This is probably the hardest “Longmire” review we’ve ever written, mostly because we’ve stated time and time again how much we enjoy the show. We love that it’s a throwback, that it brings to light issues that are severely under-represented in society, and that it has such a tremendous cast. We’ve fought for its renewal before, and will continue to do so.
Yet, if you write a glowing review just for the sake of doing so, it rings hollow. It also makes the wonderful episodes like some from earlier this season or the season 4 finale (arguably one of our favorite episodes in the entire series) feel less special. Therefore, we just gotta come out and say it: The end of season 5 feels incomplete, and very much a disappointment based on where we were at the halfway point.
There is value and merit in creating cliffhangers, and leaving some stories open-ended for the new season. You want to create incentives for Netflix to renew the series and to rally up fans. At the same time, there is value in some resolution, and knowing that if for whatever reason the series does not come back that some characters will be okay. At the end of this season, we’re not sure you fully have that. The cliffhangers that were presented are also not necessarily gripping enough to match the wow-factor of someone bursting into to Walt’s home right in the middle of an intimate moment with Donna. We were able to write full articles about who that person was.
Here, the biggest cliffhanger is Henry Standing Bear’s life on the line after being taken out to the Crow Reservation by a still-around Malachi Strand. This move was the perfect payback for Malachi to make given the banishment he was front and center for, but at the same time, it’s hard to believe Henry could actually die. Part of the issue there is that this is far from the first near-death cliffhanger “Longmire” has created; last season brought us Walt and Donna in danger, and even this very season two episodes ended with The Ferg and Cady, respective, in grave danger of being shot and killed. All of them survived. Sure, we did lose Branch going into season 4, but after what he did the season before it was hard to see how the writers would walk all of that back.
If you do the same cliffhanger too many times, it loses some of its luster; that is the danger that is present at this point in the run.
As for Walt’s legal situation, this is something that we could have done with a different form of resolution. Not having the trial at all is a letdown, given that if we move this forward into season 6, we will effectively have spent two seasons, or more than a third of the entire show’s run at that point, dealing with the death of Barlow and the aftermath. Seeing Walt face the idea of losing his properly, especially to have it turned into a golf course and cookie-cutter homes, is devastating to him and you don’t want to see that happen. Our preference would have been to have that conversation about the golf course earlier in the episode, only to then have him win the trial later; however, due to the Mayor’s fears of him being tainted because of the negative headlines, he still loses his job and has to fight for it again moving into season 6. That to us is a way of giving the audience some of what they want, while still provided a legitimate reason to be excited for the future.
The best part of the episode was seeing Cady properly integrated into the Cheyenne community, a sign that she has fully transformed into an independent character and someone who can walk the line between Walt and Jacob Nighthorse. Sure, you can argue that Jacob manipulated her into hiring people for his own benefit, but seeing the sequence with the ritual and the dream-haze we were presented with gave us a menagerie of fears and emotions that was beautiful and yet frightening at the same time. Her image of Henry was just as bad as the one we saw with him being left in the dry reservation land to bleed out and burn.
With Vic and her pregnancy, maybe the conclusion here is that she and Travis are going to move forward towards being parents together, and if that is the case, it’s rather sweet; yet, what was all of the journey for with her and Walt? Walt may not be one to talk about his feelings, but there wasn’t enough closure there to think that her feelings have gone away, or that he doesn’t have them even if he is with Donna still. Giving Vic a child could create more interesting dynamics for her, but we didn’t even get reactions from her fellow deputies or Walt to the news this season.
Maybe the intention with this finale was to not speed stories along that were not at their organic conclusion just yet, but the feeling for now is that there should have been some sort of happy medium where some cliffhangers were established, but we felt good enough about where a few characters were that we could leave this season with some sort of feeling of payoff. We’re not there, and while we did enjoy watching most of the episode, the closing minutes left us feeling extremely empty for a show we often love for its soul. Grade: C+.
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