Why Big Sky's Huge Death Continues To Pay Off In Season 1

big sky season 1 abc cassie jenny
(Image credit: ABC)

Warning: spoilers ahead for the April 20 episode of Big Sky, called "No Better Than Dogs."

Big Sky continued twisting the plot of the second half of the season, with Cassie and Jenny facing threats from various members of the Kleinsasser family in their search for truth, Ronald trying to keep his new life intact while still stalking Jeri, and poor Jeri just trying to move on from her traumatic experience. A whole lot has happened to get the show to this point from where it started, but after the events of "No Better Than Dogs," I have to say that Cody's series premiere death is the grim gift that keeps on giving.

Cody's death will likely go down as one of the biggest shocks of the 2020-2021 TV season, as his unceremonious murder at the end of the very first episode of Big Sky came after Ryan Phillippe had been hyped as the star of the series, with Kylie Bunbury and Katheryn Winnick as his co-stars.

It also left the distinct impression that nobody on Big Sky is safe from being killed off, which raised the stakes for the first half of Season 1 as Cassie and Jenny tried to catch Cody's killer. And as "No Better Than Dogs" proved, the death of Legarski and closure on Cody's death doesn't mean that his death stopped helping Big Sky even as the plot moves on. I know this because for a sizable chunk of this episode, I was not 100% confident that both leading ladies would survive.

Admittedly, Jenny seemed pretty safe after one of the less psychotic Kleinsasser brothers came to her rescue from the pit of death, but Cassie was in a tough position, to say the least. Faced with the prospect of being taken to a secondary location after being abducted by one of the local cops, Cassie fought back and made a run for it, but tripped and received a whack on the head with a rock that left me wondering if she'd just been Cody-ed and killed off early in an arc.

Fortunately, Cassie didn't die from her injuries, and was even back on the case with Jenny before the end of the episode to find Rosie, but that didn't mean I was done thinking that key characters might be prematurely biting the dust on Big Sky.

The second instance came at the end of the episode at the Kleinsasser ranch, when Blake decided to dig up the corpse of a former ranch worker by the name of Cole whom Rand had killed years ago. John Wayne tried to talk his brother out if it; when that failed, he hit him hard over the head with the shovel, sending Blake falling down into the open grave while their sister watched from afar. Ah, sibling love.

In my defense on this one, it's still not entirely clear what Blake's fate is, as the episode ended before confirming either way. It's easier to imagine Big Sky continuing to tell this story without Blake than without Cassie, and Michael Raymond-James is a familiar enough face on the TV circuit that Blake abruptly being killed off could serve as a Cody 2.0. That said, now that I've had a little time since watching the episode, I'm pretty confident that Blake survived getting smacked with a shovel, but the moment packed a punch, and I fully attribute that to Big Sky killing off Cody early on.

That's not to say that Big Sky can get away with death fake-outs in the long run, but doling out near-death experiences after killing off the leading man in the series premiere works so far. See how Big Sky continues to tell the story of the Kleinsassers and the rest in Season 1 with new episodes on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, and swing by our 2021 spring premiere schedule for some additional viewing options.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).