investigate, they chat about his standing movie-night plans with Ms. Dewell. “Is it weird for you that I’m friends with Cassie?” he wonders. “Are you really friends?” she asks, teasing. He says he and Cassie have bonded over the past couple of months, but it’s nothing romantic, and he proves it by inviting Jenny to watch the flick with them. Their talk is interrupted, though, when they arrive at the market manager’s apartment building, and the hostage falls from an upper level balcony, right onto the car.
Beau stays with the guy — he’s still alive — while Jenny investigates, ignoring his advice to call for backup. All she finds inside are clues that there’s a kid involved. A little research reveals that the prisoner, whose name is Faith, broke out to get to the ex’s little girl, who calls her “Mommy,” before the kid moved far away. And just as Faith finds the girl at her aunt’s house, Jenny and Beau arrive on the scene and get Faith to give up her gun. Jenny is keen to handcuff Faith quickly, but Sheriff Arlen suggests she give her a minute to say goodbye. She does.
SUNNY DAYS ARE HERE | Outside of town, a woman named Sunny (Reba‘s Reba McEntire) and her husband, Buck (Young Sheldon‘s Rex Linn), put the finishing touches on their new glamping site. And when Cassie starts looking for the hiker, she comes across the site. Sunny calls over her son, Cormac (Blindspot‘s Luke Mitchell!), to look at the photo of the missing guy, and it’s clear there’s a little something-something in the vibe between him and Ms. Dewell. Anyway, Sunny promises to keep an eye out for the missing outdoors enthusiast.
Pretty soon, it’s time for Sunny’s guests to arrive. The group includes Avery (Lost‘s Henry Ian Cusick) and his daughter Emily; as well as Paige (Gracepoint‘s Madalyn Horcher) and Luke (Never Have I Ever‘s Anirudh Pisharody), the bickering young couple.
Back at the office, Denise has made a connection: The trail from which the backpacker disappeared was the site of a brutal mutilation/murder years before — that poor girl’s heart was cut out. Which probably means it’s not a great thing that Luke and Paige, still bickering, are heading towards that trail. Also interesting: Emily is lurking nearby, and when Sunny catches her doing so, we learn that Emily’s dad gave her a knife with her name on it, and that she’s thinking about pulling together a podcast about “secrets and lies.”
At dinner that night in camp, Luke is missing. Paige finds him in the woods and teases him out of his bad mood, only to have their make-up makeout session interrupted by some tinny music (akin to what we heard Creepy Guy play at the start of the hour) and the blood that drips onto Paige’s face from above.
Sunny and Buck investigate and find a mauled coyote on the ledge above the couple, calling the matter “nature” and nothing more. And weirdly, Luke is OK with that and happy to stay.
But of course things aren’t as wholesome as they first appeared. Later that night, Sunny sits before a campfire… and burns the backpacker’s photo that Cassie left with her. Then she makes a s’more over the flames and walks off, humming, into the dark woods. “I know you’re out there. Mama brought you a treat,” she calls into the dark. Creepy Guy steps out, and Sunny seems happy to see him. “There you are,” she says, smiling as she shines the flashlight on his face.
IT ALL BECOMES CLEAR | Movie night at Beau’s Airstream trailer turns out to be a group thing, with Jenny taking the sheriff up on his offer after all. At one point he steps away for a moment to make a call, and that’s when we learn that Emily from the glamping group is his daughter. (But we knew that already, right TVLiners?)
“Sunny’s great, and Emily’s probably having a really good time,” Cassie tells him, but it doesn’t do much to assuage his feeling that he’s missing from her life — and stepdad Avery isn’t. “You just keep being there for her when she needs you, no matter what,” Cassie advises. “You should tell her. Let her know how much she means to you,” Jenny adds. Then they tease him a little bit, and I’m surprised to realize how much I ‘ship ALL OF THEM. Together, separately, I don’t care!
ORDER UP! | Donno has found work as the cook at the Blue Fox Diner, which Tonya now owns. Cassie finds her there, and they exchange some barbed words about how illegitimately Tonya came to be a legitimate businesswoman. Then Cassie announces that she wants to buy Mountain Ranch. “My father left me some money. That ranch was his dream,” she says. Initially, Tonya is resistant. But then Cassie brings up the drug lab in the basement, and the murders, and how Tonya will have to disclose that to any potential buyers. “I’m gonna send you an offer. It’ll be a fair one. If I were you, I would take it,” Cassie says, leaving. Tanya eventually does: The ranch is Cassie’s.
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