Episode 6 of Dark Winds Season 1 starts this finale five weeks before the heist, roughly the same time as episode four. James is distributing pamphlets at the AICCA (American Indian Coalition for Community Action) inviting people to join the Buffalo Society. His calls are for people to unite against the Vines Mines, when “high pockets” Agent Whitover walks in. He threatens James with imprisonment for the heist in Stockton before that and claims he knows about the one upcoming in Gallup.
The pilot from the previous robbery outed James and he is forced into accepting Whitover’s proposition.
Chee radios Bernadette from the station to warn her about Whitover. He speaks in Dine to prevent any suspicions. She tells him that they’re headed towards the lake where they found the helmet. At the hideout, we learn of Nakai and James’ plan. They will release Smith and ask him to go to Dan’s to pick up a van. Once he comes back, he will use the Smith family as cover to escape beyond the Navajo border.
To create a diversion, they will bomb the hills where they have camped. Bernadette slides out of the car when she reaches the location and Whitover is busy relieving himself. Nakai and James discover Leaphorn, who is hiding in the crevasses. They try to block out his entrances using rocks and blow smoke from a fire in the duct to suffocate him.
Chee finds Whitover roaming around. He reveals that he knows the truth. The two agents draw their guns at the same time but Whitover is able to shoot Chee in the shoulder. Smith’s car takes a tumble and Guy, who is passing through, takes note. He asks his friend to take Smith to the hospital and heads toward the hideout to save Smith’s family. Bernadette frees the Smiths. Leaphorn uses trickery to get out of the ducts. He drops a couple of bullets near the fire and they ignite and injure James in the leg. The thugs now look to escape, as Leaphorn is able to jump down. He punctures the tires of the vehicle they were going to use. Chee meets up with Bernadette, while Leaphorn sneaks up on Nakai and James.
Whitover walks in at this moment but Leaphorn is unaware that he isn’t on his side. He comes out from hiding and aims toward Nakai and James. But Whitover soon takes away his gun and shoots him in the shoulder. Leaphorn falls into the ditch below, as Whitover then shoots Nakai, who wanted to shoot him after learning that he is also involved. James and Whitover leave with the money. When Whotover is finally able to make it out of the caves, Bernadette and Chee surround him. She goes on to check Leaphorn as Chee and Whitover argue. Unknown to Whitover, Guy is hiding behind him with a rifle. The agent talks about Anna in a degrading manner, provoking Guy to shoot him dead.
Chee takes his rifle and asks him to leave. Bern is able to pull Leaphorn back up, who instructs her to help Chee and goes after James himself. Chee and Bern bring Whitover’s body into the caves and leave it near Nakai’s body to show that it was he who killed Whitover. They also put the money with the bodies.
To execute their plan, they blow up the caves. Leaphorn tracks James to his grandfather’s hut. James surprises and neutralizes him. The two then have a defining conversation where James earnestly talks about the cause and his own childhood suffering and the abuse he suffered at the church. Despite Leaphorn’s pleadings, James dismisses him and shoots himself.
The families (Guy and Leaphorn’s) pay their last respects to Anna and Joe, finally letting them go and getting closure over their deaths. Fast forward three months, we catch Leaphorn visiting Chee at his traditional house. Chee has left the Bureau after the events, and Leaphorn invites him to join their police force. Chee is positive and apologizes for what happened between them earlier.
Leaphorn gives a shocking revelation about the caves. The authorities only found one of the bodies and no bag of money. Frank Nakai actually hadn’t died and ran away with the cash. I’d imagine we’ll definitely see him back as the main antagonist in season 2. Anyway, the two men share a handshake, quietly thankful for their contributions. And then we cut to black.
The Episode Review
This finale was nerve-wracking! Right from episode one, Dark Winds promised to be one of the best shows that AMC had released this year. It created great momentum and carried it right through until the very last episode.
The storyline, which had many subplots going on, was wrapped up really well, albeit a bit tragically in the end. Leaphorn, Chee, and Bernadette are successfully able to wade off the robbers and corrupt agents. The last episode hinted toward Whitover’s involvement and the very first scene of this one confirmed the theory. Dark Winds’ essence was the representation and togetherness of the community. Native Indians, who were long ignored on the screen, got an authentic portrayal in the show.
The writers kept that firmly in mind while scripting the last episode of the series. Like a true Western, the final episode captivated you with the action sequences and story resolution at the start. And akin to a finely polished drama, it left you in tears with the ending. The closure for both parents of the deceased children was a touching effect. It really brought out a sense of accomplishment on Leaphorn and co’s side, given how much they had to endure for the season. Frank Nakai’s body wasn’t found and that was certainly a twist we weren’t expecting.
I really liked how the writers wrote the scene between James and Leaphorn in the end. I didn’t care much for the way it ended for the former’s character but I can understand why they would choose to do so. Dark Winds was a riveting series, true to its source material, right from the characters, to the locations.