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Big Sky 3.6 "The Bag and the Box"

"Are you with me?"  "Til they bury me deep in the ground.

In a dark bedroom in the middle of the night, a woman bolts upright in bed, startled by a strange sound in her house.  She wakes her sleepy husband, who tries to blame the raccoons dumping over the garbage cans but eventually goes downstairs.  The woman waits, restless and nervous, until she hears a shout and a cry.  Pulling on her robe, she dashes downstairs and into the garage.  A sports car is just pulling out of the driveway.  Its front license plate reads TRANSAM79.  The headlights highlight a horrifying sight - her husband lying on the ground, a growing puddle of blood under his head.  

Cassie, Jenny, and Beau are looking at the remains of the burnt Suburban.  Cassie had wanted to check out the car with its creepy driver who seemed to be hiding something in his back seat, but now all evidence is gone and the VIN is destroyed.  They are able to get the VIN from the engine block, however.  Beau gets a call about a homicide near Ft. Henderson, and he and Jenny head off.  Cassie looks into the trees, unsettled.

In Walter's cabin, Walter reports to Paige that her bag was not in her tent.  "You need to look again!" she commands irritably.  "Don't tell me what I need to do!" he hollers, causing her to shrink back.  She immediately apologizes, and he turns away, dialing back his flare of temper.  "I am not bad news like Luke," he says, telling her that, when he was younger, people said he did a bad thing, but he did it for a reason.  He fingers one of the carved figures he's made as he talks.  Paige limps up behind him.  "Whatever it was, I understand," she says softly, adding,  "Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do."  Walter wonders what's in the bag, and she tells him it is something valuable - a journal.  He says if it's important to her, it's important to him.  If Luke doesn't have it, then someone else does.  Perhaps his mother does, he suggests.  When she wonders why, he says that she thinks she has to take care of him.  Their talk is earnest, direct, and quiet, with lots of eye contact.  Paige tells Walter she knows he'd never hurt her because he told her he wouldn't and she believes him.  She reaches out to touch his shoulder.  "Can you look for the bag again? Please," she asks, rubbing his shoulder with her thumb.  He reaches up to grasp her hand and tells her he can do.  They're a team, she says.

Poppernak gives Hoyt and Arlen a run-down of the crime scene saying it was about the car - a black, '79 Firebird Trans Am.  Beau whistles.  "That's an iconic ride!"  They decide it was a targeted theft and tell Poppernak to keep his eyes out in case the thief can't help but ride around in it.  Beau adds, "There's no way our victim would have left his cherished baby naked and exposed."  The car probably has a Lojack.   

Cassie walks into the Sunny Days Excursions campsite, a smile lighting her face when she spots Cormac.  She tells him that she found the creepy red hearts carved into trees in the woods.  She also has to talk to his father.  Cormac interrupts his parents who are in their tent, discussing going to talk to Walter.  Although Cassie would prefer to talk to Buck alone, Sunny doesn't leave. "We've just morphed into one big ole blob!  We don't have any secrets from each other!" Sunny declares with a big smile and a folksy accent.  Cassie asks him about the truck, the Suburban that was set on fire last night.  Buck says that their business requires lots of vehicles and that that one was probably sold about ten years ago. Cassie thinks that it might be connected to the dead backpacker and wishes they remembered who they sold it to.  Cassie describes the man she saw driving the truck, saying there was something really off about him.  "Doesn't ring a bell," says Buck.  "Holy heck!  You're no help at all!" Sunny teasingly reprimands.  She tells Cassie they'll check in the attic when they're back in town and thanks her for stopping by.  Cormac steps away from where he's been listening outside the tent.  "I don't like her," Sunny remarks.

"That's 100% American muscle right there!" Beau says as he and Jenny walk up to the recovered Trans Am, its yellow wings clear on its hood.  "You mean the car, right?" teases Jenny, referring to the dark-uniformed, young police officer in black shades leaning against his vehicle as they approach.  When Beau thanks him for watching the car until they arrived, he says it was no problem.  He'd thought the car would be the prettiest thing he'd see on his shift, but he figures he was wrong.  He looks at Jenny who mildly raises her eyebrows at him.  Beau, lifting the trunk, frowns at the ripped material and calls the thieves savages for damaging the car.  The cop continues to flirt as Beau opens the hood and locates the LoJack.  The cop leaves with a pleasant farewell when Jenny gently lets him down.  She tells Beau that she's done dating cops.  They realize that the thief must have been looking for something, something worth killing for.

Avery, his wife Carla, and Emily are eating breakfast at camp.  Avery and Emily have noticed that Luke isn't hanging out with Mary, another camper, but has walked off with the "freaky new couple" (Emily's words), Tonya and Donno.  Carlais smiling but disapproves, saying she thought they were done with the whole Luke thing.  "We're just chatting.  Nothing to worry about," says Avery.  "What I worry about is your obsession," Carla lectures.  She hadn't thought that her husband and daughter would bond over crime fighting.  Emily lets slip that Avery had been snooping in tents.  (She mouths 'Sorry' when she realizes what she'd done.)  Carla raises her eyebrows, wondering whose tent he was snooping in.  He says it was Luke and Paige's but it was an accident.  Carla doesn't let that go:  "How is that an accident?"  When Avery admits it wasn't exactly an accident, Emily comments softly that she knew it.  Avery has to explain himself:  he says he was worried about Luke and Paige but didn't want Emily to be scared so he lied.  He thought that if Emily knew he was worried, she's tell her dad and he'd rush up there "like the hero that he is"  and he didn't want to look weak.  "So you went into their tent because of Beau?" Carla asks as if she thinks it's ridiculous.  Avery apologizes.  Carla says the Beau thing is a little crazy.  Emily wants to know if Avery found anything in the tent, and he says he didn't (even though he HAD seen money and a gun in Paige's bag.)  

In the woods, Tonya and Donna have brought Luke back to the area where he last remembers being with Paige, hoping being on the spot would jog his memory.  He keeps saying that he can't recall what happened.  Donno threatens him with a very large knife, but Luke can't add any insight.  When Tanya asks about the journal, he does explain that the journal has a seed phrase to open an account that's worth fifty million dollars.  He doesn't know the order of the words.  Donno notices a strange, red-stained heart carved into a nearby tree.  He says maybe someone else took Paige.

Poppernak tells Beau and Jenny that another Trans Am had been stolen a week ago while its owner was sleeping.  It turned up abandoned with its trunk torn up.  Beau wonders what the thief was looking for.  "Maybe their lost youth," says Jenny, "or their sense of manhood."  "Whoa! Whoa!" exclaims the sheriff.  "I'm thinking you just don't understand cars!  Or men."  "Cars aren't that complicated," replies Jenny, adding, "Men, even less so."  "We men still have some mysteries up our sleeves," Beau says, leaning forward in his chair.  Jenny raises her eyebrows in amusement.  Poppernak tells the sheriff that there is a third Trans Am in the state, and it's there in Helena.  It has passed through the hands of different owners but was originally owned by Mickey Prescott who's been in jail for many years but was recently released.  Beau decides to head out to warn the present owner of the Trans Am while Jenny will go talk to the ex-con because, as she says, she always wants the bad guy.

Jenny and Poppernak bang on the door of a motel.  Mickey Prescott, an older man with a full head of white hair and a moustache, lets them in, telling them he doesn't move too fast any more and that he'll be happy to answer their questions as he doesn't have anything else to do.

When Beau pulls up at the owner's residence, he's surprised to see the front door open.  He calls out, "Sheriff's Department.  Anyone home?" and enters, to find a man with a prematurely-greying beard and wearing a light blue shirt inside standing near a shelf.  "Greg Thorne?"  he asks.  "Yeah," says the man.  Beau tells him he's there about the car:  does he have time to talk about it?  The man agrees.

Nicky Prescott settles into his recliner, raising up the footrest, as Jenny and Mo stand above him.  Jenny says they're there about a car, a '79 Trans Am.  Mo adds that it was a favorite of his:  he had a poster of one on his bedroom wall.  "You're talking about Delilah!" replies the ex-con.  He says he hasn't seen her in two decades.  When asked for an alibi, he says he wouldn't have been up at that time unless it was to use the john. Plus, the place has cameras everywhere. He says the car is like all the crimes he committed - in the past.  He says it's lonely on the outside, and it's nice to have visitors, especially one as pretty as she is.  He hopes she doesn't take offense.  "I'll let it slide," she says.

The homeowner taps his finger on his coffee mug, telling the sheriff he appreciates the heads up and that he'll keep an eye on his car.  Beau tells him that he wants to keep him safe but that he could use the car as bait.  "What?  My baby out there?" asks the man.  "Trust me!  I won't let anything happen to her," promises Beau.  "I swear on Burt Reynolds."  They're interrupted by a thump.  The owner says it's his dog and leaves, saying he'll be right back.  Beau seems to be sensing some weird vibes.  He pauses by a shelf and picks up a picture frame that's lying face down.  It shows a happy African-American man, arms outspread in front of a classic Trans Am.  Beau immediately pulls his gun and cautiously makes his way through the house.  From behind a door, he hears muffled yelling and smashes in to find the real home owner, tied and gagged and lying on the floor from where he's tipped over the chair to which he's been restrained.  The window is open and the home invader can be seen fleeing.  Beau takes a second to ask the man if he's good and then leaves to chase the suspect.  The black sports car is pulling out of the driveway and just starting up the street when Beau flings himself onto the hood.  "Stop!" he yells, clinging to the hood.  The man accelerates, twisting the wheel, trying to dislodge the sheriff.  Beau reaches into his pocket and pulls off the LoJack which he slaps onto the side of the car just before a sudden turn causes him to lose his grip, slide off the car, and roll across the asphalt.  

Leaving the motel, Mo says, "Admit it!  For a career criminal, you kind of liked him." "Charming old guy," replies Jenny.  "You said you're done dating cops, but what about the bad guy?" teases the deputy, and Jenny  gives him a look.  Her phone rings.  It's Beau.  "Any luck on your end?" she asks.  Beau sits up with a groan, his hair poufy on top from the fall.  "Depends on how you define luck," he replies.  

Denise and Cassie discuss the truck.  Cassie can't see Buck or Sunny being involved with this, but she feels like they're lying.  They might be protecting someone, maybe the guy in the truck.  They have to figure out who he is.  Cassie wants to do a composite sketch to help identify the driver she'd seen.  Meanwhile, Denise has been on some message boards about unsolved crimes.  "The ones with wanna-be detectives," comments Cassie.  Denise picks up the carved figure of the backpacker showing the heart carved into the underside of its foot.  There's a heart there and hearts carved in trees so there's a connection to the Bleeding Heart murders.  She's hoping there might be someone out there who remembers something.

Walter is watching the camp; his chin is uptilted a bit and his eyes staring disconcertedly.  Donno surprises him:  "Looking for something?"  When Walter tells him he was hiking, Donno asks where his water bottle is.  "I don't have one," admits Walter, adding, "Where's yours?"  "I don't have one.  But I'm not hiking," says Donno.  "I'm watching you watch the camp. The two men eye each other.  Donno asks him if he lives in the woods.  "Why would you ask me that?"  "Because you're not hiking.  And you got that live-in-the-woods vibe," Donno replies steadily.  "Suppose I took that as an insult?" asks Walter, flipped back his shirt to show his holstered knife.  Donno, in a white and yellow Hawaiian shirt, steps closer.  "Well, that would be unfortunate," he intones.  "For me or for you?" responds Walter, unintimidated.  Suddenly, Donno, in his gruff voice and with his characteristic furrowed brow, offers that he lived in the back of a butcher shop once and would think he could hear the animals move at night.  "You can get used to anything, I guess," he adds.  "Lots of things move at night out here," says Walter.  "Is it lonely?  Butcher shop was," continues Donno.  "Sometimes," admits Walter.  "We're all a little strange when it comes down to it, hmmm?"  says Donno, almost smiling.  "That's my superpower - strange.  And violent." Walter considers this, then takes his hand from his knife at his belt and lets his shirt fall back into place.  "Can I help you with something?"  "I'm looking for a woman.  She went hiking with her boyfriend.  Boyfriend came home.  She didn't."  "Sounds like a bad boyfriend," replies Walter.  "I agree.  Have you seen her?  Her name is Paige," continues Donno.  Both men continue their unending eye contact.  "No," responds Walter.  "I haven't seen her."  Donno steps closer and speaks more softly, "A word of advice.  If you're going to lurk around the camp, be quieter.  I spotted you fine minutes ago."  He walks away, leaving Walter looking after him.

Jenny is at her desk when Beau enters rubbing his back.  "You hurt?"  He laughs it off, adding that he could've had a career as a Hollywood stuntman.  "A short one!" Jenny responds.  "What about a career as a person who's going to help solve this crime?"  "I already did," Beau says, telling her that he attached the LoJack to the stolen car.  She raises her eyebrows, impressed.  She clicks on the website, bringing up a map with an image of a car moving on it.  She says she'll notify the state police, but suddenly they realize that the car has stopped.  Then the icon disappears.  Either the criminal has found the GPS and ditched it or he's somewhere where the signal has been lost.  Guns drawn, Beau and Jenny approach the Trans Am, still running inside a parking garage.  Coming closer, they see the driver still in the front seat.  He's dead.

Cormac apologizes to his parents, who are grooming some horses, for bringing Cassie, and his mom says no apologies are necessary because Cassie is just doing her job.  "It's kinda weird though," says Cormac, "you owning that truck."  "Owned a lot of trucks," responds his father.  Sunny asks Cormac if he and Cassie have something going on.  He pauses, then says no, but his mother replies that he needs to work on his poker face.  She laughs then assigns him a job washing another horse.  

In the parking garage, EMTs are removing the body while Beau and Jenny look at his ID.  Someone had approached the car and shot him point blank.  Beau remarks that there's a compartment in the trunk.  Whatever was in it is long gone, but he's betting that's what this has all been about.  The corpse has a prison tattoo, and Jenny calls Poppernak to find out where the dead man had served his time and with whom.  

Jenny is back at the motel, this time with Beau.  They both have their guns drawn as they approach Prescott's door located on the second landing.  Jenny kicks it open.  Prescott is sitting at a table within reach of a gun, but there's no chance of him grabbing it with them having their guns trained on him.  "Let me guess.  My idiot cellmate led you here."  "No," replies Beau.  "It was my daring ingenuity and her smarts."  Prescott chuckles.  When asked why he'd killed his cellmate, he told them that it was because he was sloppy and had made a mess of a simple job.  Besides, he didn't want to split the treasure with him.  Jenny wants to know what the treasure is, and Mickey says it's a lot more valuable than that old car.  "I don't know how that's possible," says Beau.  "That's because you're not named Mickey," replies the old man.  "No," breathes Beau.  "Yes," replies the criminal.  Jenny doesn't know what they're talking about, but instructs him to put his hands behind his head.  He considers reaching for the gun, and she says he'll be dead before he can.  Beau makes him an offer.  If he gives himself up, he'll let him have one last look at what's inside the box.  Mickey considers for a moment, then raises his hands.  Jenny cuffs him while Beau confiscates the gun.  Then, Beau opens the box.  Inside the black-lined case is a Mickey Mantle baseball card.  "Oh," Beau breathes, lifting his fist partway to his lips.  "A baseball card?" asks Jenny incredulously.  Beau, in awe, tells her that it's a Mickey Mantle rookie card that is worth millions.  Mickey tells them that he's only cherished two things in his life he's cherished:  the Trans Am and the baseball card.  "You're going back to prison.  Take your last look," Jenny says.  "It was worth it," he responds.

Walter returns to the cabin.  Paige isn't happy that he still hasn't found the bag, and Walter tells her that someone is looking for her, someone who seems dangerous.  Paige's irritation changes to panic:  "Oh, my God!" "It's OK," Walter soothes her.  "No, it's really, really bad!"  "What did you do?  The truth, please!" he pleads crouching in front of her.  She sighs, then admits that she and Luke stole some money, but now someone is after her.  "You're scared," Walter says, rising.  "Yes!"  "Don't be."  "What are you talking about?"  Walter had turned away, but now he turns back.  He tells her that, when he was younger, he had a friend named Meredith.  The people who'd adopted him didn't like her because she didn't like how they treated him.  One day they hurt Meredith and made him watch.  He couldn't protect her.   "Why are you telling me this?" Paige questions.  "Because everything can be fixed," he answers.  "No, it can't," she declares.  "Yes, it can!" he fires back hotly.  "No!" she contradicts him.  He kneels in front of her again.  "The next night, I burned their house to the ground while they were asleep in their beds." He reaches forward to smooth back her hair.  "And I've been paying for it ever since, but I made sure that they never hurt her again." She looks at him, brow furrowed.  He stands and reaches for a short-handled axe on the wall.  "When I told you I'd protect you, I meant it."

Donno, Tonya, and Luke are at the archery range.  "No bull's eye?" questions Tonya when Donno's shaft is off center.  "Rusty," he replies.  "I could hit you though," he adds, pointing at Luke.  He sits on a bale of hay and tells them about the man who lives in the woods.  It might be the man that Luke and Paige had seen in the woods.  He'd said he hadn't seen Paige, but Donno isn't sure he believes him.  Further down, Avery, Carla, and Emily are also shooting.  Avery surprises Carla with his skill.  He was a school champ at archery but adds for her not to ask him to shoot a gun.  Emily notices the others.  "Poor Mary, huh?" she says quietly to her stepdad.  "Ditched by Luke for the odd couple."  "They don't seem very friendly," acknowledges Avery.  Luke looks over at them then looks back at his target and shoots.

Mary, a young woman with her hair up in a ponytail, is jogging through the woods, when she spots Paige's leopard print bag and some of its contents strewn about on the forest floor.  "Oh, my God!" she gasps.  Turning and running back, she finds Buck and Sunny on the trail.  "What did I tell you about the buddy system?" admonishes Sunny.  "There's something you've got to see!  Paige's bag - I found it in the woods!" she exclaims, breathless.  "That can't be right!  Are you sure?" asks Sunny.  Mary is sure because she noticed it the first day since it wasn't the typical luggage one took camping.  Buck asks her if she'll show him where she found it, but Sunny tells him to stay with the horses and says she'll go with Mary.  

Cassie, Jenny, and Beau are in a bar looking at the sketch of the man Cassie saw driving the Suburban.  Beau wonders if he might be a tweaker.   Jenny plans to compare the sketch to any warrants they have.  Cassie excuses herself when she sees Cormac enter the bar.  "Take your time!" says Beau.  "We're going to want details!" Jenny tells her, laughing.  "So, really, you're never gonna date a cop again?" Beau asks Jenny.  "Why?  Would it break your heart?" she responds, brows arched.  "You wish!" he jokes back.  At the counter, Cassie's smile isn't quite as big as it's been before, but she's not really challenging him when she asks if he's stalking her.  Cormac smiles too as he says maybe he is.  He asks if she's making progress on the Suburban, and she replies that she's working on it.  "You seemed to be asking my mom and dad a lot of questions about the backpacker," he comments. "Something you want to tell me?"  "You know I'm just doing my job," she replies, "and I gotta follow the leads wherever they take me."  Cormac gets that and wants to help her, but he asks her to be straight with him.  He says that his parents may be a lot of things but they're good people.  "I've always thought that, and I want that to be true.  I really do," Cassie says earnestly.  He huffs a small laugh.  "Maybe that's the thing," he says, taking a sip of his drink.  "So do I."  

Mary is leading Sunny to the spot where she saw the bag.  When Sunny asks her why she was in the woods by herself, she says she just needed to clear her head, but then she found Paige's bag and clothes.  She thinks maybe Luke killed her and buried her, but some animal found the bag and dug it up.  "Let's not jump to conclusions," states Sunny.  "OK," agrees the young woman, then stops.  Sunny keeps going for a step or two, then turns around when Mary speaks. "Wait.  You told everyone you heard from Paige, that she was safe and sound in New York." Sunny agrees but says that maybe Luke got Paige's cell phone and called them to throw them off track.  "You're right; I didn't think of that," acknowledges Mary.  Sunny turns and starts walking.  Mary pauses.  "How did you know it wasn't that way?"  Back turned to her, Sunny closes her eyes, then faces back, throwing her hands in the air and smiling.  "I don't know!  My mind's been spinning with all this! Is THAT the way?"  She gestures to the right, but Mary has more realizations:  "That night when Luke came back to camp, you were the one that checked their tent.  You said that Paige's stuff was gone, but he'd just gotten back to camp.  He couldn't have had time."  "Why not?" asks Sunny, coming closer.  "We thought Paige had come back and taken all of her stuff, but we were wrong.  It was LUKE!" "No! No!  This isn't right," says Mary, glancing around.  "Don't get all wound up," says Sunny.  Mary spins and jumps back.  Buck is standing behind her.  "Easy now!" he says calmly, holding up his hands.  "Help!" Mary cries softly.  "Somebody help me!" She turns and looks vaguely at the empty woods around her.  "Help!" she cries a little louder as Sunny grimly steps toward her.  Suddenly, there's a squelching sound.  Mary's mouth opens in a gasp; she freezes and collapses forward into Sunny's arms.  Sunny stares wide-eyed at Buck who grimaces as he pulls his knife from the dead girl's back.  Sunny shakes her head as if in disbelief and sinks her chin to the girl's shoulder.  Buck shakes his head and takes a step back.  "By your side right or wrong," sounds the music as the two stare at each other, the bloody knife in Buck's hand and the girl hanging lifelessly in Sunny's grasp.

3 6 Sunny Buck

THE END

Here are a few questions if anyone wants to discuss the episode: 

1.  I did NOT expect Buck to be a murderer.  I'd even admired his devotion to his wife, but I didn't think he'd kill an innocent young woman to protect Sunny.  Would you do ANYTHING for those you love or are there lines you would not cross?
2.  With Buck and Walter now proven killers and Sunny at the least an accessory since she didn't aid the backpacker, is Cormac also involved?  Is murder the family business, or has it just led down this path because of Sunny's devotion to Walter and Buck's to Sunny?  How can they hope to keep Mary's death a secret?
3.  Did you notice the SPN references?  Beau refers to the Trans Am as its owner's baby, and the hidden compartment in the trunk reminded me of the Winchester's weapon stash.  I also thought of SPN when Beau clenched his fist to his mouth when he saw the baseball card; it's the same gesture Dean made in "Changing Channels" when Sam was hit in the Nutcracker game.  
4.  Are we supposed to like Carla?  I find her rather supercilious.   She's being pleasant but her tone and facial expressions come off a bit condescending.
5.  Do you think there will be a romance between Beau and Jenny?  Do you want to see one?  


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Screencapped and Illustrated by Nightsky. Images courtesy of ABC.