Warner Bros. // 2013 // 561 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // May 28th, 2014
No calm after the storm.
"I don't need a cell phone."
As season two begins, Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor, The Matrix) is still serving as the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, but he may not be able to hold that position much longer. There's an election coming up, and Walt's deputy Branch Connally (Bailey Chase, Saving Grace) is intent on taking the job for himself. To make things worse, Walt's personal life is getting increasingly messy, as his daughter (Cassidy Freeman, Smallville) goes missing and new details begin to come to light regarding his wife's death.
Meanwhile, there are all sorts of crimes that still need to be dealt with, so Walt gets to work on investigating them with the help of his trusty right hand woman Vic Moretti (Katee Sackhoff, Battlestar Galactica) and the support of his close friend Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips, La Bamba).
In my review of Longmire: The Complete First Season, I more or less dismissed the show as a lightweight Justified knock-off which made poor use of its supporting cast and too often succumbed to a bland "case of the week" format. Thankfully, things have improved a little bit in the show's sophomore season. Yes, it still plays like a version of Justified designed for viewers who don't really want to have to pay close attention to every plot development, but things have improved a bit in other areas. The highlights:
Stronger Characterization: Most of the major supporting characters actually have something to do this time, which is a relief. While the first season mostly limited the deeper character work to Longmire and Henry (and even they were pretty underwritten), the rest of the cast begins to take shape this season. Katee Sackhoff gets some of the meatier dramatic material this time around, finally getting a chance to show her chops again (remember how good she was on Battlestar Galactica?). The election subplot also manages to give Branch some real character motivation this season, making him more than, "that vaguely handsome guy who stands around in the background and delivers a line now and then."
Better Plotting: While the "case of the week" material still plays a very significant role in Longmire (after all, it's an A&E drama), the show does a better job of balancing that stuff with engaging long-arc storytelling this time around. The election and the mystery surrounding Longmire's dead wife give the season a solid shape, and those subplots both prove fairly involving whenever they resurface.
Location: This season, the show makes better use of its rural setting, which provides plenty of opportunities for interesting atmosphere. Sure, the fact that so many horrible things are taking place in the middle of Wyoming still seems a little suspect, but such is the nature of any crime series set outside the confines of a major city. I keep wishing the show would spotlight more of the dull, unimportant crimes a rural Sheriff would undoubtedly have to deal with on a regular basis, but I realize that isn't an easy sell. Considering the genre constraints the show places on itself, it manages to stick out from the crowd just a bit thanks to its strong sense of place.
Longmire: The Complete Second Season sports a solid, entirely typical standard-def transfer. Detail is strong throughout, though darker scenes can get a little murky at times. The show's thirteen episodes are spread across three discs, so typical compression issues apply. The Dolby 5.1 Surround track is simple and solid, blending dialogue, lightweight sound design and an unobtrusive score effectively enough. Supplements are pretty thin: an extended "director's cut" version of a midseason episode and the making-of featurette "Testing Courage: The Storm Defines the Man" (which sounds like the title of a motivational book of some sort).
Despite its suspenseful conclusion, the second season of Longmire still isn't quite good enough to convince me to add season three to my weekly viewing schedule. Even so, it's nice to see the show making strides and doing some fine-tuning as it moves ahead.
Not too guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 561 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Extended Episode