“Harvest” picks up where we left off with Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) receiving care for a flesh wound and Vic looking genuinely drained from her hellish experience as a captive.
When Walt and Vic hugged in the hospital, my wife said to me, “I can see them as a couple,” and I had to finally agree. The relationship happens in Craig Johnson's series of novels from which the show originates, and it seems like it’s time on the TV series. But, like water in a dam rising to the occasion, we are kept waiting again, because Vic’s husband Sean (Michael Mosley) has given her an ultimatum to quit her job in two weeks or they’re done. When Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) broke into Vic’s house in last week's episode, I was thinking, you’re going to be in a world of hurt when she finds out. Sure enough, in this episode, Vic (Katee Sackhoff) tears Branch a new one and lays everything wide open.
Branch obviously feels he has nothing to lose, because he dimes himself out by quoting part of Vic’s letter that he snooped at her house (you remember that letter—the one with her concerns over Branch’s actions?). Little did he know that Vic hadn’t sent it to Longmire. But, gotta say, I kinda feel Branch’s continuing frustration and probably would have helped him through the front door—after all (quick recap ahead), he was shot by an allegedly dead man, nearly bled to death, and still, no one 100% believes him that his attacker is alive. Oh sure, they are slowly coming on board in a trying sort of way, but it sure seems his issues take a significant back seat to clearing Henry Standing Bear’s (Lou Diamond Phillips) name by finding Miller Beck’s killer.
Vic is onto Branch’s shady dealings in his search for the truth. Added to Branch’s mounting frustration is Walt and Vic’s blossoming personal relationship, which has the further potential to undermine his every move. When an attempt at marital lovemaking goes awry (with Vic inadvertently calling Sean weak), well, Walt and Vic are almost cleared for landing, right? I do like how Vic displays genuine sadness about the demise of her relationship with Sean, and Walt is careful to take the high moral ground and not to take advantage of a situation. Well-handled storytelling in our jaded, disposable age.
The standalone main plot concerned a farmer who is shot in the back, leaving his wife and daughter to struggle alone making the monthly payments, and a fellow farmer who’d loaned the dead man necessary equipment is more interested in the bottom line than “decency.” Writer Tony Tost stated on Twitter that this episode was “as close as I'll ever get to writing a real country song.” Country song, sure, but I can also hear the rocking strains of John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Rain on the Scarecrow” playing from my teen years, along with memories of the start of Farm Aid which brought attention to the struggling men and women. Kudos to Mr. Tost for reminding us that the plight is far from over.
Meanwhile, Branch goes to Denver to help Cady (Cassidy Freeman) with Henry’s case. At a bar where Miller Beck used to hang out, Cady talks to people who knew the junkie, while Branch passes around a photo of Darius. Branch encounters a woman who promises to give him information if she can take his photo, because she wants a picture of a cowboy. One click and flash later, she coyly tells him she doesn’t know the man. Then, outside the bar, Branch gets a text from the woman (I must have missed when he gave her his number) with an attached pic showing The White Warrior himself, David Ridges, standing behind Branch. It disappears as quickly as it arrived, leaving him shouting “No!” Cady, who remembers being attacked in the hospital by the peyote-affected Branch, doesn’t believe him. After an exchange of some quiet, but harsh, words, she walks out on him. She asks Vic to pick her up, and on the ride back home, Cady tells Vic that Branch is dark, mean, and unstable, then she confides to Vic how Branch assaulted her. Like Vic needs more ammo against him.
As an actor, throughout this season, Bailey Chase has been noteworthy for his simmering anger, vividly conveying Branch’s apparent deterioration in front of his colleagues, a calcified determination in his obsession with Ridges, accentuated by the actor’s brooding portrayal. I hope Mr. Chase is remembered when award season rolls around, because he deserves the recognition.
A quick let’s-hear-it for The Ferg (Adam Bartley), who has been the lone member of Longmire’s crew who steadfastly shows up, gathers the clues, doesn’t bitch, but is constantly and unceremoniously sent from the room whenever “the adults” are talking. I caught Vic noticing Ferg’s frustration (not that she was overly sympathetic), and I think it’s about time Longmire recognizes and utilizes Ferg’s talent more appropriately.
The episode closes with Vic handing Walt a letter that we’re first led to believe is a resignation, but instead turns out to be the letter detailing her case against Branch (which I’m betting has been updated since Branch saw it). As they discuss the rogue deputy, we see Branch drinking alone in a bar with the elusive David Ridges outside, and we hear Vic say to Longmire, “There’s no way he should be carrying a badge and a gun right now. He’s a time bomb just waiting to go off.”
The stakes are high as we go into the final stretch of Longmire’s season three.