The Conspiracy of Crow Feathers: Longmire Season 3 Conclusion
Movie adaptations almost by definition will be somewhat of a disappointment to readers who love the book. No matter how well made, the film will be judged (and often found wanting) by them. The problem is magnified when the adaptation is of a series of novels and for a TV show. This is the minefield the makers of the A&E series “Longmire” have faced. As a fan of the novels from the start, I can say that while I much prefer reading about the title character, the series has created a satisfying alternate version of him. The end of the third season brings a conclusion to a mystery that has hung over the series like a foggy haze from the outset. Far from feeling like an end to the show, Longmire S03E10 “Ashes to Ashes” introduced a new conflict that should (with the Nielson gods’ approval) set the stage for a powerful fourth season. [Editor’s Note: This Longmire TV Review and Season 3 Recap may contain spoilers from the past 3 seasons, so if you’re unfamiliar with the series, you may want to watch it first or read the novels.]
In Craig Johnson’s novels, Walt Longmire has served as the sheriff of sparsely-populated Absoroka County, Wyoming for almost 30 years. A widower, Walt watches his daughter Cady leave home for a career as an attorney and feels time slipping away. He plans to retire soon but a new deputy, Victoria “Vic” Moretti, who grew up in a family of Philadelphia cops, helps reawaken his interest in his job. With the help of other deputies and characters such as Cady and his best friend, Cheyenne Indian barkeep Henry Standing Bear, Walt stands as a 21st-century version of the rugged Western lawman. The books also have a nice sense of humor; they never take themselves too seriously even as they deal with the most heinous crimes.
By contrast, the series is nothing if not serious and brooding. Walt (excellently played by Australian actor Robert Taylor) has only recently been widowed. There’s a secret he has kept about his wife’s Martha’s death, even from Cady: when she was being treated in Denver for the cancer that killed her in the novels she was murdered. The truth gets out and season two ended with Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) being arrested for the murder of Mrs. Longmire’s killer. Walt and Cady (Henry’s attorney) spent this most recent season desperately trying to prove his innocence while the sheriff has to deal with crimes closer to home. Vic (Katee Sackhoff) has not been involved in Henry’s defense but dealt with her own drama: she was kidnapped by a depraved anti-government survivalist and saw her marriage fall apart. She has come to work so well with Walt that when he accidentally punches her in the nose tonight (she got in the way of Walt’s punch for a crooked local businessman) that she doesn’t mind at all. Tonight’s episode brings closure to the prosecution of Henry: Walt and Cady find a shoddy investigation that turned into a virtual frame-up of their friend and force the charges against him to be dropped.
The celebration is short-lived. Walt finally finds the strength to say good-bye to Martha. Her voice still picks up calls to their home; Walt keeps her ashes there as well. Now, her killer’s identity firmly established, Walt spreads the ashes privately. This scene allows Taylor to show the feelings Walt has kept buried throughout the series. He promises to go after the crooked businessman who hired her killer.
One other plot thread turns into a cliffhanger that must be answered to start season 4. Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), a deputy who was running against Walt the first two seasons only to lose by 10 votes, was shot at the end of season 2. He spent this year trying to get back to work (having patched things up with Walt) but finding his grip on sanity slipping by hunting the (supposedly) dead man who shot him. Finding and killing him did not eliminate Branch’s demons and he’s suspended by Walt. In the end, shooting skeet with his rich and powerful father (played by Gerald McRaney with the wonderful menace he brings to all his post-“Major Dad” roles) when Branch realizes he knows more than he’s said about the murder of Walt’s wife. As Walt returns from his farewell to his wife, he hears a shot. Which Connally is still alive?
This show has had problems at times getting on with things. There’s no reason the Walt/Branch election showdown had to last for two seasons, for instance, Season 3 tied up many loose ends only to untie a few new ones for the next one. For me this show has finally found it’s way, threading the needle and creating an alternate Walt. We can admire him in his own right and he no longer feels tied to the novels. I’m looking forward to another season of this unique mystery series.
[Editor’s Note: For More TV, Movie, and Book Reviews by Hollywood Country Boy, click HERE.]
– Louis Burklow (aka, Hollywood Country Boy), Staff Writer, Phoenix Genesis
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