Mayor Sawyer Crane (Eric Ladin) is accompanying Dan Keslow, CEO of a pharmaceutical company, on a hunting trip with the dual purpose of sweet-talking the businessman into moving his company to the area for an influx of needed jobs. Keslow says he won’t consider the change of locale because of Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), who he views as antidevelopment and bad for business. Adding to Tip O’Neill’s old chestnut, “All politics is local,” it gets down and dirty in Absaroka County because Sawyer almost immediately implies that Longmire won’t be around for long due to an impending civil lawsuit. Soon after, it seems everyone Walt bumps into knows that the estate of Barlow Connolly is gearing up to sue him.
However, Longmire’s help is needed when Keslow disappears on the trip and a fellow hunter is tranquilized and duct-taped to a tree. One of the main suspects is Pyper Callans (Debra Christofferson), an expert on Wyoming wolves who couldn’t care less whether Keslow is missing. She clarifies the intriguing title of the episode: Years before, Keslow placed a tracking collar on a wolf and turned it loose. When the animal returned to its pack, Keslow wiped them out from a helicopter with a high-powered rifle. When the collared wolf moved on to another pack, he continued killing the next group as well.
Other suspects include Cara Fillmore (Shannon Lucio), who tested one of Keslow’s experimental drugs and now blames her child’s cerebral palsy on the clinical trials. Cara’s husband is also a hunter and just happens to be on a hunting trip, but she vehemently denies he could ever do anything so heinous.
Got to give the show a lot of credit this season for crafting so many possible suspects and then providing an ending involving a stolen kidney that was totally unexpected. The way Walt solved the case while taking a leak was also inspired.
One of the saddest storylines of the episode is the plight of fourteen-year-old Mingan Pine (Jovani Heng), whose father overdosed on heroin and is now alone. Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) gives him a medicine bag for encouragement, then later talks to Cady Longmire (Cassidy Freeman) about the possibility of adoption. But it’s not meant to be; Mathias (Zahn McClarnon) later finds the distraught boy’s body hanging from a tree—a suicide. Both men weep as Henry helplessly holds the body up.
Mathias, in anguish, seethes, “Nothing ever changes! How am I supposed to protect them?!” He then fires his sidearm into the tree out of frustration. As a father, I joined them in tearing up over the senseless loss of a young life.
When Henry tells Mathias there is another way to handle Joey Takoda (Alex Livinalli), who is responsible for selling heroin on the Res, I had two quick assumptions: Mathias was going to take over the cloak of Hector and handle the situation himself, or Henry was going to pull a Thomas Magnum “Did You See the Sunrise” justifiable retribution homicide. The latter would have disappointed me—it would have been too out of character. Instead, in a clever move, Henry, dressed as Hector, burns the entire heroin stash in front of Takoda, who screams, “They will kill me!” Very rewarding finish, though I suspect “Hector” may not be done with the drug flow on the Res.
- I didn’t really buy Walt shaming his daughter by saying, “So you’re choosing Nighthorse over me.” Cady (Cassidy Freeman) ignores him, and rightfully so, because she just got done explaining she couldn’t represent him in his civil lawsuit because it would scream of cronyism.
- Doc Weston (Scott Michael Campbell) sounds like a real ass implying Walt should retire. Has Sawyer gotten to him and encouraged the sawbones to plant a seed in Walt’s mind that he is past his prime? He acted like a real putz later on when he was worried that the mayor would know he’s running costly tests for Walt as a favor.
- The Ferg (Adam Bartley) taking flowers to the hospital for Meg Joyce (Mary Wiseman) and reacting in embarrassment to Vic noticing he’s wearing cologne was a fun moment—here’s hoping Ferg gets more screen time with this amusing love connection.
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.