Dark Winds – Season 2 Episode 1 “Na’nilkaadii” Recap & Review


Episode 1 of Dark Wind’s new season begins with a bang. Actually, a lot of bangs as Joe Leaphorn and Bernadette approach a suspect’s trailer. Backup – in the form of Sheriff Sena and his team – will arrive but not in due course.

Bernadette urges Leaphorn to apprehend the suspect without delay and he agrees. Although they see lights go out in the trailer, the suspect isn’t there. Inside, they find all sorts of weird stuff that sets the antagonist for the season up as a force to be reckoned with. Among other things, there are homemade bombs, lots of clocks, eerie dolls and clowns, and a metronome.

The suspect unleashes an AR at the trailer filling it with holes. It remains to be seen if our protagonists survived the real. We jump back six days in the past. While Joe is quietly working on his ranch, he gets intimation from Sally ( who is now staying with the Leaphorns and has given birth to a newborn) that Emma has been hurt in an explosion at the Skunkborough Hospital. She ran into the suspect from the start, who planted a bomb in one of the cars in the parking lot. From the looks of it, the trigger was set in the coffee machine which Emma triggered.

The victim in the explosion is Emerson Charley, a cancer patient frequenting the hospital for treatment. His brother, Dillon, ran a church on the Rez called the People of Darkness (PoD). Sheriff Gordo Sena investigates the car with Joe, who rushes to check on Emma. Although initially, they think it was a gas leak, they rule it out since the car had been standing in the lot for over three hours. Joe discovers a timer spring in one of the car doors and comes to the conclusion it was a bomb. Emma firmly believes they need to do another ceremony and take the hospice of their Dine traditions to escape this vicious cycle of death and violence.

Bernadette chases Dean Bitsuie, a local kid who keeps running into trouble, for stealing a horse. Joe starts by visiting Tomas, his son in Red Mesa.

Bernadette questions Steve Begaye over the bombing since he was brought to the hospital by Emma for injuring his hand. We get the first visuals of Jim Chee in the new season, walking up in a motel room after having spent the night with an anonymous woman. In a restaurant, we see the “suspect” conversing with what looks like a man of the law or maybe a PI. The suspect wants Linda Maddox to be found and even pays him a hefty sum. But out of turn, we see him go into the bathroom stall and shoot him dead. 

Jim Chee has also turned to offering a private service. Mrs Rosemary Vines, the wife of oilman BJ Vines (who is away on a hunting trip), hires Chee to look into a burglary at the house. The police cannot get involved as BJ supported the current Sheriff’s opponent in the elections. She also believes that the PoD are responsible for it.

Chee isn’t able to learn the contents of the safe box that was stolen, implying something more is going on than what meets the eye. It turns out that the burglary was affected by Tomas Charley. Emerson had convinced BJ to give the church money for a while before he grew disenchanted.

Steve Begaye takes Bernadette to the spot where his fingers were bitten off by an “alien.” The ‘thing’ turns out to be the property of the US Air Force, but Begaye still maintains that “a weird sheep” bit off his fingers and it came from that thing. Bernadette is miffed at his shenanigans but is intrigued to see the weird sheep standing on the road on her way back.

Chee confronts Tomas but he explains that he stole the box to reverse the curse BJ put on his father that gave him cancer. He tells Chee the location of the box and leaves him with damning information: Vines is the People of Darkness now, along with his rich hippie friends.

Leaphorn runs into Joe on his way out and the two realize they’re looking into events that might be connected. Tomas is gone by the time they go in. The duo decide to go to the spot where the box is together. Bernadette locks the sheep in the cell. When they reach the spot, Joe is surprised to find a belt buckle belonging to his son that he wore on the day he died. All of a sudden, Chee is taken out by a gunshot. We see the suspect stationed nearby taking aim. By the time they can mount a fight back, the shooter escapes in a blue pickup truck. He also blows up Joe’s truck. Now, he cannot call for backup or take the injured Chee to a hospital. 

The Episode Review

The taut storytelling of the brilliant first season continues as the central conceit for the new season is set up. Dark Winds once again seems ready to ruffle the dark secrets of the Rez and make the task for Leaphorn and his men even harder.

Noticeably, episode 1 had moments of lighthearted humour that added a nice tinge to the show. It was subtle so as to not disrupt the flow of the episode but it does indicate that the creators are far more comfortable in their skin than before.

Berndatte’s arc will be interesting going forward. She seems wiser after the events of the last season and is more seasoned at policework.

Joe and Emma’s marriage will once again be tested. Although they emerged stronger and unified after getting over their son’s tragic death, the new season brings arduous challenges.

The opener has instantly set the tone for the rest of the season. We can expect a more confident execution where the creators take more risks to increase the scale of their project.


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You can read our season 2 review of Dark Winds here
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