I don’t currently stream television shows or movies so I have to wait for the DVDs to be available to watch shows. For that reason I have just finished watching last year’s sixth and final season of Longmire. I started watching this on a recommendation based on my enjoying the series Justified. Well, Longmire and Justified both have protagonists that are law enforcement officers that wear cowboy hats. I would say that is where the similarity ends.
Walter Longmire, the eponymous protagonist of the series is the sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyoming. His best friend is a Cheyenne Indian named Henry Standing Bear played with ironic humor by Lou Diamond Phillips. Surrounding these two characters are an assortment of characters involved in the Indian Casino opening up and the other commercial developments cropping up in the pristine countryside where Walt lives and on the not so pristine Indian Reservation where the tribal police clash or cooperate with Walt and his deputies. And those deputies try to solve crimes and keep up with Longmire’s two-fisted and gut-feeling law enforcement procedures. And this is one of the unintentionally funny aspects of Walt’s character. At least a dozen times during this series Walt is shot, stabbed, snake-bit or bludgeoned and it’s almost as if he’s some kind of supernatural creature that doesn’t require normal medical attention. He’ll get through the episode or even two and then maybe he’ll have a bandage. Other characters can reflect the results of an injury for several episodes or even longer. Walt just takes some vodka and splashes it on the stab wound or whatever and gets back to business. I mean, sheesh! What is he a Terminator?
A lot of the plot revolves around the machinations of tribal bigshot Jacob Nighthorse as he manipulates the Indian and White populations to launch his casino and change the dynamic between the Reservation and adjacent Absaroka County. In addition, the Connally family has a big impact on Walt’s life. Branch Connally is his deputy and his daughter’s boyfriend. But he is also running against Walt in his re-election as sheriff. And Branch’s father, Barlow Connally is a powerful and under-handed businessman who plays all sides against each other for his own ends.
In addition to Branch, Walt has a deputy named Archie Ferguson (the Ferg) who is not very formidable as a law enforcement officer and a Philadelphia transplant named Victoria Moretti (Vic) who does all the annoying liberated woman clap-trap but is an effective deputy and backs up Walt when things go south.
Other characters include Walt’s daughter Cady Longmire who is incredibly annoying and is a lawyer (of course) and the Tribal Police Officers Matthias and Malachi.
When the series starts Walt is recovering from the loss of his murdered wife. Henry has been helping him track down the killer and Walt’s job is in danger from his erratic behavior.
The show moves through a very long arc throughout which characters go from being allies to adversaries and back again. There are some surprising developments and some of the characters do grow into more interesting personalities.
On its own terms the series is enjoyable although I would not say it was great. Some of the characters grow on you like Lou Diamond Phillips’ Henry. And Walt is the old fashioned John Wayne, strong, silent type who lives by his own code and doesn’t even have a cell phone.
Comparing it to “Justified” I’d say the writing is nowhere near as good but far from bad. It’s a show that can be enjoyed on its own terms but don’t expect timeless drama, just a good cowboy cop show with nice scenery.