Sunday, July 19, 2015

LONGMIRE | Thoughts | S.1 | Eps. 1-5

A periodic post recording my ever so slightly obsessive watching of Longmire
Once, maybe twice a year, I discover a new TV show that sucks me into its world so thoroughly I have trouble letting it go.  This year that show is Longmire.  It's basically a crime procedural/mystery show but instead of taking place in a big city with all the latest forensic technology (that doesn't actually exist in the real world) at the investigator's fingertips, it follows a Sheriff and his deputies keeping the peace in a rural county of Wyoming.  The sheriff, Walt Longmire is old school and thinks that technology can often be a distraction.  He's been sheriff for many years at the point the show starts and is at a bit of a turning point in his life.  The crimes they investigate are unique as this is Wyoming and the wild west doesn't seem all that far in the past.  It's a world of treacherous weather, mountain wilderness, Native Americans, and lots and lots of firearms.  It's glorious and I don't know why it took me so long to start watching.

Season one is pretty awesome, right off the bat.  The personal drama in this season is kept mostly secondary and it follows the familiar formula of a new crime or mystery to investigate each episode.  The mysteries and Walt's approaches to resolving them are unique.  There are also a couple of more long term storylines; one involving the death of Walt's wife and the other the next sheriff's election in which one of his deputies is running against him.  The show definitely revolves around Walt but there is also a nice ensemble cast supporting him:
  • His best friend Henry Standing Bear, a Cheyenne who frequently has a different perspective than Walt and provides him help during the most difficult cases.  His bar, The Red Pony, is a frequent setting.
  • His daughter Cady Longmire, a twenty-something lawyer in town whose main role in this first season is to worry about her dad.
  • His longtime secretary and jane of all trades Ruby who keeps his life in order.
  • His newest deputy Vic Moretti, a hot-tempered new arrival from Philadelphia who is having trouble adjusting to rural Wyoming law enforcement but never-the-less is a talented investigator.  Her relationship with Walt is one of the more interesting things to watch as it develops across the three seasons.
  • His most senior Deputy Branch Connally, the cocky and slightly smarmy son of a local wealthy businessman.  Branch is not a bad guy and he's a good investigator but he has been somewhat damaged by his upbringing by a domineering father.  Branch is running against Walt for sheriff and their relationship is ....strained
  • His deputy Ferg, who is kind of a bumbler who Walt mostly hired as a favor to Ferg's dad.  Ferg is a bit of a joke but he's a good guy and the development of his character is also fun to watch.
Those are the main players but there is also an enjoyable cast of secondary characters: Mathias, the Cheyenne Reservation Police Chief who hates Walt; Barlow Connally, Branch's father;  Lucian Connally, Branch's uncle and the former sheriff; Jacob Nighthorse, an enigmatic figure building a Casino on the Cheyenne reservation; Omar, a big game hunter and firearms expert; Hector, a Cheyenne vigilante plus a few more like Bob the town drunk and Jamie the pizza delivery man/pot dealer/informant.  

The first five episodes mostly serve to introduce the audience to Walt and this cast of characters.  


Episode 1 | Pilot

Short Synopsis: Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County, WY gets his mojo back, after a year of depression, by bringing to justice a very bad guy running a prostitution ring.  He realizes that he does not want his pissant Deputy Branch Connelly to be the next Sheriff. 

Short Review: A pilot has the unenviable job of getting the party started in a way that engages the audience while spitting out a whole truck load of exposition; introducing characters, establishing the "world" in which they operate etc.... This episode does a great job of introducing the viewer to all essential components and even setting up what will be multiple episode arcs, all while presenting a neat little mystery/crime procedural plot.  Grade: B+

Random Thoughts:
  • Things established
    • Walt is currently a battered and somewhat beaten down  middle aged guy, mourning his wife who's been dead a year.  He has her ashes in a wooden tea box in the kitchen.
    • Vic is a feisty woman with little respect for or fear of authority, who started working as a deputy in Absaroka County 6 months ago after moving from Philly.
    • Branch is smarmy and cocky and Walt does not like him very much.  He's not a bad cop however.
    • Ruby and Walt have worked together a while and she essentially runs his life.
    • Ferg's a grunt worker. 
    • Branch Connally is running for sheriff against Walt and hasn't told him.
    • Omar's an unofficial firearms expert who has worked with Walt many times before.
    • Walt and the Cheyenne Reservation Police are not on good terms because Walt arrested their Police Chief for extortion.
    • Henry is a Cheyenne and a good friend of Walt's.  He works at a bar.  
    • Cady is Walt's daughter who is living nearby mostly because she is concerned for him.
    • Law enforcement in primarily rural Wyoming county has a very unique flair that isn't too far removed from the frontier era.  This is going to be much grittier and more visceral then what we're used to in other crime procedurals.
  • Walt actually has a great sense of humor but he's pretty dry with it.  He manages to be funny and grim at the same time.
  • Walt's (Robert Taylor's) smile completely transforms his appearance, mostly for  the better.  Too bad Walt is a generally taciturn character (though see the above).
  • "One dead body's enough" said with an appreciative smile by Walt when Branch suggests he should head out to where Vic is and apologize for her having to pick up his slack.
  • The first time through watching this I thought Robert Taylor/Walt only had moments of attractiveness.  On the fourth run through I think he's one of the handsomest, most attractive men ever.  What getting to know someone can do:).  It's all about the character
  • We meet Omar before Henry...interesting.   
  • OIT = Old Indian Trick. In this case it appears to be, show up REALLY early.   
  • Walt gambling and using the 5 second firing delay on the older gun to his advantage is gutsy and awesome.
  • The end with Walt putting up his own campaign sign is the perfect signal that he's back in the game.
  • Vic and Walt Check In:   Walt's attitude towards Vic is irritation at her whinyness tempered by a general admiration/respect for her feistiness and competence.  Vic is mostly annoyed with Walt and doesn't have a lot of respect for him at this point as he's been kind of mentally absent during the time she has known him.

Episode 2  | The Dark Road

Short Synopsis:  The Sheriff's department investigates the death of a young stripper with a very unique background. 

Short Review:This episode presents some more great character development, particularly with Cady, and a compelling and interesting mystery.  Grade: B

Random Thoughts:
  • Cady has a mysterious boyfriend which Walt is particularly obsessive about.  He's obviously very protective of his "little girl".  
  • A stripper makes more in two months than Vic does in a year.  Vic has no qualms talking about anything.  Pretty funny that Walt won't provide her a reference for seeking employment as a stripper.  I honestly don't think he's really listening to her....
  • Walt leaving his coat (with evidence) at the strip joint is a funny little detail and I'm not sure what it's supposed to tell us?  That Walt is sometimes a little flaky or he was distracted by the strippers:)?  He doesn't really display much flakiness at any other point in the series soo.... the strippers? 
  • Vic is not AT ALL shy about using her assets for the job, lol.  Her little striptease is just the first time she does it. 
  • Walt: "Not you Vic.....I think Odin's seen enough of you today." :)
  • First flashback that shows that Walt and Henry have a secret that involved Walt getting stitches somewhere shady.
  • Cady's boyfriend is revealed and it's a doozy!  I don't blame her at all... for being with him nor for hiding it! Walt is so cute trying to back off and not be so domineering with her. She feels hella guilty.

Episode 3 | A Damn Shame

Short Synopsis:  Walt and Vic investigate a barn fire that kills a man and two of his three prize horses. The body they find however is not at all what it at first seems.

Short Review: Awesome convoluted mystery that goes to some very unexpected places.  Grade: B+

Random Thoughts:
  • Anne Shirley!  Though someone had to tell me this was her after I had completely missed her the first time around.  Once I knew it was Megan Follows it was kind of impossible not to see Anne in her mannerisms and how she says things. 
  • I really love Walt's affinity and liking for animals.  The severely burned horse, who did not die, is a sad thread through the episode.  
  • Walt sleeping in his car at a crime scene is awesome and another good "scene-setter" establishing what a different type of law enforcement world this is.  
  • Vic: "Man of few words.  I know the type." with a sidelong look at Walt.
  • Professionally, Vic is still questioning Walt and obviously doesn't understand or trust him yet.  She is also still not entirely comfortable with the Wyoming way of Law Enforcement.
  • The Ferg does his first really Ferg move.  Walt's response to Ferg's contrition is great and also continues to reveal what kind of man he is.  
  • Meant to say this earlier but I really do love the music choices on this show - they are so effective.  The final scene with Walt and the burned horse is beautiful and sad and the music strikes just the right note. 

Episode 4 | The Cancer

Short Synopsis:  The Sheriff's department investigates the death of a Cheyenne boy and Mexican man whose bodies are found bound together in the river by a fly fisherman. 

Short Review: Though this episode has some interesting twists, I find stories about drugs and drug cartels a little boring. Grade: B

Random Thoughts:
  • Poor Ferg with his "clicks" embarrassment.  You can tell he's anxious to prove himself after the previous episodes debacle.
  • And Lizze Ambrose enters the scene.  First impressions, she's kind of ridiculous.  
  • Vic's all about the matchmaking at this point and she's pretty adorable about it.   
  • While every indication is that Mathias hates Walt, it doesn't make sense to me.  He seems like a good cop and relatively honest - why would he hold such a grudge against Walt for putting his corrupt boss behind bars?  Is the antipathy just for show?
  • Walt: "What the hell is happening in my county?"  Indeed Walt - What the hell?  I'm not sure I understand the tableau of fully cammoed guy with rifle chasing a wolf(?) across a road at night after shooting several times.  More local color perhaps?  I do like Walt's pizza boy, mary jane selling squealer:).
  • Walt reams Vic out after Lizzie's very awkward visit (even though she had nothing to do with it and he's jumped to conclusions).  One interesting thing he says is "You think the whole world is flirting (flirty?). Did you ever wonder if it was just you?"  Besides being unfair (Lizzie is DEFINITELY flirting with him) I'm not sure what it actually means.  Is he implying that Vic is always flirting?  Or that she sees flirting everywhere because everyone flirts with her?  I'm glad she later takes him to task about it.
  • Vic: "I can follow a pipe. You all walk too slow anyway".  Eli: "Is she single?"  Makes me kind of like Eli even though I really shouldn't because Vic is awesome.  

Episode 5 | Dog Soldier

Short Synopsis: Cheyenne children in foster care are being abducted and the investigation into these disappearances reveal serious corruptions in a system meant to protect children.

Short Review: This is one of my favorite episodes.  It shows Walt fumbling quite a bit but when he finally figures things out he is as much an avenging angel as Sheriff and the episode is wrapped up perfectly in the final scene.  Grade: A

Random Thoughts:
  •  The foster mom's face when Walt and Vic are interviewing her and her husband is nuanced and interesting - like she knows from spending more time with the kid that the stuff about his real parents being drug addicts is BS.  She looks guilty but determined to keep him.  
  • Walt gets a letter from Denver and more flashbacks to he and Henry's shady doings there.
  • The manipulation Walt uses on Cady in partnership with Vic in order to get her to reveal some information  about the adoption case is a little disturbing....
  • I sometimes wonder if the show runners change their ideas about characters as it goes.  In this, his first episode, Jacob Nighthorse comes across as an activist and someone who is on the side of right, protecting his people from being exploited.  His character definitely shifts as the show progresses. He's complicated, obviously.
  • The character of Hector is introduced and right off the bat as a vigilante for the Cheyenne.
  • Interesting that Henry states that Hector is not a killer even though down the road a ways he in fact DOES think Hector may have killed someone.  
  • Walt?  Is a bigger badass than Hector. Dayum.
  • Walt: "Just because it's lawful, don't make it right."
  • Wading into the shallow end - Vic's hair started off being way cuter  - matter of fact but way less awkward looking than it is now.
  • The Final Scene: "I'm just a phone call and 20 minute drive away."
My favorite episode among these first five is definitely Dog Soldier. It's one of my favorites in the whole series.  How about you?  Do you think the show starts strongly with these first five episodes?  What do you think about the dynamic between Walt and Mathias?  Is Jacob Nighthorse and villain or hero... or perhaps something more complicated?

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