Legarski’s Return to ‘Big Sky’ Changes Everything

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Big Sky has bested me. I’m a big enough person to admit it. Last week I made the argument that the best possible move Big Sky could make was to keep John Carroll Lynch’s Rick Legarski alive. I was wrong. The absolute best possible option for this diabolical killer happened in this week’s episode. Spoilers ahead for Big Sky.

“I Fall to Pieces” doesn’t play around. Within Episode 7’s first few minutes it’s clear that Rick Legarski survived being shot in the head by Cassie (Kylie Bunbury). The show even makes a joke about how insane this particular plot point is. During a brief news segment a doctor exasperatedly says if you were to get shot in the head, Legarski’s injury would be the way to do it. But that head wound is only half of the latest drama around this psychotic state trooper. You see, Legarski the conniving mastermind who manipulated an entire town while running an elaborate sex trafficking ring? He now has amnesia.

Yes, this is absolutely a plot line pulled straight from a soap opera. Selective memory loss has been television’s favorite loophole for decades. But this latest wrinkle is so good, who cares if it’s predictable?

What’s life going to look like now that Legarski has amnesia? He was already able to charm an entire community while he was secretly preying on the most vulnerable population of women. Accused or not, he still has his big smile. If Big Sky wanted to it could pull us into an epic legal saga that pitted Legarski’s manipulative expertise against the testimonies of three abused women. That shouldn’t be a nail-biting fight, but considering society’s track record for not listening to women, it could easily become one.

Or Big Sky could play it straight and show us Legarski maintaining his innocence. After watching this monster for so long, seeing him genuinely try to atone for his sins may be the most unsettling move this mass kidnapper could make. Also, as Lynch proved in American Horror Story: 1984, the man is excellent when it comes to adding emotion to unexpected victim arcs.

Big Sky could even lean into the operatic nature of this revelation. Legarski could be faking his amnesia the whole time, all in an effort to walk away free. How infuriating would that be? But also how addicting? Watching a guilty-as-sin killer and sex trafficker slip away from the law time and time again can sum up the premise of at least five HBO dramas. Yet we’re still watching this overplayed trope.

By the end of Episode 5, it was starting to feel like Big Sky was painting itself into a corner. Its source material was over. Its overarching villain was in the hospital. Even the central mystery binding its two leads together was close to being solved. I should have known better than to underestimate David E. Kelley’s love of twists. Big Sky is just now letting us know that the most dangerous Legarski is a forgetful Legarski, and right now that danger is what we need.

New episodes of Big Sky premiere on ABC Tuesdays at 10/9c p.m.

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