News flash: disaster has hit the set of the new A&E series Longmire. Someone has broken into the set and stolen all the tripods. At least, that’s what it looked like from the most recent episode, “The Cancer,” as the series went full-shaky-cam style—extreme wide angle lenses, whip pans from one character to the other so fast that you wonder if the camera operator got a whiplash from the move, inexplicable zooms in and out, and an image that danced up and down all over the place. Much of the episode did take place outside in the woods, so maybe that’s why much of it looked like The Blair Witch Project. It still puzzles me why a series with professional camera operators would want to create an episode that looks like it was put together with found footage filmed by amateurs.
Even aside from the camerawork, this was the weakest episode of the series, with a mystery that was not that involving and a twist that wasn’t particularly surprising. There was a nice scene with Lou Diamond Phillips whose Henry Standing Bear recognizes one of the bodies that Walt has fished out of the river (which Walt is carrying in the back of his vehicle, on the way back from the crime scene). This is a patient scene, and, for once in this episode, the director lets the actor act, and lets the acting carry the scene without adding frantic editing or shaking cameras. The scene plays out with remarkable patience, as Henry moves from recognition of the body to slowly building emotion.
We also have a return of one of the other continuing Cheyenne characters, tribal police officer Mathias, who doesn’t like Walt, and Walt returns the favor (suspecting him of being complicit with the marijuana growing). At this point, Mathias is a one-note character, no disrespect to Zahn McClarnon, the actor who plays him, but who hasn’t been given much to work with. He doesn’t like Walt, and whenever Walt is around, he’s angry and pissed off. And that’s it so far. Maybe this character will have more to do (and the actor given a better range of emotions to play) as the series progresses.
I’m not abandoning Longmire yet, but more episodes like “The Cancer” may push me in that direction.
On the plus side, I’m now starting the fourth Longmire novel, and those remain good compelling reads. I’m still hoping that more of the humor from the novels makes its way into the television series.