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Bitter Roots is the fifteenth episode of the first season of Big Sky and the 15th episode of the series overall. It was written by Elwood Reid and Dominique A. Holmes and directed by Alonso Alvarez-Barreda. It premiered on May 11, 2021 on ABC.


When Scarlet gets an alarming call that her sister is missing, Ronald realizes just how twisted his situation has become and must decide his next move. Meanwhile, Cassie, Jenny, Gil and Rosie find themselves in a whole mess of trouble on the ranch, forced to face off against the worst of the Kleinsasser bunch. But this team is tough and even the strongest family trees can fall.


Phoebe asks Ronald what he's doing and he says he's burying a deer. He says maybe the deer was someplace it shouldn't have been and was meant to die. He asks Phoebe to come closers to she can see him. She wants to get her mom, but he says it has to be a secret. When something dies, it's their job to make sure it gets to heaven and part of that is making sure no one knows where it's buried because they don't want anyone or anything to dig it up. He suggests that Phoebe say a prayer over it and she does. Ronald holds up a rock behind Phoebe's head, but when she turns around, he throws it to the ground and says it's a marker to keep the deer safe. He reminds her it's a secret.

Gil tells Jenny and Cassie to run while he stays behind to get caught. The truck stops and it's Horst, who asks if Gil got lost on the way to the funeral. He tells Gil to get in so they can go for a ride, threatening him with a gun if he doesn't. Gil asks where John Wayne and Rand are and Horst says they're on patrol. Horst asks Gil what he was doing there and Gil says he wanted to see if the barrels were linking. Horst says maybe some are, but that's not Gil's business, unless he's grown a conscience. Horst says it's his land and he can do whatever he wants with it. He's doing the county a favor. He asks if Gil's out there alone, but they'll find out soon enough. Gil says John Wayne and Rand beat Rosie, not Blake. They wanted Blake out of the way so John Wayne could take over the ranch. Horst laughs and says that doesn't make sense.

Cheyenne tells Margaret someone's on the ranch. She encourages her mother to bring strong, saying fear is how Horst controls her. She tells Margaret it'll just be the two of them when this is over. Margaret says every night, she lies in bed and there's a shadow. And ever night, it gets bigger and soon it will swallow her up. Cheyenne says it's not real, but Margaret insists that it is and it will eat everything in the house. Cheyenne says she'll figure out a way out which doesn't include any of the men. She's tired of standing by and watching them run things. Margaret says they'll kill her, but they can't if she skills them first.

Ronald and Phoebe walks back to camp. Scarlet greets them and Ronald makes up a cover story. Phoebe goes along with the story.

Jenny and Cassie run. Jenny tells Cassie to split up because she can handle John Wayne. Once they're apart, Cassie stops running and looks around.

Jenny holds out her gun. She turns as she tries to figure out where the whistling sound is coming from. Suddenly, John Wayne tackles her and knocks her out.

Rand drives in his truck looking for Cassie. Cassie sees him coming and runs away. Then she stops and shoots into the front of his truck. He swerves and knocks her down, then leaves her there.

Rosie finds Cassie and shakes her awake. Cassie tells Rosie was happened with Rand. Rosie says her dad didn't come home, so Cassie says he left with Horst and she thinks they have Jenny as well. She needs to check if Rand is down the hill. They find his truck upside down, but Rand isn't inside. They have to deal with him before they can go find Gil and Jenny.

Margaret tells Cheyenne that Rand didn't come home last night. They have to call the sheriff. Cheyenne says they found Gil and Jenny on the ranch. She wants Margaret to help her fix it themselves, by making the men turn on each other. Horst knows and just doesn't want to admit what the others have been up to.

Jenny tries to break out of the box they have her in. Horst finally unlocks it. She tells him to let her go, but he says they'll have some breakfast first. John Wayne is with him. Jenny says she's not hungry, but Horst won't take no for an answer.

Ronald, Scarlet, and Phoebe are walking when Scarlet's phone rings. They're surprised when she has a signal. She answers.

Back at Dewell & Hoyt, Jerrie tells Mark she answered and he tells Scarlet her sister is missing and probably in danger. They want her to come in. She hangs up on them.

Scarlet tells Ronald the call was nobody.

Horst asks Jenny to remove her shoes as they enter the house, but she refuses. She demands to leave. He calls for Margaret to bring them both coffee. He asks her what she wants so they can come to an understanding. She wants him to pay for what the family has done to everyone. She tells him she saw the body in the barrel and knows there's more. Horst says it's his land and he can do whatever he wants on his land, including taking her out back and putting her in a barrel. Then he'll tell everyone he never saw her. People wander off all the time and get lost. Cheyenne sees them together and asks what's happening. Horst tries to get her to leave, but she refuses and says Jenny's going to come with her. Horst pulls out a gun, but Cheyenne knows he won't shoot her. He's outnumbered. Cheyenne tells Jenny to get up. Jenny smashes her cup against Horst's head and tries to run, but John Wayne pulls a gun on her.

Rosie and Cassie follow the blood trail as it starts to taper off. Rand could be anywhere. They spot Rand's house in the distance and walk toward it.

Denise returns with supplies to find Jerrie and Mark trying and failing to ping Scarlet's phone. Denise offers them coffee. Jerrie interrupts when they get a signal. Mark takes a rain check to go find Scarlet. Mark doesn't want backup because he doesn't want to spook Ronald. He says Jerrie needs to stay because he couldn't live with himself if something happened to Jerrie. Jerrie says she knows Ronald, but Mark leaves alone.

As Scarlet frantically packs their things up, Ronald asks what the call was. She says they need to leave immediately, but Ronald refuses until she talks to him. Scarlet tells him her sister is missing. They need to get to Mary's house immediately. Ronald says if the police are involved, they've checked her house and she's not there. Scarlet asks if Ronald truly loves her and he insists that he does. Scarlet says there's something at Mary's house that they can't find.

Horst asks Cecil what to do. Cheyenne asks Horst what he's doing keeping Jenny captive. Cheyenne knows he's trying to keep his sins hidden, but they're piling up. John Wayne wants to kill Jenny and Gil. Cheyenne tells Horst that John Wayne killed Blake. Horst tells John Wayne he's done calling the shots. He's not getting the ranch no matter what happens. They'll be lucky if the feds don't take everything. Cheyenne says they can't kill their way out of this. Horst realizes she's right. Horst whispers something to John Wayne and sends him away. Horst then asks Cheyenne if she thinks she's ready to call the shots on the ranch. Horst has a job for her and hands her a gun.

Scarlet and Ronald drop Phoebe off with Peg, a neighbor. Scarlet tells Phoebe that she and Ronald have to take care of some business.

Rosie and Cassie approach the house with guns drawn. They run inside and find Rand on the floor, bleeding. Rosie holds her gun on Rand, but Cassie stops her from shooting him, saying he's dying already. They're startled by a noise and turn to see Margaret. Margaret cries and holds Rand as he dies. She knows Horst did it.

John Wayne screams out in the pasture. Then he goes to get Jenny, who knows John Wayne isn't there to let her go.

Jerrie directs Mark toward Scarlet's phone signal. She wants him to call for backup, but he refuses. Jerrie pings the phone again and sees that they're heading back into town, possibly toward Mary's house. Denise realizes Jerrie's going to leave and tells her to be safe.

Cheyenne goes to see Gil. She apologizes and pulls a gun on him. He asks what they asked her to do.

Scarlet explains to Ronald who Steve was. She trusted him until she didn't. He liked to do bad things to her. She didn't know any better. She was going to leave him, but she got pregnant, so she stayed. It was the biggest mistake of her life. Then she fixed it by sticking a screwdriver into his skull. She laughs as she says that. Then she wrapped his body in plastic, called her sister, and made up a story. Her sister has held Steve over her her whole life. She's a bully. Appearances can be deceiving. Scarlet says Ronald can tell her anything, using his real name so he knows she knows who he is. He stops the truck and she asks if he's mad. He's not, but doesn't know what to say. She wants him to tell her the truth. When you're in love, there are no secrets, just saw hearts. She showed hers and wants him to show his. She knows who he is and what he's done and still loves him. Ronald grabs her, but she fights back. She understands him. They're humans, animals with urges. He felt them and so has she. They can keep pretending or they can be who they are. He says he doesn't want to pretend anymore. So they need to get to the freezer. If they find Steve, their adventure is over and she doesn't want to give it up.

Margaret tells Horst that Rand is dead. He sees that she has blood on her. She looks up and says it came out of him and it's spreading. He says there's nothing there and tells her to stop taking the pills. She says she isn't taking any pills and she sees everything so clearly. Horst is the cancer in the house.

Cheyenne can't kill Gil and tells him to leave. He says she's not like them, but she says she is. Cassie and Rosie approach and get Cheyenne to drop her gun. Gil defends Cheyenne, saying she wasn't going to kill him. Cheyenne wants them to trust her, saying it's the only way they can save Jenny. She can take them to Jenny, who is with John Wayne.

John Wayne pushes Jenny into the ground and holds a gun to her head. Jenny says this isn't like him and wonders what happened. He stayed when Blake left and put in the work, but was still second in line. She's able to fight him off and get his gun. Jenny knows what John Wayne did to get the ranch to himself, including killing Blake. She wants him to admit it. He admits that he killed his brother and Jenny shows at his leg. Cassie, Rosie, Gil, and Cheyenne then join them. John Wayne blames Cheyenne and tackles her to the ground. There's a struggle and Cheyenne shoots him. He says she's the bad guy now as he falls to the ground beside her.

Cheyenne tells Cassie and Jenny to go. She knows her father won't kill her. She's all he has left. Jenny realizes that means the ranch is hers. Cheyenne tells them to go. She wants to stay with him for a while. Cassie says they still have one more score to settle.

Ronald asks if it's safe. Scarlet asks if the police are there. They just need to get in and out. Scarlet knows right where the body is. They understand each other. Scarlet thinks what they have is even stronger than love.

Sheriff Wagy and Al Gregor arrive at the ranch. They tell Jenny and Cassie to move out of the way as they'll take it from there. Cassie stands up to Gregory, saying you used to be able to make a Black woman disappear no questions asked. That's the kind of world that made them who they are. Cassie warns him that messing with one of them will make the rest rise up and bring them to their knees. She's going to tell the world who they are. Gregor says he saved Cassie's life. She asks why she needed saving. Gregor says Wagy ordered him to put her in the ground. She wasn't supposed to survive that night. Wagy pulls his gun and orders Gregor into his car. As they walk away, Wagy warns Cassie that she's done. Jenny stops him as he goes to drive away and shows him that she recorded him saying he ordered Cassie's death. Jenny says Tubb's on his way. She also has the soil sample from the ranch.

Wagy arrives at the Kleinsassers' house. Margaret and Horst stand together on the porch.

Scarlet calls out for Mary. They talk about Mary's doll collection. Ronald tells Scarlet the same GI Joe story he told Mary. They go down to the basement and see that the freezer is gone. She realizes they must have found it. It's finally catching up to her. She's worried about what will happen to Phoebe if she goes to prison.

Jerrie arrives at the house as Mark waits outside.

Inside, Ronald and Scarlet startle as they hear the tires.

Mark tries to get Jerrie to go home despite her insistence that she needs to finish. She says she can't go home. He tells her to follow him and keep her distance. She pulls out a gun and follows Mark to the house.

Ronald pulls out his taser as he and Scarlet stand together.

Jerrie and Mark go up to the door and Mark kicks it open, calling out Ronald's name.



Special Guest Star

Guest Starring



Song Performer Scene
"The Passenger" Iggy Pop
  • Ronald and Scarlet hear a noise outside.
  • Mark tries and fails to convince Jerrie to go home.
  • Ronald gets his taser ready.
  • Mark and Jerrie enter the house.


  • This episode scored 2.63 million viewers.


Episode Stills

Behind the Scenes


See Also

A complete overview of this episode's crew can be found here.