It’s another beautiful day in Helena, Montana. What could go wrong in a town this picturesque? The eighth episode of ABC’s Big Sky, titled “The End is Near,” continues Ronald’s descent into madness as Cassie, Jenny and the police search for Rick Legarski’s trucker accomplice. Here’s a recap of everything that just happened on everyone’s favorite new drama.
Picking up right where the last episode left off, Cassie and Jenny search Merrilee’s house with their guns drawn, finding a cardboard cutout of her husband. They see the punched-in hole in the closet wall and the bedroom window is open. The trucker they were searching for has gotten away and all Merrilee knows is the name he gave her, “Mitchell.” We see Ronald driving away as Merrilee tries to call him on his burner phone. He doesn’t answer. When Sheriff Tubb arrives on the scene, he interviews Merrilee and accuses her of collusion as she is now linked to both her husband and his accomplice in the abduction of the three recovered girls.
When Ronald returns to his charming farm house, he walks in to find Helen’s dead body still watching TV, the 20th Century Fox musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Ronald creepily drags her body down to the basement tied to a kitchen chair. In the next scene with Ronald, we see him obsessively mopping his kitchen and doing dishes while quoting his mother. “We keep a clean house, we don’t like filth.” He becomes enraged and smashes a plate on the floor, mopping it up.
After an MRI, Rick’s lawyer Penelope informs him that his trucker accomplice was at his home with his wife. She asks him for private information to help keep Merrilee safe and he tells her he doesn’t know anything. She suggests they do a private polygraph test as Merrilee arrives. She lets Penelope know that the police are asking her to make a statement and they believe she’s somehow involved. Penelope tells her again that she needs to get a lawyer and advises her not to give any statements.
At Jenny and Cassie’s detective office, Jerrie describes the interior of the truck cab she was abducted in, which may be able to help narrow down the search. Sheriff Tubb agrees to increase the frequency of the police driveby presence at her friend’s house where she’s currently staying.
Cassie is caught by Penelope at the hospital talking to Doctor Weng, who is overseeing Rick’s case. “You two have something in common,” she snydly interrupts. “You each did your best work on my client’s head.” Inside Rick Legarski’s hospital room, he receives his private polygraph test, which he appears to pass.
In Sheriff Tubb’s office, Jenny and Cassie are told that Rick’s lawyer is asking for a polygraph test from the police, which means he must have passed a private one. They’re both incensed, realizing that this increases Rick’s chances of getting off for his involvement in the abduction. Sheriff Tubb says “We’ll see how this plays out” and they are, once again, encouraged to take matters into their own hands. Cassie decides she’s going to find a way to see Legarski and Jenny tells her that because Cassie’s face has been in the news, perhaps she should do it. But Cassie insists that it be her since they have a connection, she being the one who shot him in the head.
A paper boy is seen riding through Helena on his route, which includes Denise at the detective office. We later find him dropping off a paper at Ronald’s farm house and he has a moment of realization with Ronald’s police profile on the front page. Hiding in the bushes, the boy takes a few photos of Ronald grabbing the paper and seeing his own face. About to leave, the boy turns to find Ronald standing right there, who abducts him and locks him in a cage on wheels in the basement. While questioning the boy, we learn that his name is Erik.
Cassie and Jenny infiltrate the hospital dressed in scrubs with face masks and hair nets. Cassie goes in while Jenny stays out in the hall wearing an AirPod so she can hear everything that goes on inside. Cassie introduces herself as “Missy” and starts treating Rick like a patient, but soon removes her glasses, mask and hair net to reveal her face, hoping to spark his memory (Missy is what he calls women when he can’t remember their name, something he used on Cassie the first time they met). Rick’s heart monitor increases when she asks if he remembers her and he seems upset. But his increased heart rate turns out to have been anxiety over the fear of having done something to her that he doesn’t remember. “Did I shoot you with an arrow?,” he innocently asks. Walking out of the hospital, Cassie believes Rick really has lost his memory, but Jenny believes she can prove he’s lying by being more aggressive.
Denise is alone in the detective office when Erik’s mom stops by, asking Denise if she’s seen her son, who hasn’t come home. She describes a phone call from Erik that she didn’t think much of when she was working where he mentioned something about knowing someone in the paper and a reward. With the paper lying on the table in the waiting room, they realize he might have been talking about the front page story. Denise asks if he said anything else. “He said he thinks he knows where he lives,” Erik’s mother says. When Cassie, Jenny and Sheriff Tubb arrive, they make a plan to check all of the homes on Erik’s paper route.
As Ronald tapes up Erik’s hands, he creepily uses dated TV references to answer the boy’s questions about whether or not Ronald is going to kill him. He tells him about Vincent Price’s The Pit and the Pendulum. When the doorbell rings, Ronald duct tapes Erik’s mouth and tells him to keep quiet or he will kill him.
A priest is at the door for his meeting with Helen, who hasn’t been returning his calls. Ronald talks to him through the window at the door, making up a story that his aunt has cancer and his mom went to visit her. The priest says she never mentioned that, but she has been talking a lot about him lately, asking to be let in. Sitting in the living room, the priest tells Ronald that his mother described him being involved in something big. Ronald tells the priest that he remembers him trying to drown him as a boy during his baptism, which the priest is shocked to hear. Ronald also mentions his father for the first time in the series thus far, making it sound like his father relayed that story to him at some point.
In the basement, Erik sticks his feet outside the cage and slides it over to a workbench. Putting his arms between the bars, he works to break the duck tape binding his hands together and accidentally knocks open a door, revealing Helen’s dead body. He screams in terror.
The priest heard noises when Erik was moving around in the basement, which Ronald passed off as his dog. But when Erik screams, Ronald excuses himself, going downstairs and telling Erik he’s made things much worse. The priest follows Ronald downstairs and sees Erik in the cage, running away in hopes of getting out of the house to call the police. Ronald chases after him into the kitchen where he attacks the priest with a frying pan and forces his head into the sink full of dishwater, drowning him like his recollections of his own baptism at the hands of this same priest. This scene chillingly ends with Erik watching the dead priest’s body being thrown down the stairs by Ronald.
An Amber Alert goes out to the residents of Helena, which prompts Jerrie to return to Cassie and Jenny’s office to ask if the truck driver is behind it. Jerrie reveals that she feels like she’s losing her mind, seeing visions of her former captor wherever she goes.
Jenny and Cassie fool the police officer keeping watch outside Rick Legarski’s hospital room into believing that Jenny is his sister. This time, however, she enters the room to find that Rick is not alone. Penelope immediately tries to escort her out, but Rick says he wants to speak to her when she says he killed her husband Cody. Jenny sees the convincing pain and sorrow in his eyes.
While at the hospital, Cassie talks to Merrilee and tells her she believes she has nothing to do with the trucker and Erik’s abduction. Merrilee confirms that she also doesn’t believe Rick is faking his memory loss, but then talks about how confused she feels over “Mitchell,” saying she actually felt something for him and she’s grateful for it. “I guess I should thank him for reminding me I’m alive.”
As Ronald moves the priest’s body, he tells Erik about his mother. “She was nice,” he says. “She stopped being nice. The question I have is are you going to be nice?” He asks Erik more questions and promises to kill him if he thinks he’s lying. Erik previously told him he was taking his photo for a school project about his paper route, but now admits that he thought Ronald was the man on the front page. Just then, Erik pulls a staple gun from behind his back and shoots a few staples into Ronald’s forehead. He also holds up the taser, having retrieved both earlier from the workbench when he got his arms free.
Merrilee tells Rick that his mystery trucker accomplice has kidnapped a boy. “You need to tell us who this man is, Rick,” she says. “If I ever knew him, I don’t remember,” Rick replies. “I promise.” She tells her husband it’s time for his humanity to rise up and reveals that the trucker might kill her, too. He apologises again, tears coming to his eyes. As Merrilee looks over him, she notices that he is tapping his fingers and she now looks unconvinced.
Back in Ronald’s basement, he is dementedly dousing the place in what appears to be gasoline, making sure to coat the door that conceal Helen’s body. As he finishes, he turns to Erik. “Do you have a match?”
Will Erik be saved before Ronald sets fire to his house? What’s the story with Ronald’s father? Is Ronald actually stalking Jerrie? Is Merrilee in love with Ronald? Is finger-tapping Rick Legarski’s tell that he’s lying? Hopefully we’ll find out in next week’s episode, “Let It Be Him,” airing Tuesday, February 16th, at 10/9c on ABC.
You can catch up on past episodes of Big Sky anytime on Hulu.
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Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.