Longmire: Episode 2.06 “Tell It Slant” (Rhymes with Rant)

Sheriff Walt and would-be Sheriff Branch debate until the Contrary Warriors show up.This week’s Longmire featured a Contrary Warrior, which is apropos as I’m feeling vaguely contrary about the show myself these days. I’d been hoping the expanded second season would give the writers a bit more room to explore and develop the characters of and relationships between Walt and his own warriors. But as we approach the midway point of the season, I feel a little disgruntled that somehow it still feels like a novelty when we get a scene where two of the main characters interact. For example, this is maybe only the fourth or fifth scene we’ve gotten in sixteen episodes where Vic and Branch have a conversation. Likewise, Ruby and Cady share a scene for what might be the first time. Longmire the show operates in a curious kind of bubble where even Walt’s interactions with everyone don’t really progress much, or give us more insight into the characters. And it’s getting sort of frustrating.

There’s been a lot of tease on this show so far, without much real answers or resolution. I know it’s a slow burn, but we’re just getting to the debate for an election that’s been talked about for a season and a half—-and it lasts for about 10 pretty interesting minutes before it’s derailed by a prank tying in to the ultimately inconsequential mystery of the week.

The emphasis on the weekly mysteries is sadly robbing the show of some of its depth and ability to be serially compelling.

This episode’s case—about the murder of a psychic—detracts from the potentially more interesting power dynamics between Branch, his dad (the terribly wonderful Gerald McRaney), Jacob Nighthorse, and Walt. Unfortunately, I have to say “potentially,” because their many scenes fall short of truly interesting, since we don’t really learn anything new in ANY of these scenes.

Branch is still a good guy making some bad decisions while he tries to stand up to his bullying blowhard father and the ominously shady Nighthorse. Walt is still treating Branch like something on the bottom of his shoe instead of a deputy. Vic is still annoyed for no particularly good reason (and this week, she has a sympathetic diatribe on behalf of the murder victim that seemed awfully uncharacteristic and had me thinking “Oh, Vic in the books would never…”). Ferg is still being Ferg, and coming up with what seems like a good clue, but turns out to be nothing. Even Walt and Cady’s relationship, the one that has by far the most heart and gravitas, seems to be stuck on pause, something fittingly and metaphorically demonstrated by the final scene, where Cady LITERALLY pauses a tape they find in the psychic’s cabin where she was about to reveal Walt’s “future” to his (then-living) wife during a consultation.

The thing that’s most frustrating here is that the characters on Longmire are unique and interesting, and the cast is all-around excellent, but without any forward momentum and actual story arcs that have a lasting effect and enact change in the characters, they just keep having to play the same beats over and over. At this point, I’m rooting for Walt to lose the election just so the show is forcibly shaken out of its comfort zone. I’d really like the chance to be surprised by our characters, rather than just by the red herrings of the week.

That being said, I suspect the six million-plus viewers the show pulls in are perfectly content to get an interesting mystery with local color and a few fun wisecracks from our familiar Absaroka faces each week. Like the sheriff himself, they’re probably content to find out “soon enough” what the future holds for him. But I still can’t help but wonder if the show will eventually evolve into something more of a serial drama and less of a CBS procedural. Until then, I’ll just be over here, riding backwards on my horse.

Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and Internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.

Read all Tara Gelsomino’s posts for Criminal Element.


  1. TrishZ

    Okay, I am so glad someone said it cause this season has been very frustrating so far. At first, I was like maybe I am not enjoying the show as much this season because I binge watched the first eight episodes of last season in like a day or two and maybe watching it one episode at a time is quelling the magic but your review makes me realize that I am not crazy. This season, everything is a tease, never going anywhere tangible, always skimming never actually dipping. Look, I still like the show, it is better many things on TV but at this pace, it may go from must watch TV to something else. A good show knows never to reveal all it’s secrets at once but it also knows how to hold the viewer’s attention without resorting to a “crime of the week” approach.

  2. caite fitzgerald

    I think the ability too really develop the characters is on difference between TV/movies and books.
    Still, I like a mystery a week, with some character development, not a soap opera of people without the mystery. If I want more, I will read the books. And I might anyhoo, if my TBR pile was not reaching the ceiling.

  3. Veronica Gorton

    Hi Tara,

    Love all your columns! I enjoy Longmire and your views. I agree with you that it sometimes isn’t all that thrilling, but it’s still a good show. And I love the cast! Keep up the great work and I’ll keep reading! 🙂

  4. Mary Saputo

    You know, if American politics are any basis for who will be elected, Walt will still be sheriff because people vote for the name they know rather than the best for the job. Of course, in a small town like this, people probably know both men and can make an informed decision. Telling to see Branch hide behind the podium while Walt just walked up to the crazy. That alone – to me – would make my decision.

  5. Tara Gelsomino

    @TrishZ – Glad I’m not alone. I like so many parts of the show so much, an I understand that it is mostly a procedural show and will stay that way. But this week really brought it home for me that even when they get the ratio/amount/balance right between the procedural stuff and the character stuff, those character moments still need a little more depth and surprises and momentum! They have all the pieces but I just want to see it all have more connection and come together as a SERIES.

    @Caite – I think some series allow for just as much or more character development than books can–but those are usually more heavily serialized than a show like Longmire. Also the TV characters, with the exception of Henry, strike me as quite different people than their book counterparts. Walt and Vic especially.

    @Veronica – That’s so nice of you! I’m glad you’re enjoying them. I still enjoy the show too and I’ll be watching every week, though it’s hard to come up with things to say sometimes when they retread a lot of old ground.

    @bitsy08 – I don’t think there’s any question that Walt will be re-elected, but maybe they’ll have some other surprises in store for us on election day (aside from the outcome).

  6. Sharon H

    So, why in the debate isn’t Longmire wearing his Khaki’s? Just before the debate he was in his khaki uniform, then he shows up at the debate in jeans and blue shirt. I suppose a decision was made to have the contrast between the two, but it was confusing. Such a big deal was made out of him wearing the khaki uniform, he was in the uniform, then wasn’t. Did I miss a scene where something got spilled on it or what? Continuity, please! Other than some details like this, I love the show.

    • bgn

      This is way late but the scene you missed was when Jacob Nighthorse came to Walt’s office about another matter and as he left he told Walt he liked his uniform and that it made Walt look like a man worth voting for. So of course Walt changed clothes for the debate.

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