Longmire Season 6 Mostly Satisfying
by G G Collins (Copyright 2017)
Longmire has left the building. The Netflix program’s legion of fans approached the final season 6 with anticipation and near heartbreak.
You’ll remember that its first three seasons ran on A&E, now AETV, and was dropped, even though it was the channel’s highest rated scripted drama, because it determined the audience skewed “too old.” Devoted fans joined forces on Twitter and Facebook. The Longmire Posse was formed with leader Pam herding. The Posse stampeded over and over until Netflix realized how determined they were to see Longmire continue, and picked up the show.
There’s something about a grownup story told in a straightforward way with characters so real viewers take it personally when something happens to them. Done without special effects, because they aren’t needed, good storytelling is its own special effect.
People from all walks of life loved Longmire. Some watched because it was a western, others were more law and order people and they watched because of the Native American story line. It didn’t matter why, the triumphs and struggles of the characters appealed to many.
The writers did an overall good job of tying up the many story arcs. Nighthorse did finally go to jail, but he wasn’t as bad as Longmire thought. A Martinez did a profound job of playing a mostly unsympathetic character with humanity. Zahn McClarnon as Mathias started his role as a hard ass and softened as time went on and a reluctant trust was built with the Absaroka county sheriff. I wish he’d gotten a final scene. He was Mathias, tough because life on the rez is hard. Adam Bartley as Ferg was so honest when jealously allowed him to believe in the guilt of an innocent man. Cassidy Freeman showed true grit when her Cady had to kill a man. Damn, that was a fine scene. And with her running for sheriff, that completes the circle. The character of Vic, played by Katee Sackhoff, had to be difficult because she wasn’t always likable. She was very likable though in the scene when she ran over an opossum and broke down in tears over Branch Connally’s death. We’ve all been there.
It’s a shame that Louanne Stephens didn’t have one episode that was about her. Ruby rocks! There were two other fine actors who weren’t regulars, but who deserve accolades: Patch Darragh as Longmire’s attorney and Graham Greene as Malachi Strand. Darragh was humorously long-suffering and a delight to watch his deadpan reactions to Longmire, perhaps the most uncooperative client ever. Greene was evil incarnate as the fabulous villain we all loved to hate.
That leaves us with Lou Diamond Phillips’ Henry Standing Bear and Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire. The two characters have been friends since childhood. They’ve had their ups and downs, but the respect and caring never stopped. No one explained if the Red Pony would still be in Henry’s capable hands along with the Nighthorse casino he is now running. The Red Pony was almost as much of a character as the humans. Phillips got many of the funniest lines and delivered them with subtle panache. It was great fun watching him.
Taylor knew from the get-go how to play Longmire. It was almost an inherent thing to watch: the head tilt, the slumped shoulders, always hiding beneath the hat. Although Australian, he lowered his voice and, voila, an American cowboy emerged. He was earnest and yet somewhat malevolent when he explained to a woman suspect that it would take 20 minutes for him to reach her when revenge came her way–but he’d get there as fast as possible. In the final episode he told Vic she would survive if he died. He knew it was possible because he survived his wife’s death. Great writing.
But without the creator of these characters, Craig Johnson, we would have no Longmire. He writes characters and stories that are true. And the books just keep on coming.
And so Longmire is now television history. As with lawmen so with TV shows: Goodbye is always implied.