While Walt and his team investigate a murder, Henry picks up where Hector left off.
We're taking an episode-by-episode look at Season 4 of “Longmire,” which currently is available for streaming on Netflix. Be forewarned: There will be spoilers a-plenty in each of these overviews.
THE PLOT: Walt, Vic and Ferg are on the case when a man is found dead under mysterious circumstances at War Eagle, a long-shuttered installation that the federal government operated an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. The deceased, Thorvin Hampton, had been trying to restore the camp as a historical site, but faced antagonism from locals who didn’t care to be remembered about that shameful chapter in U.S. history. Cause of the death? Hampton evidently had been forced into a locked room at the camp’s main office, and died as a result of exposure during a long, cold night.
In the course of their investigation, Walt and his team discover that Hampton’s father had been a guard at War Eagle in the 1940s, and fathered a child with one of the female prisoners. Hampton attempted to reach out to his half-brother, Francis Igawa, who still lives in the area. The bad news: Igawa is senile, given to fits of rage, and totally incapable of either forging new family ties or helping with the War Eagle restoration project. The worse news: Shiori, Igawa’s daughter, was enraged by Hampton’s intrusion into her father’s life — she saw him not as a blood relation seeking reconciliation, but rather as a guilty white dude desperate to make amends for the sins of his father.
Walt deduces that Shiori was the one who locked Hampton in the room and left him to die. She doesn’t deny it — indeed, she actually sounds proud as she notes that Hampton got a taste of the unjust incarceration endured by her father, and thousands of other Japanese-Americans, during World War II.
TAKEAWAY NO. 1: Walt doesn’t let the Hampton case — or anything else, for that matter — keep him away very long from his dogged inquiry into Branch’s demise. He takes a soil sample near where his late deputy’s body was found, and asks Henry to bring it in for testing at Wyoming State University. (If the dirt at the scene doesn’t match the dirt in the shell casing – then, obviously, Branch not only didn’t commit suicide, he was killed somewhere else and then dumped into the river.) In order to operate according to standard police procedure, Walt temporarily deputizes Henry – after all, he is handling evidence in a possible murder case – and this gives Lou Diamond Phillips some welcome opportunities to convey Henry’s dry wit and bemusement, especially when he calls in to police headquarters: “Hello, Ruby. This is Deputy Standing Bear.” The expression on his face suggests he is working extra hard not to laugh out loud.
TAKEAWAY NO. 2: On the other hand, Phillips has little reason to crack a smile as Henry take his first tentative steps toward assuming the mantle of Hector, the hulking avenger who now resides in The Happy Hunting Ground. Despite Hector’s demise, people in the Native American community continue to leave notes requesting his assistance. Henry is especially moved by a letter from a single mother who describes being repeatedly robbed by a cocky thug. So he leaves a wad of cash on her doorstep, in an envelope on which he scrawls “Hector Lives.” Henry leaves the same message on the mirror of a bathroom at the Red Pony where, under cover of darkness, he silently terrorizes the thug who’s been making such a nuisance of himself. It’s hard to shake the suspicion that, if Henry goes much further down this road, he’s going to start expressing his disapproval in an appreciably more violent fashion.
TAKEAWAY NO. 3: Robert Taylor and Katee Sackhoff are doing their usual terrific job of expressing just enough, and never pushing too hard, while deftly balancing the professional and personal concerns of Walt and Vic. When he notices tell-tale signs of her continued stress after the hostage situation in Season 3, Walt coaxes her into opening up about her anxieties. Vic is at once annoyed and amused — she knows how tight a rein Walt keeps on his own feelings — and insists that, really, nothing’s wrong, everything’s fine. To which Walt pointedly replies: “Yeah, I remember Branch saying something like that.” On the other hand, it should be noted that, even if she’s having a hard time coping with inner demons, Vic remains quite capable of doing first-rate police work: She consults the federal fingerprints data base, and finds that Jacob Nighthorse — whom Walt thinks is behind his wife’s death, Branch’s death, and God only knows what else — actually is a guy named Jacob Harold Blankenship, who used to hang with the radical American Indian Movement. This doubtless is merely the first of many skeletons Vic and Walt will find as they keep digging through Jacob’s closet.