Big Sky’s episode, “A Brief History of Crime”, starts exactly where last week’s ended, with Emily frozen on top of the bank, staring down at Luke, who is covered in blood and kneeling by the river. He stands and starts toward her, and she bolts in terror. He calls out, and she pulls out her knife, then turns and runs.
He chases after her, spurring her on to a panicked flight. Nearby on a tree is a gruesome, red, heart-shaped scar in the bark. Suddenly, Emily falls, and the knife skitters away into the underbrush. She frantically scrabbles for it, and a hand reaches down for her, but, instead of a gore-streaked Luke, it’s Cormac. He tries to calm her, but she’s stumbling over her words as Luke runs up. Despite her obvious suspicion, he is open and relieved: “I was just trying to find my way back to camp. I fell and cut my hand.” Luke says he doesn’t know where Paige is. As they head back to camp, Cormac notices the knife in the leaves and takes it, an enigmatic look on his face.
Night has fallen, and guests are gathered around the campfire. Sunny, in a dark plaid shirt that blends in with her hair, says there’s nothing more for them to do tonight, but when Avery, Emily’s stepfather, is ready to head back into the woods, Cormac, Emily, and Luke arrive, bringing relief to the worried campers. When he’s asked where Paige is, Luke says they’d argued and then separated after she’d seen a light.
She’d been headed home. Then he fell and doesn’t remember much else. Emily is suspicious of his cuts, and Buck, Sunny’s husband, points out that Paige is not there. Luke states that if Emily hadn’t found him, he’d still be lost. “You saved me!” The other guests are uncomfortable with the whole situation, especially since there’s no sign of Paige. Sunny announces that Paige’s things are gone, so surely she must have gone home. After all, they are just a couple miles from town and the trails back are clearly marked. Cormac tells Sunny that Emily was truly shaken by her experience in the woods, and he wants to go back and look around again. “Just something I’ve got to do.” Sunny watches him walk away. Later, she joins Buck in their spacious tent. He says he doesn’t believe Luke, but they both hope he’s telling the truth.
Beau Arlen drives his jeep up to a farm and stops beside a fence with a private property sign. The land belongs to the Mooney brothers, Jenny says, as she gets out of the vehicle. They’ve had reports of a body and are there to check it out. Beau wishes they’d just called first and asked permission to look around. Instead, they climb the fence. They quip about the differences between Montana and Texas. Beau says he can’t go back because his daughter is here. Jenny wants to know what’s going on with him and Cassie, but he doesn’t want to talk about it, which she laughs at – he actually DOESN’T want to talk. They walk around a blue pick-up and see a body sprawled on its stomach on the ground. There’s a large, bloody wound on his head. Jenny notices that there are drag marks. The body has been moved. Suddenly, shots ring out, and Beau and Jenny duck behind the truck. “Should have called!” remarks Beau. Ivan Mooney is on his porch with a gun, angry and desperate. Beau tells him that he’s coming out and putting his gun away. He slowly steps into view, speaking calmly to the man, but the upset farmer yells, “This is my land. That’s my brother!” “You kill him?” question Beau casually. “No!” the man declares. “I told him to listen to me, to be careful.” He’s growing more distraught. “He was just trying to save the ranch.” Jenny has stepped out with gun leveled but lowers it. The man lowers his own gun and cries.
Cassie and Nadine have found the missing hiker’s car. It’s covered in leaves and has been untouched for days. Cassie uses a tool to unlock it and finds his itinerary inside. This might be a step toward finding him.
At the office, Beau and Jenny are questioning Ivan Mooney. He tells them that his brother had invested in an opportunity, but had gotten swindled and lost their money. “He wanted to kill them.” “What was the name of the company?” “Starlight Mining.” Jenny stiffens. “Was it a husband and wife team?” she asks, but Ivan says no. He asks if they can help him. Beau says they’ll do what they can. He’s going to start by checking the man’s alibi. Jenny leaves, saying she has to check into something.
Emily, sprawled on a pristine white fuzzy comforter in the luxurious tent, is looking at the picture on her phone of Luke crouched by the stream. She zooms in for a clearer view. Her stepdad enters, and they begin to discuss Luke. She says that he didn’t look saved when he saw her; he looked scared. Emily then confronts Avery, saying she’d seen him go into Luke and Paige’s tent earlier. He tried to brush it off by saying the tents look alike, but Emily won’t accept that answer. They’re both frustrated with each other. “Not everything is a mystery!” says Avery. “If you’re hiding something, I’m going to find out,” says Emily, She starts to push by him. When he questions where she’s going, she tells him she lost her knife in the woods last night and needs to get it. This is the first confrontation we’ve seen between Avery and Emily; up until now, they’ve been happy. Avery gets authoritative and says she’s not going back into the woods, but Emily, in a direct, forceful, but self-controlled way, says the knife is important to her: she sleeps with it under her pillow (Winchester reference?) and her dad gave it to her. Avery tries a calmer approach: “I promised your mother that I would look after you.” “Fine,” Emily responds, “but I can look after myself” and she leaves the tent. Avery turns to eye her journal lying on the faux fur bedding.
Back at the sheriff’s office, Beau tells Jenny and the deputy that he cut Ivan loose; he’s innocent of murder, but he’s very upset over the loss of his brother. Jenny has been looking into Starlight Mines. They found an arrest warrant for another man who’d gotten violent after claiming to have been bilked by Starbright Mines. “Starlight. Starbright. This guy’s got a thing for nursery rhymes,” says Beau. “There’s more,” says Jenny. A woman had been arrested with him. Beau looks at the mug shots. “You know her?” he asks Jenny.
“My mother,” she admits.
Meanwhile, Cassie has been checking up on the hiker’s itinerary. She’s been on the phone with a resupply post where he had a package waiting which he’d never picked up, but Nadine tells her that she’s been on the phone with Mark’s parents. They got an email from him saying he was in Logan’s pass and he’d see them soon. Cassie doesn’t buy it because Logan’s Pass is miles off course from his planned route. His mom had been suspicious too: he didn’t usually email. She wanted the detective agency to check it out. “Doesn’t make sense,” states Cassie.
Beau pulls up into a parking lot and says to Jenny who’s sitting in the passenger seat, “Are we not going to address the fact that your mom is a career criminal?” “It’s complicated,” she scowls. Beau raises his eyebrows. “I bet.” With a sigh, Jenny explains that they haven’t talked in years. Last she heard, her mother had been grifting her way through Idaho. The gold mine scam was her thing. “And you think she’s involved with Gil Mooney’s murder,” surmises Beau. Jenny thinks murder is a stretch, but the whole situation is sadly familiar. That’s why they’ve arrived in the parking lot of a motel where she knows her mother has an arrangement with the manager. “Really?” remarks Beau with a curled lip. As they approach the motel door, Jenny warns him not to let her mother charm him and not to trust anything she says. With obvious reluctance, she knocks, and her mother, a blonde with long bangs, opens the door. She is surprised to see Jenny, gasping her name, then noticing that Jenny is still wearing men’s t-shirts and also still beautiful. She hugs her which Jenny does not return. She turns her attention to the sheriff who identifies himself. Her mom smiles, but Jenny states, “I told you to keep your grift out of Montana. I know you’re scamming.” She comments about all the similar mine names, but her mother says, even though she knows Jenny would love to arrest her, she knows nothing. When Jenny pulls up a picture of Gil Mooney’s dead body, she turns away. “We know you’ve been running this gold mine scheme out of Idaho with a man named Harold Gardner,” says Beau. Her mother scoffs at the name. “Old news!” She tells her daughter she’s on the straight and narrow now; Jenny gives a sarcastic smile and nod. “You’ve always been a very good liar.” “People can change,” her mother says earnestly, twirling her hair around her finger.
Jenny is growing increasingly upset, saying it can’t be a coincidence and she knows she’s lying because of the way she’s twisting her hair. Her mom admits she’s in town to find Harold because he stole from her, taking her life’s savings after she showed him the ropes. When Beau asks her, she says she thinks she might know where to look. “Seems to me we might have mutual interest,” says Beau. “We sure do,” says the mom with a slow smile. “No, no, no, no!” exclaims Jenny. “I don’t trust her!” “I don’t trust you either,” says her mom, “but Mr. Sheriff here – he’s right. We want the same thing.” She’s calm while Jenny is ruffled. She tells them that she doesn’t know exactly where he is, but she can narrow it down because he’ll be looking for his next mark. To find him, they’ll have to go undercover. Beau heard Jenny has quite the talent for that.
Scene shift: a man (Sunny’s son in the woods) is sitting in a shed calmly wood carving when he hears a knock. It’s Sunny. “Are you alone?” She enters with pursed lips, looking around the small space. “What else would I be? It’s just me and my thoughts and my projects,” he responds. “I have a girl who’s gone missing from one of my trips. Have you seen her?” she asks, not looking at him and absentmindedly picking up a crudely carved figure. Her son grows agitated. He doesn’t want her touching his things. She slaps him. He becomes still and raises his finger to her: “Do NOT do that again,” he says intently. She slaps away his finger. “Why?” she says sharply. “You going to hit your own mother? I’m all you’ve got, Walt! Have you seen this girl?” His aggression fades. “No,” he says quietly, sitting down. Sunny says if people come looking it’s not going to be good for either of them. Sunny asks her son to move the backpacker far away so he’ll never be found. “I didn’t DO anything!” Walt protests, rising. Sunny says that doesn’t’ matter. She’s always kept him safe so he needs to listen to her and do what she says. “Just me and you, Walt, just me and you. That’s a good boy.” She hugs him gently. She begins to sing to him, smoothing his hair as she slightly sways from side to side. “Oh, yes, I love him. I’ll never deny him. I’m gonna love him til the day that I die.” Sunlight burns through gaps in the wooden slabs of the cabin’s walls.
Cassie is planning on heading into the woods and Nadine wants to go with her. Just then, Sheriff Beau enters with another empty pan. “Another dish,” Cassie comments. “Still cooking for a grown man.” “Another HOMERUN!” Beau responds. “Pumpkin enchilada. Sounds weird — totally worked.” “Well, sweet and salty never fails,” Nadine giggles. “Wow,” remarks Cassie. “Did she just call me salty?” Beau ignores that, but notices her packing. “What are you – summoning?” he asks (a possible Supernatural throwout). Cassie says she and Nadine are hitting the trails tomorrow morning looking for the missing backpacker. She asks him to come, but he says he can’t because he’s working a murder at the Mooney Ranch “and Jenny’s mom is involved.” “Wait, GiGi’s back?” asks Cassie, exchanging a look with Nadine. She wants to know if Jenny’s OK, and Beau says she’s not but he doesn’t want Cassie to tell Jenny he said that! He adds that he wants to know if she gets any bad juju from the woods since his daughter’s backpacking there. “It’s probably nothing,” she says. “It’s nothing until it ain’t,” he replies. Cassie reminds him to give Emily space and not go back up there. Reluctantly, he agrees, telling Nadine she’s a peach as he exits the room. “Bye,” she beams, waving. “You guys be careful!” he says. Cassie is OVER Nadine and her food and her flirting.
Back at camp, Sunny is at the food bar. “You put butter in your coffee?” queries Emily. “You caught me! It’s my secret to lasting energy,” smiles Sunny. The teenager asks to use her satellite phone. She wants to call her dad and ask him to check on Paige and see if she got back safely. “You don’t need to bother your dad,” says Sunny. “I’m giving her a refund.” Emily still thinks it’s strange the way Paige left, but Sunny says that people come to the wilderness for all different kinds of reasons: some to leave their problems behind, some to start a new life. “You can quote me on your podcast if you want to! Now enough doom and gloom!” Emily smiles and nods and leaves. “That’s more like it,” Sunny mutters.
Jenny is sitting in her darkened living room, looking at the information about the scammers when she hears a knock at the door. It’s her mother. “Were you expecting that cute sheriff? Jenny is not happy to see her. Her mom wants to bake her a pineapple dump cake and wipe the slate clean, just for tonight. Jenny leans against the side of the doorway, her arms crossed. “How do we do that?” she asks. Her mom pulls out some wine with a giggle. Reluctantly, Jenny moves aside. Later, they sit by the flickering fire in the fireplace enjoying the dump cake which is deliciously disgusting. Her mom says she tried to convince Jenny it was her favorite because she couldn’t afford expensive cakes for her birthday as a child but wanted her to feel special anyway. Jenny doesn’t want to do this, but her mom says it wasn’t all bad. She brings up a road trip to Vegas before daddy left. She’d spent all their traveler’s checks on roulette, but Jenny won it all back. “My good luck charm,” her mom says, and Jenny gives a soft smile. Then she asks why she came back. “Because Harold stole from me, Jenny,” her mom replied. “The money,” nods Jenny. Was there no other reason? Her longing tone implies that she wants a more meaningful reason, but she doesn’t get one. She tells her mom that she’s found a brochure for a mine at a local bar. It’s probably Harold. When Jenny says she’ll go after him tomorrow, her mom tells her to be careful. Jenny wonders what’s in this for her mother. “Revenge,” says her mom, “and helping my daughter.” Then she switches up the somber tone by commenting on the sheriff and how she likes them pretty and young because it keeps pep in her step. “He’s not that cute,” smiles Jenny, shaking her head. (Oh, Jenny, I beg to differ.)
The next day, an officer delivers $30,000 cash, compliments of the county, to the sheriff’s office. Jenny signs for the money that they need to convince Harold that they can invest in his mine. When Beau asks if they should get into character, Jenny blithely states, “We’re married.” “What?” responds Beau. Jenny has the scenario all planned. As she picks up the hidden recording equipment her mom suggests, “Don’t forget to smile, Jenny Bear. It tricks your body into thinking you’re a happy person.” “Thanks, mom.” “You can thank me by taking him down.” “Let’s go.” Beau fistbumps the deputy, but Jenny says, “We’re not doing this,” and heads out.
In the woods, Walt has been digging to unearth the buried hiker. He hops in the makeshift grave where Mike’s dirt-encrusted, flannel-clad corpse lies still. “Hello, friend,” he says. “I brought you a present.” It’s a simple wood carving of a backpacker . He holds it up with a happy smile, then places it in Mike’s front shirt pocket. He starts to hoist up the body. “Time to move on.” Next, he’s driving down a sun-dappled road, still with his peaceful smile as he checks on the body in the back seat of his vehicle. Boom! Puff of smoke. “Dang it!’ he yell, pulling his damaged car to the side of the road.
Beau is dressed up in black casual suit, white shirt, and bolo tie, while Jenny is in a shoulder-length auburn wig and a flowing floral dress as they enter a building to meet with the owner of the mine. The bulky, unsmiling security guy insists they hand over their weapons. He insists on Jenny’s too. She has to pull up her skirt to retrieve her gun from a hidden holster around her thigh. She beams, “My daddy always said never leave the house unprotected.” Their ebullience is not matched by the grim guard who leads them in to meet with Harold. They look like a happy, naive couple as they listen to Harold’s spiel and they joke about how they could use the money since their wedding was so expensive. “Do you have any idea how much a life-size ice sculpture of George Strait costs?” The bodyguard narrows his eyes as Jenny asks if anyone has given Harold any trouble. Harold says there’s been no issues. “A lot of happy campers then?” says Beau. “A lot of happy campers,” affirms Harold. “How did you two find me again?” Harold asks. They both respond with a different answer, then start laughing. “Honey!” protests Jenny. The bodyguard is leaning in, clearly suspicious. Beau clarifies that they’re both right – her friend on Facebook had a birthday party at a casino. They laugh like loons, while Harold and the bodyguard exchange a glance.
Driving out to the trails, Nadine and Cassie discuss how the email from Mike makes no sense. Cassie hopes they’ll figure something out; then she sees a disabled vehicle on the side of the road, Walter with his smoking engine. She pulls over to help, but he says he’s got it handled.
She says he must have been hiking because he’s all mucked up. Smoke continues to pour from the engine. “I’m good with cars. Let me help you,” says Cassie. Walt steps in front of her. “I said I can handle it.” He counters every move she makes, clearly staying between her and the truck. Cassie catches a glimpse of a tarp or jacket or something in the back seat. “What’s in the truck?” she asks seriously. Walt surreptitiously pulls a knife from a holster at his back, but before he can do anything, Nadine calls out to them. “I think we should get going!” “OK,” Cassie replies, eyeing Walt. “Have a nice day,” he says evenly, staring her down. With a long final look, Cassie goes back to her SUV.
The guests are getting on horseback at Sunny Day Excursions. One seems to be doing some mild flirting with Luke, who has a bandage over his left brow. Emily notices. A tall bald man, another guest, approaches her: “You seeing that too? Works fast.” It’s very soon after Paige left camp for him to be chatting up another woman. “If she even left,” Emily says intently. She’s upset that no one’s been listening to her concerns, but she’s barely started talking to the man when her stepfather approaches, wondering what’s going on. He suggests the man move on. “What! I can’t talk to people now?” Emily exclaims. She starts to walk away, but Avery apologizes and says that if something is important to her, it’s important to him. First, they’ll go find her father’s knife. “And Paige?” “If that’s still bugging you, we’ll get to the bottom of that too. Me and you.” They smile at each other.
Harold is counting the money. “Thirty thousand! You two are officially investors!” They stand and shake hands. “One more thing! You’re under arrest,” says Jenny. The bodyguard moves toward them aggressively, and Beau punches him. They struggle and crash through an interior window. Jenny tussles with Harold and gets the upper hand: “You sit your ass back down!” she commands and he goes back to his chair. Beau gets up from the floor first. Spying his gun on the ground amidst the broken glass, he grabs it and points it at the bodyguard. “We good?” calls out Jenny. “We’re good!” he says back. Then shots ring out. Everyone ducks. It’s Ivan Mooney, coming down the stairs with intent. Harold runs, and Ivan takes aim, but he’s out of ammo. He heads out the door. Jenny heads after Harold who climbs a ladder to the flat roof while Beau pursues Ivan. Jenny doesn’t let her full skirt stop her as she races after Harold. “I can’t go back to jail!” he calls. He stops at the edge of the roof, then jumps off. The one story drop isn’t enough to kill him, but he hurts his leg. Meantime, Beau leaps onto Ivan, bringing him to the ground. The gun skids along the ground ahead of him, and Ivan reaches for it. “He’s got to pay!” he grits out. “Listen to me! He will pay!” Beau says, twisting him over and holding him firmly by the front of his coat. Ivan’s eyes are bugged out with anger and desperation. Beau continues fiercely, “You want to go to jail for the rest of your life for this bastard? You think your brother would want that? Trust me. Gil does not want that.” Ivan calms and his face begins to crinkle with grief. “Ok? Ok,” says Beau, patting his shoulder where he lies beneath him on the ground.
“Your funeral now. It’s over,” says Jenny, approaching to ziptie Harold’s arms behind him. Harold recognizes her. “Gigi put you up to this, didn’t she?” he says. “Save your breath,” she retorts. Harold begins to laugh quietly. “She always comes out on top, doesn’t she?” Realization dawns in Jenny’s eyes. Leaving Harold, she runs back down to the damaged office. “No, no, no!” she chants then yells in frustration. Entering, Beau asks her what’s wrong. “The money’s gone,” she says. “Wait. How?” “My mother. She played us,” she states with calm certainty, looking into his eyes, then looking away, tightening her lips.
They get back to her hotel room, and it’s empty. “Hoyt, I’m sorry,” says Beau. “I can’t believe I let this happen,” says Jenny, tears standing in her eyes. “Don’t worry. We’ll find her,” says Beau. “She’s gone. She hasn’t changed,” Jenny states.
Walt is chopping wood outside his cabin when his mother approaches. “I assume it’s handled,” she says. “It is,” he replies, “sort of.” She steps closer, eyes narrowed. He defends himself, saying he’d tried to be careful, but someone had seen him. He would’ve taken care of her too, but there was someone else there. “Who was it?” “Her friend called her Cassie.” Sunny sighs deeply. “You are such a disappointment.” Immediately, his face crinkles. “You have to do BETTER!” His lips tremble and he nods.
Using the hiker’s itinerary, Cassie and Nadine find the exact location where he emailed his selfie from. There’s a lovely view of a huge rocky outcropping above the trees. When the women compare the picture on the flier to the landscape, they realize that there’s snow on the hill in the picture. He didn’t send that picture because the season is wrong. So who did send the picture and why? “We need to find him,” says Cassie, starting off, Nadine hurrying behind her.
Final montage: The song “Valley” by Kevin Morby plays. Jenny is driving, tense and angry. She whips off her wig, then screams in frustration. In one of the luxury tents, Luke and another guest are passionately kissing. He playfully pushes her down on the bed and begins to unbutton his shirt. A wide open eye is watching for just a moment through a rip in the canvas walls. In the woods, Sunny is digging a hole. She looks through the leopard print duffle bag with her. There are clothes inside, a purse, and a gun. Holding it, she taps her finger against the gun, viewing it thoughtfully, then tucks it into the front of her jeans. Zipping up the bag, she dumps it into the shallow hole. The ID tag on the bag is marked with a monogrammed P. Tightening her lips with anger or determination, Sunny begins to dump dirt back on top of the bag. Back at her house, Jenny, braid disheveled and makeup runny, opens the refrigerator door to grab a beer and spots the bottle of wine her mother left. A tear rolls down her cheek. A car parks near an aluminum-sided building, and a woman’s booted foot steps out onto the ground. It’s Gigi. Holding a large purse, she walks to a door and knocks.
It swings open to reveal Tanya and Donno. “Hi, there,” smiles Tonya. “Thanks so much for stopping by.” Gigi walks by them, expression set and unsmiling. Behind her back, Tanya raises her eyebrows and smiles a supercilious smile. Scowling, Donno pulls the door shut.
“Valley at the End”
“In the valley below me
In the valley below,
They all pretend not to know me;
They all act like they don’t know.
In the sky above me,
In the sky above,
Mama, all the stars are broken
For either me or you or us.”
- Why did Gigi take the money? Is she working with Tonya and Donno or are they coercing her?
- What has happened to Paige? If she’s dead, was she murdered by Walt or Luke?
- We didn’t see much of Cormac, but I wonder what he’s up to and what he knows?
- This episode involves two mothers, both involved in criminal activity. Sunny says she’s protecting her son. What is she protecting him from? To what lengths will she go to protect him? As for Gigi, did she steal the money for herself or are the others manipulating her in some way?
- Lastly, who enjoyed seeing Jensen Ackles in a cowboy hat?
Catch up on all the Big Sky season 3 Episodes! Detailed recaps for Big Sky and Supernatural are listed on Emberlast’s Writer’s Page!
Illustrated by Nightsky. Images courtesy of ABC.