The third season finale of Longmire came with an ample collection of resolutions to a three year mystery, all while coming to a mostly satisfying close.
There will be spoilers for the time-shifted viewer…
This entire season of Longmire has been more or less the downward spiral of Branch’s (Bailey Chase) mental state as he chased the ghost of the man who tried to kill him at the end of last season.
All season we watch him go bat shit crazy while he chased the apparent specter of David Ridges. But as we discovered, Ridges was not dead, but no one knew that. Well, not until he forced Walt to kill him.
Meanwhile, Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) had been on the bubble of freedom while he took the fall for a murder he didn’t commit, but for some reason, gave himself up to the system, protecting Walt (Robert Taylor).
There was something dark and evil going on in the legal system working against Henry and this case.
It did not look good.
But with Cady (Cassidy Freeman) on the job, the faith was there. Or so viewing fans had hoped. But she kept coming up against wall after wall of legal resistance while representing Henry.
And then, by the season finale episode, it all started coming together. Did you have any doubt?
Walt had pulled together some clues that helped free Henry while casting a dark shadow of doubt on the law enforcement that had handled the murder of his wife.
In the previous episode, Walt had killed Ridges and showed Branch, showing that he now knew he was not bonkers. But he suspends Branch for how he handled his own side of the investigation.
Branch appears to choose to go work for his father, Barlow (Gerald McRaney). But he uses his access to dig up dirt on his father and his associations with Jacob Nighthorse (A Martinez).
And the biggest shocker of all came as the episode was closing.
Walt finally said goodbye to his dead wife by scattering her ashes. And while confronting his father, Branch learns that his father called the hit on Walt’s wife, to help him retain control of the region.
Then Barlow tells Branch he’s too old to build a new empire, but not too old to raise a new son. Using a distraction, Barlow snaps up his shotgun. We hear a shot.
We know nothing more from that dreadful moment.
Throughout this entire season, we’ve seen new aspects of most of the characters. Aspects that made them feel less two dimensional than before, creating an interweaving depth to many of them.
Phillips is like I’ve never seen him before, playing the faithful and spirited Indian friend of Walt’s, Henry. From spiritual guide to he who takes the fall to protect Walt, Henry stayed mostly stoic through his horrid ordeal.
Vic was along for the ride this season. We’ve learned enough about her, while finishing out some of her story with her husband, past partner and her job.
We watched Walt diligently pursue clues that uncovered more details about his wife’s murder. And having gotten closure, we watch him break down from his morbid and necessary journey.
This was a Walt we had not seen before, and now, well, now, who or what will we get from Walt next season? He seemed hell bent on doing one last act or deed of vengeance because I believe he thinks Nighthorse is the one who called the shot that killed his wife. Not knowing that Barlow borrowed an asset from Nighthorse.
Did you see Ferguson (Adam Bartley) step up in the latter half of the season? He got tired of being the grunt and being told to do this and that. He made a stand and said his piece to Walt. I suspect that will go a long way come next season.
Branch’s distressed journey of chasing a ghost, and having that pursuit played out to such a degree that even the viewers believed he was half-cracked, was a subtle kind of brilliant story telling.
To watch Branch waver and yet trust his conviction that Ridges was alive tested viewers and was quite the journey to follow. Branch was at his nerve’s end and fell apart, from week to week.
Focused and alone, the viewers wondered what will come of it. I hope Bailey Chase gets some form of award recognition.
This third season of Longmire was a great journey to follow week to week. Even though I mentioned a few times that we have to wait until the next season to determine a few cliff-hangers we were left with, the show has not officially been renewed by A&E. The show averaged 3.5 million viewers throughout the season and I wonder if that’s enough to get this show renewed.
Many folks hope it does get renewed. My guess, about 3.5 million, for sure.