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We've had the ocasional young female vanish around here.

Pilot is the first episode of the first season of Big Sky and the first episode of the series overall. It was written by David E. Kelley and directed by Paul McGuigan. It premiered on November 17, 2020 on ABC.


While on a road trip to visit her boyfriend in Montana, Danielle Sullivan and her sister Grace are kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote part of the highway, setting off a chain of events that leads private detectives Cody Hoyt and Cassie Dewell to team up with Cody's estranged wife and ex-cop, Jenny Hoyt, to search for the sisters. But when the investigators discover these are not the only girls who have disappeared in the area[1]


Jerrie Kennedy and Melissa watch a video of Jerrie singing. Nearby, Jenny Hoyt sits bored in another booth. Melissa comments that the song seems a little old fashioned for Jerrie, but Jerrie says she was going for hope. In pandemic times, people want to believe in love. Melissa thinks maybe she's right and seeks Jenny's agreement on the matter. After pulling out of her daze, Jenny agrees. Suddenly, Jenny gets up and leaves, without waiting for the food she ordered. Melissa says she's seen Jenny's moods before and that's what this is.

Cassie Dewell dances and sings along with the radio in her office while Denise Brisbane watches and smiles.

Jenny squeals to stop in front of Dewell & Hoyt Private Investigations.

Cassie continues her dance.

Jenny gets out and walks inside. Denise greets her at the door and Cassie stops her dancing and singing when she sees Jenny. Jenny confronts Cassie, asking Cassie if she's sleeping with her husband. Cassie defends that Jenny and Cody were over, but Jenny doesn't think that's true. Then she wonders where Cody even is, but gets no answer. Jenny tells Cassie that separated doesn't mean over, just separated. Cassie says she didn't plan it and she's not proud of it. Jenny says they have a kid. And she's also upset because Denise knew and didn't tell her. Jenny leaves in tears. Denise calls Cody and tells him he might want to come into the office.

Helen Pergman watches through her front door as her son, Ronald Pergman, gets ready by his truck. She asks if he's heading back out already. He says he has to pick up a load going to Jackson Hole. His mother asks him about the dishes he took to his room last night which he hadn't returned. She says she doesn't mean to nag, but she wants to keep a nice house and her friends all brag about their children while he hasn't made anything of himself.

Rick Legarski pulls up behind a car that is stuck in the mud and spinning tires trying to get out. He goes to the window where the driver, Mitchell Banks, tells him he pulled over to take a picture of some elk and got himself stuck. Legarski introduces himself and asks probing personal questions about Mitchell's sex life. Then he tells Mitchell how to get himself unstuck. Then he sends Mitchell on his way.

Danielle and Grace Sullivan sing along with the radio as they drive down the highway. They stop when their mom calls. She reminds them to text her when they get there. And call her. Once she hangs up, Danielle squeals because she can't believe their mom really let her go to Montana. Grace reminds Danielle that she had to bring her along because Grace has the good judgment. They pass a sign indicating that they've left Colorado.

Cody calls Jenny and is aggravated that she isn't answering. Cassie leaves the building and passes him. She tells him she's going to pick up Kai and she's running late when he tries to talk to her. Cody says he never misled her and she's the one who said no to get attached. She doesn't respond and instead just leaves. Denise comes out of the building next and tells Cody he should have seen this coming. He tells her he doesn't need the lecture, but she thinks he does.

Jerrie goes to a trucker and asks if he's looking for a company. The trucker turns her down. Next, she goes to Ronald's truck. He opens the door to let her in and she climbs up onto his lap. He tells her she's pretty and wonders if she's been there before because he doesn't remember her. She tells him she's new to this. She tells him her name is Michelle. He tells her about people selling him short, especially his mother, and tells her not to let people do that to her. She says she hasn't spoken to her parents in quite a while. She leans down and kisses him then asks what he wants to do. He then takes a taser and shocks her with it. He apologizes as she slumps into him.

Ronald is driving when his mother calls. He reminds her that she's not supposed to be calling to check up on him. She says she just worries. He asks why she can't be proud of him. Truckers aren't lowlifes. They're the lifeblood of the American economy, now more than ever. When she makes a sarcastic comment, he hangs up on her, saying he's driving. In the back of his truck, he has Jerrie wrapped in plastic.

Grace and Danielle argue over whether to stop for a bathroom break. They're interrupted by Danielle's boyfriend, Justin, calling. She answers the call and tells him they're about three hours away. He tells her there's a crash up ahead and the road is closed, so he's going to text her an alternate route. Grace doesn't want to get off the interstate, but Danielle assures her it will be fine. She takes the exit.

Cassie finds Jenny at the bar. She tries to defend herself, but Jenny stops her. They end up face to face and then get into a physical fight. When Jenny ends up on the ground, Cassie tries to help her up, but just gets pulled down herself.

Cody pulls up at Lewis & Clark Urgent Care. Inside, Cassie is getting stitches in her lip. The doctor tells him Jenny's next door. She also says it's hard to tell who won.

Cody walks out of urgent care with Cassie and Jenny. They both go for the front seat and Jenny glares at Cassie. Cody is annoyed that they're butting heads again.

They drive silently with Cassie in the back seat. Cody wants to go somewhere to talk it out, but Jenny says she needs to be home as Justin's girlfriend is coming in late. Cassie also needs to be home. Cody wants them to get along. Cassie says she and Jenny are on the same page, but Jenny doesn't agree.

The check engine light comes on and Danielle pulls over. She thinks the engine gets hot sometimes. Grace asks when the last time someone looked at it was. The light goes off and she goes to pull back on the road, but they nearly get hit by a truck. Danielle is angry that he almost hit them and wants to pass him.

Inside the truck, Ronald turns up his music and drives up a hill. He notices Danielle behind him and accelerates. Danielle changes lanes and speeds up, but Ronald speeds up as well. He moves over into the other lane, causing Danielle to have to swerve quickly to avoid being hit. Ronald turns the music up higher. Danielle tries again to pass. As they get to his window, she makes Grace roll her window down and insults Ronald as they drive by. Ronald is angered when they pass him and go on.

Once they're clear of him, Grace tells Danielle she shouldn't have done that as he'll be able to catch up to them on the downhill. Danielle says he won't because they've reached their exit.

Ronald is angry not to see the girls ahead. He impulsively takes the exit behind them.

Cassie arrives home to find her father, Joseph, reading on the couch. She gets ice from the freezer and he asks her what happened. She tells him she got into a little altercation with Jenny. He's shocked.

Cassie goes to see Kai Dewell, who is lying down in his bed. She climbs in beside him and pulls out his tablet, which he says Grandpa let him have. She takes it and tells him to go back to sleep.

Grace asks Danielle if she knows where they are. Danielle says she does and they're fine. Danielle realizes she has no phone signal. Grace doesn't either. Suddenly, the light comes back on as the car clunks to a stop. They start to argue as they're left stranded.

Cody lets Jenny into the cabin. She asks if they're working on them or not. He tells her to ice her eye. Jenny knows that Cassie has a thing about being moral and would have to have believed that they were done done to go there, so Jenny knows Cassie told him that they were. Cody says they tried, but they just end up wanting to kill each other. She says she certainly wants to kill him now. They clasp hands.

Cassie looks at herself in the mirror in the bathroom.

Jenny and Cody have sex.

Legarski arrives home to his wife, Merrilee Legarski. He's home late because of a big wreck on the I-90. Merrilee kept his dinner warm for him and he sits down to eat it. He talks about rescuing the stranded motorist. It was nice to help someone, Mother, he says. She doesn't like to be called Mother. Their kids are grown now and gone. They're husband and wife. She wants him to touch her more, like a husband touches a wife. He thinks it's the menopause talking and doesn't want to talk about it.

Danielle asks Grace how long they should just sit there. Grace says they have to wait for it to cool so they can check the radiator without it exploding in their faces. Danielle tries to start the car again, but Grace stops her, saying she'll flood the engine. Grace then suggests walking back to the campsite. It was only a few miles, but Danielle says it's night and there are bears nearby. Danielle wants to wait in the car for someone to come along. They see lights and know it's a truck. Grace realizes it's the truck they passed earlier. It stops behind them. Danielle wants to just apologize to him. Grace tells her to lock the doors. Ronald then comes to the window, breaks the glass, and tases Danielle. Then he goes to the other side and does the same with Grace. Grace's broken glasses are left on the road.

Cody answers his phone. It's Justin, who asks for Jenny. Cody says she's there and they're talking. Justin says Danielle and Grace never showed up. They were supposed to be there a while ago. They're not answering calls or texts and now their mom is calling him. Justin knows something's not right.

Grace wakes up in the back of the truck and starts screaming through the tape over her mouth. She is able to pull the tape off and call out to Danielle.

Cody gets dressed so he can go out and look for the girls. He tells Cassie on the phone to tell her to go to the office. Denise then calls and says there aren't any reports of accidents matching the girls. She also called Legarski, who used to be married to her cousin Sally. She left him a message and gave him Cody's number. Cody tells her to start calling the hospitals. Jenny wants to go with Cody, but Cody tells her to go be with Justin instead.

Grace gets the tape off her wrists and then wakes up Danielle and frees her. Grace tells her they've been kidnapped. They realize he took their phones. They also see Jerrie, who is wrapped in plastic from head to toe and realize they aren't the only ones in there. Grace crawls over, thinking it's a dead person. She rips the tape to reveal Jerrie's face. She starts doing CPR and Jerrie wakes with a gasp.

Legarski calls Cody from his home. Cody explains that he's looking for two girls and describes their car. Legarski hasn't been near where they went missing. He offers to drive down there to take a look, which Cody appreciates. Cody says he's on his way himself and will call with updates. Legarski then says this isn't the first disappearance of this type. He says he'll send Cody a link.

Merrilee is upset that Legarski is leaving at 2:30 AM for the missing girls. She says he's not the only state trooper. He thinks it could be his number finally getting called. Merrilee isn't sure this is how she wants to spend her one life. He leaves anyway.

Cassie brings up the article Legarski sent about the Church of Glory and Transcendence. She's on the phone with Cody, who has heard rumors of it being a cult. Cassie reminds Cody of missing prostitutes who disappeared from truck stops. Nothing came of it because no one really investigated it. Cassie says the girls must have passed truck stops themselves. Cody suggests that Cassie call Jenny because she worked on that some when she was a cop. Jenny walks in to the agency. Cassie hangs up. Denise hasn't found them in any of the hospitals, which is a good thing. Cassie asks Jenny about the missing prostitutes. Jenny sits at the computer. Cassie thinks the girls may have been grabbed as they stopped for food or gas. Jenny says no one was ever seen being grabbed because the prostitutes were climbing into the cabs. The girls wouldn't do that. Jenny checks VICAP.

Grace and Danielle bang on the sides of the truck. Ronald hears them and stops the truck. He opens the back and they beg him to let them go. Danielle tells Ronald that Jerrie is dead. Danielle says they won't say anything and begs to be let go. Grace lies completely still nearby. Ronald checks on Jerrie and is startled when she sits up and pushes something into his neck. Grace and Danielle then attack him from behind, but he tases Danielle again. He then tases Jerrie again, then finally goes after Grace. Once they're all subdued, he pulls the comb out of his neck and closes the back of his truck.

The girls wake in a dimly-lit room. They're handcuffed around their ankles. Danielle asks Jerrie how he got her. She says he got her at a truck stop. Danielle asks what she thinks he plans to do with them.

Cody arrives at a bar that's way out of the way. Legarski exits and introduces himself. The bar closed down because of the pandemic and the owner gave him keys to look after it. If it ever reopens, he gets a piece of it. Neither of them saw anything on their way to the bar to meet. Legarski says he lives there and knows everyone. He can't let it get out that he hates anyone. He knows that Cody has been fired from three different departments, which is why he's a private detective now. Cody gets a text from Jenny. He checks it and asks what Legarski knows about VICAP. He's never used it, but it's showing 12 missing females within 100 miles of them over the last two years, most missing from truck stops. Cody asks if the Church membership includes long-haul truckers. There's a faction of truckers mixed up in sex trafficking. Cody wants to drive up to the church. They go out to Cody's truck to drive to the church. Cody takes a call from Cassie, who is worried about him wanting to go to the church. Legarski climbs into Cody's truck and asks him where he learned about long-haul truckers being tied to sex trafficking. Cody says it's just cop-to-cop grapevine, nothing official. Legarski says no one talks to state troopers. Then he pulls out his gun and shoots Cody in the head, killing him. Then he gets out of the truck and calls Ronald to tell him he's been sloppy.



Guest Starring



Song Performer Scene
"Act One: Falling" Cast (Jesse James Keitel)
  • Jerrie shows Melissa the video of her singing.
  • Melissa says it's not her usual style, but Jerrie's going for hope.
  • Melissa then goes to give Jenny some coffee.
"It's All Over Now" The Rolling Stones and Cast (Kylie Bunbury)
  • Cassie dances around the office, singing along to music.
  • Jenny arrives at H&D.
"Good as Hell" Lizzo and Cast (Natalie Alyn Lind and Jade Pettyjohn)
  • Danielle and Grace sing along with the radio at they drive.
"These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" Kari Kimmel
  • Jerrie checks her makeup in a compact.
  • She climbs up to Ronald's truck and asks if he wants a party.
"Folsom Prison Blues" Johnny Cash
  • Ronald gets a call from his mother as he drives.
  • They disagree about him being a truck driver.
  • She upsets him, so he hangs up on her.
"Stand by Your Man" Cast (Alexandra Staseson)
  • Cassie finds Jenny at the bar and apologizes.
  • Cassie offers to let Jenny hit her and Jenny does.
  • They start fighting.
"Mannish Boy" Muddy Waters
  • Danielle and Ronald race on the highway.
  • Grace begs Danielle to stop, but Danielle yells at him as they pass him.


  • The episode follows a tradition in many television series by giving the title Pilot to the first episode of the series overall.[2]
  • This episode scored 4.15 million viewers on first airing.
    • This episode has surged in multiplatform+35 viewing. Over 35 days of viewing on linear and digital platforms, the pilot has reached 14.7 million total viewers, making it ABC's most-watched debut since The Good Doctor in September 2017.[3]


Episode Stills

Behind the Scenes


See Also

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