The season finale of Dark Winds has everyone converging on the Buffalo Society’s hideout. It’s a race against the clock for Leaphorn, Maneulito, and Chee to catch the criminals before they escape. However, there’s a traitor in their midst so how will they affect the proceedings?
The first half of “HózhóoNaasháa” is unrelenting, frantic, and keeps the story moving. It provides answers on how James Tso and Whitover got involved with each other while building the suspense for the final act. For example, there is so much tension in Maneulito’s car ride over to the site with Chee warning her about Whitover. You don’t know if the FBI Agent can recognize his subordinate’s voice or if he finds it suspicious they are speaking in Navajo. Since he and Bernadette are in an enclosed space of a car with no real safe escape, it ratchets up the anxiety.
Similarly, Nakai and Tso are flustered with the authorities closing in. All their meticulous planning is going out the window and panic is setting in. In their haste, they make some questionable choices and underestimate the time they really have to escape. You can feel them buckling underneath all the pressure.
This all serves to contrast the hero of Dark Winds, Joe Leaphorn. He’s the only cool and collected person even when he’s in danger. We see more of his quick thinking and ingenuity in hampering the criminals and escaping from trouble. You can’t help but admire his resolve and by association, Zhan McClarnon’s portrayal of the character.
We have our Chee and Maneulito reconciliation with the former coming back. They both left an impression on the other and the events can only bring them closer together. It’s interesting their own plotting to takeover and direct the narrative and explain the entire crime scene to the authorities. It comes from a good place though because it’s to shield Joe from any blame.
For the most part, the episode of Dark Winds brings things to a satisfying conclusion however there were some aspects that come out of nowhere. Guy’s involvement is random and forced and it doesn’t even give him the revenge he’s looking for regarding the death of his daughter. Speaking of, there’s mixed feelings on James’ fate. There is the understandable trauma of his youth including the Catholic school he attended, but there’s also a PTSD component from his time in the army that is being mentioned for the first time.
Despite the group solving the mystery, there are still some open-ended plot lines that can be pursued next season (Dark Winds is receiving a season two). There is still the feud with the wealthy owner of the oil rig, B.J. Vines. I’m surprised we didn’t see any more of his involvement after Pete Samuels sells out the Buffalo Society. Then we have Frank Nakai living up to his nickname. A nice little callback and it keeps in play a truly intimidating person.
The missteps in execution dips the quality of the finale below the rest of the season, but still delivers a suspenseful and pleasing conclusion to the show’s mysteries.
Watch the entire season of Dark Winds on AMC+.
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