Longmire (Season 6)

posted 9 Apr 2018, 11:58 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 9 Apr 2018, 12:00 ]

Genre: Crime / Drama / Western

Stars: Robert Taylor / Katee Sackhoff / Lou Diamond Phillips / Cassidy Freeman

Creators: Hunt Baldwin / John Coveny

Year: 2018

Season six of the Neo Western Longmire is it’s last one and while this saddens me as I’m a huge fan of this show I’m glad the show goes out maintaining the high standards and entertaining storylines I have become used to over the past six years.

While on the surface Longmire may seem like a police procedural series and does indeed for most episodes have a ‘crime of the week’ it’s much more than that. It also follows season long story arc’s, which focus on longer running events and personal life dramas of the main cast – many of which stretch over the course of several seasons and this separates it from most crime dramas.

Set in rural Wyoming in a small sheriff’s office, staffed by the titular Walt Longmire (Taylor) and a couple of deputies Vic Moretti (Sackhoff) and The Ferg (Adam Bartley). The small department deal with big crimes ranging from murder to bank robbery and everything in between. The quirk to this series is Longmire’s aversion to modern technology and solving crimes with old fashioned detective work. One of the long-standing Longmire quirks that’s maintained through all six seasons is that he doesn’t have a mobile phone and when he does need one he lends one from whomever is at hand.

The series has a strong Western feel to it, not just because of it’s setting but also because of Longmire’s old-fashioned values and approach to his job. It really does feel like a modern day western. I also really like the inclusion of the Native American reservation and how the two communities co-exist – It’s also really eye opening to real life on Reservations in America, from the politics to drugs and poverty but it also shows  a lot of positive aspects of life and community on the Res. American TV seems to overlook the native American communities and if you weren’t aware of the country’s history you may be forgiven for not realising Native Americans still exist!

Although it’s set in a fictional Wyoming County the series is filmed in New Mexico. One thing I’ve always loved about this show is its cinematography and the lush and beautiful countryside that the show is filmed in and the directors always use this to full visual effect but to also emphasis the shows rural setting. The Directors the show has used over the years including occasional guest star Peter Weller have always put a lot of thought into their visual’s, lots of scenes utilising traditional shots people would associate with western films which accentuate the Western vibe. A lot of the Directing style actually is superior to most shows giving the show a grander almost cinematic style at times and other shots actually intensifying or displaying a scene to much more effect. Like a scene when Longmire walks silhouetted through a door which echoes John Wayne’s final scene in The Searchers and much like that scene a lot is said with nothing been said at all!

There is a lot going on this season, Longmire’s civil suit court case, Vic’s pregnancy, Henry’s abduction (which you saw at the end of season 5) the ongoing Chance Gilbert saga just to name of few – all intertwined with a few crimes of the week and a new season long arc following the Cowboy Bill bank robberies. The season does have an air of finality to it as loose ends are tied up and recurring minor characters have their stories bookended.

It’s a great end to the show which does have a conclusive ending and I found all ten episodes to be highly entertaining. It doesn’t finish entirely as I had thought it would for example the long running feud between Nighthorse and Longmire doesn’t end in a shoot out and Walt seems to have let go of his demons regarding the death of his wife and his desired revenge seems fulfilled – with what he’s already done. In fact, other than linking Nighthorse to possibly been connected to feed the fire of the feud, that story thread had been laid to rest seasons ago.

Season five ended with Longmire’s daughter Cady (Freeman) been fully embraced by the people of the reservation and her role as a lawyer aimed at helping them and the community been fully utilised. This concluded with Mandy taking her to a ‘sweat’ which lead to her having a bizarre prophetic vision, which included a lot of the main cast members. This is dealt with and explained in the first few episodes, if this was always the intended story I don’t know, but it feels not. I think the script writers wrote in this dramatic vision to make a perfect cliff-hanger, but when it came to the new series I think they choose another direction and explained parts of Cady’s vision away but left a lot ignored.

Walt’s daughter Cady goes from hero to villain on the res, although her intentions were always good. This leads to her Law practice going under and a surprising job change in the final episode. I wasn’t a huge fan of Freeman before her role in Longmire, but I’ve come to really like her as the strong but sensitive Cady. She also sparks well with recurring character Zach, the battle scarred and unassuming aspiring deputy.

Longmire’s best friend Henry had last been seen been abducted by Malachi Strand (Graham Green) – who also turns out to be this season’s main antagonist even though Graham Green doesn’t appear till the final episode. Henry and Longmire had fallen out following the discovering that Henry had taken up the mantle of Res vigilante Hector. Longmire rescues Henry, gets snake bit, which he shakes off in true Longmire style and all is forgiven and the pair move on from their falling out. This allows Henry to become Longmire’s go to guy and sometime helper once again, especially on the Res for the rest of the series. His story ends unexpectedly but on reflection it makes sense that he becomes a prominent member of the Native American community.

The Ferg (Bartley) started off as a background character but has had increasingly more to do and is seen far less comedically. His ongoing relationship with nurse Meg has some ups and downs but ultimately finishes on a high note, or at least that’s what’s alluded too. Other occasional characters get a send off some positively some not, I’m sure Peter Weller was happy with his characters Lucien’s end, a blaze of glory for an old-fashioned cowboy. Lucien was the former sheriff who trained Longmire and occasional pops up, usually unwantedly as he was a reluctant retiree now spending his days in an old people’s home. I wouldn’t say Weller is the greatest actor in the world, but his turn as Lucien was always great and he made his character compelling and likeable in a roguish way.

Vic has a lot of emotional stuff to deal with this season betwixt dealing with her Pregnancy and her PTSD from her encounter with Chance Gilbert, whose fate is still up in the air. I like Katee Sackhoff, she does tend to get type cast in tough female characters but she does embody those attributes well in her acting. Vic is tough, but has always had a sensitive side, I like how Sackhoff and the writers have developed Vic’s character so that she is a well rounded and more realistic, a strong woman doesn’t have to be unemotional or totally independent – Film and TV roles in the past tend to have strong women as one dimensional bitches, heartless, non-maternal and softer women as dependent on men, but with positive warm characteristics. I Just find these stereotypes writers fall into as not realistic softer natured women can be tough as nails and hard women can be emotional and need affection. So, I find Sackhoff’s performance and Vic’s character really interesting, well rounded and easily likeable cause she is so very human.

In dramatic fashion Vic loses her baby, whilst also closing the chapter on Chance Gilbert following his daring escape, which Vic unintentionally had a hand in whilst pushing for the death penalty. This leads to some very heart wrenching scenes for Sackhoff, as she deals with the lose her baby something she tries to do on her own at first. I think the subject is handled really well and helps solidify Vic’s and Longmire friendship as it exposes how much they care for one another.

The show has toyed with Vic and Longmire been more than friends, but I have always seen the relationship as like a Father and daughter. He’s protective and caring towards Vic, Longmire is old school and is protective of women so it makes sense he can’t help himself feel the need to shield and protect her. The writers though make sure though that it is done in a way where her never underestimates her abilities and still trusts and relies on her in her role as a deputy. In the early seasons Longmire has no interest in anyone as he’s still mourning for his wife and is still totally devoted to her. Season 4 saw Longmire have a relationship and it just proved he wasn’t ready yet for a serious relationship. This opened up a realistic option of Vic and Longmire getting together.

Vic has always been drawn to Longmire and following her divorce, her feelings for him were touched upon on a few occasions. Obviously, she loved his protective nature and his devotion to his wife as well as the respect he gave in her role as a deputy. So, it’s easy to understand why she was drawn to him, but I always felt Longmire didn’t see her romantically, even in season six a few things happen where he’s basically standing aside or pushing others towards Vic. Although it makes sense the show finishes with them getting together, I would have preferred if Vic had found someone similar to Longmire, a younger version though, so she’d still have that happy ending. I don’t think Longmire needed to find someone for his story arc to feel complete or happy and bar his intimate scenes with Vic, if some conversations had remained between close friends they would still have impact and meaning. But hell, it’s nice to have a happy ending, regardless!

Longmire himself does soften throughout season six, less grumpy, less angry which allows for some deep emotional scenes for him especially with Vic and also makes them getting together more believable. His values remain the same and his still his stoic no nonsense self when it comes to his job. But this softening allows the show to wrap up its lose ends and to give Longmire a upbeat positive ending. The final scene itself brings a wry smile to my face and it’s a great way to end before fading to black, but I did sort of predict it!

Australian actor Robert Taylor was perfect as Longmire, stoic, gruff and his portrayal embodied old school values and an unwavering stance on the wrongs and rights in life. In an age of anti-heroes, Longmire was the ultimate good guy and protector and that has always drawn me to the show. Taylor was unknown to me before and it would be shame if he disappeared again, but it will be hard to imagine Taylor as anyone other than Longmire. A role of a lifetime for the Aussie and one I’m sure he’s very proud of.

Longmire is quality TV, which compelling storylines, mysteries and characters to love and hate in equal measure and in comparison, to many similar themed shows is a real cut above!

8/10

Review by Woody

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