Season 2 concludes with forced feedings of just deserts.
Warning: This is an overview of Episode 206 of Dark Winds — the Season 2 finale — 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+.
Lt. Joe Leaphorn (Zahn McClarnon) and Jim Chee (Kiowa Gordon) connect the dots to solve the mystery. A guilty party is eliminated — but another may escape justice. Sgt. Bernadette “Bernie” Manuelito (Jessica Matten) and Emma Leaphorn (Deanna Allison) make major life decisions. What are we to make of this? Here are our five takeaways from “Beauty is Restored,” Episode 206 of Dark Winds.
Takeaway No. 1
Glad to see almost everyone got what was coming to them in this richly satisfying Season 2 finale. In fact, the only thing that could have improved the episode would have been an announcement of the premiere date for Season 3. That, and a scene in which Joe and his father, Henry Leaphorn (Joseph Runningfox), toasted each other with bottles of RC Cola. On the other hand: With all due respect to John Henry Diehl, we probably could have done without BJ Vines’s bare-assed nudity when Joe and a bunch of other lawmen arrived at his home to arrest him. At least the revealing scene provided some welcome comic relief as Joe refused to let the SOB put on some trousers.
Takeaway No. 2
Speaking of BJ: It was shocking, yet not surprising, when Colton Wolf (Nicholas Logan) was fatally shot from behind by the immoral millionaire after the assassin made the major mistake of staggering over to Vines’ house after escaping from Sheriff Gordo (A Martinez) in last week’s episode. (By the way: Near as we could tell, Wolf’s dying word — “Linda” — was a reference to his mother.) Before he was shoved into the express lane to meet his Maker, Wolf received a hefty payoff from Vines for services rendered (like blowing up the Drumco oil drill site, and killing various people who could reveal inconvenient info to authorities). After Wolf died, Vines retrieved the cash from his ex-cohort’s pocket. Later, when Chee dropped by to give Vines a progress report regarding his surveillance of Vines’ errant wife Rosemary (Jeri Ryan) — and his discovery of the People of Darkness ceremony presided over by Vines — Vines announced Chee’s services were no longer needed, and paid off the private investigator. Have to admit: We thought Chee would certainly notice the blood stains on the cash he rejected. Hey, maybe Chee isn’t as observant as we thought?
Takeaway No. 3
As we’ve been reminded frequently since Season 1, in the world according to Dark Winds — and likely in the real world as well — there is white man’s justice, and there is Indian justice, and seldom the twain shall meet. So, again, it was shocking but not surprising when Joe flipped the script and condemned Vines to suffer the fate of Navajo men, women and children who were forced by the U.S. military to take the infamous Long Walk in 1864. Evidently, Vines wound up dying somewhere in the desert, and his disappearance was chalked up by law enforcement officials as the desperate measure taken by a bail jumper. Well, maybe not all law-enforcement officials. Sheriff Gordo had earlier warned Joe: “If you kill a man, they’re bound to you. Wherever you go in this life, they’re with us. Maybe the next one, too.” And yet, when Gordo came to the celebration for Sally Growing Thunder’s infant at the Leaphorn home, the sheriff sure seemed to sense that Joe had a hand in Vines’ vanishing. Not that he disapproved, mind you. But he did suggest that maybe Joe should run for his job after Gordo’s retirement and, well, leave the scene of the crime. It’s worth noting that Henry overheard their conversation. It’s also worth noting that Henry didn’t disapprove, either. Indeed, dad gave every indication that he was downright proud of his son.
Takeaway No. 4
In drama, there is a principle known as The Law of Chekhov’s Gun — i.e., you don’t introduce a gun in the first act if you’re not going to have someone use it in the third. This episode introduced a similar dictum, The Law of Leaphorn’s Motorcycle. After seeing Joe repairing his chopper (with a little help from Bernie) back in Episode 202, we got a beautiful payoff this week with Joe and his beloved wife Emma (Deanna Allison) happily riding the motorcycle through the picturesque countryside. Perfect.
Takeaway No. 5
Of course, some loose ends were left dangling — and we can’t wait to see how, or if, they will be wrapped up in a Season 3. Rosemary drove off to parts unknown after attempting to entice Chee to come along for the ride. Will she return? Chee and Bernie shared a passionate kiss — yes! — before she took off for her new job with the Border Patrol. Will she return? Will Chee remain behind after reclaiming his job as Joe’s deputy? When we last saw Sally Growing Thunder (Elva Guerra), she was heading out on her own with her infant, after leaving behind a note for Joe and Emma, presumably thanking them for their help but asserting her independence. We will ever see the mother and her child again? Emma finally trusted L.A. Times reporter Mary Landon (Jacqueline Byers) with her own story about being sterilized after giving birth. Will there be consequences, good or bad, for her honesty? And will BJ surprise all of us by somehow surviving his desert trek?
Photos: Michael Moriatis/AMC