Sunday, August 6, 2023

REVIEW: 'Dark Winds' - Leaphorn and Manuelito Seek to Protect an Innocent Child Targeted by a Killer in 'Wonders of the Unknown'

AMC's Dark Winds - Episode 2.02 "Wonders of the Unknown"

Leaphorn explores personal ties to an increasingly mysterious case, while Chee is questioned by a reluctant Sgt. Manuelito. The discovery of a body sends Leaphorn and Manuelito in pursuit of a child in danger.

"Wonders of the Unknown" was written by Max Hurwitz & DezBaa' and directed by Chris Eyre

Leaphorn has the same exact job as his father. He is a lieutenant with the Navajo Tribal Police. His father is furious he never amounted to anything more. He expected his son to achieve more than he ever did. Leaphorn is excellent in this job. And yet, he's completely distraught over the realization his son was murdered. The mysterious blonde assassin is targeting anyone who can potentially share the breadth of his crimes. Benny Charley is targeted despite being an innocent child. His father and grandfather were killed because of what they knew. Leaphorn thought the tragedy of his past had been resolved. It's all coming back. Everything he thought he knew was a lie. He always blamed others for his son's death. That was how he channeled his guilt. The explosion was still seen as an accident. Some were warned away because of some mystical message they received. Joe Jr. wasn't lucky enough to be let in on that conversation. The appropriation of the Navajo identity has destroyed countless lives. For Emma, it's important to pass down their stories and heritage. They must share these details with their children so they always remember and recognize where they came from. Their land has been stolen. The white man is trying to eliminate their identities. Everyone who remains must broadly stand in defiance. It limits their overall ambitions and opportunities. Manuelito doesn't see a future for herself on the tribal land. She is looking elsewhere. She has an interview with border patrol. She hopes to take advantage of a new federal law mandating the hiring of indigenous officers. She sees that opportunity. It offers her a way to something larger. She may not be able to escape her problems. At least the story isn't written yet. Leaphorn's career stalled where it currently is. He never got promoted to something greater. He still has to coordinate with the local sheriff to get any details or resources for his investigations. He is a competent detective. He makes a difference. And yet, he has to always risk his own life in the face of people seeking to exploit this land and its people. He literally drags Chee's body to safety after he's been shot. Chee is recovering in the hospital. He still remains a target. He's the latest obsession of this new killer. Chee recognizes him. He's not out of danger just yet. Leaphorn has plenty of opportunities to serve as a parental figure in this community. They don't share the same reverence he has in this job. Nor do they wish to limit themselves the same way he has. He is stuck with no where to go. No one can essentially be blamed for that. It's not Emma's fault as Henry has always believed. This is merely the life Leaphorn has accepted but continually faces judgment from others who believe he should strive for more.

Leaphorn doesn't know how the various pieces of this investigation connect either. Benny's father could provide that crucial link. Instead, his body is found on the mountain. When Leaphorn and Manuelito make it back there to search for clues, they find the latest murder. It possibly connects to the People of Darkness, a religious sect with radical beliefs. They are willing to take matters into their own hands. It's a performance of Navajo culture instead of actual practice of the values. Manuelito sees the ceremony burning the contents of the box from the Vines' household as trying to mimic Navajo practices. It doesn't feel right. It's been corrupted in some way. Leaphorn and Manuelito carry their protection. Their faith allows them to believe in something greater in the universe guiding them in this life. Meanwhile, Chee is continually injured because he doesn't believe in the same things. He was shot because he didn't have protection. Others were endangered because he didn't lead with these convictions. He doesn't believe life can be as simple as that. For others though, it's a freeing surrender to the great expansiveness of the universe. The entire community comes together to watch the latest mission to the moon. Everyone is enthralled by the idea of a vehicle riding across the lunar surface. It's a miraculous sight. And yet, the overall narrative is the same. It's this great accomplishment that occurs for the supposed advancement of the entire world. The people in charge and those who embark on the mission though maintain the same message as always. They aren't trustworthy. No outsiders have proven themselves worthy of honoring the best of this culture. Emma doesn't need praise for the work she does maintaining indigenous families. She doesn't need a huge story written about her efforts. She has lost too much to delight in that praise. She does her job. That's it. She hopes to expand her relationship with Leaphorn. He constantly pushes her out. She knows something is wrong. He doesn't open up about the discoveries he's made. His entire world is shattering. He doesn't really try to lean on anyone. He just needs leads for where to get more information. He too has a job that must be done. He carries that responsibility. He's not cruel to the world around him. Sally fears one mistake is all it will take for Leaphorn to throw her out. He showcases compassion. He hopes to lead by example. He carries so much internally though. He has dealt with a lot of pain. Not many have led with empathy towards him. He struggles because he doesn't know how to grapple with all of this. Others blindly follow him because they trust his instincts on the job. That frequently puts them in danger too. That's the risk they all carry. It's not singularly on Leaphorn all the time. Nor does he require others to constantly recognize that noble service. He wants respect and trust. However, it's difficult for him to believe in anything more than what has always been known because it's what remains after so much has already been taken away.