Longmire (Season 6): What do we do Now? (Season Review)

longmire-robert-taylor

Walt Longmire says it himself in the season six finale, “What do we do now?” He is talking to Vic, after they have finally, and officially, become a couple after almost six seasons of “will they, won’t they” false starts and stops. We ask ourselves the same question.

The popular cowboy cop show has ridden off, not into the sunset, but into a manufactured sunrise. Walt goes off to find the buried treasure that Lucien spoke of while Vic sits on the porch of the Longmire homestead sipping coffee. The Ferg looks to be soon reunited with his very angry ex-girlfriend, Cady will be stepping into Walt’s boots and the big bogeyman from the previous few seasons; Malachi Strand, is finally dispatched with extreme prejudice.

We also have Henry Standing Bear getting Longmire’s blessing to run the casino after Jacob Nighthorse leaves the money making venture and Cady Longmire has found love now that Zach Heflin (played brilliantly by Barry Sloane) is hired, again, by Walt. 

A lot of things are tied up in this final season of Longmire. Ferg gets a very final bit of closure when he shoots Eddie Harp right between the eyes. This closes the chapter on when the drug pushing enforcer terrorized The Ferg last season. We also find out that this WASP mob member was playing Hector for Malachi Strand to make sure that only the Boston Mob heroin was being sold on The Rez.

Along the way to the season six finale, Vic saves Walt’s life, gets shot and loses the new life in her womb. Travis takes off for parts unknown (not to be cruel but it this was a good thing, he was never a good fit for Vic…) and Henry comes close to death a number of times.

Even Longmire is wounded by the vicious Strand in the final showdown before being shot to death by the bleeding lawman. Cady kidnaps a Native American child to give him penicillin and loses whatever goodwill points that her shooting of the white man earned last season. Mandy; her secretary/receptionist, also turned out to be more loyal to the tribe than her employer.

Cowboy Bill, the elusive McGuffin that takes most of the final season to wrap up, turns out to be the local woodworker, nee’ rodeo clown. It is after Ferg shoots Harp dead that the local deputy decides that his girlfriend’s ex is the polite bank robber. His investigation leads to the nurse dumping him like a hot rock.

Overall, this was a fairly satisfactory season. There were overtones of manufactured stories though. The Lucien storyline, with Walt’s former boss killing the despicable Tucker Bagget, played superbly by Brett Rice, felt a tad too convenient  and there was far too little of Radha Mitchell.

Marilyn, the Crow Medicine Woman, is killed by one of Strand’s Rez goons and it was a shame to see this character go. It was also sad to see Lucien self destruct. “No one notices old people,” he says before revealing that Walt Longmire was right about who murdered Bagget.

(One of the better scenes in this season was the very short, and up close, gunfight between the two lawmen.)

Jacob Nighthorse is almost vindicated when he admits to doing some dodgy business deals with the Boston mob. He did so for the greater good but even he has to admit that Longmire was not too far off base with his accusations of criminality. Nighthorse was not greedy so much as speedy. He wanted good things for the tribe, but at a cost that was detrimental overall.

This final season still had the issue of bad continuity with any scene dealing with guns and close-ups. When Walt confronts Cowboy Bill in the band, the gun is uncocked in many of the shots and they vary from the robber holding the gun with two hands to one and only at the climax of the scene is the pistol cocked and ready for action.

Of course the biggest letdown of all has nothing to do with plot holes or continuity errors. Longmire has finished and fans of the series are mourning the loss of a brilliantly “adult” television show. Not having read the books that the show was based upon it is hard to tell just how far the show deviated from the stories written by Craig Johnson. But one feels that the characters have changed steadily as each season ran on.

It does not really matter however as changes were to be expected. There were, after all, only 13 books about the Wyoming lawman and these were, presumably, stretched into six whole seasons. One can assume that after A&E dropped the popular show that they were nearing the end of book storylines already.

Walt Longmire may be searching now for buried treasure while Vic waits for her new partner to come home but the sheriff will live on. In fact, there were no major character deaths, apart from Strand (and Peter Weller’s Lucien) but  these were to be expected, and all our heroes look to be carrying on regardless of Walt’s stepping down from the saddle.

There are moments of comedy, tragedy and not a few tears in this last season. While it may be bittersweet, this last season has managed to deliver on many levels. It may not contain the sheer level of entertainment of the first seasons but damn it it has given its fans a bit of closure.

For those who can make the time, all six seasons are on Netflix for the bingeing. Check out Walt and his story, if you have not already, and you will not be disappointed. In answer to Walt’s question, “What do we do now,” we say head back and start watching from the beginning.  If for no other reason than to see the Longmire/Moretti relationship blossom and evolve.


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Longmire: Season Five Back With a Vengeance (Review)

Longmire logo

Season five of Longmire picks up after that cliff hanger ending where it looked like Walt and Donna were going to be killed to Wye Oak’s “Civilian.” The show is back with a vengeance and that long wait to see who it was that bulldozed their way to Walt’s cabin will have to hold off a little longer.

In the season starter, Walt has been shot and Cady finds him laying in the floor, disoriented and bleeding heavily. Donna is nowhere to be seen. Vic, Ferg and Cady all team up to get Walt patched up and he wastes no time beginning his search for his missing lady.

Henry and Mathias come to an understanding about “Hector” and Sheriff Wilkins is still a major douche with a badge.

Longmire, thus far, could be retitled the “Land of the Walking Wounded.” Walt, Vic and Henry are all injured from last season.  Walt somewhat more seriously than the other two but both Henry and Vic are walking with a limp.

In some ways the show looks different. There are more interior shots and less of the epic scenery on show. (Although this was the case last season as well.) It also looks more digital, i.e. not shot on film. However, regardless of production values,  the opening episode  focusses more on the interaction between Vic and Walt and their changing dynamic.

She “steals” a kiss from her boss as he lays in the hospital bed. Later Vic orders him about and in one comedic scene makes Walt re-take the pain pill he spat out onto the roadside.

Another change in terms of family comes with the revelation that Cady is working for Jacob Nighthorse (A Martinez). Cady was coming to tell Walt this when she found him shot in his cabin. 

Interestingly Longmire does not explode at the news. He is clearly not happy about it but his concern for Donna overtakes everything.  So too does his lack of memory. As well as being shot, Walt was concussed by a blow to the head.

The obvious suspect in this scenario is Walker Browning (Callum Rennie) who is missing from the hospital after being let loose by Sheriff Wilkins.  

Walt and Vic team up to look for suspects while Henry is blackmailed by Officer Mathias to  work for him, as Hector.

In many ways the focus in this episode is not just the wounded Walt searching for Donna or his memory loss of the shooting, but it re-establishes the relationship he had with “Philly.”

Last season saw a distance come up between the two as Vic fought off her jealous reaction to Dr. Monaghan.  Although Walt also had a green-eyed reaction to Vic’s temporary squeeze Eamon O’Neill (Josh Cooke).

This episode sees bridges mended and Vic takes charge of Walt to the extent he will let her. At one point they come across as either an old married couple or mother and son.

Once more Netflix have offered up all of season five; 10 episodes for those who wish to binge the whole thing.  While the urge to do so is almost overpowering, Mike’s Film Talk will be watching and reviewing one episode at a time. Longmire  is too good to  watch all in one go.

The first episode was a smooth and logical start to this season, although Ruby (Louanne Stephens) was missing in this one. (She does show up later however so all is well.)

There are a few things to mention before the next episode.  Walt Longmire, aka Robert Taylor is one hirsute chappy.  And for all that passion in the season finale,  between Donna and Walt, the lawman never got to take his trousers off.

Longmire season five is now streaming on Netflix. Let us know what you think about the newest season. No spoilers please, just talk about episode one so as not to upset fans of the show.

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Longmire: Season 4 Finale – What Happens on the Rez (Review)

Walt searches for Gab

The Longmire season four finale, What happens on the Rez ended the show in style. Goose bump inducing to the extreme; that flash montage as the boot kicks in Walt’s door exhibits all that works in the verse of this Wyoming sheriff. By the end credits we are concerned for the life of Walt and Dr. Monahan, worried about Henry and cheering Gab as she “escapes” flying free as a “red-tailed hawk.”

There are other issues still unresolved in the world of Absaroka County.  Zach is missing, Cady seems to have sold her soul to Jacob Nighthorse, Vic has apparently messed things up with both Eamon and Walt and that wild-card Monte is still about.

This season’s wrap-up was a brilliant end to the journey of Longmire…thus far. There are hints of a fifth season and with that “open” ending it seems a definite possibility. Episode 10 was full of Native American mysticism and stoic humor. Take this exchange between the Crow Medicine Woman and Henry:

“What’s wrong with your a**?

I got shot.

I have something for that.

Ibuprofen.

Reduces swelling.”

The  episode also had a lot of violence, mostly from “douche turned murderous thug” Walker Browning. This guy became instantly deplorable, although that may be hard to believe as Browning has never been Mr. Popularity, when he went beyond taking the law into his own hands. Beating Mandy (Tamara Duarte) bloody showed just what Walker was capable of.

The sight of the girl’s swollen and puffy face is enough to bring tears to the eyes of all but the most hardened of hearts. Major kudos to the makeup team and the FX folks. Duarte, as Mandy, looks in agony, and the actress sells the scene effortlessly. Callum Keith Rennie as Browning makes a brilliant villain, although in Walker’s  eyes his actions are all justified.

That the manager is prepared to murder a lawman in order to kill Gab speaks volumes about this despicable excuse for humanity. Browning is beyond misogynistic and is willing to do anything to save the rest of his “murdering, raping” boys.

While the most obvious “big bad” for this season is Walker, the montage at the end shows that in Walt’s world there  have been lot of people with “issues.” In the rapid fire footage at the end, the images of Monahan’s burnt out vehicle and Walker’s open handcuffs and his empty hospital bed  are intertwined with the lovemaking between Donna Sue and Walt and these start the ending sequence.

When the door is kicked in,  we then  see Walker Browning, Jacob Nighthorse, Sam Poteet,  Monte, Zachary, Malachi Strand, Chance Gilbert, David Ridges and Barlow Connally before the camera zooms in on Walt’s eyes.

On a hopeful note, this could all be (a la Dallas season 9)  a dream. Walt has been dreaming again, he has admitted this and we have seen them. In his last nocturnal vision, he and Donna Sue are, apparently, co-habitating at the cabin. That particular dream has him offering to make up for not washing the dishes from the night before.

To be sure, the lovemaking scene at the end  has a dreamlike quality to it. Although this whole theory is a little shot down by the events surrounding and simultaneously occurring as the camera moves jerkily toward the Longmire residence. Vic looking at the picture of her and Walt, Ferg calling Zachary and prior to the last sequence, Cady looking at the huge check from Jacob Nighthorse.

Walt is feeling melancholy however. The song he plays on the piano sounds like a snatch of some blues song and his voice over, as the camera moves through the grass:

“Do you ever feel you’ve created more evil than you’ve stopped?”

These two things combine to show us that the Wyoming lawman is feeling a little down and possibly overwhelmed with events. Things have not been good for Walt, even though he did finally solve his wife’s murder, occurrences on the periphery of his search have been dire.

In this season alone, Branch was shown to be murdered by his own father, Barlow who is then killed by Walt.  A horrific rape occurred on the Rez and the two men responsible were murdered, Cady choses Nighthorse’s money and lies to her father, Henry is the new Hector and although he saved Walt’s life, he is under arrest by Officer Mathias.

Branch’s demise alone weighs heavily on Walt, his confession to Ferg that he allowed his personal feelings to make him misjudge the Connally situation proves that. As does his decision to fire Zach, a good deputy who made a mistake in this dealings with Monte.

Walt also has issues in the nature of his relationship with Vic. Even Eamon knows this, as well as recognizing that Vic and her boss have a weird dynamic that she needs to sort out.

The music that the last of the episode is set to is Civilian by Wye Oak (arguably almost overused as the track has graced no less than six shows on television, including The Walking Dead trailer) fits the final scene like a glove and brings up the tension and sense of expectation beautifully.

Civilian may provide some clues as to what is really going on in Walt’s mind, the song itself feels as though it is all about memories and regrets, albeit set to a driving backbeat, these things seem to be  going through the sheriff’s mind. These may have come about by his decision to believe that Gab turned into a red-tailed hawk, as the Medicine Woman (Tantoo Cardinal who just kills it in this final episode) told him.

Regardless of whether this season finale is a dream or Walt and his new lady are in danger from, what appears to be, a wounded Walker Browning, the outcome will have to wait until a fifth season is approved and produced. Until then, there are words of praise to be handed out.

Major kudos to: Cardinal who manages to turn a small cameo into something beyond special. Julia Jones as Gab,  Emmy material here, Barry Sloane as the tortured and recently fired deputy, Robert Taylor, for his continued truth to the role, Katee Sackhoff as Vic, aka Philly who just rocks it each and every episode, Duarte as Mandy.

Mad props to Callum Keith Rennie, this actor knows that the good guy is only as good as the villain and Rennie has made Walker into a man we loathe but also fear. Well done sir.

Lou Diamond Philips worked his “shot” a** off as Henry/New Hector in this season and the man showed that, without a doubt,  he still has massive chops.

The remainder of the cast also turn in star performances each episode and a huge honorable mention goes to Cassidy Freeman as Cady Longmire. That shot  in the finale where she cradles the massive check from Nighthorse is priceless. Cady is torn about her pride of achievement and it shows on her face, there are not many who can convey that sort of emotion with just a look. 

All who want Netflix to continue airing Longmire should make sure they vote on the episodes of season four as, according to sources, the star rating will ensure a favorable response from those who matter.  This season has been well worth the wait and the time spent watching.

Longmire: Season Four Episode 4 ‘Four Arrows’ (Review)

Longmire and Nighthorse working together

 

Considering that the new season of Longmire was released by Netflix all at once, which made the impulse to watch the first three episodes too strong to resist, it seems that now watching each episode seperately is now in order. Four Arrows, aka episode four, was in-depth enough to warrant writing about on its own. Besides, skipping ahead and watching episode five made it immediately apparent that Help Wanted was even more involved and needed to be approached on its own.

*Sidenote* Not to mention that there was a glaring error in the climax of the piece (“Help Wanted”)  where a gun went from cocked to un-cocked all because of a lack of continuity. Something that is becoming a normal occurrence on television and many films these days. There was no such event on “Four Arrows”, which the superb Peter Weller directed and guest starred in. Hence the decision to write about each one individually. 

Peter Weller returned to the Longmire verse to play Lucian Connally, brother of Barlow. Apart from his directing this episode, Weller’s character gets the best lines of the show.  He and Walt are talking about Barlow Connally at the episode’s end:

“After you shot Barlow, I cogitated on all the ways I could have been a better brother. Maybe if I’d done more… spent more time with him, Branch would be alive, Martha would be alive.”

“You believe that?”

“I’ll tell you what I believe. My brother would have been a good man if somebody had been there to shoot him every minute of his life.”

Before the episode gets to that point, however, there is a lot of territory to cover.  Four Arrows opens with a moving montage that explains everything the viewer needs to know about what happened after the final fight and death of Barlow Connally at the end of episode three.

We see FBI agents and forensic technicians going through the crime scene (Walt’s cabin). The lawman removing the step with Connally’s blood on it, reading John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men (something that will become more meaningful in Help Wanted), after having read a mountain of books while drinking his beer, and finally Walt taking his wife’s greeting off the answer machine.

The most touching part of that being when Walt records his new greeting, he cannot get  beyond “This is Walt.” Stopping the recording and replaying it, Longmire deems this change enough and leaves a day early for work.

The episode explores further the whole “Hector is alive” subplot  via the auspices of Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) and Walt’s attachment to Vic. Walt is apparently so jealous of the temporary help from the next county that, after the deputy makes a faux pas, he dismisses the man. It is also a welcome return to the Sheriff’s office investigating  other murders. 

*Sidenote* In many ways this series of a western sheriff named Longmire which has, it seems, a murder a week, is much like the beloved English drama “Midsummer Murders” (with  “Bergerac”  star John Nettles as the Inspector). As one witty critic once pointed out, no one would really want to live there with all those homicides going on each week. One gets the same feeling with the “land of Longmire” but as one viewer commented, the scenery is so beautiful

In this episode the main storyline dealt with a hen party (aka bachelorette party) whose RV crashes with a casino bus (for the opening of Jacob Nighthorse’s new casino Four Arrows – hence the episode title). Lucian Connally is there when the local sheriff’s department show up and after they get everyone from both vehicles on their way, they find the body of a young woman in a black duffel bag.

The women were on their way to Jacob’s new casino and this necessitates Walt having to apologize to Nighthorse in order to question possible witnesses.  Longmire apologizes,

“I’m sorry that my deeply held belief that you are a dishonorable, untrustworthy person led me to falsely accuse you of killing Branch Connally.”

“And your wife.”

“And my wife.”

“I now know it was Barlow.”

Jacob then gives his permission but not without the proviso that the news not be spread around. Bad press could hurt his business since Barlow left him in the lurch, the reason his casino’s hotel is not completed. Jacob also tells Longmire,

“For the record Walt, that was the worst apology I’ve ever received.

The temporary deputy Eamon O’Neill (Josh Cooke) and Vic release a picture of the dead girl and Nighthorse is furious. So too, is Walt who lets O’Neill know about it. Shortly afterward, he tells Eamon to go back to his own department. 

After a few false leads;  an innocent roughneck framed and a driver dodging child support payments, Longmire zeroes in on the real murderers.  Henry, under the guise of Hector, helps a mother and son to escape their abusive husband and father.  Walt proves once again that he is very “Sherlock-y” (watch the episode and this reference will become crystal clear) and there are not many who can get past his deductive reasoning…even if it is a little “last minute.”

This was the Walt Longmire viewers fell in love with. Not to say that his search for who really killed his dying wife was off putting, but it is Robert Taylor’s sincerity as the Wyoming lawman in his day-to-day interactions that gives the show such a following. (Along with the good storylines and  messages the series passes on about life as a Native American and in this season, Japanese American and in the next episode veterans with PTSD.)

Messages aside, despite losing Branch (who was having a very rough time of it before being murdered by his own father) it is the cast that make this show work. Lou Diamond Phillips, Katee SackhoffAdam Bartley as “The Ferg,” Louanne Stephens as Ruby, Cassidy FreemanA Martinez and Zahn McClarnon all make the series feel as real as they present their characters. 

Of course the presence of Peter Weller as Lucian made this episode a winner. Along with the  fact that Weller’s calm and talent hand guided this segment along.

Episode five, Help Wanted, has Walt trying to find a replacement for the temporary officer that Vic liked.  Netflix has all 10 episodes on offer for those who cannot resist the urge to watch the entire season.  MikesFilmTalk will,  now that the first rush of excitement has passed, review each episode seperately.

Longmire Season 4: Back in the Saddle Episodes 1 – 3 (Review)

Walt Longmire riding the range...

Longmire is back in the saddle, long-live-Longmire. Season four is now on Netflix, which opted to drop all 10 episodes at once,  and it picks right up where A&E left the show dangling at the end of season three. . In terms of demographics, which was the former network’s excuse for dropping the uber popular show, there may not be that many in the older fanbase  of the Wyoming lawman’s weekly story who care to binge all 10 episodes but they are there just in case these “old fogies” feel the urge.

Netflix, of course, do not care about age groups and target demographics too much, they just want to make a profit and bring new customers to their world. Shows like Longmire are a welcome addition to the streaming site.

The fourth season has been up on the site for a few days now. Deciding to watch the first three episodes seemed like a good idea, although the excitement of watching more than one segment at a time was almost enough to make watching all 10 a necessity. Those who have not watched  beyond the first episode might want to stop reading now…

*Sidenote* Although it has been mentioned before…How ironic is it that one of the most popular western figures on television is Australian? Robert Taylor was born in the land down under and worked there, a lot, as well as in England (Ballykissangel Father Vincent Sheahan) and is now playing a “cowboy detective” for American audiences. And doing it very well too.

In the first episode all the main characters had to deal with the death of Branch (Bailey Chase) who was shot by dad Barlow (Gerald McRaney) who worked to make it seem like the distraught lawman had shot himself.  Of course the cliffhanger at the end of season three left it up to the imagination as to just who shot whom. The season four open made it clear who was shot.

*Sidenote* Firstly…How horrible that one half of “Simon & Simon” and the guy who was “Major Dad” turns out to be such a huge villain  that he shot his own son! Gerald McRaney was brilliant in the last episode of season three and the first three episodes of season four. Secondly, why was it not obvious from the very start that Branch would not shoot himself with birdshot? If a cop was going to kill himself surely he would use buckshot, or even a slug.

Episode two continues the investigation into Branch’s death and includes a death up at the Japanese interment camp at War Eagle.  This side trip, where Walt and Vic have to investigate the murder of a community CB enthusiast and civic minded citizen, was a welcome step back from all the fraught business of Longmire looking a little like Columbo.

Like the raincoat wearing detective in the big city, we the audience knew already who killed Branch. It was just a matter of time before either McRaney’s Connally slipped up (which he does) or Longmire as Columbo figures it out. The two came nicely together at the conclusion of episode three.

Speaking of the third episode, Cady is offered one of those “too-good-to-be-true” jobs which ends in her quitting, but not before learning something that will help her dad solve who killed Branch and who really (after three seasons of searching) ordered his wife murdered.

Turns out that Walt was barking up the wrong tree for a very long time, although there was/is a Nighthorse connection, just not the one Longmire thought there was. Interspersed throughout the first three episodes is Henry’s decision to become the new “Hector.”

“Hector Lives” becomes his new mantra and tag (while wiping up the message that Henry scrawled on the club’s mirror with permanent marker, he tells best friend Walt that vandals have struck) as he starts answering the notes left in Hector’s jar at the old wall.

Just as Walt Longmire dispenses justice in Wyoming, so too have Netflix dispensed a form of justice for all those outraged, and too old, fans of the show. It was criminal of A&E to cancel a program that starred actors of the caliber of Katee SackhoffLou Diamond PhillipsCassidy Freeman, McRaney and that Aussie cowboy Taylor.

Once again we are treated to the “will they, won’t they” thing between Vic and Walt. The power struggle between Walt and Officer Mathias and, of course,  Jacob Nighthorse (Zahn McClarnon and A Martinez) and Henry’s issues with Graham Greene’s Malachi Strand.

All 10 episodes of Longmire are available to watch via Netflix, as are the first three seasons for those who want to catch back up or get introduced to this modern western cop show. Great television with great storylines and actors. Watch it, whether you fit the “old” demographic or not. This is great telly!