Ending a Series

Saturday, November 25, 2017
As anyone who talks to me for more than a little while knows, I’m a big fan of Longmire, both the television show and the books. After the first season, the TV show diverged from the books in some significant ways, but still kept some of the best features that made me love the novels.

It is rare for a television program to have the depth of character, well-constructed plotting, and believability that Longmire captured. It was almost too good to be true. In fact, it almost wasn’t true prematurely when A&E, referred to among Longmire fans as The Network That Shall Not Be Named, decided the audience for the show skewed too old to match their preferred demographic.

From the fanbase arose The Longmire Posse, a group dedicated to first saving, then showing support for a new home for the series as the creators hunted for some other way to keep telling these stories. The Posse held regular tweet-fests lauding the characters and the excellence of the show. When Netflix picked it up, there was great jubilation.

For three more years, Longmire fans were treated to more stories about Absaroka County and its legend-worthy sheriff, Walt Longmire. But for Netflix, series have a limited life, and a year ago, they announced that this year would be the last season—for real this time. It probably was time to bring things to a close. Many popular series go on longer than they should, losing the vision and the momentum with which they began.

This week, that last season dropped on Netflix. Like most fans, I watched the episodes as fast as time allowed, curious as to what the writers would do to bring Longmire to a satisfying conclusion. I must admit, I had mixed emotions.

For those who haven’t seen this last season yet and want to find out for themselves how things are wrapped up, I have to warn you there are spoilers in the next few paragraphs.

The first thing I noticed was that they intentionally brought back characters from throughout the life of the show, some for a significant role, others for just a cameo. Even Hector, who was killed a couple of seasons ago, managed to appear in a vision. It seemed a little hokey at first, but I think most fans liked this touch, raising memories of episodes they’d enjoyed throughout the life of the show.

And then the stories got deep into the Irish Mob, the heroin trafficking, and the questions of what had happened to Malachi, was Nighthorse good or evil, and would Walt and Vic ever get together? As with most of the writing, I was enthralled by the drama. This was the show I had grown to love.

But in the last episode, too much got wrapped up with tidy bows. Several things didn’t make sense to me.

Number one was the sudden romance between Walt and Vic. I know lots of fans have wanted this to happen for a long time, but I think the way the characters developed made it plain that while there was some attraction, they each had personalities too strong to come together. The scene in bed did nothing for me, and I just wanted it to be over with.

Number two, which might be a continuation of number one, was Vic’s plea that she couldn’t go on worrying about whether Walt was going to be killed or not. Which is fine. Anyone involved with a member of law enforcement or the military has to be concerned. It’s a dangerous job.

But Walt never expressed the same concern about Vic. It’s as if he didn’t care enough to care whether she might be killed while executing her job. And while he retires, something that was obviously coming based on earlier episodes of this season, she is going to continue as a deputy in the Sheriff’s Department of Absaroka County. And then he goes off to hunt for a mythical treasure while she goes back to work.

How the heck could two people who supposedly had finally admitted their feelings for one another blandly go their separate ways?

Then, because Walt retired, we have problem number three. Who will be the next Sheriff? Now, the obvious choice is Vic. She has the experience, she’s tough enough to carry out the job, and she’ll have time on her hands now that Walt has taken off with his horse. But Walt says she’s not good at politics and his choice for sheriff is… wait for it… Cady!

This is a young woman who has no law enforcement experience, who I can’t imagine rounding up her deputies and leading them into dangerous situations, or trekking through the snow or suffering under the burning sun staked to the ground. She’s a lawyer. An office person. I can’t imagine her leading Vic and Ferg and Zach into the fray. And speaking of Zach, how is she supposed to be his superior now that they’re in a romantic relationship? That wouldn’t be allowed in any work situation.

End of spoilers.

I know the writers and producers were looking to give a satisfying ending to the show, and in large part, they did accomplish that. This is one of those shows that I will rewatch in the future. But as a writer, I do have problems with it. Perhaps Season 6 will become more acceptable to me with familiarity. And I will always be grateful for the wonderful stories this show told.
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