Jun 18, 201209:34 AMThe Telegraph

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TV Recap: Top 5 Things To Know About 'Longmire,' Episode 3

Jun 18, 2012 - 09:34 AM
TV Recap: Top 5 Things To Know About 'Longmire,' Episode 3

A&E Network

Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) investigates a fatal blaze in "A Damn Shame."

Something that's helpful to remember: Even though Longmire boasts an excellent cast, top-notch writing, an impressive literary pedigree, intriguing lead and supporting characters, and (despite being shot in New Mexico) a vividly persuasive evocation of life in small-town Wyoming, the A&E Network series is firmly rooted in the police procedural genre. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. But it means that, almost inevitably, some episodes will emphasize investigation, not characterization, and will serve more as stand-alone scenarios than chapters in an ongoing drama. Episode 3 – titled “A Damn Shame” – is one of those episodes. If you missed it, here are the Top 5 things you need to know about it.

(Warning: The following contains spoilers.)

UP IN FLAMES: While taking part in some sort of sweat-lodge ceremony with best friend Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) and other Native Americans – another sign, perhaps, that our hero is seeking redemption for some past deed? – Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) gets a call informing him of a grisly crime: A local cutting horse breeder’s stable has caught fire, and some horses have been killed in the blaze. (Note: The conflagration is depicted in harrowing detail during the episode’s opening moments – and if you’re a horse lover, you might consider yourself lucky if you weren’t watching Sunday night.)

SIFTING THROUGH THE ASHES: The good news: One horse, albeit badly burned, survives the tragedy, and is taken to a vet for intensive care. The bad news: Longmire and deputy Victoria "Vic" Moretti (Katee Sackhoff) find amid the smoldering rubble what they assume is the charred body of Ray Stewart, the cutting horse breeder. Since the body has a bullet hole in its skull, and the doors to the stable were chained shut from inside, it initially appears that the breeder committed suicide – and killed his horses so that his wife, Alice, and their teenage son, T.J., would be paid a hefty insurance settlement for the animals.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: But, of course, since this is a police procedural show, nothing is ever what it seems. Longmire remembers that, years earlier, Alice filed – then quickly withdrew – a complaint that Ray struck her during an argument. The laconic lawman digs a little deeper, and finds (a) the ranch, the horses and the insurance policies all are in Alice’s name, (b) the allegedly late Ray paid cash for everything he ever purchased while residing in the area, and (c) there’s no record anywhere that he actually competed in cutting horse competitions. One thing leads to another, and Alice ultimately admits that her husband actually was a former underworld figure who absconded with a hunk of mob money, assumed a new identity as Ray Stewart, and settled in the area with her and their teen soon. She thinks the mob may finally have finally caught up with her deceased spouse. But Longmire has other ideas.

WANTED – DEAD OR ALIVE: In a scene that strikes echoes of CSI, Longmire and Moretti examine the charred corpse, and discern that it isn’t the horse breeder after all. Indeed, Ray has gone into hiding after setting up an elaborate scam – with the use of a convenient corpse – to fake his own death, and set up a new life for himself and his family with the money Alice will collect on the dead horses. Unfortunately, a mob hit man is in the vicinity, seeking return of the loot Ray stole from his former underworld confederates. Even more unfortunately, the deputy known as The Ferg (Adam Bartley) inadvertently directs the hit man to his quarry after the latter misidentifies himself as a U.S. marshal. This leads to a standoff, a shootout – and an unexpectedly brave gesture by Ray Stewart (C. Thomas Howell), who winds up really and truly dead.

WORTH REMEMBERING: Deputy Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) may not be such a nice guy – just in case we forgot, “A Damn Shame” reminds us that he’s running against Longmire for the sheriff’s job in an upcoming election – but he’s more than competent and, as this episode demonstrates, brave under fire. The Ferg, embarrassed because of his incompetence, tenders his resignation – but Longmire keeps him on his team, partly due to his ties to Ferg’s father. (Maybe we’ll learn more about this in a later episode.) Filming outdoors on location can complicate things continuity-wise: After a commercial break during the climactic standoff, viewers return to the action to find it’s suddenly snowing. (Someone covers for the meteorological intrusion with a throwaway line to the effect, “Oh, great, now it’s snowing!”) In the episode’s unexpectedly moving final moments, the fire-scarred horse gives Longmire reason to believe that maybe, just maybe, miracles are possible.     

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