After last week’s outstanding episode, “Wanted Man” —where Walt, Branch, and Vic finally located Hector, then the dying man identified a photo of extremist David Ridges as his attacker—I expected to see Ridges back from the dead (especially with an episode titled “Reports of My Death”), and it didn’t happen! But I wasn’t disappointed with this week’s show, written by the always-on-the-mark Sarah Nicole Jones.
Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) blames himself for Hector’s death and is tired of waiting while events whirl around him, but he’s still out on bail with a leg monitor attached to him. No problem. He sticks his leg in a freezer to remove the device and begins an investigation.
That brings him face-to-face with his conniving ex, Deena (Mädchen Amick). No surprise that a shouting match goes down over Henry's missing $40k, until Deena tells him that she was “hired” to keep tabs on him and his business by a man named Darius, who works for none other than Malachi. The plot thickens yet again!
Meanwhile, Good Samaritan Longmire (Robert Taylor) brings food and beverage (not clear if this is a regular occurrence or just happenstance) to a homeless guy stretched out on the town’s park bench, but instead, he finds a dead man—and a national mystery to boot after he pulls the man’s wallet and reads the name on the license. The decedent is the long-lost VanBlarcom sibling named Welles, a man who’s worth a 100-million dollar inheritance. In a humorous scene, The Ferg (Adam Bartley) helps Longmire carry the heavy corpse across the park and upstairs to their offices, pretending the deceased is drunk so as not to alert the media there’s a bigger story on tap.
Walt and Vic go to the VanBlarcom estate to have the family identify the dead man as their brother. We learn that years ago, Longmire’s dad worked for the VanBlarcoms, tending their stable of horses, and young Walt would tag along. He had a good relationship with the family and remembered the sister would come down where they were working and sketch pictures of the horses. Now, the problem is that Welles has been gone so long, that as the siblings Penny and Graham study the body Longmire has in the back of his vehicle, they aren’t sure if it’s him. And there is some confusion later on, when a sketch shown to Longmire by the family doesn’t match the sketch given to a P.I. hired to locate Welles has. We’re left wondering if the dead man is really Welles.
Back to the ongoing David Ridges storyline: Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) has new leads on his own “dead man” via some cameras he installed in numerous outdoor locations, including one on Jacob Nighthorse’s (A. Martinez) construction site. At the office, Deputy Vic Moretti (Katee Sackhoff) looks disgusted with Branch’s answers about what he’s up to and suggests going with him. Branch declines, but Longmire says to take her. Unbeknownst to both men, Vic has discovered that Branch and his friend Travis kidnapped and interrogated that peyote dealer. After she had her heart-to-heart with Walt, I thought for sure she would expose Branch as a corrupt cop abusing his role. But she doesn’t, because she’s still smarting over being labeled a whistleblower at her previous job. I like the direction the writing team went with Vic’s character here, investigating the situation first on her own before revealing her cards to Branch. However, Branch knows right where to sting when he implies Vic has an overly personal relationship with Longmire. And Branch tells her his conscience is clear when it comes to his conduct. Dios mio!
It turns out that Malachi is placed at the head of security for Nighthorse’s wealthy enterprises. Head of Security?! That’s about as crazy as placing Hannibal Lecter in charge of your next church picnic. I had suspected Nighthorse was crooked, but now, with Henry and Longmire’s chief enemy Malachi established, we know a showdown is on the horizon. Malachi and Nighthorse go to Walt’s office, returning the cameras that had been placed on the construction site by Branch. Of course, Longmire looks troubled by this revelation, not that he does much about since his hands are full, but maybe that’s why he had Vic tag along with Branch? As the shady pair leave, Nighthorse tells Longmire to reevaluate his employees because “you’re only as good as the people you hire.”
A man comes forward claiming to be the real Welles VanBlarcom (Parker Stevenson), and what an odd bird he turns out to be. Explaining he disappeared thirty years ago, because “money messes people up” and he wanted to make it on his own as a man, he eventually gave the homeless guy his ID, because he was tired of reporters and detectives searching for him. He returned only because the poor man was murdered and wanted the man’s proper family to know. So, who is the real Welles? Well, VanBlarcom finally opens up with details only the real heir would know, like how Longmire was called Wally by his dad as a child.
In the wrap-up scene, some viewers watching with me spoke to the screen and told Penny to keep her mouth shut and lawyer up. They groaned at the classic end-of-episode full confession (she killed the homeless guy by stabbing him with a needle filled with painkilling opiates intended for cancer patients, not the same as a street junkie's drugs) in a detailed reveal that's been a staple of classic detective and mystery shows for years. However, I thought it was well-handled and appreciated the homage to the shows I watched growing up, like The Rockford Files and Magnum, P.I. Bravo to writer Sarah Nicole Jones and the sharp direction of Christopher Chulack.
Editor's Note: Some of us also grew up seeing the big reveals on The Hardy Boys, IYKWIMAITYD.
The final minutes showed Cady confronting Henry, saying he no longer gets to have private conversations with her dad since she is now his lawyer. Henry shows them both pictures from his stakeout that connect Malachi and his crony, Darius, with Henry's ex, Deena, in Denver. When Cady sees the picture, she asks, “Is this the guy that had mom killed?”
I’m thinking so.