Big Sky on ABC was one of the most shocking TV shows in recent memory. From the get go the show was all about the battling the old mystery PI show tropes. From the opening episode the limited series was able to put the wool over everyone's eyes and then pulled the rug from under our feet by the end of the pilot episode.
While the show has not let up on the shock value but the way the pilot episode managed to floor everyone will not be topped this season. Ryan Phillippe's character Cody Hoyt was front and centre when the promotion for the show kicked off. He is a known commodity in the small budget movies and TV shows and he was going to lead Big Sky.
Spoilers ahead for season 1 episode 1. But when the dust settled by the end of Big Sky's pilot episode, Cody had a big hole in his head and he was buried in his own car. Well, no and expected that scene to come that early or ever and we were on the latter boat. But here we are eight episodes later and still reeling from the shocking death and as the producer of the show revealed the decision was a hotly debated one.
Producers of Big Sky Debated When to Kill Ryan Phillippe's Character
When is an ideal time to kill off a leading actor of a show? The answer is almost never, you do not kill the lead and that is the code that writers live by when creating a story. That is not the case for every story though as Big Sky was supposed to have a dead Cody according to the books upon which the show is based.
So, when the source material says one of the leads dies the writer now has to figure out the ideal time to kill off the said character. And there they were, the production team trying to hire an actor for a pilot episode, selling the show as his vehicle and then probably killing him down the road.
Instead of waiting for few episodes to roll on by and letting everyone get attached to the character they decided to kill Cody in the pilot. The decision was not taken lighting as during the production phase, Ross Fineman said, they hotly debated the topic of the ideal time to kill Cody.
Ross explained to EW, "I've been with this project since the inception and we kept playing with 'When does Cody die?' For awhile there, it was actually in the second script, and there was a great cliffhanger, which I can't remember at the moment, at the end of the first script."
But when the idea of killing Cody in the pilot was floated, the writers and producers were excited about the whole thing. The giddy excitement led to an amazing scene which will live in fans mind for a long time. And the ending also had a massive impact on the viewership numbers as viewers were quick to share the experience with their friends and the limited series was turned into a full-fledged season by ABC.
While the producers and writers were happy about the ending of the pilot, the studio was a little cautious. They did not want to alienate the viewers which is why flashback scenes with the actor was added give closure and keep Cody around for a while. And it has kinda worked out brilliantly in bonding the two leading ladies of Big Sky.
"The key to those was just keeping Cody alive emotionally for the other characters and for the audience. That was the reason for doing it. But it did come at the suggestion of the network, and it was a correct one," EP Matthew Gross explained.
Big Sky season 1 is still on its second hiatus with 9 episodes available for streaming. ABC added 6 episodes to their initial order of 10, and the final 7 episodes will bring in some new characters as well as a new storyline. You can watch the episode of Big Sky on 13 April 2021.
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