Sunday, June 26, 2022

REVIEW: 'Dark Winds' - Leaphorn Is Town Between Being of Service to His Family and to His Entire Tribal Community in 'K'e'

AMC's Dark Winds - Episode 1.03 "K'e"

Leaphorn's niece celebrates her Kinaaldá as Leaphorn retrieves the bodies of the murder victims. Meanwhile, Manuelito and Chee investigate the whereabouts of the missing Mormon family.

"K'e" was written by Maya Rose Dittloff & Razelle Benally and directed by Sanford Bookstaver

One family celebrates life while another mourns death. Leaphorn is torn between the worlds. He has a responsibility to his family and his community. He needs to be there for both. It's an enduring journey. He can't escape all that's needed of him. He can't enjoy the luxury of playing a round of golf. That's only for the people who are largely checked out of their jobs. They accumulate information and don't take the responsible next actions. Leaphorn knows the families in his community can't afford to pick up the bodies of their loved ones and carrying out their burials. It's simply not a financial option. Instead, Leaphorn has to spend time away from his family to offer some dignity and respect to the people who need it the most. Leaphorn has animosity with Anna's family. And yet, it's a moment of grace when he can finally return her body to them. That's the way in which they can honor her. The police investigation isn't closed. Leaphorn and Chee know the various cases are connected somehow. They are still operating with so much uncertainty. They are determined to put in the work to make a difference. As such, they are doing what's right for the community. They aren't just looking for their own personal fulfillment. They want to honor those who live in this place. Cree was scorned and felt like he could never return. He escaped brutality. He no longer had any love for this place. He lost his family because people were too willing to look away from his mother being abused. And now, he is willing to share those personal details with Manuelito. They open their worlds to each other. It's not a lot to brag about. It's still meaningful for both of them. That too is freeing. It allows these individuals to let their guards down and be genuine with the people they trust. They need that especially when it comes to their jobs. They are suppose to act when any emergency comes up. This is a dangerous world. Leaphorn notes how the community barely had any criminal activity recently. It then all exploded at once. The police are no closer to offering definitive answers. They simply have the tools to pick away at the truth and eventually expose it. It may still be too late to do anything with that information. The robbers are already washing their money through Devoted Dan's car lot. The Mormon family is being held prisoner with no one coming to find them any time soon. Even the appearance of wavering loyalty is enough for these criminals to take drastic actions. Their operation was running smoothly with the paintings. All it took was one disruption for everything to take a drastic and lethal turn. Those are the stakes in this world where so many are relying on the prosperity that only these criminal pursuits can deliver.

This is also suppose to be a time of celebration for Leaphorn's niece. She's had her first period. That occasion is to be marked. The ceremony that surrounds these events is suppose to determine the beautiful life she is destined to live. It centers the stories of women's bodies at an extremely prescient time. It's also meant to be a joyful occasion. One where duty to one's family and clan is meant to rise above all else. Instead, Leaphorn has to bury Tso on his property because no one else is around to carry out the job. Father Benjamin is expected to fulfill that role. He is never present to offer Leaphorn much clarity in that location. The audience is aware of his true motives. He's the one calling the shots of the criminal enterprise. Of course, Leaphorn is starting to suspect him. He receives more reason to question the story Father Benjamin has been telling. A man is still dead. His body needs to be buried. That's the immediate concern. In taking on that action, Leaphorn honors the man who has died. That's just as necessary to offer hope and salvation for whatever comes next. Leaphorn knows the helicopter crashed in the nearby lake. He has one man searching for it. Randall continually pops up with nothing. His search is expansive and exhaustive. He eventually finds some clues. It may not be enough to bring a federal response to town. Whitover isn't even concerned about the missing Mormon family. It all threatens to interrupt his own interests. That's what he would rather be doing. It's not a mission to be of service to those who need it. That's frustrating to Leaphorn because his service is so intwined with his culture. He understands his community and relies on them for information. He needs his wife to operate as a deputy to know exactly what happened in Sally's home. He doesn't know how she too is connected to the various crimes. She just desperately wants to escape. A name may provide a meaningful lead. However, the priority is on her baby. Everyone wants to focus on that and ensure her health is protected. That is so often not seen as a priority. Indigenous bodies are simply meant to be experimented on. That trauma has endured across the generations. It permeates throughout this community. Anna and Tso's deaths aren't the beginning of this journey. They aren't the end of it sadly either. It's simply the path the tribal police must walk together. All the pieces will more than likely come together in the end. It also must have more meaning than simply arresting the criminals who disrupted this world. The lives of those on the tribal land are at stake as well. And so, they too must make decisions for what's in their collective best interests even when the people in charge don't always lead with that perspective. Leaphorn aspires for that. He isn't always appreciated.