“Nowhere to Run” burns through plot at an alarming rate, which should keep people watching, even if it’s difficult to tell at this point what’s a deliberate decision and what’s a bizarre flaw.
This recap of Big Sky season 1, episode 2, “Nowhere to Run”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
After a bang-average pilot closed out with a genuinely compelling and unexpected twist, Big Sky episode 2, “Nowhere to Run”, had a lot of work to do in sustaining the interest of returning viewers. And I’d argue that it did that, mostly by flouting storytelling conventions again. The broader motive of the villains has been revealed already, and Cassie, after spending ten minutes with Legarski, has already pegged him as the likeliest suspect in what’s going on. Ordinarily, both of these things would be saved for a much later episode. Big Sky seems to be trying to burn through plot in record time.
Of course, you could also consider this a downside, and I wouldn’t argue with you. Nobody, for instance, seems all that concerned about Cody’s disappearance, though I concede that might be because they’re reluctant to consider he’s dead when the much likelier outcome is that he, an alcoholic, has fallen off the wagon due to the stresses of his love life. Plus, it’s kind of embarrassing to be taken out by villains as obviously villainous and almost deliberately non-threatening as Ronald and Rick, who bury Cody’s truck and Danielle and Grace’s car in a big pit and then have a little argument about Ronald’s stupidity in picking up two girls who’ll be missed rather than the usual “lot lizards”, and Rick’s rationale in killing a PI who, in mentioning that the serial killer might be a long-haul trucker, was obviously getting too close to the truth.
Ronald’s whole mommy issues shtick is a bit played out as far as villainous motivations go, in all honesty, but I keep being surprised how far Big Sky is going with it, and “Nowhere to Run” had a couple of moments that widened my eyes a bit. The first was when Ronald and his mother had a bit of a spat and she advised him to go upstairs and masturbate himself, then return with a better attitude. The other is right at the end when Ronald crawls into bed with her and we see she has a giant self-portrait hanging over her bed. Even weirder than we thought!
I can’t decide if Cassie figuring things out so quickly makes her look smart or the villains look stupid, but I’m leaning more towards the latter given how obviously creepy and weird Rick is when he meets her. He’s pretty openly sexist and racist in the guise of being complementary, he tells obvious lies that can be easily disproved, and then he needlessly follows and attempts to intimidate her just to further incriminate himself. Again, is this bad writing, or a bad villain being stupid?
An interesting wrinkle is the fact that Jerrie is transgender. This isn’t like the fact that the show is set during the pandemic, which is an attempt at topicality that is seemingly determined to amount to nothing at all – here in “Nowhere to Run”, Jerrie is told by Ronald that she’s going “to a better place”, otherwise known as being trafficked, but when he makes her shower in front of him she demands he look at everything she has to offer. This is, in some ways, a payoff to Dani and Grace asking earlier in the episode if Jerrie had a p***s or not, but it also lands Jerrie back in captivity, so the group can continue their three-part harmonies and to strategize against lonely weirdo Ronald.
As “Nowhere to Run” ends, Rick gets a call from his ex-wife letting him know that Cassie has been asking questions, and her being onto the idea of a long-haul trucker’s involvement is a pretty major problem since, you know, that’s the stated reason that Rick killed Cody. Jenny also spends the episode linking Jerrie’s disappearance to Dani and Grace’s, so a much bigger, much clearer picture is beginning to emerge already. Presumably, that’ll keep people watching a little longer.
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