‘Big Sky’ Episode 5 Recap: “A Good Day to Die” Winter Finale

Big Sky Episode 5
Kylie Bunbury in ‘Big Sky’ season 1 episode 5 (ABC/Darko Sikman)

I know I’m not alone in confessing I spent the last minute of ABC’s Big Sky episode five screaming at my TV. The season one winter finale, “A Good Day to Die,” ended with a bang – quite literally – and set events in motion that should lead to freedom for the kidnapped teens and Jerrie.

Episode five kicks off with State Trooper Rick Legarski (John Carroll Lynch) considering bashing his sleeping wife in the head with a hammer. He opts for a gentler approach, promising his now wide away wife he’ll be a better, more considerate husband moving forward. Merilee (Brooke Smith) looks unconvinced about his declaration he’ll change. She’s completely unaware how close she came to being murdered in her sleep by her crazy hubby.

Grace (Jade Pettyjohn), Danielle (Natalie Alyn Lind), and Jerrie (Jesse James Keitel) are passing time in captivity by harmonizing. They actually sound pretty good together, but Danielle brings the mood down some when she admits she can’t stop thinking about her worried parents. Ronald (Brian Geraghty) arrives to check on them and blames Danielle for her predicament. If only she’d been kind to him things would have turned out differently. Danielle speaks her mind and goes heavy on insults about his pathetic life.

Danielle tries to push the right buttons and get him to beat her, suggesting he take off her chains and go at it. She taunts him but it doesn’t work. Ronald understands what she’s trying to do and doesn’t fall for it.

Before leaving he announces, “Today’s the first day of the rest of your life.”

Ronald’s walking out of the barn when he spots broken glass. He realizes someone’s been there and calls up Legarski who races over to check things out. Ronald points out a set of tire tracks and knows whoever was there looked around inside.

Ronald believes it’s possible Cassie and Jenny followed Rick there. Rick’s convinced that’s not possible. They argue about who’s fault all this is, blaming each other for the walls closing in.

Rick decides they need to get rid of the girls earlier than planned. He also wants to figure out how to get Cassie and Jenny off his back, calling them both relentless. He declares, “They need to be stopped.”

Cassie’s son triggers a memory that leads her to continue her investigation of the farm. Her dad’s friend was able to pull up an old blueprint and it reveals there’s a hidden basement in the barn. Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) shows it to Jenny (Katheryn Winnick) just as Denise (Dedee Pfeiffer) points out Legarski’s tracker is back at the barn again.

Cassie and Jenny head out but this time they call Sheriff Tubb (Patrick Gallagher) and fill him in on what’s going on. Jenny even admits they put a tracker on Legarski’s vehicle while explaining they know he’s been to this remote location three times in the last 24 hours.

Cassie and Jenny arrive at the barn the same time Tubb and his men show up. Rick’s inside and nothing looks suspicious. Cassie and Jenny find the hidden basement, but it’s been scrubbed clean. The girls are gone.

Rick accuses Sheriff Tubb of falling for Cassie’s story implicating him in the kidnappings. Rick thinks she’d do anything to make the police look crooked, and he’s just her latest victim. Tubb’s forced to admit Cassie and Jenny put a tracker on Rick’s vehicle and that’s how they knew his location.

Rick claims he was out at the old isolated farmhouse eating his lunch. He plays indignant well, and reminds Tubb he’s a decorated, well-respected officer.

Cassie and Jenny promise each other that they won’t let up. They’ll stick together and keep hunting until they find Cody, Danielle, Grace, and Jerrie.

Meanwhile, Ronald’s moved the girls into a storage room at the All-In Bar, which is Rick’s favorite hangout and closed for the season.

Big Sky Episode 5
John Carroll Lynch and Brian Geraghty in ‘Big Sky’ episode 5 (ABC/Darko Sikman)

Rick arrives after the girls have been deposited and seems pleased with himself for how he handled Sheriff Tubb. He thinks they’ve bought themselves a few hours at least and announces he’s done with the kidnapping business after this. He confesses his wife went dancing without him last night and he can’t have his side hustle impacting his marriage any longer.

Rick doesn’t want to lose Merilee so he’s going to change his ways and recommit to their relationship. (He has no idea Ronald was the man she was dancing with.)

Ronald apologizes for kidnapping the teens and Rick reminds him they’ll no longer be their problem in just two hours.

Rick’s boss shows up in Sheriff Tubb’s office as he’s reading Cassie and Jenny the riot act. She forces his hand and he has to put Jenny (who takes all the blame on herself) under arrest for criminal stalking.

Back at the bar, Ronald gets the girls cleaned up. He’s disturbingly gentle as he wipes their faces and brushes their hair. He pulls Jerrie aside to get her dressed and she attempts to convince him it’s not too late for him to make a different choice with his life. She asks him to let them go but Ronald, who seemed on the verge of doing the right thing for once, apologizes without changing his mind about their future.

Leaving the girls in storage, Ronald rejoins Rick for a discussion about the girls’ fate. Rick wants to keep Ronald in the dark about that but does alert him to the news Cassie and Jenny have made a connection between the disappearances and truckers. They looked at the footage from the truck stop and have pulled license plates. Rick thinks it’s only a matter of time before they discover he fits the profile.

Ronald is certain he’s been careful and won’t get caught.

Cassie makes it back to her office and learns from Denise that the missing fisherman’s truck has been found. It was less than two miles from the isolated farmhouse. Denise wonders what Cody would do next and Cassie figures out she needs to get in Rick’s head.

Ronald returns home and is immediately questioned by his mom. She confesses she now believes he has something to do with the missing girls. She even goes as far as to ask if he’s a sexual pervert. Ronald launches an attack in response, grabbing her by the neck and choking her. He lets go before she dies.

Back at the bar, Rick talks to the Canadian buyers and learns they’re only 20 minutes away. He joins the girls in the basement and Jerrie begs him to keep her and let the teens go. He’s unmoved by her plea and places duct tape over their mouths. Only Grace fights back. She struggles and warns she’ll bite his hand off, but she’s no match for Rick’s strength.

Cassie doesn’t realize it but she comes within inches of one of the kidnappers. Ronald’s just leaving Merilee’s store when Cassie arrives. He even holds the door open for her as he’s exiting. She doesn’t pay him any attention as she’s there to question Merilee about the missing girls. Cassie asks if she’s heard much about the case or if her husband’s mentioned her name. Merilee appears confused and Cassie reveals she thinks Rick has something to do with the teens and Cody’s disappearance.

Merilee assures Cassie she’s way off base and that her husband is an upstanding officer. He hasn’t seemed erratic lately and he’s remained a creature of habit. He always eats at the same time and place every single day, and there’s been nothing strange or different about him that she’s noticed.

Ronald admits to his mom that his “business associate” has the girls and might incriminate him. He can’t tell her who his associate is and can’t go to the police. He promises his mom he has a plan to take care of it.

Cassie speaks with Jenny by phone while on the way to the All-In Bar. She’s figured out that’s Rick’s go-to place and might be where he’s keeping the girls. It’s where Cody was last seen, where she had her first meeting with Rick, and where he apparently always goes for meals. Cassie’s certain he lied about eating at the isolated farmhouse.

Jenny gets moving and promises to meet Cassie there as soon as possible.

Rick’s back downstairs with the girls in the storage area when he hears a car outside. He mistakenly believes it’s the people who’ve come to fetch the girls.

Cassie enters and doesn’t spot anyone. Rick responds to the noise by calling out that he’s downstairs.

Rick’s obviously shocked to see Cassie pointing a gun at him from the top of the stairs. He stands at the bottom and tries to threaten her, reminding Cassie she’s pulled her weapon on a decorated state trooper.

Cassie doesn’t back down or lower her weapon. The girls can be heard in the background making muffled noises through their gags. Rick claims he’s only there to rescue the girls and that they’re his proof she’s threatened to shoot him. They toss insults at each other and neither obey the other’s orders.

Rick warns Cassie he’s going to reach for his weapon and put her under arrest. She yells, “Freeze,” but that doesn’t stop him.

“You just allowed somebody you consider to be a suspect to draw their weapon. Very disappointing,” says Rick.

Cassie continues to tell him to put his weapon down. Rick advises her he’s going to count to five and when he’s done he’ll either have put his weapon down, raised it in the air like Alexander Hamilton, or he’ll have shot her.

He smiles and begins counting. He makes it to four and Cassie shoots him in the head.