It’s another plot-heavy episode this week, as a cattle heist leads to conspiracies and murder. The highway patrol calls the Sheriff and his deputies (sadly, no Ferg this week) to a crime scene with a big rig trailer riddled with bullet holes. Walt quickly deduces (thanks to some cow patties) that a trailer of livestock was hijacked, and the driver of the rig, Cooper James, is missing. Branch is still pretty much getting all the manure-type work, as Walt orders him to dust the entire big rig for prints and then go visit some slaughterhouses. Meanwhile, Vic notifies the driver’s wife that he’s missing, and Walt heads to the ranch the rig came from that morning.
They check out a cow auction with no luck, but then, in rides the cavalry by way of a livestock detective—or as Vic charmingly puts it “a cow cop”—named R.J. Watts. Watts is convinced that an incarcerated criminal named Dunwood is behind the lift, and only becomes more so when the driver turns up, only to get brutally murdered less than 24 hours later. The method, a hanging, is the same M.O. that Dunwood used on a previous crime.
Watts suggests they furlough Dunwood and track him to the cattle, but after some of the missing livestock start parading down Durant’s main street, bedecked with signs touting the evils of the beef industry, Walt wonders if there’s another explanation. Omar happens across the mini-demonstration and gets into a shouting match with an impassioned college co-ed who’s part of the Earth Liberation Front. This leads to a strange trip (complete with Henry cameo!) out to the reservation to see Jordan Helms, a British environmental guru (who’s inexplicably running on an outdoor treadmill).
That’s a dead end, but Walt makes a connection between the co-ed and the son of the ranch owner, who eventually confess (after Vic handcuffs them together and throws them in the jail cell) to stealing the cattle. But they insist they didn’t kill Cooper James, whom they’d hired to help pull off the theft as a hoax to raise awareness about the beef industry. Walt knows who did though!
He calls the cow cop and tells him to pick up Dunwood, who’s been furloughed, and bring him back to the station. But Walt’s on his tail and knows he’s driving in the wrong direction, out of town instead. Walt confronts him over the radio and he confesses to killing Cooper, thanks to years of bitterness and resentment about his own father’s death on the job. He refuses to surrender the prisoner and crashes his truck into one of the sherriff’s SUVs, instantly killing himself, though only injuring the prisoner.
The mysteries-of-the-week on Longmire seem to have become even more stand-alone than in season one, and conforming to a formula of equal parts clever deductions, wacky left turns, and explosive showdowns. It’s given them a bit of overall predictability, different though they are from each other, and a lot of time each week is taken up by the guest stars…which means the main cast is underused unfortunately. I’d love to see the mysteries tie in a little better to the personal lives and themes of the smaller episode threads that do feature our regulars.
This week’s subplot involves a mysterious bouquet of flowers for Vic, delivered sans card by the new flower delivery boy (and former rodeo clown, and ongoing drunk) Bob Barnes. Vic is desperate to figure out who the flowers came from. It’s not her husband Sean (who seems to have gotten a personality transplant as he’s much sweeter to his wife this time around) who’s in town again. Nor is it Omar, though he thinks it’s a great idea until Walt rather firmly disabuses him of that notion. (For the first time, Walt actually shows some personal interest in Vic that could maybe, sorta, if you squint real-real hard, be seen as a bit of jealousy. Or at least a lot more protectiveness than usual.)
We’re set up to expect some silliness as to who her secret admirer might be, but things take an interesting and surprising turn, when Bob finally finds the missing card, which simply says “Happy Anniversary.” Since the flowers aren't from Sean and their anniversary isn’t till October, it seems surprisingly ominous. And at the end of the episode, when a troubled Vic simply tells her husband “They’ve found me,” it’s appropriately chilling. There’s no real hint as to who the “They” in question might be, but it’s a good bet that Vic’s Philadelphia past has caught up with her. It’s exciting and promising that the show is finally giving the amazing Katee Sackhoff something weighty (and unrelated to her love life) with which to exercise her considerable acting chops.
Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and Internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.