big sky season 1 spring premiere ronald sweater arthur abc

Spoilers ahead for the spring premiere of Big Sky Season 1 on ABC.

Big Sky returned to ABC with a two-hour spring premiere that revealed what the surviving characters have been up to over the three-month time jump since Legarski's death, and set up the next big case that will occupy Cassie and Jenny. Now officially partnered as private investigators, the two women were recruited by a former flame of Jenny's to begin digging into a powerful family in an area not exactly welcoming to outsiders. Also, Ronald is still up to no good. The spring premiere cliffhangers that leave both Jenny and Cassie's lives in danger leave me convinced of the way that Big Sky should handle Ronald: less is more.

The big cliffhanger at the end of the first half of the season was actually Ronald's escape from Cassie and Jenny, but the finale of the previous arc also indicated that Ronald was putting a lot of ground between him and the mess he left behind in Montana. I was actually expecting the majority of the screentime of the second half of the season to go to Cassie and Jenny's next case, with Big Sky briefly checking in on Ronald to make it clear that he's still enough of a threat that everybody should still be nervous, but not a major player until he returned with a vengeance.

Instead, the spring premiere devoted a fair amount of screentime to Ronald and the life he's building for himself as "Arthur," complete with a girlfriend and her young daughter. It's an interesting enough story, and Brian Geraghty continues to be great at making Ronald seem just normal enough that it makes sense that he can pass for a regular man but not so normal that it would come as a surprise to see him snap and kill somebody. But his story is also almost entirely disconnected from the main plot of Cassie and Jenny as they dig into what's happening with the Kleinsasser family.

The main storyline introduced a bunch of new characters in the spring premiere, including the sizable Kleinsasser family (with two of the sons not all that distinct from each other). The cliffhangers left Jenny and Cassie separate from one another and very much without any control over their situations, which are looking pretty dire.

Cassie was pulled over and illegally abducted by one of the Kleinsasser sons, and she was last seen trapped in the back of his squad car. For her part, Jenny's attempt to sneak onto Kleinsasser land to do some investigating was ruined right away when another of the Kleinsasser sons spotted her, leading to a chase through the woods and Jenny falling into a nightmarish pit filled with animal remains, with her pursuer standing on the high ground with an axe in his hands and a crazed look in his eye.

All of which leaves me thinking: Ronald who? While of course Big Sky isn't going to kill off Cassie and Jenny this early (even though Big Sky hasn't proved squeamish about delivering big deaths much earlier than expected), the intensity of the episode belonged to their stories, and the pace really slowed down whenever the two-hour premiere checked back in with Ronald. Big Sky would be better off focusing on one major storyline rather than splitting focus between two mostly unrelated arcs, and at this point, Cassie/Jenny and the Kleinsassers are more engaging than whatever is slowly burning with Ronald.

By all means, I'm game to keep seeing Brian Geraghty in Big Sky with his own arc, but Big Sky could be a lot more cohesive without trying to balance two big storylines that are only somewhat connected. Ronald can stay in the story without large chunks of screentime on a weekly basis. Geraghty has proved that he can do a lot with a little, and I have no doubt that he could make sure that Ronald remains just as unnerving and threatening as ever without Big Sky doing such an equal split between Cassie/Jenny and his story.

It's worth noting that the two-hour spring premiere was actually two episodes broadcast back-to-back, so this wasn't just one episode splitting so much of the screentime. Still, the second half of the season is just getting started. Catch new episodes of Big Sky on ABC Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET to see what happens next, both for Ronald and for Cassie and Jenny in the aftermath of their cliffhangers.

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