Longmire 4.03: “High Noon”

Walt doesn’t look like he fancies meeting Barlow Connally playing Martha’s piano.
High Noon indeed. This episode started slow, but made it to a big-bang finish, with no one willing to believe in our hero anywhere along the way. Looking suspicious through most of the episode, Longmire is so determined to bring Jacob Nighthorse (A Martinez) down for Branch’s murder (as well as Martha’s) that he seems willing to go to extreme lengths while overlooking several obvious clues in this episode.

When Longmire tells Barlow Connolly (Gerald McRaney) that he’s convinced Branch was murdered, he feels he’s found a kindred spirit. Barlow aligns himself by bringing up examples of Nighthorse’s unscrupulous practices. Of course, Longmire wants to believe the worst of Nighthorse and is easily steered by Barlow. But when Longmire requests a warrant to search Nighthorse’s property, Judge Mayhew (Ralph Alderman) turns him down and rightfully chastises him for deputizing his best friend, Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips). I agree with His Honor that Longmire was moving a bit too fast and messily.

Meanwhile, Cady Longmire (Cassidy Freeman) gets an unbelievably sweet offer ($175,000) to work for a law firm, but as soon as she starts, she discovers the firm is suing Barlow Connolly for breach of contract while representing Nighthorse’s Big Pines Timber. She’s confused as to why and wonders what business they would have together. She quits the job, but not before being threatened by her boss that if she breaks the confidentiality agreement she signed when hired, she will be sued. And she’s learned some heavy, incriminating evidence against Nighthorse.

One of my favorite characters, Sheriff Mathias (Zahn McClarnon), has a cameo, showing up to examine Longmire’s guns, telling him someone fired off two .30-caliber rounds at Nighthorse at his home. When Longmire refuses to allow it, Mathias, having no jurisdiction, says he’ll contact the feds. Nighthorse immediately holds a press conference to smear Longmire—and by now, it seems a couple of Longmire’s own people are beginning to lose their faith in their boss, especially Vic (Katee Sackhoff). She tells Longmire that she doesn’t want to cover for him, believing he possibly fired the gun with the idea that it would give him the legal right to search Nighthorse’s house and grounds, thereby finally proving he killed Branch.

Regardless whether Longmire fired the shots or not, he takes advantage and goes with Vic to search the area. When Vic finds an empty, crushed can of Rainier beer (Longmire’s favorite) at the most logical spot where the shooter would have stood, she’s full of doubt. Gotta say, I don’t buy Vic saying first she believes Walt probably shot at Nighthorse and then turning around later to tell Walt she’d lie for him as long as he doesn’t keep secrets from her. Really?! She would lie for him over attempted murder?

All the threads begin coming together after learning that the soil samples from Nighthorse’s property don’t match the dirt in the shell. They're a totally different mineral composition. And there were no traces of blood, lead, or gunpowder. And to top it all off, Nighthorse has the alibi having traveled east to Foxwoods Casino. Walt jokes that Nighthorse has a better alibi for killing Branch than Longmire has during the shooting at Nighthorse. When Vic doesn’t laugh, he says with a chuckle, “Too soon?” I chuckled though.

Without a doubt, the best scene was saved for last: the confrontation. Longmire arrives home to finds Barlow there under the pretense that he’s going to confess to Longmire about shooting at Nighthorse. But by then, Longmire is one up on Barlow, finally realizing that the savvy businessman killed his own son. And in one of the most intense and well-acted scenes of this series, Barlow admits to giving the order to murder Martha Longmire. The look of building hatred in actor Robert Taylor’s expression and Gerald McRaney’s smug, condescending delivery were equally balanced. Barlow cold-heartedly “justifies” Martha's death by saying she had cancer and wouldn’t have lived long anyway.

Guns are drawn, but Barlow’s has no bullets, and Longmire shoots the man point-blank in the stomach. It’s amazing how Barlow's trying to frame Longmire to the bitter end. . . and how quickly he comes up with new schemes. Longmire drags Barlow out of the house to take him to the hospital. Barlow struggles, pulls out a knife, and stabs himself twice in the gut. Barlow’s last snarky words are “Good luck explaining this one.” The tremendous scene is slightly marred by Longmire pulling the knife out of Barlow’s belly. Why put your fingerprints on the weapon, Walt? Not like it’s going to help a man fifteen seconds away from death. And it will only help build a case against you.

Still, I loved “High Noon,” so big kudos to show developers John Coveny and Hunt Baldwin for continuing to surprise me this late in the game. Didn’t you assume the Barlow storyline would be stretched out over the entire season? I did. Less than halfway through this season, and they are wrapping up previous storylines with the hustle of a racer on the Bonneville Speedway. Can’t wait to see where the next episode, “Four Arrows,” heads.

SEE ALSO: Next episode, Longmire 4.04 “Four Arrows”

Edward A. Grainger aka David Cranmer is the editor/publisher of the BEAT to a PULP webzine and books and the recent Western novella, Hell Town Shootout.

Read all of Edward A. Grainger's posts for Criminal Element.


  1. eh

    Dont know who the LE advisor is on this show but they need a new one. Walt pulling the knife out is a rookie move not one for an experienced sheriff. And Ferg going from screwup to knowing forensics and properly crime scene protocol in a matter of days wouldn’t happen either. Love the show but S4 sure dropped the ball on proper police methods and crime scene handling

  2. David Cranmer

    [b]eh[/b], yeah, I agree with you on the knife. I thought for sure him pulling the blade out of Barlow would play into the next episode (“Four Arrows”) but the FBI cleared him and it never comes up. I don’t see The Ferg quite as a screw-up, though, he has made several rookie mistakes. Something I will mention in a future post is the amount of police force Walt and company uses and whether the audience is ok with their Dirty Harry methods.

  3. Dennis Manor

    The knife thing was apparently done to add suspence. I’m thinking the same thing. It looked like Barlow took the knife from Walt as a way to implicate him. “How are you going to explain this?” Walt pulling it made no sense because he is not the type to hide such things and he knows better. Barlow’s revolver was empty, but Walt had no way of knowing, so the “You shot an unarmed man” thing was a stretch. I thought there would be far more controversy around Barlow’s death, but it looked like they just wanted to wrap up that story line and move on. 13 episodes instead of 10 would have given them time to play that out in a more realistic way.

  4. David Cranmer

    [b]djm[/b], Now that I’ve watched the entire season I can see they definitely wanted to shuffle off all the old plot threads and develop some fresh stories. And the new ones are sharp but damn if I don’t miss Barlow Connolly! Gerald McRaney made a strong heavy. And I’m with you on 13 episodes but think they did amazingly well with ten stretched in some cases to an hour long. Netflix was a huge improvement.

  5. rgray318

    Yeah this episode was awesome and some of the best acting in the series to date. However I came here to complain about the extremely dumb decision to have Walt pull the knife out of Barlow. No Sheriff on this planet at anytime in human history would have ever done something so insanely stupid. If the Sheriff needed him to live he would have immediately picked up his home phone and called 911 and then immediately started normal life saving procedures. Why even bother taking him outside just start cpr or whatever so it looks like you did your duty? Sorry but the knife pulling out of the stomach just ruined the whole story line for me because that’s just not realistic what so ever. Why even bother with such great acting, showing the audience just how smart Walt is just to take the brilliance of the scene away with the single most asinine brain dead stupid move like that? I don’t have enough words to express just how awful I think that decision was. So I will end my rant here.

  6. Blas

    It was walts knife and his prints anyway…

  7. Keith

    Hi. I just discovered your awesome site…thank you! I have a question about High Noon that you might be able to help me with. Just prior to the final confrontation between Walt and Barlow, Walt went to Barlow’s home looking forward him. He entered by reaching through the window Barlow had broken previously. As Walt looks around, the camera pans slowly across the fireplace and pauses on an object in the ashes. I have watched this several times and can’t figure out what the object is, or its significance. Do you have any ideas? The game cameras that Branch has set up to surveil Nighthorse?

    Thanks much!!

    • Damon

      At first I thought it was a bullet, presumably from barlows gun? Not sure though.

    • Goofy

      I have the same question and the Google search led me here. Have you ever received an answer? It appears to be the burnt remains of a round. Primer? Of a shotgun shell? Bullet? Surely not one of the missing #4 shot. Anyway, who shoots trap w/a #4 load?

      • tc

        Right… I believe it was said, “shot in the face with birdshot.” That would be #7.5 or #8, which is what is used primarily for trap or shooting any kind of clay pigeons. #4 is not even allowed for where I shoot.

    • Xpyder

      30-30 she’ll casing. He shot at Nighthorse with the same kind of gun he saw in Walt’s car. Then found out the beer he liked

  8. Marla

    This is the very first Western series I’ve ever watched. So incredibly captivating! I luv it! High Noon was great!

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