When we last left Dark Winds, Joe Leaphorn received a name for a person of interest related to the crime spree occurring near and on the reservation. In “Hooghandi,” he and the tribal police close in on their other suspect.
The opening of the episode goes into the motivation of the robbers, who use the name the Buffalo Society. It further enhances the interconnected feeling of the series as it ties into the beginning of “K’e” while painting the villains in a more magnanimous light. They are standing up to the wealthy white businessman and hope to keep valuable resources for their people. In addition, we see exactly how the initial robbery went down, though not surprising given what has been revealed so far, it is still nice to have the confirmation.
A meeting between Leaphorn, Jim Chee, and the father (Jeremiah Betsui) turns tense over what seems like a minor comment. Joe always notices the details, thus proving why he is an excellent detective. Betsui does an exceptional job portraying a person who realizes his mistake but is trying to keep a level head. He is definitely flustered and knows he made a mistake so he is already determining his next move. A cunning adversary worthy to go up against Leaphorn.
The encounter springs a series of events on Dark Winds. The slip up causes the tribal police officers to look into the history of the Tso family, in particular, Father Benjamin Tso. The writers organically incorporate the historical hardships imposed by white people on indigenous people and how it affected their culture into the investigation. It’s eye opening the drastic changes forced upon children that even someone as strong as Leaphorn is haunted by his experiences. What he and Chee discover could be a bit convenient with an “evil twin” plot but it is supported by the unmailed letter from before.
Everything culminates to a first confrontation between tribal law enforcement and the criminals. It’s a tense ambush and shootout and it isn’t until the appearance of Manuelito that the tides are turned for the good guys. Though she spends most of the episode following up on a hunch, and it proves that she is a good cop, it seems like a long-winded way to place her in the right spot to play savior.
There is the obvious conflict between the good and bad guys, but Dark Winds is beginning to develop the inner turmoil on both sides. The more striking of the two is between Joe and Jim. It begins with awkwardness where the former accidentally refers to the latter by his son’s name during dinner, but things become far worse. Chee lets his own ambition take over the case and sells out his friends so he can score brownie points with the FBI. Though it seemed like he was becoming comfortable on the reservation, especially with Manuelito, his desire for a higher profile job trumps everything.
In parallel, we see cracks forming between Frank Nakai and the now outed James Tso, aka the fake father. Nakai is a passionate believer in the Buffalo Society’s vision of helping the Diné and he feels conflicted that they have to kill so many of their people to cover their tracks. James doesn’t hesitate to do what he feels needs to be done and it’s telling during the firefight that he is the only one to escape. The disagreements in the two groups add to the drama, but also have the potential to overcomplicate the story, particularly with only two episodes left.
As we enter the second half of Dark Winds, the stakes are raised as the tribal police clash for the first time with the criminals. There is a higher degree of urgency now that the main villain is on the run but the drama between Leaphorn and Chee could ensure James Tso runs free.
Catch new episodes of Dark Winds on AMC+ or Sunday nights on AMC.
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