Big Sky season 3 finale recap: the Bleeding Heart Killer mystery ends with a bang

Jensen Ackles, Katheryn Winnick, Kylie Bunbury in Big Sky
Jensen Ackles, Katheryn Winnick and Kylie Bunbury in Big Sky (Image credit: ABC)

NOTE: This post contains spoilers for Big Sky season 3 finale "That Old Feeling."

Buck Barnes (Rex Linn), the Bleeding Heart Killer, has kidnapped Emily (Cree Cicchino) and Denise (Dedee Pfeiffer) and he’s on the run. When Buck tries to swap cars, a man comes out of the bar and hears Emily and Denis yelling. He attempts to call 911 but Buck knocks breaks his neck. Buck then steals the man’s truck, which has a trailer hitched to it, which he puts Emily, Denise, and the man’s body into, and speeds away.

Pops (J. Anthony Pena) is sitting in a squad car outside of Sunny's (Reba McEntire) house. She is trying to figure out how to get rid of him when Walter (Seth Gabel) shows up. Walter wants to find and kill Buck for hurting Paige (Madalyn Horcher). Sunny tells him she has a plan to set everything right. She sets a pan of food on the stove and lets it burn so the smokes sets off the fire alarm. As Pops checks it out, she drives out. 

At the police station, Hoyt (Kateryn Winnick), Arlen (Jensen Ackles) and Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) review surveillance footage from the bar. They see Buck drop something important enough that he goes back to get it. Cassie takes an enhanced photo of the object to Cormac (Luke Mitchell) to see if he knows what it might be.

Cormac identifies it as a key to a gate on land where Buck used to take him hunting. There's a cabin on the land too. Cassie and Cormac race off to find it, and hopefully Denise and Emily.

Sunny doesn't know that her car has a tracker on it until Arlen and Hoyt cut her off on the road and demand answers. At first, Sunny says she was just running errands, but she switches tactics quickly and tells them Buck contacted her and he wants help escaping. Sunny says she was going to meet him and make him turn himself in, but that's unlikely. Whatever angle Sunny is playing it isn't one that involves Buck going to jail. 

Buck fills several containers in the truck with gas then checks on Emily and Denise to give them some water. Denise found a pocket knife in the body of the man from the bar, so when Buck tries to give her water she tries to stab him. He stops her easily and splashes her all over with water. He tells her if she tries that again next time it will be gas and a lighter.

Hoyt and Arlen question Sunny at the police station and set up a trace on her phone in case Buck calls. He does, but Sunny gives away that the cops are with her. Arlen takes the phone and demands to know where Emily and Denise are. Arlen threatens to put Sunny in jail. Buck says he needs to talk to Sunny. Arlen agrees to bring Sunny to a location of Buck's choosing, hoping it’s where he is holding Denise and Emily.

Katheryn Winnick, Reba McEntire and Jensen Ackles in Big Sky

Katheryn Winnick, Reba McEntire and Jensen Ackles in Big Sky (Image credit: ABC)

When they get to the site no one is there. Buck arrives without the trailer, having stashed Emily and Denise in another spot as insurance. Buck says he's taking Sunny and leaving; he will call Arlen after they get away and give him the location of the hostages.

Arlen is upset at having no control over the situation, but Hoyt calms him down. Buck and Sunny leave in the truck. Buck wants Sunny to forgive him and to get their old life back. Sunny tells him he must give up the location first. Buck calls Arlen and gives him coordinates to where the trailer is.

They find the trailer. After deputies trip a wire the trailer blows up sending Arlen into a panic, but Emily and Denise weren't inside.

Cormac and Cassie find the cabin but it's empty. They keep looking for Emily and Denise after seeing bloody bandages indicating Buck had been there recently. Eventually Cassie and Cormac find Denise and Emily, unhurt, tied up in an old mine shaft.

Sunny tells Buck to take her to the place where he proposed. To get his trust she shows him a tracker in her jacket and then throws it away. But this still leads the police to the site because she tosses it close to a trail that leads to their special spot.

At the top of the hill where Buck proposed, Sunny tells him this is the end of the line for them. Walter appears and attacks Buck, but Buck beats Walter with a rock. Hoyt and Arlen show up, with Arlen launching himself at Buck knocking them both down the hill. Not giving up the girls' location, Arlen nearly kills him but Hoyt stops him. That's when Sunny steps in. She shoots Buck, killing him.

Sunny goes to prison for killing Buck. Cormac goes to the hospital to see Walter, who survived, looking to get to know his half-brother. Carla (Angelique Cabral) takes Emily back home to Houston. Donno (Ryan O’Nan) is out of the hospital and Tanya (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) tells him that she was able to get them the money. And Arlen goes to Hoyt’s house where they finally share a beer and talk. Arlen isn’t sure if he wants to go back to Houston. Hoyt wants him to stay. They hold hands and take a moment to process everything unsaid between them and what the future holds.

Catch up with all of Big Sky season 3 on Hulu in the US. Disney Plus in the UK.

More on Big Sky

Sonya Iryna

Sonya has been writing professionally for more than a decade and has degrees in New Media and Philosophy. Her work has appeared in a diverse array of sites including ReGen, The Washington Post, Culturess, Undead Walking and Final Girl. As a lifelong nerd she loves sci-fi, fantasy and horror TV and movies, as well as cultural documentaries. She is particularly interested in representation of marginalized groups in nerd culture and writes reviews and analysis with an intersectional POV. Some of her favorite shows include Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Sandman.