The Longmire two episodes ago was titled “Sound and Fury”—-but I think it would’ve been a more apt name for this episode, because it seemed to be full of white noise, which piqued my fury a bit. I can’t help but be disappointed in this expanded season, which seems to be wasting so much time on inessential, needlessly convoluted plots when it could be delving into the much, much more interesting ongoing conflicts for the core characters.
I had hopes that tonight’s episode, which finds Walt and crew infiltrating an illegal rodeo to investigate the death of a man who was shot there, would offer at least some levity, if not answers to the ongoing mysteries of Walt’s wife’s death, Vic’s shady past, and developments with the snail-paced sheriff’s race. But we got very little of either. The rodeo leads to a human trafficking/immigrant plotline that feels like a retread already and the killer is easier to peg than… well, a gingham-shirted gringo at self-same rodeo. They make the rookie Law & Order mistake of giving a bit player way too much screen time/dialogue in his first appearance, guaranteeing the long arm of the law will swing around to him in the end.
Even Detective Fales (Charles Dutton) visiting Henry to inquire about his presence in Denver at the time of the murder ultimately led nowhere. A nervous Henry tries to coordinate with a busy Walt to make sure their stories are sympatico, but then gets cornered by Fales. We also got a flashback of Henry taking Walt with a flayed back to safety at a motel and then to an old woman who sewed up his back. But…Henry stonewalls Fales and admits nothing, so there’s nothing here we didn’t already know. I guess maybe it’s supposed to indicate that Henry is really innocent and just covering for Walt, but…who didn’t already know that?
The rest of the episode was spent on a subplot about evicting a local slacker (Friday Night Lights’ Billy Riggins apparently moved to Wyoming!) that served to further dwell on the ways that Walt and Branch operate differently. Naturally, this is framed by the narrative as Branch being lazy and careless and Walt being smart about things—which is definitely arguable in my opinion. It’s just getting really sad to see how little Walt respects Branch as a deputy or a person. When he declares he’ll have to approach a case the way Branch would, it’s meant to be taken as an insult. It’s inexplicable as to why he continues to employ the guy. And it makes Walt into an unsufferable old crank who might as well be shouting “Get off my lawn!” It’s not subtle and it’s not interesting, and we’ve seen the same interplay now in just about every episode since the pilot. I can’t imagine how it’s going to change either, given that Walt inevitably will win the election, but it’s in dire need of some new direction.
The bright side of Longmire these days is inevitably in the details: the landscapes and wildlife featured (that was a beautiful stallion), the familiar faces that occasionally pop up like delightful Bob Barnes (who has a girlfriend!), and the brief moments of levity that usually come courtesy Vic or the Ferg (tonight, Vic’s “I really like leather” was worth a grin). And Lou Diamond Phillips did an especially lovely job delivering a brief closing monologue underscored with swelling music about a Native American folk figure known as The Great Spirit. Unfortunately, the beautifully-spoken piece had little to do with what transpired in the episode, so it rang pretty empty and almost manipulative, as it tried to signify a far greater depth of meaning than the episode offered.
Longmire won’t air next week, but will return July 29th to begin the final five episodes of this season. I can’t help but wish for more from that final run. More answers, more movement, more depth, more character interactions that truly matter and affect change as the show rolls forward. With the great ratings, a Season 3 renewal should be just around the corner, but if things continue to stagnate, it’s hard to tell whether I’ll care by that point.
Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and Internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.