Warning: spoilers ahead for the winter finale of Big Sky on ABC, called "A Good Day to Die."
ABC has a hit with Big Sky, which got off to a wild start by killing off the character who had been set up as the star and continued to build on the momentum of the search for the missing girls. Big Sky wasn't even at the halfway point of Season 1 with "A Good Day to Die," but the winter finale delivered a twist that may have been a big mistake for the episodes that follow. Cassie seemingly shot and killed Legarski.
All things considered, "A Good Day to Die" felt more like a season finale than just a winter finale to me. Cassie and Jenny connected the dots that needed connected, and Cassie found her way to where Legarski was hiding the Sullivan sisters and Jerrie, and Legarski couldn't wiggle out of the situation this time. After more or less daring Cassie to pull the trigger on him, Legarski was indeed shot in the head by Cassie.
This presumably means the girls are rescued, Cassie and Jenny are out of trouble with the local authorities, and the case is at least half closed, since Ronald is still out there. Sure, Cassie shooting a state trooper could get her in some trouble, but Jerrie, Danielle, and Grace can obviously all vouch for Legarski as one of their kidnappers, with Grace knowing that he killed the fisherman and shot her with arrows. Legarski was more or less the big bad, and I'm not sure killing him off in Episode 5 of 16 was a great move.
Legarski was the one who started the kidnapping arrangement, as proved by the flashback to meeting Ronald, and he was pretty clearly the brains of the operation. Ronald is more of a loose cannon, and he snapped in the winter finale and attacked his own mother, while Legarski didn't kill Merrilee. Big Sky isn't out of bad guys with Ronald still on the loose, but I'm not sure that I'll be able to buy it if he manages to elude the authorities in the long run.
That said, part of why I think killing off Legarski this early might have been a mistake is simply that Big Sky has been reminding me of another show that started with a heavy mystery element: David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Bear with me here -- I have reasons.
In its original run, Twin Peaks famously spent one full season building the mystery of who killed high schooler Laura Palmer before network pressure from ABC during Season 2 pushed David Lynch to resolve the mystery that he never intended to solve on screen.
Revealing who killed Laura Palmer is arguably where Twin Peaks went off the rails, and the show was cancelled after Season 2 (although it did return for a revival back in 2017). Cassie and Jenny figuring out that Legarski was hiding the girls and then Cassie shooting him in the head reminded me of Twin Peaks solving Laura Palmer's murder, and that makes me concerned for what happens next.
Obviously Big Sky and Twin Peaks are very different shows, and these respective game-changing twists went down in very different ways, so I could be off-base, but this was a major twist to happen early in the series.
Still, I'm not 100% confident that Legarski really is dead, but not because I think he somehow survived a gunshot to the head. "A Good Day to Die" featured one fakeout "death" early on when Legarski imagined himself beating Merrilee to death with a hammer while standing over her, only to promise to do better by her when she woke up. She did notice the hammer and looked a little creeped out by it, though.
Big Sky could well open the winter premiere with the reveal that Cassie only imagined herself killing Legarski, and the standoff is still happening. The would remove the potential problem of his death from the equation, but even if Cassie was imagining that she pulled the trigger, she still caught him and found the girls.
Unless this was a dream or hallucination, it was a twist that can't really be untwisted short of killing off Cassie, and I doubt that's going to happen after the big death early on. And who knows? Maybe I'd be all-in on this Big Sky twist if I hadn't watched those first two seasons of Twin Peaks and was hoping for a limited series.
Unfortunately, viewers are in for a wait before finding out what happens after the winter finale cliffhanger. Big Sky returns with the winter premiere of Season 1 on Tuesday, January 26 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. For more of what you can watch in the new year, check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule.