Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) begins the sixth and final season farther behind the 8-ball than any other time in the show’s five-year history—and that’s saying a lot for this sheriff. Currently, he has a wrongful death suit pending against him, orchestrated by a conglomerate of local businessmen and politicians who are all bolstered by their own greedy interests. And he has only made it easier for them since each and every time he went gathering evidence, he essentially ignored many basic citizens’ rights.
But Walt’s biggest challenge comes halfway through the episode when he discovers that Henry Standing Bear’s (Lou Diamond Phillips) truck has been found overturned and Henry has gone missing. Taken by Malachi (Graham Greene)—partly as payback for scarring his face with a knife—Henry is tied up on the Crow reservation under the scorching hot sun where Malachi and his goon squad leave him to die, but not without taunting him with refreshing bottles of water.
Cady Longmire (Cassidy Freeman) has been having visions of Henry hanging from a noose, and she finally contacts her dad, who drops all that he’s doing to search for his best friend. It’s an inopportune time because “Wild Bill” has struck again at a local bank.
Walt turns the investigation over to Victoria “Vic” Moretti (Katee Sackhoff), who seems a bit unsure of whether she is up for the challenge. Fans of creator Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire mysteries knows that she is more than capable, and considering Walt’s proclivity for Dirty Harry tactics, she is probably preferable. She gets support from fellow deputy Ferg, who is at a crossroads in life himself.
Ferg (Adam Bartly) has fallen heads over tail for Meg (Mary Wiseman), a nurse at the hospital where a witness to the bank robbery is recovering. The patient has been drugged up to relieve the pain, and Ferg asks his girlfriend to report any possible mutterings that would help them solve the case—actually, Vic is guilting him into doing it for Walt’s sake. The shooting has made the national news, and the mayor is using it as another reason to drive a stake into the heart of Walt’s career. Meg is rightfully annoyed at Ferg’s unethical request, for which he apologizes in some silly, Kindergarten dramatics.
The real show is happening back at the Crow reservation where the mysterious Marilyn shows up and blows Henry’s tormentors away. She leaves Henry tied up, telling him, “I decided to leave it up to the spirits.” I shouted at the screen, “Thanks for nothing, woman.” Her rationale is that she’s not 100% sure he’s a good man—one who has “the pure heart of a righteous warrior.”
Later, Walt seeks Marilyn’s help. After giving her a wad of cash for her assistance, she leads him to where she left Henry, who has since managed to get away by pulling the stakes out of the ground after a rainfall had loosened the earth. Good plot direction; otherwise, it would have been the “Lone Ranger” to the rescue, and that would have been unsatisfying.
They find Henry some stretch away, but Marilyn splits with the water, leaving Walt the job of dragging his friend on the long hike back to the vehicle. In an incredulously stupid move, he reaches into a cluster of rocks looking for water and gets bit by a rattler.
The writers didn’t draw out this storyline further; Walt gets Henry to his vehicle and to the hospital. Smart plotting because there’s enough meat with all of Walt’s other tribulations for these final episodes.
Was it worth the wait from Season 5’s cliffhanger? Yeah, not that bad. Lou Diamond Phillips deserves recognition for his performance, and I liked seeing MVP Ms. Sackoff in charge. Whether she’s delivering charged dialogue to supercilious Mayor Sawyer (Eric Ladin), telling Ferg which end is up, or silently anguished by her relationship with Walt, she’s an actor who makes every scene better.
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.