Longmire took a walk on the neo-noir side this week with a Hitchcockian mystery premise, a femme fatale, and a hitman. When Henry overhears a bar patron at the Red Pony, Bill Nordquist, looking for someone to kill his wife, he volunteers naturally. Of course, it’s a ruse designed to draw out the details of the murder so Walt can prevent it, but things don’t exactly go according to plan.
(This is a recap, so you know spoilers will abound, right?)
A search for the wife eventually turns up the sexy but shady Diane Highsmith. The show has some fun playing with the classic femme fatale trope, amping up the sexual tension between her and Branch, who is on protective detail. The damsel-in-distress meets the deputy in just a robe, and there’s a nice beat where he lights her cigarette for her, like a scene from a Howard Hawks flick.
But Diane’s just a red herring; Bill turns out to be the victim after all, when he’s found shot on a train car 200 miles away in South Dakota.
The plot takes a left turn out of the far more compelling noir tropes for a convoluted and random twist involving a Shakespeare-quoting, train-jumping gutterpunk. It’s a weak move, as the motivation for the killing is pretty lame, and a bit gimmicky thanks to the murderer’s over-the-top hokey, oft-repeated catchphrase “How much is your life worth?” Although all’s well that ends well, I guess, as Walt and Henry have a nice moment of friendship when the sheriff rescues his BFF from the killer’s clutches.
In other more interesting developments, Vic’s past seems to catch up with her when Ed Gorski, a former Philly cop, just happens to run into our fair deputy while he’s “passing through” Absaroka. A skittish and suspicious Vic reluctantly agrees to meet him (and his wife) for a drink, but—surprise, surprise—no wife shows up.
When she calls him on the fact that Durant isn’t exactly on the way to anywhere, he spins a story about seeking her out to make amends as a recovering alcoholic. It’s less than convincing, considering they’re meeting in a bar and he’s ordered a beer, but we at least finally get some meager clues about what Vic was involved with in Philly. Ed alludes to an internal affairs investigation and the suicide of “Bobby” that he blamed Vic for. She insists she’s moved on from it though. Hmm…
Some other nice moments this episode include some fine detective work on the part of the Ferg, especially his observation with Vic in the trainyard about where the victim could’ve been murdered. It’s nice to see him really growing and learning. And a bit of plot about Henry’s own shady ex, Deena (Mädchen Amick), who has just breezed back into town, leads to the best line of the episode. While Walt, Ferg, and Henry arrange for surveillance on the office phone at the Red Pony and wait for Bill to call to arrange the hit, the phone rings, and it’s Deena wanting Henry to talk dirty to her. Embarrassed, he quickly dismisses her to Walt and Ferg’s amused smirks and Ferg’s hilarious double entendre of a line: “Well, at least we know the equipment works.” (There’s also an interesting little bit of intrigue that may or may not lead to something bigger when Henry busts Deena for saying she was in Bismarck when she was really in Chicago.)
Over all a fairly entertaining hour, but I still can’t help feeling like the show’s relying on a lot of filler. No mention of the election this week other than a Branch for sheriff sign sighting. But at least next week Detective Fales come back to town… and it looks like Henry’s in his crosshairs. Ruh roh!
Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and Internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.