Last week on Dark Winds, Joe Leaphorn and company barely survive an ambush thanks to the timely heroics of Sergeant Manuelito. What should have been a victory with the capture of one of the criminals, quickly turns sour when Jim Chee’s FBI secret is revealed. Now there are deep divisions amongst our heroes threatening the case(s).
First and foremost, the episode does a good job of setting up the finale. We have the different characters on a collision course for a final confrontation. It’s gripping to watch Leaphorn utilize his tracking skills to pursue James Tso. Every footprint in the sand and bent branch in the bushes tells a story and Zahn McClarnon so smoothly guides us through his character’s thought process without saying a word.
Similarly, Chee is following his own leads that we know will lead him to the same place. Despite his career aspirations, he is drawn back to his former colleagues to ensure that they will be safe. Through him and Leaphorn, we are filled in with more details of the different parts of the mystery on Dark Winds such as the importance of the oil rig or how the money laundering works. The series is trying to answer as many questions it can to ensure viewers will be satisfied.
The antagonists are also gathering with Frank Nakai breaking out of prison. There is added strife between he and the other member of the Buffalo Society as he learns what the fake father is capable of and how he has no regard for the Diné. Combine that with being left behind in the shootout and their relationship is on much more unstable ground. In addition, though we are more informed than the Tribal Police in some aspects due to seeing scenes involving the criminals, the show still manages to throw in a surprising curveball with a possible other associate.
We even receive a nice juicy appetizer to the eventual showdown with Manuelito and Ada Growing Thunder facing off. The combination of buzzing flies and accompanying score ratchets up the suspense. Anytime the tribal witch appeared, it would make you feel nervous but she is even more unsettling through the use of jump scares. I’ve really enjoyed Dark Winds‘ approach to the supernatural with enough subtlety to make you believe in the powers.
However, there is so much packed int that some of the personal drama between the characters seem a little shaky in execution. We do see how much of an impact that Manuelito and Chee have for each other. It’s these feelings that influence the FBI officer to come back to the reservation and help. Similarly, the reconciliation between Guy and Joe is moving as two fathers mourn the loss of their child and realize their misdirected but understandable frustrations. On the other end, the Leaphorns’ family issues could have benefited with more time to develop and breathe and it seems one too many problems to include in an already filled episode.
“Ha’iinlni” builds the anticipation for the season finale with a nice appetizer of a skirmish and setting both sides towards the inevitable showdown all while continuing to fill in the details of the overarching mystery.
Catch new episodes of Dark Winds on AMC+ or Sunday nights on AMC.
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