Big Sky





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

Montana’s a pretty place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to get kidnapped there.

The rural part of the state, what with its barely used roads and spotty cell service and wide-open spaces for miles around, makes for a picture-perfect playground for the likes of Ronald Pergman, a tie-wearing trucker who picks up prostitutes, tasers them into unconsciousness and … then what?

That’s just one of the many mysteries that ABC is trying—a little desperately—to serve up in Big Sky.

That’s a Big Ten-Felony, Buddy

Ronald’s been at this a while, we’re led to believe. Several prostitutes have just up and disappeared lately—the latest being a girl named Jerrie, who had just been biding her time before launching a singing career. For Ronald, it’s been a low-risk pastime. Prostitutes are rarely missed, and the law (at least in ABC’s version of it in the Big Sky state) rarely overtaxes its budget looking for them. And, the show suggests, Ronald enjoys his grisly “work”—an outlet for all the anger he can’t take out on his critical mother.

But Ronald also picked up a couple of young women not on the docket this time: Grace and Danielle Sullivan, a pair of teens from Colorado on a road trip to see Danielle’s long-distance boyfriend, Justin.

Thanks to Ronald, they never made it. Now it’s up to Jenny Hoyt, an ex-cop and Justin’s mother, and Cassie Dewell, a private investigator with an eye on the case, to unlock the secret to the Sullivan girls’ disappearance, bring them home safely, if possible, and perhaps solve a whole bunch of mysterious disappearances in the process.

But the case comes with an extra degree of difficulty: Cody Hoyt, Jenny’s estranged husband, is Cassie’s business partner. Oh, and Cody and Cassie just recently slept together.

What else could throw a wrench in bringing the perp—or perps to justice? In this version of Montana, the sky’s the limit.

Road to Nowhere

Big Sky, the latest creation from TV impresario David E. Kelley, feels as if it’s trying, and mostly failing, to be a less unhinged version of David Lynch’s 1990 obsession, Twin Peaks. This show features Gothic characters from a low-grade-fever dream: Tie-wearing, truck-driving kidnappers; deeply disturbing State Patrol officers; busybody secretaries; primly evil mothers. Sometimes, you’re not quite sure whether the show is asking you to laugh at these players or scream at them. There’s even a mysterious cult in the mix.

But the whole sordid affair just feels like it’s trying too hard. And so it tries to make up the difference with a bunch of unwanted, unneeded content.

We don’t see a lot of sex, this being a network television show. But people do hop in bed together, and plenty of ribald asides can be heard. Violence? You bet. There’s violence, and blood, too. For a show that’s working so hard to be unpredictable, we’re sure exposed to plenty of very predictable issues. Big Sky wants to play with the big boys—the prestige television shows on the streaming networks and cable. But the only thing truly big about this show is its problems.

Episode Reviews

Nov. 17, 2020: “Pilot”

Sisters Danielle and Grace Sullivan are waylaid by truck driver Roland Pergman after a road-rage altercation. Their disappearance triggers an informal search by Cody Hoyt (a private investigator), Cassie Dewell (Cody’s business partner and lover), Jenny Hoyt (an ex-cop and Cody’s separated wife) and Rick Legarski (a member of Montana’s Highway Patrol).

Roland’s only intended victim is a prostitute named Jerrie, who climbs into Roland’s truck cab and sits on his lap. “I don’t bite—unless you’re looking for that,” she tells Roland, then apparently comments on his out-of-view erection. The two kiss before Roland zaps Jerrie in the neck with a stun gun. Later, we see her wrapped in plastic from head-to-toe. He uses the same stun gun on the sisters after breaking out their car windows.

A married man and woman have sex. (We see glimpses of their bare backs during lovemaking.) A wife complains to her husband that he never touches her any more. Danielle and Grace talk about why their mother let them go on a road trip to see Danielle’s boyfriend: “I got the good judgment,” Grace says, “and you got the boobs.” Danielle, talking on the phone with her boyfriend, what he’d like to do first when he lands on “planet Danielle.” Rick Legarski tells a motorist how to get his Tesla unstuck from the mud—telling him that he should take it slow, like when he was having sex with his wife.

A man gets shot in the face, spraying the window—and the shooter—with blood. Someone is stabbed in the neck with a plastic comb, which sticks out grotesquely. A trucker nearly runs a pair of motorists off the road. We later learn that 12 women—most or all of them prostitutes—have gone missing after working Montana truck stops.

Two women get into a fight in a bar. We see the tussle, and we later watch as one of the women receives stitches on her lower lip. (The other woman has a black eye.) A couple of people drink beer. Characters say “a–,” “d–n” and “d–k,” and they misuse God’s name about three or four times.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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