Tue
Jul 29 2014 1:15pm

Longmire 3.09: “Counting Coup” Down to the Finale

The penultimate episode of the season started with a bang and barely came up for air as writer Sarah Nicole Jones scrawled another corker of a show that had me satisfied almost to the end.

Editor's Note: We feel free to put episode spoilers in after the jump, but at this point in the season, it's become almost all spoilers, so there's nothing left!

In “Counting Coup,” the David Ridges storyline comes to a close. The episode begins with Branch’s friend Travis Murphy (Derek Phillips) admitting to Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) and Vic Moretti (Katee Sackhoff) that he was offered money by Branch to change his story, and he lied because he feared for his life.

Simultaneously, Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) faces off with David Ridges (David Midthunder) on a narrow steel bridge. Branch has his gun drawn on the The White Warrior but can’t shoot. Ridges has psychologically outdrawn him and further messes with his mind: saying he has taken a part of Branch on three separate occasions. First time was with a feather when he took his courage. Second was in Branch’s dreams when he took his peace. Third was the photo that took his soul. The next and last encounter, Ridges warns him, he will take Branch’s life. Ridges then jumps into the water as the lawman fires away hopelessly missing his target.

Walt questions the Peyote dealer, who declines to press charges. Before he leaves, he burns sage in the sheriff’s office in a purification ritual, saying they are going to need it given Branch’s frame of mind. As Walt and Vic get ready to depart themselves, the Ferg (Adam Bartley) finally demands to be recognized and treated equally after Walt asks his deputy to make a telephone call. Walt angrily clears Branch’s desk with a sweep of a hand and moves Ferg’s nameplate over to the bigger desk, then tells Ferg to make the call he'd asked him to. If it had been me, I would have walked out on Walt, and I felt Ferg’s anger and surprise at the big man’s reaction. Tense scene and solid acting from Mr. Bartley.

Walt blames himself for not seeing signs of Branch’s deteriorating condition and for allowing the obsessed man to come back too soon. But Ruby (Louanne Stephens) sets him straight. All of a sudden, Branch runs into office yelling for Walt, excitedly telling him how he was face to face with Ridges. Walt says they need to talk about the peyote dealer. Branch blames Vic for ratting him out, and Vic shouts back that it wasn’t her. In a surprise move, Branch attacks Vic in front of everyone. Holy hell! I didn’t see that coming. Walt, with Ferg’s help, manhandles Branch into a cell. After Walt leaves, Branch wants someone to go back to the bridge to check out Ridges' car (he took the keys from the ignition). As soon as Ferg offers to go, Vic pipes in that she’ll do it, since Branch guilted her by saying she’d have to explain to Walt why she didn’t look into the man who tried to kill him.

While Walt begins tying up the connections between Jacob Nighthorse (A Martinez) and David Ridges, Branch’s father (Gerald McRaney) comes to get his son out of jail. Ferg is apprehensive, but when his own father’s construction business is threatened by Daddy Connally, he gives in. Branch’s father takes him home and locks him in a room. Branch, of course, escapes.

We find out that Henry’s (Lou Diamond Phillips) trial date is drastically advanced (does that ever happen?). Later, we also find out that Malachi (Graham Greene) is aware of this when he drops by The Red Pony. He mocks Henry, saying the ‘problem with Indians is they are always whining’ about their troubles, specifically listing out Henry’s troubles, including the trial date. How did Malachi know about the date being moved up? As Malachi’s leaving, he mentions that he still wants to buy the bar. We discover the trial has been moved because of witness availability. A deal is offered that if Henry pleads guilty, then he won’t get the death penalty. Cady Longmire's (Cassidy Freeman) counselor pal says that it’s a good idea and should be accepted. But Henry isn’t happy about it, because he’s innocent. Henry decides to take matters into his own hands, again. He phones Malachi, and as Henry prepares to torch the bar, he says he wants information on Darius or he’ll burn it down, because he knows Malachi needs The Red Pony to launder his dirty money. Malachi doesn’t immediately answer. And before you know it—poof!—Henry sets it afire. So now, he’s an arsonist, too?!

Walt and Vic arrive at a posh party to serve Nighthorse with an arrest warrant. In the clink, the businessman, looking for a deal, finally explains what happened with the Ridges suicide: he didn’t know Ridges was involved with Cady’s accident. And when Ridges came to him, he agreed, thinking he was helping a member of his community who just needed an edge. Sidebar: I liked that touch, and it gives Nighthorse some needed bonus points. He explained how Ridges used his own blood that he’d donated at the Rez clinic to coat the walls and then poured the rest on a deer carcass that was burned on the pyre. Ridges promised to leave the Wyoming area. But then Ridges killed Hector, and Nighthorse realized Ridges believes the superstition, saying he would touch Branch three times before killing him. Nighthorse says Ridges’ growing madness was making him unsettled. When Nighthorse finished spilling the details, Walt says no deal. Nighthorse yells from his cell that he doesn’t like Walt, but knows he’s a man of honor. Walt counters, saying the next time Nighthorse talks to Ridges, then, he will make a deal.

Okay. The ending. I have been following Branch’s hunt with mucho enthusiasm, more so than Vic’s stalker plotline (though that climaxed with the slam bang “Population 25”) and equaled clearing Henry’s name. Bailey Chase has turned in a performance worthy of an Emmy as he has become a paranoid shell of a man, ruthless in his conviction, and obsessed with locating his prey. But this episode he runs out of gas—literally. As a viewer, I’m invested in him finding and either killing Ridges or bringing him to justice. Him, not Walt. But that’s just what happened—Walt stabs the White Warrior as he jumps off his horse onto the fallen sheriff. It felt like an empty win. Ridges has been a wonderfully-sketched character from day one, and I just didn’t care for him being dispensed in an over-worn Hollywood cliché. Just me? But my main complaint is that I felt like I was on the road with Branch, pummeling the car out of anger, because I was so close.

Next week: the season finale! Wonder what Branch’s reaction will be to finding out the ‘dead man’ is finally, really dead.

 


Under the pen name of Edward A. Grainger, David Cranmer writes the continuing adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles. He is also the editor/publisher of the BEAT to a PULP webzine and books.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Individual - You will receive an alert for each comment added to this post.
Digest - You will receive an end-of-day alert for all comments added to this post.
44 comments
1. Mates
On the whole it was a rush of an episode but I'm with you that Branch should have gotten the chance to take David Ridges out.
Edward A. Grainger
2. EdwardAGrainger
I'm interested to see Branch's reaction in the finale. He should be rather annoyed I'd think.
3. randal120
Randy Johnson here,

Yes, good episode until the end. Branch deserved delivering the finale to the Ridges' storyline. One does wonder at his reaction when he learns the truth.

Will they clean up Henry's story next week. The trailer hints at that.

I've heard rumblings that Longmire was on the bubble for renewal on Facebook. I thought it was a popular drama.
snow dog
4. snowdogmom
Okay I need to correct you on a few points and mention an important omission and renew your hope Branch will get his justice.

1. Vic didn't say to Branch it wasn't her. She said don't lay this on me meaning it was Branch's behavior that required telling Walt not that she "wanted" to rat him out.
2. You never mentioned finding Ridges phone in the car as the way Walt and Vic could prove Jacob's involvement. I thought that was a little to convenient.
3. Glad Ferg stood up for himself but his timing was all wrong. Walt just reached his breaking point with having to deal with issues with ALL his deputies and lost it.
4. Cady DID NOT recommend Henry take the deal and said no way to the DA it was her lawyer friend who I guess is now also officially working Henry's case that was suggesting they consider it. I think he may not really be on Cady's side, we'll see. I think he's part of the big conspiracy.
5. Very disappointed in how Whimpy Ferg was with Barlow and then he never radioed Walt or called Vic potentially putting them both in danger. Not sure if he didn't think of it or was trying to figure out how to cover his butt. Walt was disappointed and just proved he's not ready for the big boy desk.
6. It was NOT David Ridges that Walt killed it was Sam Poteet! Watch it again and look closely at the White Warrior's face. David is still alive. I think it was David that drove away in Walt's Bronco and will run into Branch on the road. Lets hope Branch takes care of him. I think that's why next week's episode is called Ashes to Ashes. I think Walt was setup by Jacob/Sam/David and the phone was intentially left in the car to link Jacob and set in motion the events so Jacob could set up Walt's ambush. I think Jacob could still be part of the big conspiracy regarding Walt's wife and is not as innocent as he claims.

Can't wait till next week!
Edward A. Grainger
5. EdwardAGrainger
Randy, Do I think they can wrap it up next week? And they should but I'm starting to feel like it won't happen. A week will tell. Fingers crossed.

Snowdogmon, 1. I stand corrected. 2. Yes, it was too convenient. Agreed. 3. I'm cool with Ferg blowing his lid then. Like he says there's never a good time. 4. I meant counsel as in the guy working alongside Cady. 5. Ferg backs down from power. I kinda see that in his character and would expect it. 6. I checked the sometimes reliable Wikipedia and they say it was Ridges along with many folks on the social networking scene. But I will play it back and check. I HOPE it wasn't Ridges. Just isn't fair to Branch.
Edward A. Grainger
6. EdwardAGrainger
snowdogmom, #6 update: I'll be. I believe you're right. The final shot looks like Sam P. I'm happily standing corrected. :)
snow dog
7. snowdogmom
LOL, Edward. So much or Wikipedia and social media.
Edward A. Grainger
8. EdwardAGrainger
I won't make any excuses and am quick to admit when I'm wrong. Honest to goodness I'm glad its going another week with The White Warrior.
snow dog
9. snowdogmom
I just never thought of checking Wikipedia and it seemed most people on social media thought it was David. I hope I'm right but it sure looked like Poteet to me so I went with it. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.
Edward A. Grainger
10. EdwardAGrainger
I'm going to let my post stand as it is and if it wasn't Ridges I will address the mistake next week. Ha! Funny how I'm hoping I'm wrong!
Simone Smith
11. Penny
Walt did kill David Ridges at the end. I think that some people are mistaking Ridges for Poteet because of the white make up on Ridges' face.
Edward A. Grainger
12. EdwardAGrainger
I originally thought so, Penny. But... next week will tell.
13. John M. Whalen
Whether it's Ridges or Poteet, I thought the whole idea of Branch not getting to the trailer ahead of Walt because his dad's truck ran out of gas was a pretty crude plot contrivance. I mean come on. I had to laugh at the way he beats up the steering wheel. "Oh, damn, why didn't I look at the fuel gauge?" But at this point, with so many plot threads to resolve, the writers necessarily have to have characters start doing implausible things. There were so many story lines in this one they kept bumping into each other. Just when Walt was going to hand Vic her divorce papers, the door crashes open and they're off on another tangent. Lou Diamond Phillips burns down his club, much to his regret later. WHAT? Ferg gets buffaloed by Branch's father. The poor schmuck finally stands up to himself in the office, and gets trampled by the old Simon & Simon guy. Pretty wild stuff. At least you can't say it's dull. I don't know who Walt killed. They obviously shot it and wrote so that it's ambiguous right up to the end. I think you're right, David. They'll never wrap it all up next week. I can see Ridges riding over a hill into the sunset at the end of the season finale with Branch gritting his teeth all the way to next season.
Edward A. Grainger
14. EdwardAGrainger
John, I'll bet good money in Vegas that the Ridges storyline is done this season but the plight of Henry Standing Bear goes on another year. And, for the record, Henry's bar still stands but is a little charred to say the least.
15. Dave Gershen
Malachi is connected and controlling virtually everything, the judge included. I am starting to have the strong feeling that his tentacles are also wrapped around Det. Fales from Denver, and that Fales himself is part of the conspiracy. Think about it.
Edward A. Grainger
16. EdwardAGrainger
Interesting take on Malachi controlling Fales, sure I can see that, though I don't think the detective needs much prodding in his crusade against Longmire & company.
Simone Smith
17. Penny
Edward, I hope that you are wrong about Henry's story continuing because I want answers and A&E might not give Longmire another season.
Mary Saputo
18. bitsy08
Really enjoyed this week's show but I also "believe" that wasn't David Ridges Walt killed. We'll see. As for Ferg, I think he had reached his breaking point and I was proud of him for speaking up. As to Walt's reaction, I, too, was ashamed of him. Instead of validating Ferg's feelings, he reacted in a manner that seemed to shame Ferg. Even heroes have flaws and this one may very well come back to bite Walt in the a - -. He needs to recognize what he has in Ferg and build him up instead of cutting him down. I kept thinking when Branch's father showed up at the jail that Ferg should call Walt and let him deal with him. But then, does Walt have a phone yet? Then again, Ferg was just trying to protect his family and is that any different than what Walt would do or has done? And, again, Ferg was right. Branch hadn't been arrested; he'd just been put in jail for his own protection. Now as to the bubble, I, too, have heard that. Let's just hope the network sees the value in this show and brings it back. I am SO getting tired of networks putting on good shows and then taking them off to put on more junk.
19. Dave Gershen
From the previews of next episode, it sounds like Walt will find out who's behind his wife's murder. It would be nice to have some closure this season. As for the show being on the "bubble," when I was at "Longmire Days" in Wyoming a couple weeks ago, Craig Johnson made an interesting comment. He effectively hinted that if A&E didn't pick up a 4th season, he was confident the show would be picked up by another network. One of the issues, it seems, which also caused the long delay in renewing the show for Season 3 is that Warner Brothers produces the show and A&E puts it on the air. There are rumors of a pissing contest between the two, in which, according to Johnson, Warner Brothers holds all the cards (a Goliath vs. David scenario). I am hopeful that Longmire will be renewed, but in this age where cheap reality shows get higher ratings than scripted dramas, I'm not as optimistic as Craig Johnson. I hope I'm wrong.
snow dog
20. snowdogmom
Need to cut Walt some slack. Walt has supported Ferg in the past and hired him even with no law enforcement experience and has supported him in his previous screw ups. Isn't Walt allowed to lose it occasionally just like everyone else has been doing? Branch may not have been charged but was a danger to himself and others and Ferg should not have let him go. Walt has a radio and Ferg was in the office also with a radio. How do you think Ruby contacts Walt? Ferg also should have called Vic to let her know. She does have a phone. I just hope because A&E really doesn't have any other big hits, DD is failing, they will think it's smart to keep Longmire. They seem to have no problem spending money on new shows that are flops but hestitate to spend on Longmire or support it. They don't participate in the profit from Longmire as much as they want and Warner isn't caving into them so their response is lack of support and ordering less episodes per season. It's all just pure greed. There recently was a piece where it was asked of TV execs what was the hardest conversation you've had in the past year and David McKillop, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of A&E Network, responded, “I had to cancel a scripted show Those Who Kill] that we all believed in. That was the hardest conversation I’ve had to this day because I didn’t understand why it didn’t connect with audiences. That made that conversation that much more difficult.” They cancelled that show after only 2 episodes so imagine the money wasted on it. Proves again A&E doesn't know what viewers want. Well Longmire connects with the audience so let's hope they will be smart enough to keep it and the ratings from a total viewer perspective are better by a couple million than a lot of other cable shows that have been renewed. I so wish the producers had originally made the deal for Longmire with another network. A&E is sliding downhill fast. I sortof hope A&E just lets it go and another better network picks it up. It's been written elsewhere that A&E is contractrually obligated to make a renewal decision by August 31st. Number of episodes may not be determined but renewal or not must be decided.
Edward A. Grainger
21. EdwardAGrainger
I’m with you, Penny. And next week can't come fast enough!
bitsyo8, Yep. I'm NOW positive that wasn't Ridges. DVR is a beautiful thing. I really enjoyed the way Ferg handled himself. It was long past due and I get Ferg backing down when his family was threatened. Of course, as snowdogmom mentions, Walt has crap flying in from all angles and probably should be cut a little slack. Still, way to go, Ferg!
Dave, I have mentioned in previous comments that I thought Longmire was too popular a show to die this year and I see some future TV films. But another network picking up the program is even better yet. Thanks for the insight. You must have had a real blast at Longmire Days.
Simone Smith
22. Penny
If Ferg is going to back down when his family is threatened, then he needs to find another job because he is clearly corruptible and a danger to his co-workers. Ferg should have locked Barlow up and pressed charges against him.

After reading Dave's comment about the rumored behind scene drama, A&E does not have much incentive to keep Longmire on the air with the lower demo this season and Warner Brothers is getting most of the profits. Something will have to change. Hopefully, Craig Johnson is looking for another network to pick up Longmire as a back up plan.

I don't agree that Branch deserved to kill or arrest Ridges. Branch got entangled with Ridges because of his politically corrupt relationship with Nighthorse. Ridges' only live victim who deserves justice is Cady. She was seriously injured because Ridges, Nighthorse, and Branch's actions.
Edward A. Grainger
23. EdwardAGrainger
Penny, That was Ferg's first real encounter with power, he's learning, and hopefully will have a little more intestinal fortitude next time. Very good point about Cady but I'm totally invested with Branch's takedown of Ridges. But then, in the real world, he needs a doctor's help and removed from duty. And, yes, Dave's report from Longmire Days is very sobering but rest assured Longmire on film will endure. Way too popular to die.
24. Mates
I don't have DVR (or HDTV) to play it back, Edward, and was fairly sure that was David Ridges killed on first viewing. Do you think it was filmed deliberately like that to confuse and set up more of a surprise for the finale?
Edward A. Grainger
25. EdwardAGrainger
Mates, I have no way of knowing, for sure, but I don't believe it was deliberate on the filmmakers part. But if Ridges is alive then there will be qute a few surprised viewers next week and that's always a good thing in terms of continuing interest. Maybe.
26. PamelaLadypn
Have to disagree with a theory I see posted here. No way the white warrior shown dead at the end of the episode is Sam Poteet. Here's a pic of the actor, Hank Cheyne...he looks nothing like the dead white warrior. I believe it was David Ridges.
Edward A. Grainger
27. EdwardAGrainger
PamelaLadypn, And the preview for next week
http://www.aetv.com/longmire/video/preview-ashes-to-ashes (unless they are being misleading) sure does look like Ridges is history. Well, at least I don't have to rewrite my post here ;)
snow dog
28. snowdogmom
PamelaLadypn, I'm now not sure who Walt killed. I really thought it was Poteet orginally. I was trying to tell by the mouth since I tought David's mouth is rather distinctive. I don't think it's at all obvious since with the white makeup on to me it's hard to tell the difference between Hank Cheyne (Poteet) and David Midthunder (Ridges). The long hair would lead people to believe it was Ridges. I've replayed parts of the episode multiple times with them out of makeup and then the ending in makeup. We'll see next week. Personnally I would like the plot twist if it was Poteet. The preview does lead us to believe Ridges is history but as we know the previews can be misleading.
29. Pamela Ladypn
snowdogmom I know! I did the same! I vacsilated back and forth...its Poteet, no its Ridges... LOL. But after looking up Hank's pic...AND reviewing the behind the scenes photo I have of David Midthunder (Ridges) in white warrior costume, I am certain its Ridges!
Simone Smith
30. Penny
It was Ridges in the white make up at the end. Now it was obviously a stunt man on the horse which might have added to the confusion.

I think that Poteet as person who attacked Walt would be a disappointing plot twist. This convoluted conspiracy to make Walt suffer by killing his wife is already hard too believe, it would be even more unbelievable that all these people are taking turns attempting to kill him and Branch.
Dave Gershen
31. Dave Gershen
There is one detail that's troubling me. Walt goes into the trailer to get Ridges, who isn't there, and in fact hijacks the sheriff's car. A minute or two later Ridges is in full White Warrior regalia on a horse coming down the hill. Was he in full dress when he jumped in the car, with a horse waiting up the hill? Or is he really a shape-shifter? (or just maybe there ARE two characters involved, Poteet and Ridges. Help!?!
Edward A. Grainger
32. EdwardAGrainger
Sarah Nicole Jones answered me on Twitter
https://twitter.com/CashLaramie that indeed it was David Ridges. Plus the LongmirePosse had a behind the scenes photo of the actor playing Ridges that I retweeted.
Edward A. Grainger
33. EdwardAGrainger
Btw I'm chuckling BIG time now on how back and forth (yes wishy-washy is the better phrase) I have been on the whole was it David Ridges or not issue. My better and MUCH smarter half reminded me that she said it was Ridges from the start. We had his picture frozen on screen and I was disagreeing with her and my original post! Ha. Too funny.
Simone Smith
34. Penny
Good that Ridges' identity has been confirmed by the show ending the debate.

Edward, this is a good reminder that you should always defer to your better half. :)

Dave, I came away thinking that there was someone at the trailer helping Ridges set the trap for Walt. This person drove the truck away and then, Ridges went after Walt. The time between these two events were too quick for Ridges to drive the truck and then jump on the horse. Alternatively, it could just be the way that the scene was filmed.

What I don't undertand is what is Ridges' motivation to kill Branch, then Hector and now Walt? Nighthorse's story about Ridges' unstability did not ring true.
Dave Gershen
35. Dave Gershen
All I remember re: Ridges' motivation to kill Branch was a comment from Walt in an earlier episode where he postulated that it may have been to send a message to Branch's father. Nighthorse is still not to be trusted, and I still believe that Malachi is pulling everyone's strings.
36. samanthajane
Anyone ever consider that Lizzie may be involved in the death of Walt's wife? You never know, it's usually the one you don't expect
Edward A. Grainger
37. EdwardAGrainger
Lizzie Ambrose. Nope hadn't thought in that direction, Samantha. That would be a definite surprise.
38. samanthajane
With the focus being on all the bad guys that have it out for Walt, I thought it would be interesting that a woman could be involved. We shall see!!
Edward A. Grainger
39. EdwardAGrainger
I think its a terrific suggestion and next Monday can't come soon enough.
40. darci
OK so I admit I had no idea if Walt indeed killed Ridges at the end so I had to do a bunch of online sleuthing, but I think now that Ridges is dead for sure, right? I thought it was kind of unnecesarily ambiguous but that's just my two cents.

On a side note, I loved hearing "Beacon" by Fellow Bohemian when Walt and Vic confront Nighthorse at the Casino about Ridges. It's got that Black Keys kinda vibe I can actually imagine Walt listening to that in real life.
Edward A. Grainger
41. EdwardAGrainger
darci, I contacted Sarah Nicole Jones (who wrote the episode) via Twitter and her answer was, "it was indeed ridges. Next weeks episode will answer a lot of questions." Perhaps the makeup was applied different? I'm not sure but it did confuse a number of viewers. And, yes, terrific music!
42. Victor
Nice write up. I'm surprised you didn't touch on the interaction between Walt, Vic, and the divorce papers. I still hold out hope this relationship does not go to an open romance. You are spot on on feeling like Branch running out of gas with this episode. I get Branch missing his target on the bridge scene, but Walt not even hitting the damn horse had me yelling at the TV at the final scene.
snow dog
43. snowdogmom
Victor, Walt hit Ridges in the let upper chest. He was bleeding before he jumped off the horse onto Walt. Apparently a lot of viewers missed it. Walt would not want to kill the horse and I assume he knew David would try to Count Coup, touch him 3 times before killing him. David was swinging his rifle more than shooting it. Thats my take on it anyway.
Edward A. Grainger
44. EdwardAGrainger
Victor, You gave me a flashback to one of my first Cash Laramie short stories. I had two horses shot out from under the outlaw marshal and a villain named Kid Eddie. I had chunks of horse flying everywhere. A fellow Western writer said I'd be getting some hate mail. Yep. Sure enough. First letter started out, "How could you..." Yeah, I'm sure many folks in Walt's position would have hit the horse either accidentally or on purpose.
Post a comment