Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) goes before the judge and his lawyer, and good friend, Cady Longmire (Cassidy Freeman) is hoping to get him released on bail until the trial. And with good reason, because the jail where Henry is housed is one of the most corrupt facilities since Strother “what we got here is a failure to communicate” Martin in Cool Hand Luke. He’s been enduring beatings at the hands of fellow inmates led by the exceptionally villainous Malachi (Graham Greene), former Rez Chief of Police until Walt busted him. Problem is, the judge makes it known that he doesn’t grant bail to murder suspects and gives Cady the weekend to consider whether she wants to waste the court’s time on a hearing.
Meanwhile, Longmire agrees to take Henry’s place as a judge in the Miss Cheyenne beauty pageant (first stand-in bartender, now substitute pageant judge—what will Walt do next?). In the middle of the proceedings, Vic shuffles her way past the dancing contestants to tell Longmire that a male murder victim has been found stabbed twice in a barn.
The initial investigation points them to the Rez clinic which Branch jumps at the chance to go and collect some leads into the murder victim, Doctor Ben Mallory, but it’s pretty clear he has ulterior motives. After asking the clinic attendant a couple of questions about Mallory, he switches gears asking about his shooting. He shows a picture of David Ridges and the attendant said he last saw the ‘dead man’ about a month prior. Dollars to donuts we’re going to get sprinkles of this arc all season, which I think will eventually lead to Ridges being found to be alive. Where’s your money?
The Miss Cheyenne beauty pageant presents more leads into Mallory’s murder. The doctor had been treating a girl and suspicion lands on the girl’s irate father who claims the doctor had molested the daughter. Later, Longmire reveals the girl is pregnant which gets him attacked by the father who says the girl was disqualified from the pageant. The father then reveals the doctor had suggested an abortion which led into a disturbing history of forced abortions and sterilizations of reservation women at the hands of white doctors—including Mallory’s own father.
The killer was well-hidden among the red herrings and Longmire’s confrontation at the end packed an emotional wallop within its twists. Sarah Nicole Jones has written some great Longmire episodes like “The Dark Road” and “Death Came in Like Thunder.” “Miss Cheyenne” is no exception. The way she interwove Cheyenne customs, the murder mystery, subtle nuances of personal relationships with political agendas, and the ongoing David Ridges thread was precision storytelling.
Back to Henry’s hearing. In one of the best lines in this episode, Police Chief Mathias (Zahn McClarnon) makes a damning statement that he doesn’t support bail because, “If you can’t trust the company a man keeps, you can’t trust the man himself.” Something tells me the Chief may have lost a vote in the next Rez election. But based on the moving statement of Mrs. Stillwater who tells of Henry’s instrumental help with her daughter Lilly and the meaning behind Standing Bear (one who doesn’t run), Cady manages to get his bail.
It was pretty obvious early in the storyline that Henry would be granted bail because they were making the judge look like the toughest a-hole alive. And yet when the judge announced a 1-million dollar bail, I was floored. Even more so when Cady told her father they were only 100k short of making bail (because bail bondsmen typically want 10% of the total). Branch writes the check that gets Henry out—nicely using his bastard of a father’s money. But Branch is clear that he didn’t do it for Henry.
So what’s in store next week? Henry leaves jail with a monitoring device on his ankle, and I’m thinking he may have to go beyond its boundaries to help Longmire clear his name. One thing is for certain: the sheriff is playing for keeps. The show ends with Longmire saying, “No matter what happens, you’re never going back.”