Old fashioned frontier justice meets modern crime.
Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire has a whole mess of troubles bothering him. He has recently lost his beloved wife. His top Deputy, Branch Connally is running against him in the upcoming election and the grieving Walt has delegated most of his duties to him. Naturally his friends, coworkers and family are concerned with him. Most of the first season deals with Walt trying to put his life back together.
No this isn’t a plot from an early 60’s TV Western. Longmire is set in the 21st century, but with the heart and soul of a classic western.
The show alternates between your typical crime of the week fodder. Feuds between whites and the local tribes are a frequent subject. Also big city issues such as marijuana, meth, gun running, prostitution and kidnapping make appearances. Belying Absaroka’s image as a remote bastion of the old ways. The Sheriff’s department also has to deal with all of the standard misdemeanor, traffic and missing livestock issues that rural departments all have to deal with.
The show does a good job of mixing this every day, meat and potatoes police work with long term plots involving ongoing turf battles with the tribal police, the mystery of Walt’s wife’s death and the dirty politics involved in rural elections.
There are frequent flashbacks the slowly begin to explain exactly what happened to Walt’s wife. One of the most poignant scenes in the series is during the pilot episode, which shows Walt playing back his answering machine so he can hear her voice.
One of the principle challenges Sheriff Longmire has to deal with is enigmatic tribal power broker Jacob Nighthorse. Nighthorse is the closest thing the series has to a recurring villain. He is ruthless, obsessive and has a long history with the Sheriff. Often going out of his way to cause trouble simply for the enjoyment of harassing Walt and his friends.
Like most of the characters in the series, he is a lot more complicated than just a generic villain. Half the fun of watching the show is figuring out what scheme he’s involved in this time and how it connects with other characters. Sometimes he is even motivated to help out in a case.
Another standout is Henry, Walt’s best friend, who seems to get him into trouble as much as he gets him out. Like Nighthorse, Henry has a complicated and sometimes contradictory list of motivations and is quite human in his failings.
The show is shot in rural Wyoming and is loaded with spectacular imagery of the area.
The cast is mostly composed of veteran TV actors and deliver excellent performances. Standouts are Robert Taylor (Walt Longmire) Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry Standing Bear, Walt’s best friend. Also A Martinez as the menacing Jacob Nighthorse.
Verdict 4 Gavels out of 5
Excellent modern day western. Highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of good detective shows.