Longmire: Pilot
July 3, 2016 2:42 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Sheriff Walt Longmire investigates a shooting in a sheep pasture with the help of his staff at the Absaroka County, Wyoming Sheriff's Department and an assist from long time friend Henry Standing Bear.

This episode is surprisingly full of hooks for a pilot. Why is Mathias so pissed? What happened to Walt's wife? What convinced an officer from Pittsburg to take a demotion to relocate in rural Wyoming?
posted by Mitheral (18 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My intention is to post an episode every week or so. It's a re-watch for me and I've only read the first book but I'm open to restricting the series of postings to first watch or show only if consensus is that will be better. Otherwise I'll tag subsequent postings re-watch.

I found this episode to be a fairly good introduction to the series. Many of the main characters are introduced but the episode still manages to start laying the foundation for overall arc while having a good if unimaginative who done it.

Walt displays good proficiency with a iron sight .30-.30 even while shooting with his left hand.
posted by Mitheral at 2:57 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting this. It reminded me that I had added it to my Netflix queue but never watched it. I'll be watching for the first time, but if there are others doing a rewatch, that's fine. I don't mind the spoilers.

Walt displays good proficiency with a iron sight .30-.30 even while shooting with his left hand.

Not being a gunswoman, I'm not sure what this means exactly. He has unbelievably good aim? That shot was crazy.
posted by donajo at 8:36 AM on July 4, 2016

I will just leave this here: Katee Sackoff has a special lotion that she uses on her butt, because her jeans are so tight that they chafe.
posted by donajo at 8:39 AM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

This has been on my to-watch list for a while, so this is the kick to get me on board. I'll be joining as a first-time watcher with a tolerance for spoilers and book-talk. I'd like to read the books, but I'm not sure when I'll get around to reading the 12+ books.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:24 AM on July 4, 2016

"He has unbelievably good aim?"

Pretty much. Ranges are hard to judge on TV but I'm thinking a couple hundred yards at least (when he walks back to his truck after interrogating the shot suspect you can't even see his truck despite him having already taken dozens of steps). Iron sights == no scope. And a moving target. He also does it with his non dominate hand and maybe more importantly his non dominate eye which means he can't keep both eyes open. It's a shot the majority of shooters would not make.
posted by Mitheral at 12:46 PM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like this show. Even more after its move to Netflix, which might be a little odd. But I noticed that after the move, the episodes weren't constricted by a specific mandatory running time, which let them serve the story more and the ad breaks less; I felt a slightly different texture and pacing, which was a real breath of fresh air.

I like the way it looks, I like the casting, I like the inclusion of more and different Native characters over time, giving a breadth it feels like we seldom ever get.

The one thing I've recently been dubious about is something I hesitate to discuss for fear of spoilers, even though folks seem to be saying they're not against them. But it's basically--there's a character dynamic that I understand gets developed in the books (?), but that I reeeeally don't want the show to do, for all kinds of reasons. And I thought I was going to get my wish, until a strange underplayed dynamic rose in this latest season, but without a clear sense of whether the show was committing to it or not. But then, I haven't yet watched the last episode of the season (I know! But once I watch it I won't have any more Longmire to watch until next season drops!), so maybe it gets decided one way or the other there?
posted by theatro at 11:18 AM on July 5, 2016

I only got a few episodes in a year or two ago, but I was surprised to learn that Walt is the guy on the right.

I liked this a lot, structurally it has a lot of what I want to see in short-season series: character plots that hit the ground running were very effective for me. I like triggers to start thinking about what's going on without a ton of exposition.
posted by rhizome at 6:42 PM on July 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

First-time watcher and I've only seen the pilot so far. I came in based on flt's New Mexico locations comment (I was just in Red River about a month ago and oh wow it's stunning up there) and got hooked on the characters.

I like the Longmire character a lot: He wipes his boots when entering a house, he picks up beer cans, he has a terrifying accident and tells no one. He makes mistakes, but his best friend knows and trusts him well enough to recognize an apology.

And I liked the Henry and Vic characters as well. I'd watch Katee Sackhoff watch paint dry and I think the role is a good match for her.
posted by mochapickle at 9:26 PM on July 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm in; I think (unless something has dropped and I've missed it) that I've seen all the episodes so far. Never read the books.

I like the fact that Walt - who could so easily be the stereotypical white lawman of a Western - gets a lot of nuance and depth, without it being explicitly pointed at. I mean, he's got some of the traditional masculine traits - gruff, not great at communication, tough and self-reliant - and yet he is also very perceptive, by which I mean he picks up on a lot of emotional cues in addition to noticing details, and he's got some good insight into dealing with the culture (if not always the politics) of the Cheyenne, and he has a wide command of knowledge from a lot of different areas. I feel like he's one of the best portrayals of an introverted character that is being done on TV.

I enjoy Vic and Henry and Ferg an awful lot, and even Branch has moments. And a lot of the supporting/recurring characters are fantastic - Lucian (Peter Weller); Chief Mathias (Zahn McClaren) always make an impression.

theatro, I think I know the character dynamic you're concerned about (and I would share the concern) - the last episode doesn't really do anything on that front to resolve it in any direction that I recall.
posted by nubs at 8:37 PM on July 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

"I like the fact that Walt - who could so easily be the stereotypical white lawman of a Western - gets a lot of nuance and depth"

I hadn't thought of it that way but ya, contrast with say Walker of Texas Ranger fame. I think he has a good handle on the reserve politics he just is pigheaded about doing things his way and without explanation. He has the same problems with neighbouring county sheriffs as he does with Mathias minus the personal dislike. And Vic especially calls him out on not explaining what he is doing. In one example after Vic calls him out he says he wasn't sure about his theory even though he's been proceeding as if he was sure.

Even Branch who could have been a very shallow big dumb foil for Walt's character has lots of depth and is obviously very smart (probably raw smarter than Walt he just lacks Walt's deep experience) and principled.
posted by Mitheral at 10:23 PM on July 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I agree - it would have been easy to make Branch an incompetent, careless officer whose ambitions surpass his abilities. Instead, he's a competent, skilled investigator whose ambitions sometimes cloud his judgement. He'd make a decent sheriff if there wasn't already a great sheriff in the position.
posted by donajo at 10:21 AM on July 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, the show is pretty good about not giving us straight up heroes and villains; everybody has problems alongside skills and abilities and sometimes people are right and sometimes they are wrong.
posted by nubs at 10:35 AM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's been on my queue for awhile too, so I'm joining the 'thanks for the kick in the pants' crew.

I just finished the pilot now. I like the scenery, but was rolling my eyes as the clich├ęs piled up. No character seems real to me, yet. I'll stick with it, as the consensus seems to be that the series improves greatly over time. That, and I'd like to be part of a good fanfare discussion!
posted by kanewai at 4:05 AM on July 9, 2016

Kanewai, yeah, I think it's fair to say that things are uneven for a while in the first season, but once the show finds its legs, it gets pretty good.
posted by nubs at 8:39 AM on July 9, 2016

I have to be honest, I'm sad that Lou Diamond Phillips continues his role as Sage Native Friend, partially because the Style Of Speech Without Contractions affectation that only he seems to have, and he's not Native. In fact, the whole cast is pretty white, for all the talk about working with/ against the Cheyenne. Still, the other Native people, being actually from US Tribes or Pueblos or Canadian First Nations, don't play that fake cadence. Watching ahead a few episodes, there are some people who have that Native cadence, but one was First Nation, so it sounds close, but not quite, to the cadences I've heard here in New Mexico, but maybe it sounds closer to the Cheyenne in Wyoming.

All that said, it's comforting to see more of the New Mexico landscape and locations, even if it's playing Wyoming. The northeast part of this state is beautiful, in ways that people probably don't associate with New Mexico, especially if Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are your other introductions to the landscape and look of New Mexico. Both those are true to place, but only some of the sights in this state.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:48 AM on July 13, 2016

Lou Diamond Phillips is of mixed heritage, including some Cherokee ancestry, and has been adopted by the Lakota. I don't think one can declare outright that he's not Native.

Which doesn't make his stilted speech less troublesome, but still.
posted by donajo at 10:49 AM on July 13, 2016

Henry's lack of contractions in his speech has to be pinned on Craig Johnson, who specifically wrote Henry like that in the books. And various articles about the show have him going on about how Lou Diamond Phillips was the only actor who auditioned who didn't use contractions in his audition, which proved he had read the books; apparently that was a big deal to him/them, keeping Henry's dialogue contractionless as in the books.

Why? I don't know, I haven't read Johnson expounding more specifically on his choices. It doesn't seem to be an "all Native people talk like that" thing, since none of the other Native characters do it. But I have to agree that I wish he hadn't done that. To me it pings too close to the oldest and hoariest of white entertainment stereotypes.

The show (and I assume the books?) can also veer a little too far (for my personal taste) toward the 'magical, healing, close-to-the-earth' typing that Natives always get. The 'injured white people healed by their dipping into magical Native traditions' thingy. I mean, granted, it isn't for instance that the sacred Sun Dance ceremony isn't part of the Cheyenne tradition (among other tribes of course), so in using it, Longmire isn't quite like those movies/shows that depict any tribe's tradition as being a generic "Indian" tradition (Sleepy Hollow, anyone?). But nevertheless, we have a white traumatized Walt using a half-assed solo Sun Dance for his own purposes and I have to fast-forward and get cringey and be like, can we not.

One of the things I do like about Longmire's handling of Native characters is that it at least has a lot more of them than the usual US show or movie, and a lot more Native actors than I usually get to see. This gives breadth of depiction, which means you can have a lot of different kinds of people with different motivations, which means there isn't the same kind of singular burden of representation on any individual person. Then we can have villains, victims, survivors, heroes, dodgy people, reliable people, people who are traditional or not at all traditional. It's refreshing, and it's sad that something so simple is still refreshing, but there it is.
posted by theatro at 12:46 PM on July 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

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