Victoria “Vic” Moretti (Katee Sackhoff) and her husband Sean (Michael Mosley) on a get-away of hopeful rest and relaxation have anything but and before you can yell, “Watch out for that bear in the road!” their convertible is off the highway and totaled. Cell service in the remote pass is, as always, next to none, so Vic takes off on her own to find a house to call for help. But, unfortunately, Vic has stumbled onto a family home without a phone that, coincidentally, turns out to be some kind of separatist group who’ve been keeping tabs on the sheriff and crew. “Population 25” saw a major plotline come to an end but not before Vic goes through her own Deliverance kind of hell.
Sean climbs for higher ground to get cell service and calls Longmire to tell him he tried flagging down a car that swerved around him and sped away, but not before Sean noticed it was driven by Ed Gorski (Lee Tergesen), Vic’s ex-lover, and he suspects she had been kidnapped. When Longmire arrives Sean is missing, and Gorski, who’s now hiding in the woods, manages to get Longmire’s weapons away from him as he fills Longmire in on the situation.
It was a bit confusing here at first after learning a second car came through grabbing Sean and how this group managed to be seemingly following Vic and the chances of her unwittingly arriving at the door of the man named Chance (Peter Stormare) whose brother was killed by Longmire.
Still, beyond that, it was a sharp plot twist to have Gorski and Longmire teamed together in desperation to save Vic. As Gorski takes opportunity en route to explain himself and his relationship with Vic, he claims that he’s not stalking Vic but is more or less her guardian angel. Longmire’s not buying it (and neither is anyone else who’s watched this psychopath from day one), but Longmire could clearly use the man’s help because he knows that where Vic is being held spells trouble. When they arrive, Longmire and Gorski cross over a chain-locked up gate with ‘No Trespassing’ signs all over it, and you just have to ask yourself, how’d Vic get past all that and not know she was approaching the home of a nutcase? I mean, the whole place screams dueling banjos.
Meanwhile inside, Sean (who’d been dumped off at the house) and Vic are being interrogated by the leader himself, who gives new meaning to creepy paranoid, as he tries to determine why federal officers are hounding him. Part of his itchiness is he has a dead census agent in a freezer—as Longmire discovers—and he assumes the law is closing in. When Sean doesn’t turn over the passcode to unlock his phone, both Vic and Sean are fitted with motorcycle helmets and brutally beaten with baseball bats.
Thrown into a basement, Vic tells Sean that the passcode is the only thing keeping them alive. Vic further explains to Sean that Walt questioned Chance several weeks ago about his wife’s death—and they aren’t getting out alive. After a body bag (inside is a cop who showed up at the compound) is thrown down next to them, Vic goes batshit crazy trying to open the bag thinking it’s Longmire. Judging by the look on Sean’s face, they’re done as a couple.
In a final showdown in the dark of night, Longmire (with the use of some floodlights) lies, successfully convincing Chance there are more lawmen present, and tosses out a Thomas Jefferson quote that he knows will appeal to the nutcase. Longmire requests that everyone leaves unharmed and he challenges Chance to a duel. Chance agrees, then Gorski—to Vic’s shock—comes out of the woods to escort her and Sean away. As the extremist’s hand trembles, Longmire asks point blank, did you kill my wife. Chance says no. The camera switches to Vic’s face and we hear gunfire not knowing who gets shot. Gorski finally says goodbye to Vic, presumably because he now accepts she has suffered as much as he had. She looks at Sean and when he turns away, she runs to Longmire’s vehicle and takes off after him.
Throughout this episode, another continuing thread was boiling on the backburner. In the opening scene, Longmire hunts down Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) in the woods. He brings Branch into the office where The Ferg (Adam Bartley) is searching for last name of Darius. Branch wants to know if he has anything to do with David Ridges. Then Branch and Longmire get into it: Longmire says he needs Branch working in the office not traipsing off on his own agenda, and Branch snaps back with accusing Longmire of not caring about who shot him because Longmire’s too busy with his own wife’s murder and defending Henry Standing Bear. When the call comes in that Vic is in trouble, never wanting to waste a good catastrophe, Branch takes the opportunity to break into Vic’s house and snoop around until he finds a computer with a letter to Longmire that reveals everything she knows about Branch’s conduct in his quest to find David Ridges. Damning for sure.
Lots of action and terrific acting in this episode, but with some head scratching moments in the beginning, and, for the record, if I knocked on a door for help I’d wouldn’t patiently be waiting for food to be prepared before discovering there is no phone. Even so, it was a thrilling, high-octane show.
Trivia: Longmire creator Craig Johnson lives in Ucross, near Sheridan, Wyoming, population 25 like the title of this episode.