Longmire: 3.04 “In the Pines” With So Little Time

Branch is driven…possibly nuts.
So many storylines, so little time. That’s what I was thinking while I watched ace writers Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny juggle Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), tasked with clearing Henry Standing Bear; the return of Vic’s (Katee Sackhoff) stalker and ex-lover; Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) breaking rules to find David Ridges; and a standalone plotline of a possible lone psycho-killer targeting kids in the wilderness. And they almost pulled it off in this fast paced episode.

In last week’s “Miss Cheyenne,” Branch discovered word of mouth evidence that David Ridges could still be alive after questioning a Rez clinic attendant. “In the Pines” opens in a surreal way with Branch (a determined look in his eyes) stalking about in the woods, killing a rabbit, making a fire pit, cutting off a chunk of his hair, slitting his forearm for a bloodletting, and then setting it all afire with lighter fluid. Freaky-strange at first, until we later learn Dr. Weston has informed Longmire that the test results will be in soon. Confused, Longmire asks what test, to which, Weston replies the samples of hair and ash that Branch brought in. Longmire confronts Branch, and Branch explains that he submitted his own samples of hair and ash in order to prove the DNA results can be positive for a dead man who’s actually alive.

Walt and one of the Bighorn Horizons kids camping out with the sheriff. /Photo: Ursula Coyote for A&E
The main plot revolves around several young adults in a wilderness program possibly being hunted by a killer. The group leader is found dead from a blow to the head (and with a pen in his neck from an impromptu tracheotomy by one of the program participants), and a young woman is discovered lying face-down at the bottom of the cliff. In a rather tepid action scene, Longmire rappels down the rocky cliff using rope and handcuffs, sees she’s alive, and so, he pulls her up onto his back, wraps her arms around his neck, cuffing her wrists together. Then he begins the trek back up the cliff with her. I was watching the show with friends, who told the big screen, “They must have a rescue helicopter. You’re not supposed to move someone who’s fallen like that.” I only added as an explanation, “Well, you know, it’s Absaroka County.” Later, when the killer is revealed to be one of the program founders, it just didn’t have the emotional impact of last week’s “Miss Cheyenne,” which also involved Longmire pulling a full confession from a killer alone in the dark. Not really that bad, but in a series that normally soars over routine revelations, this was average.

Finally, Ed Gorsky returns—well, kinda-sorta. A picture of Longmire and Vic at the motel (part of the case that took them to Arizona) is sent to Vic’s husband, Sean Moretti (Michael Mosley). He goes to Longmire under the guise of requesting a restraining order, suspecting that Gorsky sent the picture, but really, he wants to know if Vic and Longmire are having an affair. The sheriff sets him straight, but Sean’s still not satisfied. In an emotional scene, later Vic tells Sean that nothing is going on between her and Longmire. Then Sean conveys what bothers him about the photo: Vic looks happier in the pic with Longmire than she does in their matrimonial life. Then he walks out. Powerful and moving. Vic reveals to Longmire that the photo did indeed come from Gorsky, and she knows because of the writing on the back of the photo. It was an apartment number where they used to meet for their illicit affair.

Would she leave Absaroka? At this point, could she?

Feeling confined, Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) heads out for a walk down the road, but when his ankle bracelet beeps, he turns around. Still, the authorities alert the Sheriff’s Office, and Branch goes to check on Henry. In the patrol car, Branch sets Henry straight, not only on the rules of suspects on bail, but also to the fact that he posted $100,000 of the bail money. Branch’s purpose is to pump Henry for information on peyote dealers in the area. Henry refuses at first, but then gives some help. Later at the Red Pony, Branch is meeting with a man, and when he goes to pay for the drinks, Henry says to Branch that he believes he has already paid. In the final scene, a rogue Branch, with the help of his bar buddy (who seems confused by the unfolding situation), kidnaps a drug dealer as the man returns to his home.

Branch and his accomplices, one willing and aware, the other…? / Photo: Ursula Coyote for A&E

An entertaining episode, not so much for the main action on the field as for all the sticky situations happening in the bleachers that are building up to a clattering din. Oh, I’m looking forward to what follows.

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.


  1. randal120

    Randy Johnson here,

    A lot of juggling in this one for an hour episode(more like forty-five or so of actual story). Enjoyable though.

    I had the same thought when Walt is moving the fall victim. In real life, that could be worse damage. Television though.

    Might like them to concentrate on the main story more. At this rate, it won’t be resolved on this season’s run.

  2. David Cranmer

    I’m guessing here, Randy, but I see the David Ridges and stalker storylines wrapped up this year but Henry and Longmire’s search for the true killer being stretched another season.

  3. Snowdogmom

    I fear your right Edward about the search for Walt’s wife’s killer going into S4 but I wish they would wrap that up this season. 3 years is enough and I want it resolved so we can see where they take Walt. Vic’s stalker has only been last season and this so if they had to stretch anything would rather see that go into season 4 even though I really don’t like the whole Ed Gorsky arc.

  4. David Cranmer

    Snowdogmom, I may agree with you that the Gorsky arc is getting a little long in the tooth (and I’m sure we don’t need anymore flashbacks) but it was compelling to see Sean’s interaction with Vic and the acknowledgement that their marriage is probably over. Strong scene from both actors.

  5. John M. Whalen

    Is it the attention deficit disorder that afflicts most of the population since cell phones and facebook have become a national addiction that is responsible for this constant flitting from plot to subplot to minsubplot to vignette in a TV series? Seems there”s an inability to follow a single storyline. Are the writers unable to develop a single idea or theme for 45 minutes? Take a look at DVDs of Naked City or Route 66 from the Silver Age of TV. Writers like Stirling Silliphant and Howard Rodman accomplished the amazing feat of telling a complete story based on one or two (at most) plot ideas in every 53 minute episode. And in those years a season lasted for 39 episodes. As good as Longmire may be, I for one simply can’t watch shows with this format, which is basically the format of a soap opera. Just when I get interested in one character’s set of problems, my attention is interrupted, when the story starts to follow another character with a different problem. But I guess most viewers don’t mind it. They’re probably busy texting or tweeting or gaming while watching and not really paying attention anyway. And then, if they do find they missed something, they can watch the DVR later. Crazy.

  6. snow dog

    John Whalen, I for one am not one that texts, tweets or games while watching Longmire. The fact that the writers intertwine several characters backstories with the crime of the week is one of the things I love about Longmire. You have to actually watch and pay attention in order to not miss clues that are planted throughout that will have meaning as the story lines proceed. I like that Longmire is not mindless entertainment like all these fake so called reality and competition shows but a series of mysteries that makes you think. A crime of the week and nothing else with nothing to make you interested in the main characters would be boring. I don’t think Longmire is at all like a soap opera if it was I wouldn’t be watching it as I hate soap operas.

  7. David Cranmer

    John, Week after week, Longmire writers deliver one of the finest shows on television and balance multiple plots quite well and I have no such issues following the threads. I just felt that the simmering plotlines on the side (David Ridges/Henry’s plight) overshadowed the standalone this week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *