The premiere episode of Season Three of A&E’s Longmire has opened to strong ratings. Over 3.8 million viewers tuned in to the contemporary Western mystery series on June 2nd. Longmire, since its debut in 2012, has been the highest-rated original scripted series in A&E’s history.
Set in the fictional county of Absaroka in present-day Wyoming, the TV series is based upon the acclaimed novel series by Wyoming resident Craig Johnson. Robert Taylor stars as Sheriff Walt Longmire and is supported by a strong cast that includes Lou Diamond Phillips, Katee Sackhoff, Bailey Chase, Adam Bartley, and Cassidy Freeman.
In the series’ first two seasons, Longmire effectively combined a larger character-driven narrative arc with episodic stand-alone mysteries/cases. A number of those episodes have connected to current issues – such as fracking and Indigenous territorial rights – that both reflect the current state of the American West and regions beyond.
The first episode of Season Three was singular (for the series thus far) in that its focus was moving forward on the character story arcs from the finale of Season Two. Walt works to figure out who may have shot Deputy Branch Connally (Chase) and tries to secure legal help for his best friend, Henry Standing Bear (Phillips), who has been arrested for murdering the killer of Walt’s wife.
For this viewer, a particularly strong performance in the debut episode was that by Zahn McClarnon, who plays Mathias, tribal police chief for the local Cheyenne reservation. McClarnon skillfully expressed, in a matter-of-fact yet powerfully grounded way, that Longmire and Deputy Ferguson (Bartley) were trespassing on tribal land when the two went to collect evidence related to Branch’s shooting. McClarnon’s body language and statement that he would guard the evidence site for as long as it would it take was symbolic, to this writer, of an Indigenous community’s commitment to its territory and culture.
The second episode of Season 3 of Longmire debuts Monday, June 9th at 10pm (EST). Further information (including video) about the series can be found at the A&E link Longmire.
UPDATE (July 15th): Through its first 7 episodes, Longmire has averaged over 3.5 million viewers per show.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)