Three episodes into “Longmire” season 4, and the series on Netflix continues to surprise us in one way or another. We didn’t expect Branch to be dead in the premiere, just as we did not expect to see the show move back to somewhat of a procedural format in the second episode.
Then, for episode 3, the show went fully serialized, and then decided to almost completely resolve the cliffhanger for not just the end of last season, but in some ways the whole series. Walt now knows that Barlow Connally was the one who ordered his wife dead, and he is also the one who decided to kill Branch. It was first Cady who connected some of the dots after learning through her short-lived job at a law firm that Barlow and Jacob Nighthorse actually had some business connections, and were not as much of sworn enemies as once thought. From there, she extracted some information from the ever-manipulative Barlow, who eventually passed it along to Walt.
There were certainly times in which Barlow was definitely strategic throughout the episode, including staging the shooting on Nighthorse to make it appear as though Walt was really the one responsible for it. In the end, though, he was a tortured, almost-neutered villain in that underneath that terrible surface and despicable character was a man still haunted by the loss of his son. He realized he had lost, and rather than go to jail, he decided to figure out a way to die and take Walt down with him.
With Barlow stabbing himself (after Walt shot him twice in an apparent act of self-defense), the Sheriff has now opened an enormous can of worms. He has to figure out where he got some of his information, which of course puts his daughter at risk, while also try to avoid the presence of the FBI who is now looking into his operations more. His accusations thrown at Nighthorse plus the shooting have him under investigation more than ever before.
While this mystery is over, more remain, and for now, let’s just celebrate what was a sensational episode of the show. The stuff in particular with Walt and Barlow has to be among the best we’ve seen Robert Taylor on the show. This was easily the best episode of season 4 so far, and we’re glad that the show took this risk rather than going the easier route and trying to stretch this story over the course of an entire season. Grade: A.
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