I have a problem. I can stay true to the evidence or I can stay true to the plot. Sometimes, they’re polar opposites.
Watching Longmire. It’s a Netflix series set in Wyoming. The Sherriff commutes from his Ranch in New Mexico, 90 m north of Santa Fe. Wait, no? Oh, well he supposedly lives in Wyoming near the Montana Border within the view of the Absaroka part of the Rocky Mountains. The series is set in Wyoming, but most of the location scenes are shot in New Mexico. Somehow, he drives to Denver in 5 hours. He’s really MOVING!
Now recall that I am a fan of procedural shows such as CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS… Longmire’s deputy has been found dead in a stream having been shot in the face by a shotgun. In his truck is his folded uniform. He has texted his old girlfriend with multiple apologies and has left a suicide note on his computer which he left running in his house.
“Click” goes my mind.
- Did he take off all his clothes, wander into the middle of the stream, sit down on the rocks and pull the trigger with his foot? (Gibbs would have noticed that.)
- Since he has powder burns on his face, he missed his mouth, yes? The muzzle of the gun would have had to be at least a few inches outside of his face to leave that type of wound. I think it would be daunting to look into the barrel and still be willing to pull the trigger rather than putting it in your mouth. Therefore is it really possible to contort yourself into a position like that to pull the trigger? (Dexter would have noticed that.)
- Longmire tries to sift for missing BBs to see if he shot himself in the river. There were 196 BBs in his face which means that some of them either blew out the back of his head or missed him entirely. But there were only 6 missing. If you swallow the barrel, wouldn’t all the BBs be inside the mouth or the inside of the skull and more than 6 would have blown through the back of his head. (Temperance Brennan would have noticed that.)
- Where did they find the shotgun? Wouldn’t his fingerprints have been on the barrel rather than the trigger and the stock? If the shotgun was in the water and washed off the fingerprints, how did the dirt inside the shell in the gun stay dry? (Horatio Caine would have noticed that.)
- If, as Walt noted, Barlow (Branch’s Dad) killed him, texted Longmire’s daughter, removed the cameras and evidence from Branch’s house, moved the body to the river in Branch’s truck and rode his mountain bike back to his house, there should have been evidence everywhere! (Monk would have noticed that.)
- There would have been bicycle tracks near the truck. There would have been blood evidence in the truck (head wounds bleed a LOT!). What did he do with the bloody clothes and whatever he wrapped up Branch’s body in? Wouldn’t Barlow’s fingerprints have been on Branch’s phone? Wouldn’t there have been river mud on the bicycle? Wouldn’t there have been river mud on Barlow’s boots and pants? How did he clean up the blood at the scene of the murder (the skeet shooting range)? How did a man of his age ride a mountain bike all the way to his home and still be able to walk the next day? (Grissom would have noticed that.)
The plot is that we don’t know who did it, and Longmire has to puzzle it out. He wants to believe Nighthorse (the owner of the big casino going up) is behind the murder of his wife and now Branch, his deputy. It would still mean that the body would have been moved and posed. Nighthorse had done this with David Ridge, the guy who’d murdered the meth head that had been hired to kill Longmire’s wife. David faked his suicide and Nighthorse helped him fake his cremation. David was an employee of Nighthorse, but was lent to Barlow (Branch’s Dad) to kill the meth head and as Barlow and Nighthorse were notoriously at odds, if they identified David as the murderer, his association would lead back to Nighthorse and not Barlow. They tried to frame Longmire, then Hector, then Henry.
David’s calling card was a peyote soaked crow feather. When Branch was trying to get the DNA from David’s cremation, David shot him and inserted this crow feather into Branch’s wound, and later, he left one stuck in the meth head’s throat, but there wasn’t one when he killed Hector. And Hector, being found dying in a cave, identified David as his killer. OK, now it’s getting confusing because David is seen alive and walking around after his death. In fact, he tries to kill Longmire and lands on Longmire’s knife so he has 2 funerals.
If they’d followed the evidence and had applied logic to the situation, they would have identified Barlow sooner.
This is what messes with my head though: Barlow shot his only son, the heir to his legacy in the face!!!! That is extremely personal. His last words to his son were, “I’m too old to start over and make my fortune. But I’m not to old to have another son.” Blam! He was afraid that the evidence his son had found would send him to jail and ruin his businesses. In the end, he had no son and his insurance would have gone to his brother Lucien as the next of kin. If he had a will, he couldn’t have predicted he’d have to murder his own son, so his legacy would be in probate for decades.
I kinda like it when the evidence and the plot are coordinated. Otherwise, I process this completely differently and it keeps me up at night.