It’s fall TV time and our anticipation of the fourth season of “Longmire” has been well-rewarded. Like fine wine, it just gets better with age. The solid performances by each and every actor on this unique series cry out for recognition. None of them are stock characters — not even the supporting cast or walk-ons. They all make us think they’re real. The lead characters worm their all-too-human ways into our hearts and minds to such an extent that we know them and miss them when they are gone and can’t be a part of their lives. Is that a ridiculous thing to say? No. It’s what every connoisseur of good literature longs for in a book, and every viewer with an ounce of discrimination seeks in both film and television.
Let’s look at Sheriff’s Deputy, “Vic” Maretti (Katee Sackhoff), with her hip-slung stance and bare face (in all it’s connotations), We like her tough, no-nonsense exterior, but are drawn to her soft vulnerability, a self-questioning that often leaks onto her face where it battles for position. Her loneliness is palpable as she searches for love but finds only shallowness — except in off-limits Walt Longmire.
The Ferg (Adam Bartley), has grown through the years from just an overweight, puppy-like bungler with a big heart, to a deputy who is being seasoned by good leadership and hard experience. We fans here on the Smith/Brown home front love him dearly and can’t stand it when anybody or anything hurts him physically or emotionally. We love Ferg.
Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) is as fiercely loyal as his name implies. Though the gender is wrong, I think of a mother bear defending her cubs. Quietly introspective and a seeker of justice, this tempered and older Lou Diamond Phillips has — to this point — reached the zenith of his career in the character of Henry Standing Bear, the well-educated, precise speaking, Red Pony bartender who is Sheriff Longmire’s friend, and over-all Cheyenne warrior.
Last but not least in this character-driven lineup, is Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), a relic hanging on by his fingernails to a world that has passed him by. It is his scarred and worn heart that keeps him going; keeps him active; keeps him thinking and viable. At first blush we see Longmire as a sort of Sam Elliot of the 21st century. Then we are fed glimpses of his intellect, reasoning, and understanding, and we recognize in this scruffy Wyoming sheriff with the sweat-stained cowboy hat, dusty boots and blue jeans, a man of parts hidden deep in a rough exterior. Case in point, Longmire drags out his dog-eared copy of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” to help him choose a deputy.
Now I must give a thumbs up and hats off to the writers and producers who have given these fine actors something great to sink their thespian chops into. They have brought “Longmire” from the two-dimensional pulp fiction of author Craig Johnson, to full-fleshed life with heart and soul and spirit. “Longmire” is a series that is a joy to watch, to think about, to discuss, and to pray it doesn’t get cancelled by anybody else. Because “Longmire” is the Hope Diamond in an abandoned coal mine.