Jensen Ackles’ Beau Arlen Makes Us All Cry in the Season Finale of ‘Big Sky’

The season finale of Big Sky was both what I expected and not at all what I expected – and doesn’t that just sum up the show perfectly? Season 3 was the season that Sheriff Beau Arlen came to town, which is why I started doing these recap/reviews after watching the show sporadically during its first two seasons.

Will he be back in Season 4? Will the show be back in Season 4? We don’t know. And I guess that’s not a bad way to leave it! But after the tour de force that was Ackles’ portrayal of the Sheriff in the finale, many fans are sure hoping we get to see him again.

The episode picks up right where we left off, crazy Buck ditching the van he’s got Emily and Denise in. He stops at a bar to find another vehicle and some hapless guy hears the women screaming and assures them he’ll help them.

So of course Buck kills him and steals his truck, stopping to wave at Emily and Denise with a smile after he drops the poor guy to the ground by snapping his neck. SO creepy.

Carla shows up at the rendezvous site as they’re taking Avery’s body out, distraught and calling for Beau.

Also? Extreme bowlegs there.

He comforts her, and shows himself to be the better man by telling her that in the end, he needs her to know that Avery did everything he could trying to save Emily.

Unfortunately, he says, they think that Buck Barnes has her, which makes Carla even more distraught and who can blame her? Beau reassures her.

Beau: Listen to me, I’m gonna find her and bring her back. Okay?

God knows it’s clear he desperately wants to, more than he wants anything in the universe.

I know I’m in the minority, but I really liked the evolution of Beau and Carla’s relationship in this season. Ackles has said that he played Beau as still in love with Carla, and to me that came through – he’s gentle and protective with her, reassuring her with his touch and with the intense eye contact that shows her how much he cares. And I think she realized that as the season went on, turning to him more and more and forgiving him – or perhaps understanding just how much his partner’s death damaged him – so that they could respect each other again. As co-parents definitely, but maybe as human beings too.

They figure out that Denise and Emily are still alive at least, and call Cassie to help.

Meanwhile, Sunny packs a bag, including her gun, when there’s a noise in her house. It’s Walter, who’s snuck in without the cops seeing him because, as he tells his mother, you didn’t raise a fool. He’s changed his mind about not wanting to see her anymore because Buck is alive. Sunny says she has a plan to set everything right. Sunny and Walter team up? What could go wrong?

Poppernak tells Sunny to sit tight and not go anywhere, the Sheriff is on his way and she can’t leave. Then the smoke alarm goes off in Sunny’s house and when he comes in to see what’s happening, crafty Sunny drives away.


Back at the office, Beau, Jenny and Cassie watch the surveillance footage of Buck and see that he drops something, so they investigate, Cassie suggesting that maybe Cormac will recognize it.

Cormac does – it’s a keychain made of bone and it opens a gate that he thinks he might recognize, so he and Cassie go off to investigate.

Before she leaves, Cassie too reassures Beau that they’re going to get Emily and Denise back. Beau looks increasingly distraught – I cannot imagine what it’s like to have to wait and try to stay calm when you know your child is in such danger.

Beau stops in the hallway as he and Jenny leave, a scene that Ackles had some input into and one that hit SO hard.

Beau: It’s the one thing we’re supposed to do, protect our kids….

He’s thinking what every good parent would be, empathizing with what your child must be going through.

Beau: She’s gotta be so scared, Jenny. She’s gotta be terrified. Every minute we waste chasin’ our tails gives that twisted sonofabitch a chance to do something to her.

It’s delivered with so much barely restrained emotion, tears in his eyes as Jenny tries to provide a little reassurance, saying it makes sense that they’re still alive.

But Beau retorts that there’s really nothing stopping Buck from making an example of them. Is there anything more terrifying than knowing an insane person who’s killed so many has your child?

Ackles is one of those rare actors who doesn’t need to use drops to make tears; being able to relate to Beau’s situation as a father of beloved daughters himself was enough, I’m sure, and he’s fearless enough to let all that genuine emotion come through. Boys don’t cry? Bullshit. Enough of that toxic masculinity BS.

Beau wipes his eyes, barely holding it together.

Ackles makes us feel every bit of his desperation and fear and the heavy weight of responsibility. You can see the moment he squares his shoulders and knows he has to pull it together, no matter how much he just wants to fall apart in the face of the horror of not knowing how to save his daughter.

Poppernak tells them that Sunny took off and Beau and Jenny take off in pursuit, cutting Sunny’s truck off. He has no patience left for anyone who might be standing in the way of him getting Emily back.

Beau: Get outta the car!! Where’s Buck? Where did he take my daughter??

Sunny: Buck has Emily?

Beau grabs her, enraged, and Jenny has to remind him to stand down. He probably shouldn’t be ON this case since it’s so personal, but I don’t think anyone could have kept him from it.

Beau: Emily’s out there, okay?! I need to find her!

Jenny: We will, but we’ve gotta do it the right way.

She’s a stabilizing influence for him, not standing in his way but keeping him from sabotaging himself and their efforts by losing it.

They show Sunny the surveillance footage until she pushes it away, upset.

Beau: This is who your husband is – he’s the bleeding heart killer!

Sunny: I know.

She admits he asked for her help to escape, but insists she was going to tell him to turn himself in.

Beau: You’re gonna help me get my daughter back.

Sunny: Of course.

You never know with Sunny – we know she can lie, but we also know she understands the bond between parent and child and respects that. But she’s a wild card here, and Beau and Jenny know it.

Buck stops to get gas, locking Emily and Denise in the back of a trailer. Denise has a nail file or something sharp in her pocket. When Buck comes in to give them some water (who knows why, he’s crazy!) Emily says that her father is gonna find them and when he does, he’s gonna kill him.

Denise tries to attack him but he fends her off and threatens them, saying next time it’ll be gasoline and a lighter. CREEPY. (Also they’re in there with the dead guy’s body, ewww)

Sunny takes a call from Buck from the Sheriff’s office, even though Beau and Jenny agree they can’t trust her. She sticks to the plan at first, as Buck insists it’s “ride or die” time, but then demands to know why he took those women, and boom, Buck knows the cops have her. Was that on purpose or an accident, Sunny?

Beau grabs the phone when that happens, and I am suddenly so reminded of Dean Winchester threatening that British Men of Letters woman who had Sam, so angry that he physically broke the cell phone in half! Do not mess with Ackles characters’ family members, just saying!

Beau: Listen to me, you sonofabitch! Tell where where my daughter is or I’ll bring the law down on Sunny’s head!

Buck knows he’s got all the cards though. He’s cool as a cucumber (or the mad hatter) telling Beau that he’s gonna let Sunny go – or else he’s gonna start hurting Emily and Denise.

Buck: You’re not the one callin’ the shots, partner…

I think Beau practically was growling there, and I don’t blame him. He knows Buck has the upper hand as the only one who knows where Emily and Denise are.

Cassie and Cormac look for the gate, Cormac feeling guilty that he can’t find it.

Cormac: I wasn’t paying attention and I missed everything.

Cassie points out that he’s helping now though. They eventually find the right gate and hike in toward the cabin that will be ahead. They don’t find anyone there, but there’s a bloody rag there so Cormac knows his father has been there.

Jenny and Beau meet up with Buck at a big empty storage warehouse, which makes for an impressive set. Sunny waits in the truck.

Beau: I don’t like this. He thinks he’s got all the cards, and Sunny’s a wild card at best.

Buck drives in without the trailer, infuriating Beau, who must have been just DYING to see his daughter and know she’s okay.

They’re at a standoff, Beau demanding to know where they are, Buck demanding that he talk to Sunny.

He taunts Beau to shoot him – and then they’ll never ever find Emily. He’s got nothing to lose.

Buck: We got a little chicken and egg situation here.

Poor Beau knows it, and he’s practically seething with fury, but he manages to stay calm and agree to let Sunny go talk to him.

She urges Buck to end this now, do the right thing. Buck insists he’s been trying.


It kills Beau to let the crazy asshole go, but he really does have no other choice.

He lets Sunny go to her insane husband – who then refuses to give them the information about Emily, saying he’ll call them with it. Beau just about loses it completely, pulling his gun and wanting so badly to shoot the man who has taken his daughter. You can FEEL how badly he wants it.

Buck: Be smart about this, son. What other choice do you have?

Although it goes against every instinct he has, Beau has to let them go. As they drive away, Beau looks shell shocked, unable to believe this is really happening it’s so horrible.

I feel for him so damn much.

Beau and Sunny argue in the truck, him demanding the tracker he knows they put on her. She finally gives it to him and the tosses it out the window. Sunny admits she’s scared of him, but Buck assures her that he loves her and would never hurt her.

Buck: Can you forgive me?

Sunny says he needs to do the right thing and give the girls back, and he finally lets her call and give Beau the coordinates. He tosses her phone out the window afterwards too and frankly if I was Sunny, I’d be terrified.

Buck reiterates that he needs her, that the world doesn’t make sense without her, and Sunny says she wants to go to “our spot” – that she has a plan. He agrees, though if I were him I sure would wonder what that plan was…

Beau and Jenny and the rest of the team converge on the coordinates where the trailer sits, Beau and other cops running toward it, him screaming ‘Emily’!

We see a foot go through a trip wire light and can’t really tell who it is, and Jenny yells, terrified, “Beau, wait!”

He pauses just as the entire place explodes, the other guy who tripped the wire flying through the air with the force of it.

Me watching: OMG what now??!

No one was in the trailer, I think they realize at least.

They keep going, not giving up, though you can see the toll this is taking on Beau, getting his hopes up repeatedly only to have them dashed painfully.

They find Buck’s truck but not he or Sunny, and realize the two are heading up a remote trail. Beau and Jenny follow after them. When Sunny and Buck get there, she tells him he broke his promises to her, that he’s no man at all. He insists he can change, but she says that he turned her against Walter, that she can’t abide the horrible things he’s done. She kisses him goodbye, and Walter appears with a big knife and attacks Buck.

Walter: You were the monster all along.

Buck: I should’ve disposed of you long ago.

They grapple and Buck knocks the knife away and then brains Walter with a big rock, hitting him brutally over and over and over again, until he’s bloody and looks pretty damn dead, Sunny screaming in horror.

At that moment, Beau and Jenny show up and Beau, in a fit of rage, tackles Buck – right on the precipice of a big hill!

That blank look that comes over him, as he reaches the end of his rope and sees the horrific evidence of Buck’s violence, is chilling – and Ackles nails it.

They tumble down the cliff, as Sunny sobs over Walter, “he killed my boy…”

Beau rolls over and over, and we get to see a lot of both his talented stunt double and then athletic Ackles. Beau staggers up.

Buck has a knife and almost gets it high enough to slash Beau’s neck as he yells “Where is she? Where’s my daughter??”

Buck laughs, like a madman, saying it’s too late.

Beau pins him down, enraged, and strangles him, beside himself.

It looks like he’s about to kill Buck, unable to stop, going all Liam Neeson on the horrible man who may have killed his daughter.

Beau refuses to ease off even as Jenny joins them and tells him to let go.

Jenny: Think about your daughter.

She finally pulls him off, Buck still laughing darkly as he coughs and splutters.

Sunny appears suddenly, with a gun.

Sunny: Get up, Buck. On your feet. It’s time.

Jenny begs  Sunny to think about what she’s doing, but Sunny shoots him, to Beau and Jenny’s (and our) shock.

Beau realizes that the information needed to find Emily may die with Buck, and desperately tries to rouse him, leaning over him and calling his name, but he’s dead – and with him, Beau’s chance of saving his daughter may also be lost.

He looks up at Jenny, his expression defeated, bereft.

It breaks my heart.

Cassie answers the phone at the cabin and Jenny and Beau update her. She gives Cormac the news that his father is dead – and his mother shot him. Poor Cormac, he still insists they need to keep looking for Emily and Denise, determined to do the right thing.

Cassie: It could be anything…something out of sight even…

Cormac remembers an old mine then, and they head outside to search it. Before they even get there, they can hear screaming from inside – it’s Emily and Denise!

Cormac gives Emily her knife back, a call back to the earliest episodes of the season.

Just then Beau and Jenny arrive, running, Beau calling out, desperation and maybe a little bit of hope in his voice.

Beau: Emily? Emily?!

She runs to him, yelling “dad!” and clings to him as he holds her, sobbing.

Beau is every parent, clutching his daughter, needing to look into her eyes, make sure she’s all right.

Jenny hugs an equally shaken Denise, while Cassie and Cormac look on, relieved.

Beau mouths to Cassie over his daughter’s head, “thank you”.

He’s crying, overcome with relief and emotion. He’s got his baby girl back.

I may have needed to grab the tissues at this point. Again.

That was something that used to happen regularly during Supernatural, but I seem to have become attached enough to these characters, and especially Beau Arlen, that I needed a box nearby for this finale. There was no way I couldn’t relate to how Beau was feeling in that moment, especially having an Emily of my own.

Back at the station, they fingerprint Sunny and prepare to take her away. She seems relatively okay with it, relieved that miraculously Walter is going to be okay.

Sunny: He’s a good boy. Tell Cormac I’m sorry, and if he ever gets to meet his brother, make sure they behave themselves. Some deals you gotta pay yourself, no matter the cost. Y’all be good.

Reba was amazing on this season and honestly I’m sorry to see the character go. Poppernak takes her away.

Jenny to Cassie: Anything for family, right? I’d probably do the same thing. And you would too!

At the diner, Tonya wheels Donno in. He’s quiet, upset. She offers to make his favorite grilled cheese, gives him a unicorn stuffy Gandalf that she bought him.

Tonya: Donno, you were right, okay? You told me to leave it alone and I nearly got you killed. So I’m sorry. Say something…

Donno: You um… you sort of kissed me. I don’t know what to think about that, professionally speaking.

Tonya: I thought you were gonna die. Let’s just call it a kiss.

Donno is still conflicted.

Donno: I felt something. It was like my first time at Tim Horton’s, the maple glaze…

Tonya: It was your first time.

Donno says no.

Tonya: That’s a lie, Donno.

He admits it, and says it’s a shame that no one got the money. Tonya smiles.

Tonya: It’s ours, Donno.

She holds his hand.

Tonya: We make a good team.

I didn’t see myself unreasonably happy that Donno and Tonya are getting a happy ending, but here we are.

At the hospital, Cormac goes to visit Walter, telling Cassie it’s good that she’s here with him. She kisses him, and he goes to see his brother. Paige presses a kiss to the glass of Walter’s room as Cormac goes in.

Walter: Hello, friend.

The brothers smile at each other. (Luke Mitchell and Seth Gabel posted an equally smiley behind the scenes shot)

That night, Beau knocks on Jenny’s door.

Jenny: What’s wrong?

Beau protests that it doesn’t have to be an emergency every time he shows up, and says he’s not there for work. She invites him in for a beer.

Beau says that Carla is moving back to Houston with Emily, admitting that it’s probably better – that she’s probably right because she usually is.

As for Beau? He says he doesn’t know if he’s moving back to Houston too. That he’s got a lot of ghosts in Houston. That this town needs a sheriff.

Jenny: A temporary acting sheriff.

She asks if he’s finally ready to tell her about those ghosts? Beau says he’s gonna need to finish his drink and have a lot more in order to have that conversation.

Jenny: So why are you here?

Beau: I wanted to thank you. For everything.

Jenny: You would’ve done the same for me.

Beau: Yeah I would. Any damn day.

She holds his hand, and we fade to black.

Because it was the season finale, we were lucky enough to get lots of behind the scenes shots of the cast and crew as they finished up filming Season 3.

It looks like they all had a blast, and congrats to everyone on the amazing performances. Here’s to (hopefully) Season 4!

Caps by raloria/spndeangirl

Gifs by justjensenanddean, becauseofthebowties, alwaysjackles, annazima and soldierboys


You can read Jensen Ackles’ thoughts on fandom

(and Supernatural) in his chapters in Family

Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace

When You Are Done – info and links at:


6 thoughts on “Jensen Ackles’ Beau Arlen Makes Us All Cry in the Season Finale of ‘Big Sky’

  • I liked this season and this show, though tbh I’m not sure that I would have watched, or will in the future, without Jensen Ackles in it. I think Beau Arlen is who Dean Winchester might have been without the dysfunctional family, hunting and trauma, just as I think that Tru Davies (of Tru Calling) is who Faith Lehane (Buffy and Angel) might have been without the dysfunctional family, slaying and trauma.

  • “Denise has a nail file or something sharp in her pocket.”

    Actually Denise encourages Emily to help search the dead guys pockets and she finds his pocket knife.

    I loved every bit of this episode/finale and it just leaves me wanting more. Jensen sure knows how to bring out the hurt and make us feel just like he does. It especially helps when we have children of our own, especially daughters, to feel what Jensen feels. I have to wonder if thinking about JJ and/or Arrow helps him get to that place so easily.

    • I loved this episode. I watched it late so when at last I peeked on Twitter I was looking for answers. Did Jensen sign a contract. Was the series even renewed? Damn. I hate not knowing. I thought the actors did the best work they could given that the writing was iffy at times. Jensen is indeed a talented thoughtful actor. He always gives it 100%. I’ll watch whatever he is in. Thanks for a great recap

  • Great review Lynn. I also appreciate the screen caps! So sad this was the finale, and no new Beau to look forward to each week. I liked the Carla-Beau dynamic too, and it seems out of character for Beau to stay if Carla and Emily go back to Houston. But of course I hope he does! I don’t actually see much chemistry between Beau and Jenny, I thought there was more with Cassie. But I’m not fussed. Hope we hear news of S4 soon!

  • What a great ending!
    At first I thought it out of character that Beau didn’t follow Carla & Emily, But aft a bit I realized that for now, it’s probably best. Carla needs to grieve for Avery, Emily needs some distance fro her dad’s job (it’s too much of a reminder). I was thinking abt the knife, so I’m glad the writers remembered that.
    I was actually tearing up when Walter said “Heloo friend”. A call back to his first words on the show. All he’s ever wanted was a friend.
    I do wish they’d cleared up Luke’s murder. I’m going to assume it was Buck, because the assasins wouldn’t have used arrows, and Avery really had no cause to kill Luke. Plus Walter would’ve killed him right when he found him. But we all know that Walter only killed once – when his adopted sister became hurt by their abusive parents.
    No offense to this show, but I’d rather see JA return to ‘The Boys’. SB is a much more complex and compelling character.
    And finally….DONNO! May you finally get your fox breeding farm.

  • I love how Jensen isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. I remember being surprised by how emotional Dean (and Sam) were on Supernatural. I wasn’t used to seeing two gorgeous men cry (and tear up) so much.

    I really enjoyed Jensen in this role. If the show doesn’t get another season or if he chooses to move on to a different project I hope it’s something that allows me to see him weekly on my TV. It was a treat!

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