Saturday, September 12, 2015

Longmire - Down by the River

The Fourth Season of Longmire, and the show's first season on Netflix, begins with the death of a major supporting character when Walt (Robert Taylor) discovers Branch (Bailey Chase) dead of an apparent suicide. Already twisted up in knots about his strong beliefs that Jacob Nighthorse (A Martinez) was the man ultimately responsible for the murder of the Sheriff's wife, Longmire begins to suspect that Branch's suicide may have been staged for the sole purpose of Nighthorse hiding secrets the former deputy may have unearthed shortly before his death.

"Down by the River" deals heavily on the themes of with rash choices and guilt. Walt nearly takes Nighthorse's life on his own, and is only stopped by the timely arrival of Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips), while blaming himself for Branch's outcome. Vic (Katee Sackhoff) blames herself for the deputy's suicide as well, and refusing to dismiss any possible clue or possibility this time around Walt becomes obsessed with proving Branch was murdered. One small piece of evidence seems to contradict a suicide, but I'm guessing it will take much more, and most likely most of the season, for Longmire to put together a case strong enough to take down Nighthorse.

There are a couple of stand-out scenes in the episode. The first involves the humorous happenstance meeting between Vic and Henry before the death has been discovered. And at the far end of the spectrum from that lighthearted sequence is the scene in which Walt informs Barlow Connally (Gerald McRaney) that his son has taken his own life. The awkwardness of each scene is filled with the kind of honest emotion worn on its sleeve that the show does best. Given the end of Branch's arc to close out last season any return to the status quo would have been difficult while his death leaves a hole for those who both loved and despised him (often at the same time) and opens up several new possibilities for the show this season.

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