This last season of Longmire is pulling out all the stops, resulting in unexpected twists, turns, and drop-offs—literally, in this case, toward the end of the episode. It all begins with Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) on the first day of his trial and the verbal castration he takes from lawyer Tucker Baggett (Brett Rice). Even Lucian Connolly (Peter Weller), who’s on Walt’s side, said if he was on the jury he would vote to convict.
Overcome with very real chances of losing not just his job but his property, Walt has legal papers drawn to turn his ranch and land over to his daughter, Cady (Cassidy Freeman). He also asks her not to support him by showing up at the courthouse because he doesn’t want her to see him this unhinged.
After a night of drinking straight whiskey at The Red Pony, Longmire gets a call from Officer Mathias (Zahn McClarnon) asking him to come to the reservation where the corpse of Tucker Baggett has been found shot to death. Suspects everywhere, beside himself, include: Vic (Kate Sackhoff), who went on a long drive alone; Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips), who borrowed Walt’s vehicle while he was drunk; Alex (Barlow Connolly’s ex); and someone named Allen O’ Brien, who was listed in Baggett’s schedule planner.
Mayor Sawyer (Eric Ladin) pulls up in his chauffeured car (Absaroka County must be doing quite well) asking for Longmire’s resignation. Walt refuses, though it’s clear the screws are tightening, and Robert Taylor does a superb job of portraying the sheriff operating at a disadvantage.
Lucian is named the executor of his brother’s estate. He tells Longmire that he will no longer pursue the civil suit, but Walt dissuades him, noting it could appear as collusion. Good, level-headed point.
Though I’m often at odds with his questionable police tactics, Walt makes the right decision in taking Ferg to the late Tucker Baggett’s house to look for clues. They discover Baggett was shot in his chair and transported to the reservation. No bullet is found in the upholstery of the chair, proving the culprit is covering bases. Cumberland County Sheriff Jim Wilkins (Tom Wopat) interrupts their search and frisks them, having been appointed by Sawyer to temporarily take over Longmire’s duties while the trial is underway.
Of course, Longmire continues looking for a motive, beginning with Vic about a missing bullet from her gun. Turns out the night Tucker Baggett was killed, she was on a harrowing journey of her own that took her to a very emotional precipice. She had stopped at a campground where she fixated on a happy family laughing and holding hands. Gutted by what could have been, she loaded a single bullet into her gun and went into the woods. She placed the weapon to her head, crying, trembling, preparing to alleviate her tortured mind. Of course, she didn’t go through with it since she’s talking to Walt, but holy hell, was that scene powerful or what? She had ejected the round, accounting for the missing bullet, and a stunned Longmire says after hearing her story, “… you can never, ever do anything like that again. You promise me.”
In a moment of amazing deductive reasoning, Longmire takes Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry off his bookshelf (astute Western enthusiasts may have been ahead of Longmire on solving the murder of Tucker Baggett). He turns to a page featuring a minor character named Allen O’ Brien. Bingo! Lucian had given him the classic years before, and since all the real-life Allen O’Brien’s were dead ends, Longmire confronts the former sheriff. Lucian deadpans, “I didn’t consider there would be a man of literature on the case.”
In a flashback, we witness Lucian approaching Tucker Baggett to appeal to his humanity in dropping the case against Walt. Baggett infuriates Lucian by justifying his reason for pursuing the case as, “Well, because I can.” As Baggett laughs, Lucian squeezes off a round, drilling the pompous lawyer in the chest. He then recovers the slug and dumps the body on the Reservation.
Lucian won’t allow Longmire to place him in cuffs and heads outside where he forces a duel, drawing on Longmire. But neither wants to kill the other: Longmire gets shot in the thigh, and Lucian in the hand. Lucian waxes poetic, quoting Allen O’Brien from Lonesome Dove, “This goddamn country has burned up my tears.”
He asks Longmire to “finish it,” but Longmire refuses, so Lucian makes a mad dash for a nearby cliff and jumps. At the rocky bottom, Longmire cradles his dying mentor. He asks why Lucian is smiling, who weakly responds, “I didn’t think nobody’d ever come to my funeral.” This taut, suspenseful story closes with Longmire telling him, “I wouldn’t miss it, you bastard.”
David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.