After receiving reports of a wild horse tearing up farmland, Longmire (Robert Taylor) and Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) capture the runaway and begin an investigation into the dad body tied the horse which Longmire believes is tied to an illegal travelling underground rodeo. Longmire and Henry also have to deal with the return of Detective Fales (Charles S. Dutton) who has a few questions for the sheriff’s friend about the death of the man who murdered Longmire’s wife.
While Longmire questions the local man (Gill Gayle) in charge of the corporate farm where the rodeo took place and one of his foremen died, Branch (Bailey Chase) buys the help of an old friend (Derek Phillips) down on his luck to sniff out where the rodeo might pop-up next. A trip to the rodeo turns up a second shooting victim, a missing sharpshooter (Luis Bordonada) who was accidentally shot by the foreman while doing a trick-shooting demonstration that night and whose horse the foreman’s dead body was found tied to. Although the man isn’t responsible for the murder, his information about the company trafficking illegal immigrants, separating families, and forcing them into indentured servitude (all of which the foreman was about to expose) gives the sheriff an entirely different set of suspects and motives for the man’s murder.
With the election looming the tension between Longmire and Branch is thick enough to cut with a knife, especially when the deputy begins shirking any of his duties that might cost him potential votes (such as paying off an old friend rather than evicting him and repossessing his trailer). Fales doesn’t find the smoking gun in his discussion with Henry, and the Native American takes a trip to help bury any other possible traces that the detective might use to connect either Henry or his best friend to the murder.
“The Great Spirit” gives us an episode where the victim is never quite who he seems, forcing the sheriff and his deputies to search in the wrong place for the man’s murderer for much of the episode. The final twist works well, but it’s the rising tension between Longmire and Branch, the looming election, and the extra pressure that Fales’ return brings to bear on both Longmire and Henry that really helps sell another character-driven story.