Sunday, August 27, 2023

REVIEW: 'Dark Winds' - Leaphorn Interrogates a Dangerous Criminal While Chee Follows Rosemary in 'Black Hole Sun'

AMC's Dark Winds - Episode 2.05 "Black Hole Sun"

With his suspect in custody, Leaphorn races against the clock to get a confession, while Chee goes undercover at the cult that ties their investigations together. Meanwhile, Manuelito counsels a teenager nervous about the draft.

"Black Hole Sun" was written by Billy Luther & Max Hurwitz and directed by Billy Luther

Leaphorn needs there to be a better answer for why his son was killed. Grief continues to consume his world. Emma has the same hole in her heart. They lean on each other to get through this turbulent time. They are handling it differently. Their actions haven't always been healthy or beneficial. Emma realizes she was using Sally and the baby to try to replace what was lost. She took them in for selfish reasons. It didn't matter who they were. Sally spoke up. She made Emma listen. And now, Emma is hoping to use her voice to help shine a spotlight on her community. She helps so many people. She is willing to be of service in that way. It provides purpose. It matters to her. She doesn't want anyone to exploit her community. When outsiders come in, that's precisely what they have always done. It doesn't matter how noble their intentions may have been. A company provided jobs for many on the reservation. And then, an explosion killed six of them. It wasn't an accident. The Blond Man was hired for a reason. Leaphorn needs to know who he was working for. A far-reaching conspiracy needs to be uncovered to explain why Joe Jr. was killed. The Blond Man explains how Leaphorn's son just happened to be at the plant when it detonated. He wasn't special in anyway. He was collateral damage in pursuit of some other goal. The Blond Man sees how personal this is for Leaphorn. The lieutenant is enraged by the lack of clarity. He's dragged around in circles. Every possible lead doesn't result in anything significant. The audience is treated to more information. The black-and-white stylization returns. It helps deviate from the action happening in the present. The season started with a glimpse at the future. The narrative has moved past that point. And now, the black-and-white details illuminate the past. The only color that pops is red. It's frequently depicted through the blood of more innocent victims. When the Blond Man was young, his mother killed his father and sister. It's then inferred that he killed his mother. As such, his hiring of multiple private investigators to locate his mother may be completely pointless. It's a mission in pursuit of something. A name is given. The Blond Man gives a story. He isn't a trusted source of information though. He carries everything closely. It's hard to imagine him working for someone. He was hired for a job. It resulted in consequences that required him to return to the reservation. Federal agents are ready to transfer him to their custody. He's destined to receive the death penalty for the many people he's killed. Even then, he remains elusive. He once again presents as superhuman by making his escape with whatever was ticking around inside a metronome. Sheriff Sena's life hangs in the balance while Leaphorn is once again tasked with hunting down this dangerous fugitive.

The tension obviously becomes more personal for Leaphorn as he tangles with his prisoner. He couldn't be reckless when wandering the reservation desperately trying to bring the Blond Man to justice. He was always motivated by this deeply tragic loss. That motivates everything for Leaphorn. He sacrificed so much. He deserves time to investigate the case that matters the most to him. He is given a few hours. That's not enough. Plus, the system isn't secure enough to keep the criminal contained. That largely plays as the story repeating the same action yet again. The Blond Man is on the run. That has already happened. It doesn't inform anything new about these characters. In fact, this episode doesn't illuminate a whole lot in terms of plot progression. It reveals that the People of Darkness still gather with BJ Vines as their spiritual leader. He is revered as a healer. Rosemary walks up to him asking to be healed. She is clearly scheming. Chee is just a passive observer. He hasn't been hired to follow Rosemary. He sees that as necessary given the chaos that has ensued ever since she first hired him. He's still healing from his injuries. That doesn't stop him from running into action. Of course, he doesn't have any allies in the field alongside him. He has the trust of the local Tribal Police. He doesn't share their call to service. He helps those on the reservation. He sees how the People of Darkness are twisting Navajo culture to suit their own interests. The radio broadcasts all day the precise times for a solar eclipse. The moon will block out the sun for just over an hour. It would be dangerous for any Navajo to be caught outside. That results in Chee and Manuelito spending more time together. They are stuck. She refuses to be the reason he goes against the spirits that guide this community. Everyone abides by this practice. It's sacred to them. Meanwhile, the People of Darkness throw a celebration at night under completely different beliefs. It's all professed under the same name. It's not done with the same reverence. It's a presentation of one figure being able to solve everyone's problems because he has greater sense of spirituality and connection to the universe. BJ enjoys that attention and prominence. It's a grift. He has no ownership over this land or its customs. He just takes whatever interests him. He hopes to apply it to force others into subservience. That manipulation is clear to see. Others have to abide by what he wants. Chee is powerless to stop it. Meanwhile, a more dangerous criminal is on the lose. That represents true urgency for law enforcement. And yet, the appropriation and loss of indigenous culture is just as existential. Young men are being drafted to fight in Vietnam unlikely to ever return. This community lacks the opportunities to aspire for anything more. That's depressing. The job still has to get done. It's still important even though it carries such a significant toil on those tasked to see it through to completion.