More surprises are sprung in the second-to-last Season 1 episode of the hit AMC series.
Warning: This is an overview of Episode 105 of Dark Winds, so there will be scads of spoilers here. We strongly recommend that you not read this if you have not yet watched the episode on AMC or AMC+.
Leaphorn has a major suspect in custody — and then he doesn’t. Manuelito faces her worst fears. Chee must make a choice between his career and his people. What are we to make of this? Here are our five takeaways from “Ha'íínlni,” Episode 105 of Dark Winds.
Takeaway No. 1
Chee (Kiowa Gordon) may be an untrustworthy careerist, but being around good people like Leaphorn (Zahn McClarnon) and Manuelito (Jessica Matten) obviously has brought out his better side. Remember back in Episode 101 when he cavalierly drove by some Navajo folks who were stranded after their car overheated? Well, in this episode, he actually stopped and provided roadside assistance to an aged fellow in a similar predicament. A good thing, too, because his beneficence was immediately rewarded: The old guy inadvertently alerted Chee to a money-laundering scheme involving Devoted Dan (Rainn Wilson), the Bible-quoting, hard-selling used-car dealer whose shameless TV commercials must be seen to be disbelieved. And not just your garden variety money-laundering scheme: A conspiracy involving the character formerly known as Father Benjamin — and henceforth identified in these recaps as James Tso (Jeremiah Bitsui) — and his scar-faced cohort Frank Nakai (Eugene Brave Rock). Credit Devoted Dan for providing some welcome comic relief, particularly when the reluctant co-conspirator explained to Chee how Tso and Nakai blackmailed him with, ahem, revealing photographs: “I am a weak man when it comes to temptations of the flesh. OK? As well as gambling. And a bit of drinking.”
Takeaway No. 2
But wait, there’s more: Devoted Dan also alerted Chee to the possibility — no, make that probability — that the much-too-ingratiating (to Chee, at least) Special Agent Whitover (Noah Emmerich) is in league with Tso and Nakai. One thing led to another, Chee discovered proof that Whitover knew right from the start that “Father Benjamin” was a phony — and when we last saw him in Episode 105, he was racing back to the Navajo Nation to share his findings with the former fellow officers he betrayed.
Takeaway No. 3
Unfortunately, the last time we saw Manuelito, she was driving Whitover — after giving him extra artillery! — to the location where she planned to help Leaphorn recapture Nakai. It’s a kinda-sorta personal issue for her, because Nakai needs re-capturing only because he was able to walk out of his jail cell while she was incapacitated by another spell cast by the witchy Ada (Amelia Rico). The good news: Manuelito got herself back together, armed herself with some protective Navajo medicine supplied by Margaret Cigaret (Betty Ann Tsosie), and… well, not only kicked Ada’s ass, but burned down her house with Ada still in it. Granted, the torching wasn’t intentional, but Manuelito appreciated finally being free from the witch’s control after all the items Ada used to cast her spells were destroyed in the fire. And for lagniappe: Wanda awakened from her spider bite coma caused by Ada’s enchantments and, according to her husband Lester (Jonathan Adams), started spilling beans about her role in the money laundering.
Takeaway No. 4
For all that, it was up to Zahn McClarnon to do most of the heavy lifting in this episode, as Leaphorn responded to Nakai’s remarks about the late Joe Jr. by uncharacteristically losing his cool and engaging in enhanced interrogation techniques, then later making peace with Guy (Ryan Begay), the father of the murdered young woman who had dated Leaphorn’s son. (Kudos to Begay for his intensely affecting performance as Guy tearfully acknowledged that he didn’t appreciate Leaphorn’s inconsolable grief until he lost his own child.) And then there was the scene where Leaphorn and his wife Emma (Deanna Allison) had an emotionally bruising conversation about the death of their son — a discussion during which Leaphorn finally revealed that, no, he really hadn’t wanted Joe Jr. to go off to college. It may be a bit early to start talking about awards season campaigns — the nominations for Emmys honoring achievements during the 2021-22 season won’t be announced until Tuesday — but don’t be surprised when McClarnon gets a lot of buzz for next year’s Emmys.
Takeaway No. 5
Speaking of seasons: This was the second-to-last Season 1 episode of Dark Winds, so some suspenseful cliffhangers were set up. (Actually, the last we saw of Leaphorn, he was literally on a cliff, ready to make his next badass move.) But we have to admit: We’re especially eager to see whether Chee and Manuelito can patch things up and be the couple they’re obviously fated to be. And yes, we also hoping that, before Season 1 ends, Leaphorn can finally get his hands on the ice-cold bottle of RC Cola that he deserves.